Westcott FlexiGels Makes Rapid Color and Modifier Changes a Breeze
Just a few weeks ago, Westcott released an interesting new system of silicone gels meant to make the lives of photographers easier via a set of tear-resistant and heat-resistant gels that could be quickly changed out for other colors in a matter of seconds.
What Exactly Are the Westcott FlexiGels?
The silicone gels fit on top of the glass dome of the FJ400 series of lights (and similar designed third-party light systems that have a 2 height x 3.4 inch diameter glass dome) to add a splash of color to your images without having to struggle with fitting and taping large sheets of plastic gels inside of your modifiers that also runs the risk of melting if used for extended periods of time.
On top of this, the gels fit snugly so they won’t get in the way of any Rapid Box Switch, Umbrellas, and Softboxes for the FJ400 system (Bowens Mount), making it incredibly easy to use a gel with a softbox or beauty dish, and then quickly change them out to make rapid color changes to your light setups. Currently, the gels come in a pack of eight in Red, Orange, Light Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and Pink colors. It’s important to also state that these are not color-correcting gels, they are meant to purely add some fun pops of color to your lighting setups.
Why Is This A Big Deal?
For the photographers out there who like to play with color in their work, these gels simply make things so much easier and faster to deal with on set. Using traditional sheets of colored gels and gaffer’s tape means you’ll either be taping them over the light itself or even awkwardly inside a big modifier like a softbox which means you’ll also likely end up having to tape the gel across the spines/arms of the inside of the modifier. This can be time-consuming and potentially leaves sticky residue over your gear. If the tape overheats and the gel slides off, that can put a serious damper on the pacing and “vibes” of your session.
Using the Westcott Flexigel system allows you to both quickly change the colors on your lights, as well as quickly change modifiers without having to slow things down and be forced to reapply tape and gels to the new setup. In my personal testing of this system, I was able to set up the lights initially, shoot several images, and then change the gels on them (including removing and replacing the modifiers) in under 15 seconds per light.
Yes, that means taking the softbox off, pulling the gel off, replacing it with another color, and then putting the softbox back on, all in less than 15 seconds. This could have even been faster as I wasn’t rushing, and doing most of it one-handed. But no matter how you look at it, this has got to be one of the easiest and fastest color-changing systems for lighting I’ve worked with outside of the “drop-in” filter gels you may find on an optical snoot.
Admittedly, I was skeptical of the system since I’ve been using the traditional sheets of plastic and tape for years to add color to my images, but it only took one session with them to make me see the light (sorry, bad pun I know).
More Details and Examples
The Flexigels are soft, durable, and have slits that match up with the ventilation holes of the FJ400 lights so the hot air can pass through easily and not contribute to any overheating. Also, since silicone is an insulator, removing them (carefully) means you won’t get your fingers burned either. Keep in mind, it is still best to let your lights cool down a little before messing with them. Thankfully in my situation, I didn’t have a need for the modeling lights so there wasn’t much heat to deal with either way.
The new color system offers a faster and less-messy way to add creative colors to their backdrops, rim, and hair lighting, or for the subjects themselves in a system that creates less waste (think about the amount of gaffer tape and melted gel sheets that have burned through your gear bags over the years) and can pack up and travel in a very small “squishable” microfiber bag.
Given how fast these gels are to use and how they are designed to work with the battery-powered FJ400 (and similar) systems, the FlexiGels from Westcott could be a game changer for the wedding photography market where photographers have to make quick moves to match or compliment the light that is often rapidly changing throughout a session. In my studio testing, we were able to completely change out the colors on three different lights, as well as a few, modifiers in less than a minute.
Below are some sample images using the FlexiGel and the Westcott FJ Wireless Light System:
Where Can You Get Them?
The FlexiGels are available in a pack of 8 for $79 and come with a travel-friendly microfiber storage case that is lint-free and ensures the longest-lasting gels photographers will ever own. Visit the official product page to learn more about the FlexiGels system.
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