Manfrotto SpeedBox Compact Review

As anyone who is involved with photography can attest, the light coming off an auxiliary flash can be harsh. In fact, there’s an entire submarket of products that deal with modifying the light coming off flashguns. From small defusers, to bounce cards, there are no shortage of methodologies for reducing the brass from some of these powerful units. To “ease the pain” Manfrotto developed a miniature soft box, which they’ve dubbed the Speed Box Compact, that adheres directly onto your flash unit.

Manfrotto SpeedBox Compact Light Box Review

Even with its larger size, the MLS22BOX SpeedBox Compact is made to be portable and deploy quickly when the need arises with no tools required. It’s ingeniously made of just fabric, velcro and some internal spines, which provide just enough rigidity to give it structure. The internal fabric is silver coated to maximize the distribution of light through the white diffusion in front. Launching the SpeedBox Compact is a simple affair that takes about four minutes from flat to mounted on your flash.

A velcro strap can be permanently mounted around the head of your flash, but since we utilized four different evaluators for this review, we didn’t opt for long-term affixation. Instead, our testers secured the unit using the included velcro straps (hook and loop, if you want to be politically correct). “Setting up the SpeedBox Compact took just minutes and there was no issues mounting the soft box on my flash. Unless you’re chasing a runaway bride, there’s no need to use the permanent straps,” commented one evaluator.
 

Specs:

» Diffuser – Height 8.66 in
» Diffuser – Width 8.66 in
» Product – Width 10.63 in
» Product – Height 10.63 in
» Product – Depth 4.33 in
» In Bag – Height 13.78 in
» In Bag – Width 13.78 in
» In Bag – depth 2.76 in
» Light Loss (Stops) – 2 Stops
» Shape – Square
» Weight – In Bag 0.63 lbs
» Weight Out Of Bag – 0.43 lbs
» Weight – 0.63 lbs
 

    Manfrotto SpeedBox Compact Review - MLS22BOX On Camera

Our evaluators found the construction to be decent, but each was wary about the long term durability of the SpeedBox Compact. “Going from it’s collapsable state to full bloom over and over and over gives me pause as to it’s endurance,” remarked one tester. That said, the unit did not fail once during our long-term review. 

The SpeedBox Compact provided excellent diffusion for it’s size and portable nature. For “run and gun wedding photographers who are looking for full, but soft light when they’re hitting table after table of Uncle Bernie’s and Aunt Mildred’s, the Manfrotto is a compelling option,” tendered one of our reviewers who specializes in wedding photography. One caveat is flash framing that can be seen at the outer edges of pictures taken at the unit’s effective maximum distance. “I found the SpeedBox Compact worked well as flash fill for outdoor candids, but you do have to take care indoors at distance as framing will occur in small group shots.”

Manfrotto SpeedBox Compact Review - off camera

Manfrotto Speedbox Compact Review - Rear view
 
All reviewers found the Manfrotto SpeedBox Compact worked best on flash units off-camera. “Even with it’s smaller size, it can be clumsy and unwieldy when mounted on camera,” stated one reviewer. Another commented, “you have to watch that the Manfrotto doesn’t cover your [camera’s] onboard sensors, since it does cover the top third of a camera when pointed directly forward.” Two of the reviewers felt it would work quite well on a camera cage, if balanced correctly. Another felt that using the Speed Box on a stand would be the optimal configuration. The common thread being even with its relatively diminutive size for a light box, it can be difficult to field when mounted on camera.

Conclusion

The Manfrotto SpeedBox Compact really shines when using a speedlite flash off-camera. Although it can be used on camera, it’s just a tad bit too cumbersome to be used without thought. At almost $70, the Manfrotto SpeedBox Compact may give some potential consumers pause, but unit is very well built and will provide years of service, if you don’t crash into to many doorways, windows and highway overpasses when shooting.
 

Cheers:

+ Design

+ Quality of Results

+ Construction

Jeers:

– Unwieldy on Camera

– Flash Framing

– Expensive

Manfrotto SPEEDBOX COMPACT Review - 82 Rating

 
The Manfrotto SpeedBox Compact retails for $68.99 and is available now via Amazon.
 
The Future: The biggest issue that our reviewers faced was negotiating the bulk of the Manfrotto SpeedBox Compact on the camera’s hotshoe. One of our evaluators suggested more of a trapezoid shape, which would also give the “camera’s sensors some more breathing room,” although a circular shape may work as well.
 
Manfrotto
 
 

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