The basic concept of the FlashBender hasn’t changed since the first version hit the market. It’s the weight, the bending system and the attachment system that have evolved, with the current version hugely improved in all three areas.
The most obvious improvement, the attachment system, will save time and worry. Whereas the first version used two elastic bands and velcro strips and the second allowed for the bands to fit smaller flash heads better, holding the FlashBender more securely in place, the attachment now depends on a buckle connection.
The buckles are the same kind as the ones you’ll see on many camera straps. In other words, they’re very strong. They allow you to tighten the attachment by pulling on the nylon fastening bands while the FlashBender mounting piece is already wrapped around the flash head. In addition, the ends of the band have a generous velcro strip for even more security. The new system is especially great with the large model which, due to the weight of the shape rods and the rather thick fabric, used to be really top heavy. That made it rather difficult to take the whole flash and FlashBender up and move it from one location to the next without having to hold up the flash head and keep the FlashBender from breaking away from it. That’s no longer necessary as the largest model is now a true featherweight.
The buckle connection not only creates a much more secure attachment by being a buckle connection. It is further helped by the mounting area now having a soft-padded silicon rubbery surface so it can really shape itself around the flash head and sit even tighter. No more wobbling, not even with the big FlashBender.
The shaping rods and the reflector fabrics themselves have been improved as well. The rods, once bent, stay in place with no further fiddling and, although they remain quite stiff, they are easier to manipulate while still holding their shape well once bent in place. Finally, the fabric may weigh less but still maintains its perfect opacity.
FlashBenders come in a number of shapes and sizes and I recommend them warmly. For anything from portraits to small object photography, these things come in handy. I always carry one of each model with me when I’m shooting objects on location.