About this project
Thanks for taking the time to check out the FlashPipe project. This has been a work-in-progress for over a year now and it's finally perfected. I just need help funding the manufacturing process and getting it to market.
Featured on the cool site GearHungry
FlashPipe is a clever, new diffuser for your hotshoe mounted flash. There's nothing else like it and it works great. The quality of the light it produces is soft and bright with an ever-so-slight warming that makes skin tones look great. It's incredibly lightweight at just one ounce. And the coolest part is that it folds flat when not in use, saving valuable space in your camera bag or allowing you to carry it with you in a pocket at all times. It mounts and removes effortlessly and it's made out of an extremely durable thermoplastic material. On top of all that, FlashPipe will sell for less than $25, so it's a no-brainer to add one or more to your arsenal of gear. It's simple, it works great, and it's very affordable.
That's it in a nutshell, but please watch the videos and read on if you're the type who likes lots of detail. More sample photos are below and in the UPDATES section. If you've heard enough already, then go ahead and make a pledge. You'll get a really fantastic camera accessory and I'll be eternally grateful for your help in getting this launched. Thank you to all my previous backers who have returned and thank you to all the new pledgers!
*The first production run will target Canon and Nikon owners since there's such a large base of existing users. Two sizes will accommodate both company's most popular models. You'll need to tell me if you want the Regular (fits Canon 580/600 and Nikon SB900/910) or if you want the Small (fits Canon 420/430 and Nikon SB600/700/800). Any brand flash with matching measurements can also use FlashPipe, of course. There's even a beta tester who plans on using FlashPipe on the bare tube of his Quantum Q-flash, so there are lots of possibilities. Check out the UPDATES page for specific dimensions.
If you want more background info, read on....
I've been a professional photographer for a few decades now, and whenever I shoot events, or weddings, or editorial assignments, I find that sometimes I need to use on-camera flash. I prefer natural lighting, but you don't always get that luxury. When you have to or chose to, it usually looks better to use soft, diffused lighting. This is especially true when shooting people. There have been a lot of products out there to accomplish this and I've tried several, but I've found that in one way or another they tend to be lacking. Either they don't work effectively, they're bulky or awkward in use, difficult to mount, or they're just too expensive. And most occupy way too much space when not in use. Some just look ridiculous and are an unprofessional looking distraction.
I began to experiment with shapes and materials in searching for a solution that worked better. I wanted something that above all, created nice light. It also needed to be fast and easy to get on and off my flash, wouldn't weigh it down, didn't cost a lot, and was durable. And, if I needed to take it off momentarily or when I was done using it, I didn't want it taking up a lot of room in my pocket or camera bag.
After lots of thinking, drawing, making prototypes, and finally finding the perfect material (a tough, translucent thermoplastic) I had a refined design that was simple, straightforward , and effective... the FlashPipe. I also learned a lot from the previous Kickstarter launch and received great advice from several people. As a result I went back to the drawing board and made improvements that I believe now perfect it.
Originally FlashPipe was offered in two versions: The Convertible and The Wedge. But the Convertible could also do the job of the Wedge (permanently open top design) so why have both? Having two designs was confusing people, so it just makes sense to simplify the product line. Also, I found that by shortening the length of the body by one inch it not only looked better aesthetically, but it performed more efficiently. Less light was being "wasted" vertically.
The FlashPipe has a flap on top that can be fully opened or closed or left at an angle in-between. This gives the photographer the option of converting from completely diffused light or using the ceiling by completely opening the top, or opening partially and letting the flap give some forward bounce. An improvement over the first design is the top flap is now larger. It now extends past the sides and front wall slightly, so when it's closed there's no way raw light can leak out the opening. This was an important modification for using the FlashPipe in the 90º tilted forward mode. When pointed ahead instead of up, the larger flap completely shields the subject from stray light. This comes in handy when doing close proximity shots. Picture the flash head pointed forward so you can illuminate a small object like a slice of wedding cake or macro insect photo without any harsh light coming out of the edges of the top opening and you'll see the benefit.
They'll come cut and pre-folded to the right size for your particular flash model. Hook and Loop fasteners keep FlashPipe together and allow for slight adjustments in fit. FlashPipe is designed to fit snugly, but you may want to make refinements and the ability to alter the diameter also allows it to fit other brands and models as well as the Nikon and Canon models they're designed for. Pictured below are the special silicon rubber headbands that keep FlashPipe on your flash. Keep reading about the wristbands too...
You slip the grippy clear silicon rubber band around the head of your flash and slide the FlashPipe over it. That's all it takes! The resistance between the two materials holds it snugly in place. It stays put, but it's easy to remove when you want to. Slides on, slides off. Simple, huh?
The headbands aren't ordinary rubber bands, they're made out of an expensive silicon rubber compound. They're very tough and won't lose their shape and elasticity over time the way regular rubber bands do. Plus, they have a QR code that can be scanned if you ever need to contact us for anything.
The FlashPipe wristbands were created for fun and as a way to spread the word, but they also serve another function: emergency back-up. FlashPipe is designed to fit snugly so it stays in place and doesn't wobble when being used. That's why it will be offered in different diameters for different flash models for a custom fit. As mentioned earlier, the two current sizes fit the most popular models for both Canon's and Nikon's smaller and larger bounce flashes, as well as a few other brands that happen to share the same outside measurements. The tolerance is tight and the silicon headbands are thin enough to fit in the tight space between the walls of the FlashPipe and the head of the flash. But the wristbands are thicker. They aren't as stretchy or grippy, but they're silicon rubber, too. In a pinch the wristband can be used as a headband if you were to misplace yours. You'd have to loosen the FlashPipe's fit slightly by using the hook and loop closures. And here's the other benefit: if you own both sizes of a flash (a Nikon SB700 and an SB910, for example) the extra thickness of the wristband will allow the regular sized FlashPipe to fit on a smaller sized flash. It's not going to be a perfect fit, but it works and could save you in a pinch. Say you're at an event and your flash craps out on you. You find (beg, borrow, steal) a replacement flash to finish the job, but it's the smaller model or a different brand. The wristband could be your ace-in-the-hole. And you thought is was just a fashion accessory!
The price? Very affordable and competitive. In fact, it's much less than almost all the other diffusers out there and FlashPipe is the better solution I think. The goal is to sell them for $24.95. At that price point, it's way less than most of the competing products that start at $35 and go past $70. It's a great value for a lightweight, foldable, durable, nice looking diffuser.
Up to this point it's all been completely self-funded. I've spent several thousand dollars on legal fees filing for patent protection and getting incorporated, making prototypes, purchasing the domain name (I had to buy FlashPipe.com at a premium price), designing and purchasing packaging materials, and prepping for Kickstarter. I'm about tapped out. I still need to fund the first production run and get packaging inserts. This is why I need at least $5000. With that I can get tooling dies made, produce the first one thousand FlashPipes in both sizes, and have packaging printed. Quantities below these amounts are cost prohibitive. This is the largest expense and where I could really use your help.
My desire is to keep the selling price as low as possible, but I can only do that if I get large quantities manufactured and if I sell them directly from a FlashPipe e-commerce website. If I market them through retail camera stores it may require a much higher price point in order to pay the middlemen along the way. It was suggested to me by an expert that it might need to retail at around $40 to be feasible. I really don't want it to be that expensive. I believe it's worth that price for all the benefits FlashPipe offers, but I want it to be an incredible value. It's also important to me that FlashPipe be made here in America. If I have to bring in sales reps and distributors in order to get access to retail stores, then more people take a cut and you have to shave more and more off of the manufacturing cost. That invariably means producing it in Asia. I want to buck that trend and prove things can still be made here and made well. Direct selling would be the solution.
If we reach the goal, there will be just enough to get the first production run made and get packaging printed. If we exceed the funding goal by enough we'll have the means to get a storefront professionally designed and be able to purchase advertising in the right places. That way FlashPipe could be sold exclusively over the web and allow for a lower final price.
It's so close to happening, and finally everything has been tweaked. It's an even better product than before, the packaging is streamlined, and now we have some great examples photos. This is where you come in and I honestly can't do it without you. It's ready to go once the funding goal it reached and they can be rolling off the production line in about 4 weeks. Thank you so very much for your support!
*FlashPipe uses recycled materials as much as possible for all components, including the shipping materials, and everything is recyclable. Packaging is simple and minimal. The FlashPipe design is efficient in it's use of materials and durable, offering a long service life. It will be made here, printed here, and assembled here in the USA.
Here's a previous video describing the material used for FlashPipe and some other information. Now it comes pre-assembled and this greatly reduces the size of the packaging. The "Convertible" is now the standard design, but with improvements that make it even better than before.
Do you have the dimensions of the flash heads that the small / medium sized flashpipes are designed for? I have a third party flash and would like to know which size is closest in fit.
Yes, here are the dimensions for both sizes:
The small is 1 5/8" x 2 5/8" or 1.625" x 2.625" or 42mm x 65mm.
The standard is 1 3/4" x 2 3/4" or 1.75" x 2.75" or 45mm x 70mm
If your flash head is within those measurements, you can make the current sizes fit. Keep in mind that the material flexes and will allow for some give. Also, you can adjust the fit buy opening the back panels and re-sizing using the hook & loop closures. You can even trim a sliver of material from the outside vertical edges and this will allow for a tighter/closer fit where the two back panels come together. By making the back two panels narrower they will overlap more and create a smaller internal diameter.
The silicon headband adds about 1mm of thickness to each side of your flash when it's stretched around the head.
If you still have gaps because your flash head is much smaller than these dimensions you can use foam tape to increase the thickness of your head. See UPDATE #7 where this is discussed and a link is provided so you'll know what kind of foam tape you'll be looking for.
Thanks for inquiring. The FlashPipe Convertible is designed to work on externally mounted hotshoe flashes. It will not work on a D90 or other cameras with built-in pop-up flashes.
But... I have a prototype design I'm calling the FlashPipe Cube which is specifically designed for built-in pop-up flashes like on the Nikon D90, the Canon 7D. and others. I hope to have a Kickstarter project to launch that in a month or two. I think you'd like it. It'll be about 3 inches cubed and have a mount that slides into the camera's hot shot to support it. Then the flash pops up inside the cube for diffused light. Internal reflective material bounces the flash's light around inside and spreads it throughout the interior. The light is piped higher than where the flashtube usually emits its light, so this will reduce or eliminate red-eye, which often is a problem on these low mounted flash tubes. And of course it'll fold flat when it's not in use like all FlashPipes.
When it launches I'll email you and you can check it out here on Kickstarter.
Priority Mail is going to be the standard shipping method. It's actually over $5, but I didn't want to exceed that because it does start to get to be too much in relation to the cost of FlashPipe, so I'm absorbing the difference. I can send it regular First Class postage, but then there's no tracking, so I don't know if it gets to everybody or not. And then I have to purchase mailers. It been over a month since I went down to the bulk mail center, but I recall First Class costing less than $3. I need to go back and talk to the USPS again now that it's slightly lighter and because I'll be mailing several at a time. Maybe they have a cheaper solution. I've just been too busy to got back recently... Dealing with getting a new roof put on today and tomorrow because of a hail storm, but later tomorrow or Saturday I'll find out definitively all the shipping options and hopefully get a better rate. The nice thing about USPS Priority is that I can use their cardboard Flat Rate mailer and there's not additional cost for packaging, it gets there quickly, and tracking assures that we both know where it is. Lots of details and things to consider. Stay tuned and I'll post an update soon. Thanks!
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