Strobist Gel Pack Review

Strobist Gel CollectionI’m sure many of you are familiar with the Rosco Free sample swatch book program (I am not even gonna link to that, see why in just a bit). I bet you noticed that those fine babies are gone from the stores too.

Here’s why: When Rosco made the sample program, the main target of it was to enable stage workers, artists and theater decorator to select just the right gel for their needs. They never saw it coming when a huge crowd of photo enthusiasts started to use those free sample swatch books for gelling flashes. Now why would you want to gel your flash and a solution to the problem + a review after the jump.

First Thing First – Why Would You Wanna Gel Your Flash?

If you are a Strobist at heart and you use off camera flash there are several reasons why you’d wanna gel your flash:

1. Match flash color to florescent ewwish green
To the naked eye florescent looks white – to the camera it looks green. Now what happens when you use flash in an environment lit by florescent lights? You get nice white from the flash and eewish green from the florescent. A hard mix to work with. If you could match your flash color temp to be florescent green, you could set your camera’s WB to florescent and avoid a mixture of color temperatures.

2. Match flash color to warmish tungsten
This is dealing with a very similar problem only from another angle. Now you want to match your strobe light color temp to the one of an incandescent bulb, again to avoid a mixture of color temperatures

3. To open up some creative freedom
gelled girlBy gelling your flash you can control the color of your light. Once gelled, your flash does not have to shoot boring white light anymore, it can shoot Yellow, Blue, Exotic Sangria and a bunch of other lights.

Just imagine your subject lit with an Exotic Sangria light. Can you beat that?

And a bunch of other cool stuff.

So What’s The Deal With The Strobist Pack Thing?

OK, so you see how useful gels are when it comes to off camera lighting. And it just so happens to be that the swatch book is almost a perfect match for the size of a small hot shoe flash. Almost. But photographers ordered them by the dozens. Now, the sample program was meant for samples, not for mass flash consumption.

David Hobby and the smart guys from Rosco came up with a solution better fitted for the off camera lighting lovers. A Rosco/Strobist Gel kit. I got some kits for review and I must say, I was a big fan of the sample book, and now I am an ever bigger fan of the Rosco Strobist kit. Not only because I’d hate to see Rosco go out of business for giving away all their gels for free, but mostly because the Strobist kit is a better solution for off camera flashes:

1. It costs just like 2 Big Mac meals and has no cholesterol
Yup, it’s is only 9.95 from Amazon, Adorama or B&H. While it is not free, it is great value for the price. + It is much healthier than Big Mac + Fries.

2. No “junk” and lots of the goodies
It has multiple copies of the most useful gels like 1/4, 1/2 and full CTO (warming), 1/4, 1/2 and Full CTB (cooling) and Plusgreen (Florescence). And while the sample book had some nice goodies, most of it remained unused.

3. Size doesn’t matter yet…
sample rosco Vs. strobist collection roscoThe Strobist collection has the gels cut to 1.5″ x 3.25″ – just perfect for small strobes. Ok, so are the samples. BUT, no more “peeping” flash from behind that hole that binds all the samples together. (See the Strobist collection gel on left, sample swatch on right).

4. Fits right in the bag, as the kit comes inside a cool little case that you can put your filters into once you are done using them.

5. And the Creative is still inside – Rosco did not forget to include a bunch of color gels (blue, green, yellow and so on) for creative usage like backdrop painting.

What’s In The Box?

All gels are pre cut to 1.5″ x 3.25″. You get 5 of the following gels:

  • 1/4, 1/2 and full CTB (cooling)
  • 1/4, 1/2 and full CTO (warming)
  • Pale Gold (for skin tones)
  • Tough Plusgreen (for fluorescent)

You get two of the following gels:

  • N15, N9 and N6 Neutral Density

You get one of each (all creative gels):

  • Straw (Yellow), Orange, Light Red, No Color Pink, Skelton Exotic Sangria (Magenta), Rose Indigo (Purple), Primary Blue, Cerulean Blue (Cyan), Dark Yellow Green

There is a nice box thingy that holds the gels.

Two index cards for easy navigation.

Short Conclusion

The Strobist gel collection is now a part of my camera bag forever and ever. In fact it is so cool, that I am planning to do a cheat sheet with it soon.

See that little blue dude for a few paragraphs above? He’s planning on giving away a few of those kits, stay tuned for more details, and follow me on Twitter if you want a head up on that, as it will go live on twitter before it goes live on the blog.


– Rosco’s Strobist Kit page
– Rosco Strobist Collection on Amazon
– Strobist: Gelling for Fluorescent
– Strobist: Gelling for Tungsten