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Using a Cheetahstand Chop Stick

UPDATE August 14 2014

My client just released our video of his 2017-18 Season which includes some BTS footage which shows how I used my 59″ Zeppelin with the Cheetahstand Chop Stick.

Light fully focused in the 59″ Zeppelin using a Cheetahstand Chop Stick for The Elephant Man publicity shot.

UPDATE: August 3 2017

Today I used the Cheetahstand Chopstick with my Westcott Zeppelin 59 in combination with my Flashpoint Xplor 600 using the remote head. In all but two cases the Zeppelin was my key light. Some shots involved five lights, some only three. I was given permission to post three shots by my client even though their publicity for these images has not yet been released. (obviously since I just created them today!)

My only BTS shot since it was pretty hectic on set and my partner had to leave to film another client. You can see that for the shot I’m about to do the Zep is fully focused, meaning the light is only 8 inches from the rear of the modifier. I like using my Elinchrom Deep Octa as a rim light. The light just behind the Elinchrom is my gobo modifier.

Three light shot, Zeppelin as key light flagged and highly feathered on the talent. Gobo on Xplor600 is creating the rays of light pattern.

Four light shot. Zeppelin is the key light.

Four light shot. Zeppelin is the key light.

Three light shot. Fresnel attachment to my Xplor 600 is the key light.

Original Article

Recently I have had a number of people contact me about using Cheetahstand’s Chop Stick in modifiers other than their Rice Bowls. I have used the Chopstick quite a bit with Westcott Zeppelins, both the 47 and 59 inch models. Edward of Cheetahstand has manufactured a well made device made up of his own proprietary mount/speed ring and a collar that fits on any Bowens mount. The focusing arm he developed is well done and includes an eyelet on the end to hold a counterweight should you need one. I find Edward a nice fella who genuinely likes offering devices that makes a photographer’s life better.

But what many people ask is “Do I need to buy a mount/bracket from Westcott if I’m going to use the Chopstick with the Zeppelin, or can I save money by not having to buy the mount?” The short answer is you must buy the Westcott mount with a Bowens speed ring if you want to use the Cheetahstand Chop Stick. The Westcott Mount/Speedring is more robust in build than the Cheetahstand one although I have no issues with the one from Cheetahstand. As a matter of fact I like the fact that it’s lighter and has a nifty quick release on the light stand spigot. Very handy! 

BUT and this is a big BUT, the Westcott speedring’s holes are larger than the Cheetahstand speedring. Westcott Zeppelin rods will NOT fit into a Cheetahstand mount. But in reverse Cheetahstand’s Rice Bowls will fit into a Westcott Zeppelin mount. There are other difference that are worth noting too….

Cheetahstand speedring rod holes are 6mm.

Westcott’s Zeppelin speedring rod holes are 8mm.

Westcott’s distance from the center of the mount pivot to the center of the rod hole is 77mm. This allows the Zeppelins to tilt further downward than the Cheetahstand Rice Bowls. This is a key factor to consider for your use.

Cheetahstand’s distance from the center of the mount pivot to the center of the rod hole is 36mm which is half as long as Westcott’s. It prevents the Ricebowl from any significant downward tilting. I fabricated my own mount because of this limitation.

Bowens mount at the back of the Westcott Zeppelin speed ring.

The Chopstick adapter plate mounted on the Bowens ring. The knob at the top controls the forward/aft tension of the stick to lock it into place. The knob at 4:00 pulls out to allow the plate to be secured to the Bowens mount.

The ‘stick’ of the Chopstick mounted into the bracket. The total distance the stick can extend is 2 feet 3/4 of an inch. The knob on top of the mount allows the larger diameter portion of the rod to be moved fore/aft and the other knurled grip allows the smaller diameter pole to slide in and out of the housing. Very well designed and well made.

Tomorrow I have a shoot and plan to use the Zeppelins with the Chop Stick along with my Cononmark reflector. If I have time I will do some BTS shots of them and update this post. I’m a bit disappointed that my Parabolix Deep 35 won’t arrive in time for tomorrow’s session. Sigh…. But stay tuned for a full review of that modifier later this year.

18 thoughts on “Using a Cheetahstand Chop Stick”

  1. Wow, I CANNOT thank you enough for posting this so quickly. Really saved me from making some mistakes buying the wrong parts.
    But now I am even more excited to know that you are getting a Parabolix since that is one that I have been looking at for a while now. I feel that it may be THE one to have after all my testing is done. The easy setup compare to the other options (well the Cononmark is also easy to setup) makes it very intriguing. I see you went for the Deep 35 which measurements are very similar to the Para 88. I am probably going with 45 or bigger but still cannot wait for your evaluation of it compares to the Zeppelin and Cononmark.
    This blog is fantastic!

  2. Curious why you decided to get a Parabolix after all? Seems from what I’ve read here you were not convinced in the value of those modifiers relative to other similar and less expensive ones you already have. Or did I misunderstand?

    • Hi Ron, I think you may have misunderstood me. I have never discounted considering the Parabolix line of modifiers. I rented and used the Bron Para 88 (when I could finally find a rental house that had them for rent with the focusing rod) and loved it. The setup bars which expand the unit are a fantastic design and feature. The light is scrumptious but it didn’t present a ‘good enough value’ for me at 4300.00 USD. They are now around 3600.00 USD which is still too pricey for my client base income to present a good value. When I was made aware of the Parabolix units on Flashhavoc a few months ago I was truly intrigued. Unfortunately no one in my area rents them as of yet. At around 900.00 which is approximately 1.5 to 2.0 times what I’ve been spending on individual modifiers they may make sense. They offer a 14 day return policy which I will use if I find that the light is not 2.0 times better than what I’m using. Or if their design is really solid I will just keep it if the light is really good.

      • Thanks for explaining. IMO the Parabolix design seems a fair amount better than the other common options in discussion here, particularly the focusing rod and its mount. My initial interest was to get their focus rod and use it with the Elinchrom Deep Octa and maybe add a Litemotiv 120… but at the cost of acquiring the Profoto adapter for those modifiers in order to use their rod, just outright getting their deep 35 and/or 45 might make more sense. At least more so the 45 since I don’t yet have the Litemotiv 120. Given the Litemotiv would be ~$500 + adapter + focusing rod, their Para 45 package price would be a bit better. I’m looking forward to your experience with the Deep 35!

      • As I own the Mola Setti which I LOVE for headshots and even halfbody shots, I kind of got less excited when using regular softboxes as shots from the Mola basically are ready to go from the camera.
        That is when I started looking for Paras for that look I want for full body shots as well.
        I am seriously considering ordering the Parabolix 55 today. 🙂

        • LOL, Mark I hear your enthusiasm. I personally love the light produced by inverse light and the flexibility it gives me. At first I thought it was another photography fad, but after using various inverse modifiers for the past 18 months they have become my go to modifiers. I also like hard light and of course I don’t use them in those instances.

        • If you do, write a review for it because there’s very little 3rd party Parabolix info out there. I’ve been debating which size(s) would suit me best. Considering I already have an Elinchrom 39″ Deep Octa (which I think I can mod to work with the Parabolix focusing arm), maybe going all the way to 55″ makes more sense than 45″.

          • Ron, once I get the unit and have time I will write a review. If you can convert an Eli Deep Octa to an inverse modifier let me know how you’re doing so. I built myself a very non elegant bracket to turn any Bowens modifier into an inverse type but would love to see how you plan to do so. The issue for me was really how to mount the modifier to a light stand to allow it to swivel.
            http://www.markkitaoka.com/latest-news/focusing-parabolic-rod-and-cheetah-stand-rice-bowl/

          • Oh yes, I am planning to do a comparison review of ‘the Parabolix, the new Fotodix Parabolic they are sending me for evaluation and the Zeppelin 59″ with adjusting arm for my youtube channel.
            I agree that there is little information about them for sure so makes it hard for people to take a gamble on them even with the return policy.
            Regards!

          • I would get the Parabolix arm and use it in the Elinchrom modifiers. The Parabolix appears to use a Profoto mount to hold the modifier to the arm, so, I’d get the Elinchrom Rotalux speedring with Profoto mount to adapt the Deep Octa and the Profoto bracket for the Litemotiv, and probably either remove it from the Elinchrom bracket, or position it in a way to be more or less out of the way of the Litemotiv. But I’m now thinking, pending your reviews, that it would make more sense to skip the Litemotiv 120 and instead get the Parabolix 45 or 55 kit with the arm. I already have the Deep Octa, so it would just be a matter of getting the Elinchrom Profoto speedring for it in order to use the Parabolix arm.

  3. For me THIS is what make a good community of people. Those willing to share actual information/examples with others rather than just theoretical geometry of parabola angles.

    • I agree that in the end, actual results from a real photoshoot is what really can tell us if a product is or not a good fit for our needs. 🙂

  4. Have you heard anything about your Parabolix? They told me it takes like 10 days to get the order shipped now as they are moving to a bigger place.

    • Mark I was told when I placed my order early last week that they had run out of focusing rods and more were on the way. When I wrote to them on Monday to ask when they’d ship my order they said that they would let me know. So one of the things that is disappointing to me is the amount of time it takes to obtain their product. They are in Southern California and I’m in Northern California. By UPS Ground it takes only two days to get items.

      • Yeah and their communication is not very fast either. But they didnt mention anything about the rods to me, just that they were moving and it would take around 10 days to ship mine if I place the order.
        Oh well, hopefully it will be worth the wait. lol

  5. After testing the Westcott adjusting Arm I will have to say to anyone reading this..give the Chopstick a try instead. It is a much more elegant solution. The Westcott Zeppeling is nice but the arm seems like a 3 part after thought that was created to fill a gap in their products.

    • Hi Mike at the time I purchased the Westcott Mounting Arm it was the only alternative to the Bron Para 88. I believe that Westcott recognized the value of an adjustable arm since they placed a zipper in the bottom of the Zeppelins so you could use it as an inverse modifier. I too believe that the Cheetahstand Chop Stick is a better option for my work.

      • Well the zipper at the bottom was meant for another light stand with a strobe as that is how they originally marked this. The Adjusting arm came later.
        Anyways, looking forward to getting the Parabolix next to see how it compares. Almost sure I will go with 35D or 45 at most. The 59 Zeppelin feels really big on the field. Of course, its very hard to put together compared to the Parabolix.

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