This is a review of the new lighting filters (aka gels) by Expoimaging under the brand name – Rogue. They are the makers of the Rogue Grid and Rogue Flashbenders that I use, so when I heard about their new lighting filters product I was pretty excited to see what they came up with.
I should make a disclaimer that I am using pre-production units for this review so what you see in the photos might be a little more heavily worn and unpolished than what you’d get if you purchased them.
This also isn’t a tutorial on how to use gels, but I do briefly demonstrate the usefulness of correction gels as well as what effect you may get using the colored gels.
With that said, let’s take a look at these new products and why you might want them.
Solving a problem as old as the flash
Gels have been used for quite some time with constant lights for video production (i.e., movies & TV) so naturally someone got the idea of how cool it would be to use those gels on a flash. However, the age old problem here has been – how do I attach the gel to my flash and for most the answer is usually something like this:
Gaffer’s Tape Gel Attachment
Rogue Lighting Filter Attached
Of course many nervous nannies don’t want to stick tape on their flash so all sorts of concoctions have been invented, but until now I’ve not seen an affordable solution that doesn’t require something stuck to the flash (like Velcro).
Why you should care about gels…
Many of my readers probably aren’t familiar with gels, so I’ll say up front that this isn’t a tutorial (although I hope to do one in the future). I will say that the reason why you use filters (also called gels) is primarily for correction so that you can do things like balance the color of the flash (using a CTO gel) with the tungsten lights in a room to create a consistent color that is easily white balanced across the image instead of a mixed color scenario (subject hit with the flash is one color, and the ambient background light is another color – which is near impossible to correct with white balance alone). Here’s an example:
Notice how the white of the text seems nice and white yet the background lights are very orange. This is an in-camera jpeg without any corrections (beyond cropping) to illustrate what you would get if you just fired your flash with no gel. Now, let’s see what happens when we use Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw’s White Balance tool and click on the text to get a white balance with the RAW file:
At first glance to the untrained eye you might think – wow, that’s much better – the orange cast is gone and all looks well. However, you should take note that the light under the cabinet in the background still has a strong orange tint to it.
Now let’s shoot the same shot with a full cut CTO gel (orange gel):
What you’ll notice now is that the background is really orange, but when we set the white balance on the raw by clicking the eyedropper on the white text look what happens:
Notice how the light in the background no longer has an orange tint anymore? Now mouse in and out of the image below to see the white balanced versions of the shots with and without the CTO gel to see what a difference this makes:
Mouse Over to see with CTO correction
Mouse Out to see Bare Flash
Notice how much better the CTO gel corrected version looks? This is even more noticeable when you use people as subjects in a large room with tungsten lights.
Here’s what you get…
At the heart of the Rogue Lighting Filters for flashes is this new Rogue Gel-Band which is included with the Universal Filter Kit. It’s special an elastic band that is designed to hold the specially cut gels onto any size flash head as shown here:
As you can see, it’s a simple but effective design that works quite well. If you click the image above you can see that these filters also feature the LEE Filter™ name of the gel printed on the side. Not shown on the other side is the amount of light loss printed at the opposite edge.
Rogue Universal Lighting Filter Kit for Flashes (left)
and the Lighting Filters for the Rogue Grid (right)
Each kit features a generous collection of 20 dynamic color and correction filters in the form of 14 color effects gels, 5 color correction gels, and 1 diffusion gel inside a nice compact storage pouch with quick reference dividers to keep the gels safe, organized, and easy to grab when you need them.
Here’s an example of what the kit for the Rogue Grid along with the gel inserted:
As you can see the gels are nicely labeled and feature notches to help them slide in nicely into the grid system. As a result, there’s no band required for use with the grid and the perfect fit ensures no unfiltered light spillage.
The following sample shots were taken by simply doing a straight handheld shot into white seamless paper (although black is generally better for background lighting). As you can see, when done properly these gels have no spillage issues and you get great edge to edge uniformity:
Here’s another example using the same camera, lens and flash with the Rogue Grid:
Rogue Grid Example
1/125 sec at f/11, ISO 1600, 70mm
Just Blue Filter
You control the tone, so your color palate is huge
Like any gel, you can combine filters or simply adjust the power of your flash or your camera settings to get drastically different results. For example, using the Moss Green filter below I get two entirely different results simply by changing the ISO from 100 (top) to 400 (bottom):
Moss Green Filter
1/80 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm
Flash Exposure Compensation -1 2/3
Same as above at ISO 400 instead
This means with a little effort, you can pretty much get whatever color you want using this wide set of filters.
Honl Photo makes a competing product that uses their expensive Speed Strap ($9.95 at B&H on 8/22/11) that I’m not a fan of because they fall off the flash and are easy to lose. They offer a color correction filter kit, color effects, Hollywood, and Autumn kits each of which cost $19.95 (+ $3.35 shipping at B&H on 8/22/11) and includes 5 colors (2 per color) for cost of about $3.99 per color (or $2 per filter). They also offer a sampler kit which is a little better as it has 10 colors (x2 of each).
With the Honl solution it that to get 20 colors and a speed strap you’d spend about $90 to get what is offered in the Rogue Lighting Filters Universal Kit for $29.95 (or $60 if you bought two to have 2x of each). Of course there are other expensive solutions like Sticky Filters which are $50 for 5 and the Nikon SJ-3 Color Filter set which are $23.95 for only 8, but the Rogue solution seems to be the value and variety leader.
This is a great solution that is more effective than the competition. They are well designed and durable filters created from LEE Filter™ gels, so the quality is good. The gel-band works well and is easy to use once you get the hang of it. I really loved the case that organizes the filters and the fact that they are all well labeled so I know FOR SURE if I have a half cut or a quarter cut of orange. I also love the wide selection of colors.
These are nice kits that are reasonably priced and should hold up for quite some time. I highly recommend them and feel that every photographer should toss these in their bag for the correction filters alone.
Go to B&H or ExpoImaging (see discount below) to purchase these products. At the time of this article, only ExpoImaging has them in stock, but they will be offered elsewhere (i.e., Amazon, Adorama, B&H, etc… ) in the near future.
My blog already has a discount coupon code in place for existing ExpoImaging products like the Rogue Flashbenders, Rogue Grid, ExpoDisc, and RayFlash, but I’m pleased to announce now that you can also save 15% when you use the coupon code ronmart09 to order your .
Codes change so check the discount coupon code page for the latest code if this code doesn’t work.
Like most of my reviews, I was provided a copy of the Rogue Filters to test at no obligation from ExpoImaging. While I may get a commission if you purchase using the discount from this blog or at one of my partners like B&H, it would take a hell of a lot of grid sales to pay for my son’s diapers <g>. I won’t be getting rich off you using the links, but every little bit helps to support this blog so I appreciate when you do use the links!