How To Use the MagBeam
Getting Started with the MagBeam
Our MagBeam is a revolutionary product designed to make creating focused light and light patterns incredibly easy. It's one of our most technical products, so here are a few important things to remember when setting up and using your MagBeam. We've also created a short video positively bursting with information to walk you through setup and use of the MagBeam, so you can get out and shooting in no time!
The MagBeam utilizes two different lenses: the Tele Lens and the Wide Lens. They're pretty easy to tell apart just by looking at how the light refracts through the lens. The Tele Lens looks like a magnifying glass, where the Wide Lens... just looks pretty funky (the best technical term we could think of). To make it super easy to tell the lenses apart even from inside your camera bag, we put a half-circle notch on the edge of the Wide Lens.
The Tele Lens is used to produce a spotlight effect with an increased effective exposure output. It can be used when the MagBeam is collapsed, semi-extended, or fully extended—which is where the Tele Lens really shines.
On the other hand, the Wide Lens is used only when the MagBeam is fully collapsed, and only with MagMasks. If you use the Wide Lens without the MagMasks, or with it extended, it will not produce the desired results, and you'll likely feel confused because things look...odd. Also, if you put a MagMask in a MagGel holder, the MagBeam will not project the design of that MagMask correctly. The MagMasks can only be used when placed inside the MagBeam's special MagMask slot.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to install the lenses into the MagBeam. If you run your finger over the lenses, you’ll feel that one side is smooth and the other side has grooves cut into it along the surface of the lens. These grooves help to "focus" the light. In order for the MagBeam to work properly, these grooves need to be installed facing inward towards your flash. If you don’t install the lenses correctly, it will not produce the desired results. Fortunately, it’s easy to install, even in the dark. Just rub your finger over the surface, turn the grooved side in towards the flash, and slip it into the front lip on your MagBeam (the larger end).
Using the Wide Angle Lens and MagMasks
The MagBeam must be fully collapsed before using the Wide Lens. As mentioned previously, the Wide Lens was created solely to work with the MagMasks. To do this, install the MagMasks at the base of the MagBeam into the integrated slot. If you want to add some color, you can also insert a gel into the same slot along with your MagMask. Take a photo to test the results! If the pattern doesn't appear properly, make sure your MagBeam is fully collapsed, that you are using the Wide Lens (the one with the notch), that your MagMask is inserted flush into the integrated slot, and that the Wide Lens has been inserted properly into the MagBeam (the grooves must point towards the flash).
Using the Telephoto Lens
To get the 'cleanest' light output (edge-to-edge uniformity) from the MagBeam, set your flash head zoom setting as wide as you can, 24mm or wider. The wider the zoom on your flash the better!
To get the highest flash output possible with the Tele Lens (which is what most wildlife and bird photographers need) set your flash head zoom to 70mm or greater. Between 70mm and 200mm the output is essentially the same. Before shooting wildlife or bird photography with an on-camera flash, you will want to calibrate your flash setup to get the best results. This will ensure that the MagBeam is producing light directly in the center of your frame. You can follow the calibration setup instructions below.
Calibrating the Telephoto Lens
Depending on your setup, you will probably need to calibrate the Tele Lens to get the light in the center of your frame. Each flash or lens setup might require a different amount of “tilt” for proper calibration. To start, install the MagGrip 2 on your flash and angle it backward by pushing the top side of the MagGrip 2 towards the back of the flash. Make sure it is even from side to side.
With your flash mounted to your camera, take a photo against a blank wall using the Tele Lens in the MagBeam using a wide angle camera lens to capture the entire scene with the flash exposure. Something around 70mm or wider would be just fine. If the MagBeam’s concentrated flash is in the dead center of your photo, then you are ready to shoot! If not, you will want to adjust the MagGrip 2’s angle to properly center the flash exposure.
If the flash is appearing too low in your photo, tilt the angle of the MagGrip 2 backwards to raise the beam of your flash. If the flash is appearing too high in your photo, tilt the angle of the MagGrip 2 forwards to lower the beam of your flash. Once the flash is landing in the center of your photo, you are properly calibrated and ready to begin shooting with the Tele Lens.
If your flash is mounted in the cold-shoe of your camera, switching camera lenses should not effect the calibration of your flash exposure. If you mount your flash on a longer telephoto lens, you will want to do the calibration process using the lens to which it will be mounted. If you cannot find a wall to photograph against, just make sure you can evenly see the flash exposure in any test photos to ensure proper calibration. It usually only takes a few adjustments to properly calibrate the MagBeam to your specific wildlife flash setup.
Extending and Collapsing the MagBeam
Extending the MagBeam is super easy! Simply hold the base of the MagBeam in one hand, and the top of it in your other hand. While grasping firmly, pull each side apart to expand the MagBeam.
To collapse the MagBeam, simply grab onto the top sides of the MagBeam (the larger end) with your thumbs, and pull the next section in towards the base of the MagBeam using your fingertips. Then repeat for the next section. It might take a few tries to get the hang of it at first, but it’s just like riding a bike. Once you've done it a few times, you've got it down!
How Far Does The MagBeam Extend?
The distance the MagBeam extends the light is determined by a few things.
- Flash power
- Flash zoom
- How Far the MagBeam is extended.
For example, after testing the MagBeam fully extended with the flash zoomed to 200mm with the Tele Lens installed, we've discovered that you achieve 2.5 stops of effective light. With some simple math we can understand that if you would typically get 50ft range with the bare bulb the MagBeam would reach 125 feet in this configuration.
Storing your MagBeam
The MagBeam’s fresnel lenses can act like a magnifying glass, which if used improperly could burn or melt other objects. While it’s pretty unlikely you could accidentally damage your flash or other camera gear with the lenses installed in your MagBeam, we recommend you avoid pointing the MagBeam directly towards the sun while shooting for any extended amount of time. We also recommend you store the MagBeam, and it’s lenses, in the provided MagMod pouch when not in use.
Please note! These lenses are designed to magnify and shape light. Do not leave them outside, in sunlight, or near bright or hot light sources unattended. When used improperly, lenses can produce intense light output that can cause combustion, start fires, or damage eyesight. Do not look directly into any magnified light source.