January 20, 2013

Totes Skinni Mini

By Jim Quinn

Light modifiers are where you find them. Today I found one in my local Walgreens drug store.

 

TOTES SKINNI MINI UMBRELLASmall umbrella, about nine inches when folded, works well as an emergency light diffuser.

 

My wife, who loves the idea of packing away small umbrellas “just in case,” spotted a display of Totes Skinni Mini umbrellas in a variety of colors. Only nine inches long when folded, they’re designed to tuck into a briefcase or raincoat pocket. They were selling for $11.49, with a second umbrella at half price, $5.74 – $17.23 for two, plus tax. That seemed fairly pricey; they were clearly flimsy, perhaps designed to be discarded after one use. I was ready to walk away.

 

But then I spotted the only white umbrella in the box. Well, let’s say it was White Plus – it also had red, green, yellow, and brown polka dots. I grabbed it, along with the dark blue one my wife selected.

 

Once I got home, I popped off the silver handle and found that the shaft fit into a standard umbrella adapter. The umbrella measured 35 inches wide when opened. I took a few test shots, using the Skinni Mini in shoot-through mode, and found that it worked as well as a standard photo umbrella. The colored spots had no obvious effect on the light quality.

 

TOTES SKINNI MINI UMBRELLASmall umbrella, about nine inches when folded, works well as an emergency light diffuser.

 

I noticed, though, that the polka dot pattern was reflected in the lens of the antique camera I used as a model for my test, so the little umbrella isn’t the ideal light modifier for jobs with highly reflective surfaces. And, of course, you probably would not make a great impression if you pulled one of these out for your next portrait of a corporate CEO.

 

TOTES SKINNI MINI UMBRELLA<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Small umbrella, about nine inches when folded, works well as an emergency light diffuser.

 

But if you need to diffuse the light from your flash for a quick portrait or a product photo, the Skinni Mini works well. And as an added bonus, you can haul it out of your camera bag the next time it rains.

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