Photography equipment has come a long way in recent years; staggering megapixel counts, blisteringly fast AF systems, and low-light performance that was unheard of not long ago. But in my opinion, one of the most useful and underrated advancements has been in off-camera lighting, notably portable, battery-powered strobes.
Gone are the days where I hauled my 30kg case that housed my 3 Bowens Gemini lights and the rats nest of 10 metre power cables and PC Sync cords to every assignment, I no longer need to search high and low for power outlets and risk clients tripping over cables, nor do I need to spend every pound earned on a physiotherapist to repair my back from the labour of it all.
When Godox released the AD600 Pro and later on the AD400 Pro, I immediately made an eBay listing and relieved myself of the 30kg monster living in the garage. I bought 3 of the AD400 Pros as well as a couple of their TT685 speed lights along with the XPro trigger for Sony mirrorless, and I couldn’t be happier. They deliver just shy of what my powered strobes could output, weigh less, and frequently last a full day’s intensive product shoot in a dusty warehouse, with most of the shots being at full power.
A large part of what I shoot is product photos for high-end commercial clients, and having colour accuracy was a big factor. It’s safe to say they have delivered not just on colour, but output accuracy, recycle times and reliability. All at a fraction of the cost of their Profoto and Broncolor rivals. The AD600/400/200 and most recently 300 Pro line have completely revolutionised photography for a large majority of photographers. Affordable, high powered lighting that can be brought anywhere on location has been a game-changer, and I for one have loved seeing what those in the community have produced with this sort of equipment.
But there’s just one problem…
I have one gripe, just one. The light stand mount. When putting anything larger than a medium softbox on the front end of the AD400 Pro, the light bows its head and gives in under the not considerable amount of weight. If you’re a photographer that likes bright soft images, you probably have some large softboxes and octaboxes you use regularly, and may be in the same position I’ve been in where I’m constantly playing a game of tilting the head back up and putting a scary amount of pressure on the plastic tightening handle.
The problem is the large washer that’s meant to create the friction needed to hold the head in place. It seems to be made of a plywood-like material with a plastic coating on it. Not only is there no stickiness or obvious friction to the surface of the washer, but because its made of a dense wood-like material it has absolutely no compression to it, meaning when you tighten the handle it will reach a hard stop and tightening further might break it clean off. When the handle stops, you can’t tighten it any more past that, and that may not be tight enough. Why on earth Godox thought this was a proper solution to this part of the design I do not know, and what’s worse, Godox doesn’t have a great track record for proven customer service, nor do they sell spare parts to the best of my knowledge.
Turning to eBay I quickly found a supplier who sold rubber washers in any size you can imagine. For just £3.57 you can buy a five-pack of washers that are an exact fit to replace the weird composite washer that Godox fits to the mount on the AD400 Pro.
It’s worth noting that I have only done this fix on the Godox AD400 Pro, not the AD600 Pro, so you may need to adjust the size of rubber washer needed if you are going to try on the AD600 Pro.
If you’re going to order these the critical dimensions you need for the AD400 Pro are as follows:
- Thickness – 3mm (1/8”)
- Inner diameter – 8mm (5/16”)
- Outer diameter – 32mm (1 17/64”)
Once you have your rubber washers, the next step is to disassemble the strobe’s lighting mount. There are no tools required for this, all you have to do is rotate the plastic handle counter clockwise until it comes off, remove the brass ring beneath it and then remove the free half of the metal mount (this may take a little jiggling).
You’ll see in the photo of the original washer that it as a couple of slots either side of the inner hole. These slide over the specially designed bolt in the mount and will need to be cut out of the rubber washer.
Using a sharp knife or scalpel, carefully remove a small amount of material either side of the hole to mimic the cutouts on the original. This doesn’t need to be precise as the rubber is pretty forgiving. Once the two slots are cut simply slide it back over the bolt and reassemble the mount. (Quick tip: the two little ‘wings’ on the side of the bolt are slightly different sizes from one another so you may need to twist the bolt 180 degrees for the free half of the mount to slide back on.
Once reassembled you’ll have a strobe that can take the weight of your biggest modifier, and the handle will still have more room to tighten without the fear of snapping it off and ruining your photoshoot!
About the Author
Sebastian Engert is a professional event and wedding photographer based in England. You can find out more about Sebastian on his website and follow his work on Instagram and Facebook. This article was also published here and shared with permission.
Editor’s note: DIYPhotography and the author of this article take no responsibility for any damage that may occur as a result of attempting or performing this modification. You follow these instructions at your own risk.