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The Continuing Saga of the Photgenic Eclipse Umbrella on the Elinchrom Flash ...

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Thread started 25 Sep 2008 (Thursday) 18:33   
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tetrode
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The first chapter of this story concluded with the successful grafting of a 7mm stainless steel rod to the sawed off shaft off a 45" Photogenic Eclipse umbrella.

In chapter 2, we'll see if the surgery can be applied as well to the 60" Eclipse.

To spare you any suspense, the answer is "yes it can but ...".

I stopped in at B&H this afternoon and picked up a 60" Eclipse. As soon as I got it home, I twisted off the end cap and discovered, to my dismay, that the inner diameter of the umbrella shaft is ever so slightly small than it is on the shaft of the 45" Eclipse I had modified last week. What this means is that inserting the 7mm stainless steel rod into the 60" Eclipse shaft really requires lots of persuasion (in the form of a rubber mallet or plain old hammer).

With the 45" umbrella, I was able to insert a full 4" of steel rod which made for a confidence-inspiring join. With the 60", I gave up after driving approximately 3/4" of 7mm steel rod into the umbrella shaft. At that point, the joint appeared to be *very* solid. There's absolutely no way the 7mm rod can be pulled out by hand and there's no "play" in evidence between the 8mm umbrella shaft and the 7mm prosthesis.

Before cutting down the Eclipse shaft, I mounted the umbrella in the Elinchrom's auxilliary umbrella holder in order to determine how far from the flashtube the canopy should be to be fully illuminated by the flash. With the Elinchrom's 6-1/4" reflector on the light, I decided the distance from the inner edge of the gizmo that slides up the shaft and opens the umbrella should be 18.5" from the flash unit's mounting tube. Consequently, I cut off the Eclipse shaft 18.5" from the inner edge of the sliding gizmo.

After driving the 7mm rod into the shaft as far as it seemed willing to go, I mounted the modified umbrella, took it for a test drive and, after determining that all was well, cut off some of the excess 7mm rod.

Some illustrations:

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3126/2887942099_ec191f10a4_o.jpg

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3043/2887942057_d7a81d16a4_o.jpg

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3078/2887942031_4878103a8b_o.jpg

One nice feature of the modified Eclipse is that it's self-adjusting in that the shaft, when inserted as far as it will go in the Elinchrom tube, will position the canopy the optimal distance from the flashtube to ensure full illumination.

On the negative side, shame on Photogenic. My 60" umbrella measures 50" from edge to edge :(

Dave F.

Post #1, Sep 25, 2008 18:33:01




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2112
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Thats pretty cool and I am sure useful to some people here. Question though, why all the modifying and experiments with Elinchrom lights? Do they not make good enough accessories themselves? For what they charge for their lights, I would hope so! Tried looking at their website but it doesnt list much.

Post #2, Sep 25, 2008 19:07:01


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tetrode
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2112 wrote in post #6381338external link
...
why all the modifying and experiments with Elinchrom lights? Do they not make good enough accessories themselves?
...

In this case, no, they don't. The Eclipse umbrellas are unique in that they have an inner layer of fabric that covers the umbrella's metal framework. This helps prevent the appearance of spider-like shadows in highlights as are produced by all other umbrellas. It's this unique characteristic that makes the mod worth doing.

In any case, Elinchrom does not offer an umbrella with a diameter greater than 41". If you need larger, you have to look to another supplier.

Dave F.

Post #3, Sep 25, 2008 19:17:19




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jdpence
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tetrode wrote in post #6381188external link
On the negative side, shame on Photogenic. My 60" umbrella measures 50" from edge to edge :(

Dave F.

I believe umbrellas are measured across their backs, not their open diameter. From the AlienBees site, "The U60 60-inch umbrellas measure 60 inches over the outside arc and 50 inches in diameter."

Jeremy

Post #4, Sep 26, 2008 10:59:28


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NathanJK
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Did you try heating the umbrella shaft with a propane torch or something to expand it a bit before wacking the stainless rod in? If successful you would have been left with an even more solid joint! The bad news is it would have discolored the shaft and would have made it necessary to wear some heavy gloves, oven mitts etc while working with it :grin: Man, I really love torches...

Post #5, Sep 26, 2008 16:45:19


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tetrode
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jdpence wrote in post #6385131external link
I believe umbrellas are measured across their backs, not their open diameter. From the AlienBees site, "The U60 60-inch umbrellas measure 60 inches over the outside arc and 50 inches in diameter."

Jeremy

This has come up before, Jeremy and doesn't appear to be universally the case. My 32" Photek umbrellas are 32" across. My 45" Calumet umbrellas are 45" across. My 60" Photek Softlighter is 59" across. However, my 45" Eclipse measures 40" across while the 60", as stated earlier, is actually 50" across.

It would appear there's no industry standard and some manufacturers have elected to market their wares using a fairly misleading and not very helpful metric. Does a photographer care about the length of the arc across an umbrella's back or the size of its actual radiating surface?

Dave F.

Post #6, Sep 26, 2008 16:46:06




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tetrode
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NathanJK wrote in post #6387309external link
Did you try heating the umbrella shaft with a propane torch or something to expand it a bit ...

Sure did. I heated the shaft on my first conversion as well. It didn't seem to help in either case though, logically, it definitely should. You may have noticed in my photos that there's quite a bit of excess shaft protruding from the rear end of the 600RX. I left that there because I do indeed intend to try heating the shaft one more time to see if I can't get more of the rod inserted.

Dave F.

Post #7, Sep 26, 2008 18:16:54




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jdpence
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tetrode wrote in post #6387315external link
This has come up before, Jeremy and doesn't appear to be universally the case. My 32" Photek umbrellas are 32" across. My 45" Calumet umbrellas are 45" across. My 60" Photek Softlighter is 59" across. However, my 45" Eclipse measures 40" across while the 60", as stated earlier, is actually 50" across.

It would appear there's no industry standard and some manufacturers have elected to market their wares using a fairly misleading and not very helpful metric. Does a photographer care about the length of the arc across an umbrella's back or the size of its actual radiating surface?

Dave F.

Dave, these must be NICE umbrellas to be going to all of this trouble. I'm in the market for an umbrella to go with an AB400 I just purchased on FM. Would you recommend the Eclipse umbrellas? It seems as though you've used a variety of brands.

Jeremy

Post #8, Sep 27, 2008 07:12:35


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SkipD
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Dave - the best solution for your modification, in my opinion, would be to reduce the diameter of the 7mm shaft just enough to go into the umbrella's shaft without forcing it. Use a little adhesive such as Super-Glue when you are totally sure you want it to stay put.

Reducing the diameter of the 7mm shaft can be done fairly easily in a couple of ways - with a lathe or a grinder. If doing it essentially by hand using a bench grinder, careful work and frequent measurements can result in a quite suitable finished product. Of course, the same care and measurements need to be applied on a lathe but the whole job is easier using a lathe. My little Unimat lathe is perfect for this sort of project.

DO NOT heat the umbrella's shaft, as that will change the hardness and strength characteristics - probably making it weaker.

Post #9, Sep 27, 2008 07:40:10


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tetrode
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SkipD wrote in post #6390407external link
Dave - the best solution for your modification, in my opinion, would be to reduce the diameter of the 7mm shaft just enough to go into the umbrella's shaft without forcing it. Use a little adhesive such as Super-Glue when you are totally sure you want it to stay put.

Reducing the diameter of the 7mm shaft can be done fairly easily in a couple of ways - with a lathe or a grinder. If doing it essentially by hand using a bench grinder, careful work and frequent measurements can result in a quite suitable finished product. Of course, the same care and measurements need to be applied on a lathe but the whole job is easier using a lathe. My little Unimat lathe is perfect for this sort of project.

DO NOT heat the umbrella's shaft, as that will change the hardness and strength characteristics - probably making it weaker.

I'm totally with you on this, Skip. Reducing the diameter of the 7mm rod is the obvious solution. For the past week, on and off, I've been researching a variety of mini-lathes that could be used for this very purpose. However, I'm not a machinist and, for me, it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to invest $400-$500+ in a machine that would be used to modify one or two $40 umbrellas. It would be nice, though, is Santa brought me this:

http://www.grizzly.com ...12-Mini-Metal-Lathe/G8688external link

The alternate plan is to find a local machine shop that would be will to turn down the rods for me. No luck so far.

I hadn't thought of using a bench grinder. I don't own one of those either. Time to hit eBay, perhaps.

Also, thanks for the warning about heating the shaft.

Dave F.

Post #10, Sep 27, 2008 10:20:00




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SkipD
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If you go with the grinder idea, Dave, you will also need a good measuring tool to measure the inside diameter of the umbrella stems as well as the outside diameter of your work. A good straight-edge will be important, too, to make sure you aren't grinding the 7mm shafts into curves. As I said before, working in small steps and careful measuring can make the job a great success.

One thing you could do with the grinder is to chuck up the 7mm rod in a drill and spin it (at a slow but constant speed) while doing the grinding. That way you will get more even cutting all the way around the shaft.

Post #11, Sep 27, 2008 10:35:40


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2112 wrote in post #6381338external link
Thats pretty cool and I am sure useful to some people here. Question though, why all the modifying and experiments with Elinchrom lights? Do they not make good enough accessories themselves? For what they charge for their lights, I would hope so! Tried looking at their website but it doesnt list much.

Sure they do! They just don't make a 60" umbrella. Not a big deal - Alien Bees don't make a 75" indirect Octa either. See my point? :)

Post #12, Sep 27, 2008 10:50:00


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Or, do it the slow but cheap way of putting it in the drill and just going up and down it with sandpaper. It sounds like it doesn't need to be turned down too much, I mean you did get it part of the way in...I think I'd invest a good hour with the drill and some really gritty sandpaper. Of course, you'll probably tear up a bunch of paper but it IS cheaper than a lathe. Just watch a TV show with the volume pretty high while you do it :grin: I'm glad to see we thought alike on heating it, too bad that didn't work out better. I know it could weaken the metal but I just don't see that being a big issue here.

Post #13, Sep 27, 2008 11:01:50


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The Continuing Saga of the Photgenic Eclipse Umbrella on the Elinchrom Flash ...
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