The Honl Photo Speed System has been around for some time now. I’ve had the pleasure of using the system on and off for several months. The products are the creation of photographer David Honl and designed to be a fast and versatile set of tools for sculpting light when using hotshoe flashes.
The first impression that I get from the Honl Photo Speed System is that it’s a quality product. You open up the packages and find very tough nylon and plastic components. The straps, grids and snoots have traveled many miles in my camera bags and have shown resilience even through abuse.
The Honl Photo Speed System is grounded upon the Speed Strap. The Honl Speed Strap, which runs just $10, is a simple, but effective, velcro strap that wraps around the outer edge of your speedlight. The Speed Strap fits just about any hotshoe flash, so you’re not limited to Canon and Nikon flashes. It has a tacky, rubberlike surface on the inside to help it stay put on your speedlight, while the outside of the strap is made up of the furry side of velcro.
This furry side of the velcro is the key to the whole system. All the other parts of the Speed System that attach to your speedlights have the scruffy velcro straps. Of course, when the furry velcro meets scruffy velcro they bond to each other. The velcro that Honl uses is not the cheap stuff that falls apart or doesn’t stick very well. Nope, this is tough velcro that stays in place when you stick them together. As Elwood Blues said, “This is glue. Strong stuff.”
There are a variety of tools in the Honl Photo Speed System. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s available:
- Speed Strap
- 1/4″ Speed Grid
- 1/8″ Speed Grid
- Speed Gobo / Bounce Card
- 5″ Speed Snoot / Reflector
- 8″ Speed Snoot / Reflector
- Color Correction Filter (Gel) Kit – consist of 10 filters, which breaks down to 2 each of the following: 1/2 CTB, Full CTO, 1/2 CTO, 1/4 CTO, Full+Green
- Color Effects Filter (Gel) Kit – consists of 10 filters, which breaks down to 2 each of the following: yellow, bright red, just blue, moss green, heavy frost
This system really opens up the creative possibilities with speedlights. I find myself grabbing the snoot and gobo on a more and more regular basis for everyday situations as I get more comfortable with off-camera flash in my own personal photography.
If you don’t mind adding some sticky to your flash, you can make the Honl System work with a poor man’s speed strap by just sticking some furry velcro directly on your flash. Since the above flash is an old Canon 540EZ, I didn’t mind throwing some permanent velcro on it; however, you might not want to do that for your SB-900 that you also use with a slip-on diffuser when mounted on-camera.
Anyone that is part of the Strobist movement that David Hobby has stirred up will appreciate the ease with which you can sculpt your light using this system. If you’ve got a couple of speedlights in your bag, you will really enjoy making the most out of them with Honl’s tools.
If I’m shooting in a studio setup, I will generally use speedlights as supplements to a main light due to their size and flexibility for moving the around. The Honl Speed System makes the speedlights even more flexible because I can really put the light where I want it.
In the below image, I used the Honl Speed Snoot/Reflector opened up to allow for a softer and wider spread of light and had the speedlight mounted on a Gorillapod to the right of her face since she was laying down on white seemless. (My studio strobe was bounced off of an umbrella above the subject and to the camera’s slight left.)
In the following image, I used a studio strobe at camera right bounced off an umbrella as my main light, a speedlight with a Honl Speed Snoot/Reflector, again as a reflector, behind and to the left of the subject and a Honl Speed Gobo / Bounce Card behind and to the right of the subject to keep light on the background and not directly on the subject.
I think the Honl Photo Speed System is an excellent solution for photographers who have speedlights in their camera bags. Additionally, if you’d like to travel lighter, you might consider adding some speedlights with the Honl gear to your current kit. Big kudos to Honl Photo on a useful and productive tool for photographers.
If the Honl Photo Speed System interests you, B&H Photo carries the complete line of Honl’s Speed System, most of which appears to qualify for free shipping in the US. You can also learn more about the entire system at Expoimaging.net, which is the exclusive distributor of the Honl Photo Speed System.