I recently purchased some barn doors from an ebay seller. They came with a small honeycomb grid and a collection of gels. I haven't used them a great deal and I suspect that its quite unlikely that I will use them very often. The simple reason being that they take up too much space in my camera bag. Until I get myself a bag with wheels its extremely unlikely that I will take them on location at all. But I have used them in my kitchen to control light on a tabletop shot. However in order to do so I had to create a flash holder that it could attach to.
My first impression on opening the box was; wow! this looks so cool! But then when I tried to connect it with a flash head the excitement wore off. The head sits in the centre of a ring and four threaded bolts around the ring can be tightened to hold the flash in place, but an SB28 will only fit with the bolts in the corners, and none too securely. While attempting to secure the flash, I also discovered that the barn doors are quite flimsy. If you don't get the bolts evenly tightened all the way round the frame gets distorted and it becomes difficult to attach the grid or the gels. This isn't a big problem when you use a flash holder, but its still an annoyance.
The flash holder was pretty simple to make, just get a large cardboard tube that your flashhead will fit in. If you can't find one, then just order an A2 print from your online printers and you'll get one for free with it. Cut about an inch of tube, wrap it in gaffer tape or paint it black, then put some velcro hooks on the inside so that it will grab your furry flash head. Simple..
The barn doors themselves have quite primitive hinges, but I had no trouble setting them where I wanted and they were quite useful in controlling the light, but I did notice that there were some light leaks out of the sides.
Would I recommend them? Probably not. I think that if you didn't mind having them taking up space in your bag they could be a useful light modifier and they look pretty pro, but there are other more portable ways of producing similar effects. In fact I was inspired to create my own barn doors, and next week I will show you how.