The Intellytech Fast Frame Scrim & Diffuser W/ Honey Comb Grid and Diffusion is a product that caught my eye, and I was keen to try it out.
Usually, the best way of creating a nice soft light source is to punch a high output light through diffusion.
Carrying around 4′ x 4′ and larger diffusion screens and then setting them up can be a real headache. Not only do a lot of the options on the market require you to construct the frames from scratch, but then you need to carry around large, heavy light stands to rig the diffusion to.
Intellytech has tried to make using and setting up large diffusion screens less of a headache. In this review, I am going to look specifically at their FF-5×6.5’HC Fast Frame Scrim & Diffuser W/ Honey Comb Grid & Diffusion.
As the name suggests the F-5×6.5’HC is 5 x 6.5′ (152.5 cm x 198.1cm). This large size makes it suitable for a range of lighting solutions.
What do you get?
The FF-5×6.5’HC Fast Frame Scrim & Diffuser W/ Honey Comb Grid & Diffusion includes the following items:
- Foldable Fast Frame
- Diffusion Cloth – 1/2 Stop
- Honeycomb Grid
- Carrying Bag holding all of the included accessories
It’s nice that Intellytech includes a honeycomb grid. This is not something you usually see with a lot of diffusion frame kits.
The bag is made out od a fairly robust material and it opens at one end. Instead of a zipper, the bag is fully stitched on both sides and there is velcro at the top to close and open the bag.
Whether you like this design will be a personal choice. I have found in the past that zippers tend to break easily on bags like this, however, a zippered bag is easier to access. Without a zipper, I think if you were going to check this bag in on a plane, you may want to tape up the end to avoid the bag unintentionally coming open.
For something that is relatively lightweight, I was surprised by how well the Fast frame is made. It doesn’t feel flimsy or like it is going to break.
The frame unfolds and then folds back up easily. Just how well this fold up and fold out design will stand up to years of use is hard to know.
The diffusion cloth and the honeycomb grid attach to the frame through the use of velcro and I like how Intellytech has designed it this way. There are enough velcro attachment points that nothing is going to come loose or fall off.
For such a large screen the honeycomb grid stretches across the frame really well and stays in place.
There’s a reason it’s called a Fast Frame
The brilliant thing about the design of the frames is that they are super quick to set up. Once you originally make the frame and attach the diffusion (and/or honeycomb grid), the next time you go to use it there is just two steps involved.
1. Unfold the included metal frame
2. Lock the hinges into place
It’s that simple. There is no need to construct and insert frame rods and then attach up your diffusion. You can literally just pull it out of the bag and be ready to go in a couple of minutes.
When you are finished using it, you just reverse the steps and put it into the included bag.
The great thing about this product is it can be easily and quickly set up by a solo operator. I could take the system out of a bag, set it up, then pack it down and put it back in the bag in under 2 minutes.
The speed of set up and pack down times is what makes this product stand out from the copetition.
How small does it pack down to?
The FF-5×6.5’HC Fast Frame Scrim & Diffuser W/ Honey Comb Grid & Diffusion once folded down is 63″ x 6″ x 2″ (160cm x 15.2cm x 5.1cm). I weighed the whole kit (including the bag) and it tipped the scales at 4.5 kg (9.92 lb). Funnily enough, I think the honeycomb grid is almost 50% of the total weight.
This makes it pretty compact considering it folds out to be a 5 x 6.5′ frame. For transporting this compact size certainly helps, but you still need to factor in the length when placing it inside vehicles or working out where to store it.
The nice thing about the Intellytech is that it is light enough that you can attach it to a single stand or if you are indoors you can literally just lean it against something.
You can also use it as an overhead diffusion screen if you attach it to a couple of stands and use clamps.
The only thing I wish Intellytech had of done was to put some small markings on the frame so you could tell exactly where the middle was. This would have made attaching the frame to a bracket so it had the right weight balance, a lot easier.
A lot of products can look great on paper, but that means nothing if it isn’t transferred over into real-world usability.
So how did I find the FF-5×6.5’HC Fast Frame Scrim & Diffuser W/ Honey Comb Grid & Diffusion?
In short, I really like it. For me, the speed and ease of use are what makes this a great product. I love being able to take the FF-5×6.5’HC on a job and then unpack and have it set up within a couple of minutes.
In the past, I have been reluctant to use large diffusion screens when I am working as a solo operator or in small crews. They just took too long to set up, I had to carry around heavy stands, and this all combined to make it an unpleasant process.
The other great thing about the Intellyech is that it is so light that it is easy to move around a reposition. This lightweight also makes it a quick solution for using outdoors By getting an assistant or someone to just hold onto it, you can create some very quick diffusion. Now, that method is not going to work for all conditions, but when the sun is on one side of your talent or it is late afternoon or early morning, it’s large enough that it will work.
If you do want to use it as a traditional overhead diffusion screen you can just set it up on light stands using a couple of simple clamps. If you are indoors this is really easy to do and you don’t actually need to use super large light stands.
Above you can see how it looks outdoors as a diffusion screen. Please note, that I’m not using any sandbags, and I only have two light stands supporting it in this example. If you are going to use it outdoors as an overhead screen on a professional shoot then I would recommend you use sandbags as a bare minimum. I would personally use sandbags and four-light stands.
My only small gripe with the product is because the diffusion and the honeycomb grid are attached to the frame via velcro, if there is quite a bit of wind you will hear the material flapping around.
Using a large diffusion screen can really help you create very flattering light. I was able to use the Intellytech in a variety of ways, and to me, that is the mark of a good product. Above you can see some simple example shots where I am just using a single light source and the diffusion screen.
I also used the screen on a recent shoot, but as that hasn’t gone to air yet, so I am unable to show you any footage.
Intellytech doesn’t currently sell any other diffusion cloths, blacks, or any other material for the Fast Frame system. When I asked them if they have plans to do so, they told me that “We are planning on offering different strength diffusion that customers could order a la cart in a few months.”
I would also like to see a black cloth and a silver or gold cloth made available.
The Intellytech FF-5×6.5’HC Fast Frame Scrim & Diffuser W/ Honey Comb Grid & Diffusion costs $379 USD which makes it a slightly more affordable option when you compare it to some of the other similar sized diffusion kits.
Intellytech also sells a smaller FF-5 x 3.2’HC Fast Frame Scrim Diffuser with Honeycomb Grid for $319 USD.
As a comparison, the Matthews Light Duty Butterfly Kit – 6×6′ is $713.07 USD. What you do need to factor in is the Matthews kit comes with 2- Light Heavy Double Riser Stands ($129 USD each), and 2- Hollywood 2-1/2″ Grip Heads ($32 USD each). So essentially you are really only paying $391.07 USD for the frame, diffusion, and bag.
There are also options like the Sunbounce Pro Sun-Swatter with Translucent 2/3 Screen Kit (4 x 6′) which is currently available for $299 USD (normally $407 USD).
The thing is, neither of these options can collapse down into a single unit. They both take considerably longer to set up and pack down. Neither of these options includes a honeycomb grid.
The other option is of course to DIY something up yourself using PVC piping. Now, while there is nothing wrong with doing this, you are still forced in constructing up a frame and then attaching the diffusion every time you go to use it.
The FF-5×6.5’HC Fast Frame Scrim & Diffuser W/ Honey Comb Grid & Diffusion is one of my personal favorite products that I have reviewed so far this year.
It’s well designed, lightweight, and super quick to set up and tear down. For creating a large soft lighting source without needing large stands, heavy frames, and multiple people, it is hard to beat.