Light Blaster: Project Your Imagination
The Light Blaster is a strobe-based image projector. Shridhar Kunte checks out the intricacies of this rather strange, but unique light modifier.
The Light Blaster is quite a strange device. When combined with a lens and a powerful shoe-mount strobe, it lets you project different patterns onto your subject or on the background. It’s a niche product—one that you would especially appreciate if you have old 35mm slides lying around.
Let’s Understand How it Works
The lens is used to project the pattern of light induced on the rear element by the slide inserted in the holder. The slide is not a source of light, so it is necessary to add the strong light source behind the slide which is taken care of, by the flash attached at the back of the Light Blaster.
It is the same principle that is used in a projector, where the lens is used to focus the image and the projector lamp helps project. Here the projector lamp is replaced by a strobe and the 35mm slide is being replaced by creative kit slides or stencils.
The main body of the Flash Blaster is made up from strong plastic shell. There are three main parts that fit together, to make the Flash Blaster. One is the slide holder that comes from the manufacturer.
The other two parts (which you have to use your own) are a lens and a Strobe.
The lens mount is made up of stainless steel. When you mount the lens, you have to remember that there is no lens locking mechanism. You have to align the dot on the lens and dot on the mount and rotate it till it stops.
The Choice of Lens Matters
The Flash Blaster ships out from factory with Canon EF/EF-S mount.
Similar to the camera body there are two dot—red for EF and white for EF-S. If you need to mount a Nikon lens, than you need to buy a converter.
Here, one must understand that the lens choice (type and focal length) matters quite a bit. If you want a wider pattern to be projected, use a wide angle lens. Telephoto lenses work better for concentrated designs.
Since EF-S lenses form a smaller image circle as opposed to their full frame counterparts, this affects the final image being projected as well. I found that prime lenses work best as there is very little light loss that takes place.
The Impact of the Strobe
While testing, I found that the power of the strobe as well as the size of the strobe head play a big role in the quality and size of the projection as well. In fact, even the alignment of the flash head affects the projection. If the flash head is smaller than the designated chamber for it, you will need to stuff some kind of padding from all sides to align the head.
The tripod mount is closer to the lens mount and when I assembled the Light Blaster the centre of gravity was well maintained. But the strobe attaching arrangement feels less secured, as compared to the lens one.
How Well Does it Work?
It will take quite some time to get used to a device of this nature.
The difficult bit is to hold the device, focus and simultaneously get the required size of the projection. It is advisable to mount the Light Blaster on a light stand or a tripod to get sharp projection. I tried using a modelling light to get the idea of the projection. But as the intensity of the modelling light on shoe mount strobes is lesser, it difficult to get an exact idea. It does work as a good enough starting point.
You need a lot of practice to get the best placement of the projected image, your model and the camera. Before capturing the final image you might need to take multiple photographs and make small adjustments each time.
Toy or Tool?
This is not a single unit standalone light modifier. You need a shoe mount strobe and an appropriate lens to make it a complete package. At a price of Rs. 6000, it can be a passing fancy or a serious creative tool, as long as you are willing to invest some time in understanding it and practising.
At a Glance
Strobe-based light projector
Looks fantastic, but there is a lot of trial and error involved
Quite a sturdy construction
Difficult to get the hang of, initially
Warranty & Support
Very little support in India
Who should buy it?
Portraitists and creative photographers who want to have some fun.
The Light Blaster can be addictive once you get the hang of it and can inspire some crazy ideas as well!