Westcott has launched a new set of FlexiGels for the Westcott FJ400 strobe. Interestingly, though, they’re not made of your typical gel material. These are an 8-pack of reusable gels made from silicone rubber. They’re designed to fit right over the bulb of the FJ400 and colour the light with red, orange, light orange (which they say is similar to a CTO), yellow, green, blue, purple or pink.
The great thing about silicone rubber “gels” is that it should make swapping them out on a whim fairly easy. It’s a great insulator of heat to prevent you burning yourself. And as it goes over the bulb, Westcott says it’s compatible with umbrellas, softboxes and whatever other modifiers you want to use. But there may be potential negatives.
The FlexiGels are patent-pending, and it does seem like a great idea, especially made from silicone. Heat proof for helping to prevent burns from touching the bulb and also tear resistant, meaning they should last for a good while. Being silicone, they are also extremely flexible, allowing for easy packing in small spaces in your camera bag or when travelling with gear. Sure, they’re not as flat as sheets of actual gels, but these will still pack down pretty small.
They come in a pack of 8, each one a different colour, including red, orange, light orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink. It should probably be made clear at this point that while the orange is claimed to be “similar to CTO”, these are effects gels, not corrective gels. You’re unlikely to be able to match tungsten or fluorescent lighting with these. Also, being made from translucent silicone, they’ll probably eat up a lot more light than regular gels. If you are just using it as an effect on a fill or a background light or something, this may not be an issue, but it is something I’d be very interested in comparing side-by-side with similarly coloured sheet gels.
FlexiGels are all vented to match up with the vent holes in the FJ400’s flash tube allowing for hot air to exhaust and delay overheating. Silicone rubber is an insulator, though (it’s what’ll stop you getting your fingers burned, remember?), so any heat absorbed by the actual glass won’t be as easily able to escape. Westcott doesn’t mention anything about over heating and if/by how much it’s affected, but again, it’s something I’d be curious to see compared.
Note: Even though, yes, technically, silicone rubber is an insulator and would potentially prevent you from burning your fingers on it if you were to swap the gel out when hot, Westcott does advise that you allow your FJ400 to cool for at least five minutes before removing the gel.
I love the concept, and there’s no doubt that many FJ400 owners will find some great use in this. As it’s only available for this one model of light from one brand, though, I don’t think it’ll do much to convince photographers already invested in various lighting systems switch to FJ400s. Still, for those who haven’t yet decided what system to buy into for their first system, maybe this could sway them into Westcott.
The Westcott FlexiGels for the FJ400 strobe are available to pre-order now for $79.90 for the set of 8 and begin shipping soon.