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Lastolite unveils Ezybox Hotshoe, HiLite Background  
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 | by Mike Sturk

Lastolite has announced the Ezybox Hotshoe, a new addition to its line of portable softboxes that is purpose built to work with shoe mount strobes. Ezybox Hotshoe is comprised of a self-expanding 38cm x 38cm (15" W x 15" H) softbox, dedicated speedring and flash shoe bracket. While there are softbox kits from several manufacturers that fit this basic description, what's unique about the Lastolite offering is how quickly it assembles and how sturdy it seems once put together.

Lastolite has made three smart design decisions that contribute to the Ezybox Hotshoe's speedy setup. First, it has been designed to expand in a manner similar to a portable reflector. Second, its thin metal speedring is simply tucked into the back of the softbox and held tight by the pressure of the steel bands running through the softbox frame - there are no rods to insert. Third, the speedring and shoe bracket together are compact enough that it shouldn't be necessary to separate the two before putting them away.

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Quickie: The Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe. Click any photo to enlarge. (Photos by Mike Sturk/Little Guy Media)

Other features include a coldshoe (while the product is called Ezybox Hotshoe, the shoe isn't actually wired to fire a flash) that's built to swivel in any direction, to enable the optimum positioning of the wireless receiver on flash units such as Canon's Speedlite 580EX or Nikon's Speedlight SB-800. The softbox portion also folds flat for transport; a softbox sleeve is included.

If you're a newspaper photographer facing a daily diet of five-minute portraits, or you simply have to set up and tear down your lighting gear in a hurry, this product is worth a look. It's already on our Christmas list.

The Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe is planned for release in November 2006. The cost is expected to be just under 120 in Europe. As of this writing, the price for the U.S. hasn't been set. The company also makes Ezybox models in three larger sizes, for use with studio-type strobes.

Shadow-free portrait photography

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No Shadow: This photo was taken with the subject standing a few inches from a Lastolite HiLite Background. Click to enlarge. (Photo by Mike Sturk/Little Guy Media)

Lastolite has also introduced HiLite Background, an illuminated backdrop which is designed to reduce the distance needed between subject and background. Especially useful when space is tight, the subject is able to stand directly in front of the background without casting a visible shadow. (The photo at right was shot with the subject only a few inches away from a HiLite Background.)

The free-standing unit is collapsible and comes in two sizes: 1.5m x 2.15m (5' x 7') and 1.8m x 2.15m (6' x 7'). An optional white vinyl floor extension will also be available.

Both models of HiLite Background are are slated to ship in November 2006.

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