Light Bank Speed Ring 101


A light-modification tool works in conjunction with different types of AC flashes. Many professional photographers put the bare tube flash head, or monolight without the reflector, in a lightbank. The quality of light is unparalleled. It mimics window light, so the appearance is extremely natural. Your goal as a still-life photographer is the creation of lighting which never crosses the viewer’s mind as being from an artificial source.

First off, we thank you for the excellent response to our first three 101 blogs about AC flash. If you missed them, you’ll want to get up to speed with the one on Flash Power Packs, Bare Tube Flash Heads, and Monolights. As essential as these AC flash foundational tools have become, very few photographers are satisfied with the raw light that they produce.

Why a Bare Tube in Lightbank?

We hear that question frequently. Often it comes from someone who owns a set of flash heads with built-in reflectors. We concede that you can get good results with those sort of flash heads, but our testing shows that you get even better images when the bare tube head is your light source.

Chimera has a fabulously engineered lightbank. They’re the lightbank of choice for directors of photography who work on the big Hollywood feature films. Chimera is also a household name among lighting designers for the broadcast field. That said, it should come as no surprise that Chimera is the lightbank darling to professional photographers. Chimera got a firm footing with advertising photographers since day one. The vast, vast majority of those shooters prefer the bare tube head’s flexibility. As the name implies, the reflector comes off the head, and it becomes a raw source of illumination.

The bare tube head works perfectly with how the Chimera lightbanks are engineered. They take full advantage of their ability to broadcast light over the back of the bank, for maximum evenness.

The speed ring is pretty much the joints which give the entire lightbank its form and stability. It’s the central hub of the complete lighting fixture. When Chimera pioneered the lightbank 31 years ago, they had the sort of static speed ring that others have since copied (some with flimsy results). Those 1980 speed rings were not easy to setup and strike.

Chimera’s 2005 solution, the Quick Release Speed Ring, finally introduced not only speed, but ease of use and safety into the equation. They don’t cost much more, either. They’re worth every penny. Even if you don’t have a Chimera lightbank, Chimera probably has a Quick Release Speed Ring for whatever brand of lightbank you have.

Real Speed: Step by Step

Setting up and striking a lightbank shouldn’t be a big deal. Most lightbanks have four rods. (A few specialized instruments have eight.) In the first illustration, we’re inserting a rod into the bank itself. The banks have pockets along their seams.

Some Chimera rods are specifically designed for one end to go into the pocket with the other end attaching to the speed ring. Rods without a notch are inserted into the bank’s pocket. The rod tips, which have a notch, are designed for the speed ring side. Make the most of how Chimera has created the system and use the rods properly.

What makes the Quick Release Speed Ring so easy to manipulate is that the entry points for the rods are not stiff. They drop down 90°.

In the second illustration, we have used the durable metal flipper and dropped down all four rod insertion points. Do this with the speed ring parallel to the ground.

As illustrated in the third image, each insertion point has a metal thumbscrew. Be sure it’s wide open, and insert a rod into each one. Methodically tighten down each thumbscrew after each rod is inserted. The thumbscrew should fit into the rod’s notch This securely holds everything together and prevents any unwanted surprises.

In the final illustration, we are carefully pulling up one rod at a time and they are snapping into place. Finally, pull the bank’s fabric up to the speed ring and hook and loop fastener it into place to optimize the efficiency of the entire instrument.

When it’s time to strike, just pull down the flippers and they’ll drop 90° for you to easily reverse the entire process. Can it get any easier?

There’s more to this story, including some background on lightbanks. You can read more on our Online Learning website.