Thursday, June 10, 2010

DIY Wimberley Macro Flash Bracket

 After buying a Wimberley F2 macro flash bracket I discovered a company that sells mounting parts for GPS devices that look like those used on the Wimberley M4 module. In fact the ball joints used in the M4 articulating arm are stamped with "RAM" the same company who manufactures the GPS bracket pieces.

The "RAM" raw stock parts do not look as polished as the Wimberley components and you would have to create a homemade mounting plate to replace the M1 module but a simple piece of flat aluminum bar stock and a few 1/4" screws & nuts could easily be used as a replacement piece.

The Wimberley F2 macro bracket is made up of two modules in their Shapeshifter product line:

1) Module 1: M1 Quick-Release Arm, which is used to connect the bracket to your camera or to a lens collar. The connection requires the use of an arca-swiss dovetail style plate, so if you do not already own one you'll have to purchase one.

2) Module 4: M4 Macro Arm, is the articulating arm where you attach your flash.

Most of the components which make up the M4 module can be recreated using the parts available from RAM. They are not identical but are close enough to work with some customization. RAM also offers other components which can be ordered if you want to custom build a macro bracket of your own design.

Components that appear to match closely with those of the M4 module are:

RAM-B-237 (x2):

RAM-B-230 :

RAM-B-201 (x2):

 The cost of the individual parts available through a local supplier (GPSmart) when added up would be slightly cheaper than buying the M4 module from a local Camera store. If you didn't already own an Arca-Swiss style plate and replaced the M1 module with a home made mounting plate/bracket the cost savings would be well worth experimenting with this homemade solution. 

Cost of the Ram parts to replace the M4 module:
RAM-B-230 : $19.95
RAM-B-237 (x2 @ $9.95):  $19.90
RAM-B-201 (x2 @ $19.95): $39.90
Total:  $79.75

The cost to buy just the M4 bracket in a local Camera store is approx $100, if you can find one sold separately. I couldn't find one here in Toronto, so i deducted the price for a M1 module that is offered, from the price of an F2 package price. The local SRP of an F2 bracket is $180. Again if you do not already own an Arca-Swiss style plate you'll need to buy one (apprx: $60) to use the Wimberley F2. So with that addition cost you have a huge budget for supplies to build a home made M1 like mounting plate to replace Wimberley's version. Might not have a quick release option, but it should only cost a few bucks to cobble together compared with at least a $100 for the commercial version.

 The Wimberley F2 macro bracket is very flexible and sturdy once you have tightened the ball joints the flash head isn't going anywhere. I've heard complaints that some of the competitor brackets suffer from slip or drift if you mount a heavy flash like a 580ex or SB900. I'm using an 580ex II and have had no problems so far nor do I foresee any, the F2 is a rock solid solution. I have a P40 like plate mounted to the bottom of the camera and find I can place the flash head anywhere I want it, even when using extension tubes. The F2 also provides a nice handle if you mount it on the left hand side of the camera. I want to add a small softbox to soften the light from the flash, and do not expect any issues with the F2.


A.Barlow said...

Question. I would like to add a component to this to hold my wireless remote trigger, preferably towards the bottom, any idea on how this could be modified using an existing Wimberley F-2?

A.Barlow said...

OK, figured it out. Going to use a Ram-B-237 connected to the F-2 by way of the extra thread on the arm (the square part) to a Ram-B-201. Add another 237 and attach a micro off camera flash ball head to it. Perfect!

Not elegant, but it will do what I need it too :)

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