It’s not often we see a really quirky new product, but here the Creative Lantern Kit is something quite unique. The modular design sees a half lantern shape magnetically attach to two other modules that then clamp to your flash. The resulting light is soft and well diffused to a level well beyond that of other diffusers, and there’s the option to add coloured filters for a greater range of effects. It may look a bit odd, but it definitely works.
What is the Hahnel Creative Lantern kit?
The Hahnel Creative Lantern kit is essentially a diffuser that clips to the front of your hotshoe flash and softens the light.
The Lantern is part of Hahnel’s Module flash accessories line-up. As with the rest of the range, it uses magnets to hold each of the units securely in place.
Along with the diffuser, the kit also features six coloured filters to enable a huge range of effects.
The kit provides everything you need to get started and will fit most hotshoe flashes, or at least all that we tried.
The kit provides almost everything you need to get started; the only addition is the purchase of the 360 or 600 clamp to fit your flashgun.
This 360 or 600 clamp, depending on the size of your flash, clamps onto your strobe and then the adapter connects to the clamp followed by the Lantern. It’s all part of Hahnels Module Speedlight accessories system.
The Lantern looks like a half concertinaed paper lantern, and once in place covers the entire front of the flash. In use, the idea is the large surface area created by the lantern will help to diffuse the light to a greater extent than a traditional diffuser.
Along with the lantern in the box are six coloured filters that clip into the adapter; Yellow, Orange, Red, Purple, Green and Blue.
To help protect the filters and lantern in transit Hahnel have provided a tough fabric wallet, this has slots and pockets for all the lanterns components and will easily sit in a kit bag to ensure everything stays safe.
Build and Handling
The Creative Lantern Kit is modular with the main clamp, either the 600 or 360 (brought separately), the holder, which fits the filters, and the Lantern diffuser.
In this test, I’m using a Cactus RF60 which is a large flash akin to the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT and Nikon SB700 in size.
Once the clamp’s in place, then the holder can be installed. Rather than clips, it uses magnets which makes the attachment process nice and easy. The filters can be clipped in and out as needed if you want to add colour effects.
The paper lantern arrives folded within a frame which helps to protect it and to install it’s a simple case of unfolding and again using the magnet on the adapter to hold in place.
Once all modules are attached, it’s ready to go, and due to the design, it doesn’t add much bulk or weight. This all ensures the handling and weighting of the flash in minimally affected.
Build quality is excellent with high-quality plastics being used throughout. Hahnel has also ensured that the design of each part of the module system is shaped to interface and hold in place perfectly.
When it comes to the design, there’s little to fault for this quirky looking diffuser.
If you use the flash, then the use of a diffuser is essential. A good one will help soften the light and helps to reduce the often harsh effect created by direct and undiffused flash.
Another advantage of a diffuser is that it affects the spread of light, and this is certainly the case with the Creative Lantern Kit installed. The spread is wide and soft due to the concertina design of the folded paper.
In use, this has a fantastic effect for lighting portraits. With the diffuser in place, you can reduce the flash power with the result of soft natural-looking light.
Another use of the Lantern with the filters is to get better background effects. Pop a coloured filter into the holder, pop the flash behind your subject pointing at the wall and you have an instant coloured graduated background.
The spread of the light through the diffuser is soft and creates a fine feathering towards the edges, something that you don’t get with tradition stofen style diffusers.
Through the test, it was obvious that the Latern kit was an ideal choice for creative strobe photography, especially creating colourful background lighting and capturing soft natural portrait illumination.
The design of the lantern kit is clever using the simple clamp and magnet mounting system to enable the easy fitting and connection of the modular parts.
Fitting the clamp is relatively easy, and the large rubber pads ensure that the mount stays in place on your strobe once fitted.
Clicking in and out the coloured filters is relatively straight forward once you’ve done it a couple of times and realise just how tough and robust the system is.
With the filter in or not, the lantern module clips to the front using the magnets and can then be folded out to reveal the lantern. Then it’s ready to use.
It all takes a little longer than fitting a stofen, but the effect and the soft spread of light give you so many more options.
In real terms, the setup takes less than a minute, and the effects that the kit enables makes it well worth it.
As hotshoe flash diffusers go the concept of the Creative Lantern Kit is innovative, and in practice it certainly delivers.
Hahnel has got this product so right, is incredibly versatile and adds a huge amount of flexibility to what you can achieve with your flash.
If you’re into creative photography, portraits, still life or are looking for an easy lighting solution for product photography, then I really can’t recommend the Creative Lantern kit enough.
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