Well, I haven’t done any gear talk in a long time and after over ten weeks of testing I’m ready to write a little blog post about a new piece that made it into my photo bag. The MAGMOD MagBeam Wildlife Kit is a fresnel flash extender that has replaced the good old ‘Better Beamer’. Technically it works the same way, a fresnel lens collimates the light from the speedlight and extends the capabilities of the flash light by 2-3 extra stops. This is a big deal for my wildlife photography and I use the MagBeam usually with the long lens, the Sigma 150-600. There are two reasons to use the flash extender. First it allows to increase the depth of field, especially under low light conditions, but more important for me is to improve the quality of light for bird photography. Flash fill makes a big difference for the colors.
So why did I give up the old Better Beamer for the new MagBeam? Mounting the Better Beamer to the SB 800 speedlight has been always an awkward procedure, especially if someone is in a hurry. The flimsy plastic parts are held together with velcro and if you don’t secure the Better Beamer with gaffers tape, there is always a chance that the whole unit falls off while moving around. The MagBeam has a rubber part that fits tightly over the speedlight, called the MagGrip. It has a couple strong permanent magnets embedded that hold the actual flash modifier with the fresnel lens. When you need the MagBeam in the field, you just snap the modifier onto the MagGrip and start shooting. This is a big plus in my books and one of the main reasons why I like the MAGMOD MagBeam a lot. The modifier is made out of rubber and is collapsable for smaller packing.
In direct comparison of both flash extenders I would say the MagBeam delivers a slightly softer light, and this is a good thing. This may have to do with its oval shape, but I’m not sure. The only downside I can see so far is the little heavier weight of the new tool over the old Better Beamer. This is not a problem for me. The faster mounting time and softer flash fill outweigh the extra weight and the MAGMOD MagBeam will definitely stay in my photo bag.