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Customer Review

on 6 July 2011
The Westcott Apollo package includes an umbrella-style folding softbox, and a metal shoe mount umbrella bracket. An instruction sheet is provided, however it is actually faster to ignore the instructions - setting up the softbox is quick and easy.

The product description is not great, and seems to assume you know what you're looking at, so warnings first:
- This is for Speedlite-style flashes, NOT STUDIO LIGHTS!
- There is NO light stand supplied!

I find it best to first set up a light stand with a shoe adaptor and Speedlite etc. If you use your own mount instead of the one supplied, you will need to use one that accepts an umbrella, because that is what the Apollo basically is.
You basically open out the Apollo as you would open an umbrella (if there is any resistance, check that the velcro on the white diffuser panel inside is not sticking to the inner edges of the folded Apollo). The black cross that's visible in the product image is actually four zippers which zip in to the centre of the bottom face of the Apollo. These can be opened to create a hole that is large enough to place the entire Apollo over a Speedlite, and then it's just a matter of inserting the umbrella stalk of the Apollo into the hole on the shoe mount. Once everything is properly positioned, the nuts can be tightened, the zippers closed, and the diffuser panel folded down.

Some considerations:
- Speedlites that cannot be controlled remotely from the camera need to be set up prior to being zipped up inside the Apollo!
- If you use the Lastolite Triflash mount or similar (i.e. a shoe mount that is designed to hold more than one Speedlite), it is probably easier to affix this inside the opened Apollo first, and then insert the light stand.

Minor grumbles:
- The diffuser sheet is velcro on three edges and sewn in on the top edge. It can therefore be folded back over the head of the Apollo, but it can't be removed for any reason.

Nice features:
- The diffuser panel is recessed by about 4", which makes it easy to flag the Apollo. You could also sew or stick velcro strips inside the recess to allow grids and other modifiers to be attached.
- It's bigger than you'd think, but compacts well and doesn't weigh a lot.
- Build quality is not world-class, but it is at least as good as I expected for the price.

I have been using this to great effect with a Canon EOS 7D, by placing a Speedlite 580EX II inside the softbox on a long ETTL cable, and having this wirelessly trigger a Speedlite 430EX II using Canon's wireless system. Using the cable frees my 580 from the top of the camera, and using the 580's master mode instead of the integrated Speedlite controller on the 7D means that I can still use High Speed Sync. So it's the best of both worlds!
At fairly reasonable portrait distances, communication between the flashes is unhindered and commands are sent correctly from master to slave, despite the diffuser panel. I cannot test it due to lacking the kit, but I would expect the same level of performance from Nikon's Speedlite commander system.

This softbox has really changed the quality of my light, and I would definitely recommend it.
17 people found this helpful
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Product Details

4.0 out of 5 stars
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