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New Vagabond Mini Lithium mounting option now available  
Saturday, July 14, 2012 | by Rob Galbraith
In November 2011, we published a roundup of some of the light stand mounting methods available for the Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium portable power pack. It included a homegrown solution developed by photographer James Burke, one that we really liked but lacked the tools and skill to make ourselves. Burke has solved that problem, by turning his custom clamp into a product that's now available for purchase.

Called the Burke Vagabond Mini Lithium Bracket, or BVMLB, the two-piece clamp is made of steel with a black powder coated finish. It screws into the Vagabond Mini Lithium's 1/4-20 socket, but also inserts into the strap openings on each side of the portable power pack's case, thereby greatly reducing the stress on the pack's 1/4-20 connection point. This is a smart design that doesn't require the Vagabond Mini Lithium to also rest on a part of the stand, which is a requirement of almost all other mounting options we've tested or seen, including the Vagabond Mini Lithium's included spring clamp.

Snug Fit: The Burke Vagabond Mini Lithium Bracket. Click to enlarge (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)

The BVMLB is designed for small-to-medium light stand pole diameters between about 7/8in (22mm) and 1 1/8in (29mm). It attaches securely: the Vagabond Mini Lithium doesn't spin or slide at all, even with the BVMLB's two thumbscrews turned until only moderately tight. It's not the fastest to deploy of the mounting solutions we've tried, mainly because of the slight fussiness involved with getting the second washer and thumbscrew on with one hand while holding the pack in position with the other (it helps to rest the base of the pack on a stand knuckle during this part of the attachment process). Once in place, however, the Vagabond Mini Lithium isn't going anywhere.

Because of the relatively shallow depth of the BVMLB, it will generally be possible to leave it attached to the Vagabond Mini Lithium during storage and transport.

  BVMLB strengths
  • Sturdy steel BVMLB holds Vagabond Mini Lithium securely to the stand
  • Battery can be changed without removing the pack from the stand
  • Design eliminates the need to rest the base of the pack on some part of the light stand
  • The pack can be stored in a gear bag with the BVMLB attached
BVMLB weaknesses
  • BVMLB will accommodate stand diameters only within a somewhat narrow range, and will not fit on the lowest sections of some beefier light stands such as the Manfrotto 1004BAC
  • Slightly slower to deploy than some other mounting methods

The Burke Vagabond Mini Lithium Bracket, while not perfect, is a fine addition to the roster of available options for mounting Paul C. Buff's diminutive power pack to a light stand. In fact, it's the best overall solution we've come across to date, for those whose stand diameters are within its working range.

Purchasing the Burke Vagabond Mini Lithium Bracket

The BVMLB comes with all necessary mounting hardware and is available now for US$30 plus shipping. As of this writing, Burke is handling the transaction process through email and PayPal and is filling orders from his Marquette, Michigan home base. To make a purchase, send him an email that includes the following information:
  • Your full name and complete shipping address
  • The number of BVMLB units you'd like to order, at US$30/each
  • The shipping cost
  • 6% sales tax (Michigan residents only)
  • The total cost
Burke is selling the BVMLB worldwide, with shipping handled by the United States Postal Service. For one or two units sent within the U.S., shipping is US$5.50. For three to six units sent within the U.S., shipping is US$11.50.

To determine the shipping cost to other locales, use this price calculator. Select the destination country, then choose the appropriate box size for the number of BVMLBs you're buying:
  • If you're getting one or two, choose Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Box
  • If you're getting three to six, choose Priority Mail International Medium Flat Rate Box

More to come

This is the first of a series of products for photographers that Burke is intending to roll out, all based on things he has modified or invented for use in his own photography business. They include a location cart that incorporates a light stand capable of supporting a monolight and decent-sized modifier, a handle for Paul C. Buff AlienBees monolights, a laser pointer device that enables precise aiming of the Paul C. Buff Retro Laser reflector plus several other lighting and location photography accessories. In the case of the location cart, Burke plans to market the cart's various modifications and additions individually, enabling photographers to select the items that mesh with their lighting gear and intended purpose.

Burke is also developing an online shopping site, he says.

Modified: James Burke's location photography cart, left, and flash handle for AlienBees, right (Photos by James Burke)

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