THE METZ 45-70-76 STORY


THE METZ 45/70/76 - SERIES and HISTORY

With the advent of digital and the demise of the medium format, things have shrunk. Your paycheck, your retirement, savings and camera values.   But Metz has always made good flashes and more reliable than those coming from the other side of the planet.  

But the millennia boys, lazy and complaining about a pack weighing more than a pound and not looking as cool as a cobra fell away from better light.  Many of whom without TTL, and the magic “P” on the select dial they thought meant professional.

Now that the used 45’s have drastically come down in price, I can afford to experiment and so far the results have been excellent even extending to the 50, 70, and the 76 top dog monster strobes that required monster packs but OMG what light they produce and now lighter, smaller NiMH in series work well.

An older 45 in working form is way superior to the newer OLD Style VIVITAR 285 units obtained from  Chinese Factory Lotus Blossom Sweet Dreams #4  and the Yong-Nuo’s and their clones sold by everybody from B&H to SAKAR and all their relatives because of the strobists. 

😎  Look in pawn shops, it’s  amazing what you can find.  Metz talks about quality of light and I agree, its true.  It’s inherent in the design, with it’s additional higher guide and a wider more powerful head that gave continuity to the scene.  It shows more as a whiter white.
I used all of the Metz “ Potato mashers", the most popular being the 45 CL-CT, the 60 CL-CT series for 90% of my wedding work and they were excellent on film based medium format cameras. Thus they can easily fill the 35MM digital shape which emulates film.  We called the Metz the Potato Masher? What else do you call a flash made in Germany that looks like a German WWII hand grenade, thus the phrase “Potato Masher”.

They were reliable,  dead on exposures and color perfect for slow films like VPS professional and the FUJI line of PRO films. That was another era, with slow films, slower brides, we controlled them, fewer Bridezilla wannabes, clones, drama queens and plain old “ Didn't you get any last night" misery makers.  


FIRST NEW CHEAP - DO IT YOURSELF SYSTEM
😃   I re-designed a whole new system and chemistries, based on the availability of newer battery and charger components and found a decent source.  I never leave any of my customers in the cold, but sales of the 45 are slower than in comparison to cobra head  Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Nissen and Canon flashes.

The advantages of this work around is longer battery life, reduced cost savings, for the new version of this old workaround, If the METZ 45 you have, is in great working condition.  I custom build these things when asked nicely, they are a lot of work on the module and a little tricky at times. 

I hate when I test everything, make sure they are good to go, and some buffoon writes me a fourteen page pen letter after spending two weeks building one and telling me how he did it. The wheel is still round. Your square version is questionable.  I have to build things for the masses so they don’t have messes.  All three of the new chemistries will fit into the Black Box thus units may be upgraded and changed, not possible with the offshore junk available. 

    

THE PROBLEMS and ISSUES
👹  It had a serious problem.  The main reason many dumped their Metz strobes is because their weak link was power.  Its simple,  they are more powerful strobes and they need more power.  METZ batteries and power supplies were very overly expensive, proprietary and they still are.  

😃  The good part is the strobes are available in numbers, dirt cheap and simple to operate in M or A mode which most pros use and understand and the new power conversions I am working on, are simple and inexpensive.  Established quality meets well made upgrades and results in well done.

NOTE:  If you own a Metz 45 and it doesn’t work you can send it to me and I will test it to see if we can do something about it.   Sometimes I have rebuilt or brought the capacitors back to life using my bench-top variable voltage chargers.   

👹  Then two of my vendors went out of business and “Going Metz was a mess”.   Another problem was of course the honesty of the web and the last great deals on eBay, METZ 45’s bought on eBay arrived in need of the $179.00 trauma room at Metz. The circular sliders are prone to corrosion and wear, and the hot circuits shorted in many simply due to age. This was discouraging.  

😃  Now I have three 45’s, one 70 and two 76’s, plus one SunPak 522 in mint condition.   I have had two of the 45’s for thirty years and I would not hesitate to shoot a wedding tomorrow with either one,  but I take care of my gear. I cycle them once a week, run the strobes on to keep the capacitors working properly and keep moisture from them.

👹   Synch voltage, another flag. You have to manually check the voltage on your unit. You are forewarned that, all METZ - CANON - NIKON products and others are voltage and amperage sensitive and nothing any of them builds or sells is inexpensive either as a replacement or repair. Think before you do something that might go wrong as the smell is sometimes the first clue as to something might be wrong. 

👹  A big complaint was the Metz Ni-Cad packs great for film, but their small Ni-Cad packs if they work at all, are useless. They have really horrid capacity, 50 full power flashes on Ni-Cad Packs were OK in the days of film weddings when you carried two and only shot 120 pictures.  Saving grace:  There is an old Quantum Cable and also one by PC-CORDS sometimes on eBay. Not the one for the AC port.  I have a few in stock.

👹   There is a downside. Some of these modules are old, very old and made of components that click together and then a couple screws lock things together.  But when dismantling them, they snap apart sometimes into more pieces than you thought you wanted to have. The term brittle and weak comes to mind.  These battery modules I modify into a cable similar to the Quantum factory one on the left and save you money.

In some cases the contacts will have to be resized and soldered to work. If not, that popping sound might be a meltdown. There are screws, some hidden, wiring, and drilling with step bits, and a diode to contend with. I do not do this for nothing, I charge for this. Call me.  I have these in stock.


CLIPS ARE NOT - CREATED EQUAL
There are three versions of the clip. (Battery Holders) Look inside the handle. You see three pins but your module only has two contacts.  Compare a Rechargeable module with an Alkali module and the contacts are in different places and the batteries are assembled in a different order to the contacts.

MODEL 54557 METZ RECHARGEABLE OLD NICAD STANDARD MODULES  (6 Nicads x 1.2 = 7.2 VOLTS)
•  The first module is the welded cells factory issued NiCad pack.  It is welded, not soldered, and if the rechargeable batteries have globs of solder on the caps , they have been rebuilt by a DIY and have probably lost 20% of their factory power even if the cells have newer batteries. The older Ni-Cad filled packs from METZ and most are dead now, they will light up and fail after a few shots.  Looks identical to the 54557 except battery cells can be several colors (blue or turquoise) and are Ni-CAD not NI-MH.  

I de-bowel them, and many, a high percentage, more than fifty percent are plastic that has degaussed and crumbles, or snap, crackle and pops.   I only use the survivors  and make them into modules using M.E.K to reinforce them,  more solid, with cable to my battery packs, all types, SLA, NIMH and Lithium.   But thats my business and I change the wiring over to the other contact point.  The factory battery with either NiCad or NiMH has the pinout at clock position twelve (12) and three  (3).  The Alkali loadable battery module has the pins at twelve (12) and seven (7).


MODEL 5312   45-39  METZ and CLONES   (6 ALKALIS x 1.5 = 9 VOLTS)

👹   The second, type is simply and unfilled empty holder you fill, with Alkali, the one that holds the loose batteries, it is designed to work with the ground and PIN A which is in a different location from the Ni-Cad/NiMH  pack.  
It is the 9.6 volt version.  Most come from overseas and are blank knockoffs but they do work if used with Alkali batteries. The brand name is SONIA and they run  About three for 25.00 dollars.

It was designed voltage wise to handle Alkali not NiMH. Six (6) times 1.5 Volts equals 9 Volts.  Do not put NiMH or Eneloops into this module. Again do not stuff it with six rechargeable’s. Six (6) times 1.2 volts equals 7.2 Volts. About once a month I get a geek who tell me how great it worked. I’m not that stupid. Usually the geek is.   It will stall out as soon as the NiMH hit 94%. 

The Metz 45-39 Battery Holder also should be exclusively used with “ A” alkaline batteries-it does not work well with NiCad, NiMh or other battery types.  Many subbed Ni-MH into the Alkali pack which have a different algorithm and weren't invented yet when these systems were designed.  I love wannabe plans where “If it fits it works”.  They forgot the charger was made for a different configuration.

SONIA after market modules I have used them and they are sometimes actually OK.  Their pinouts are at the twelve and seven position and made for the 1.5 Alkali only.  THEY ARE POORLY MARKED so copy the layout I have posted here.



MODEL 54XXX NiMH - NOT WORTH IT
The third version is the newer Ni-MH and more current so you might not want to kill it quite yet and use it as a backup, after careful testing and if it works.  Many are just dead from lack of usage and some need the landfill.  One bad cell in a Ni-MH and the whole clip is bad, very common, and pack is a s good as the weakest link.  They can be rebuilt by a qualified builder but not cheap.  Some new (new = meaning not sold or owned) are still around and for sale cheap but they are probably old stock and NiMH does have a shelf life and I am the only person who will tell you that... it’s an industry secret.

Hooking the wrong pack to the wrong power supply will result in smell-o-vision, thus the following warning.  These packs I sometimes convert into modules or re-battery them with Hi-Power Sanyo’s.

This pack sells for 120.00.  More than you paid for the Metz 45 Used. And there is a caveat.  Pack and charger is $200.00  Like I said not cheap.  They are very proud of their work.  Its best to find another plan B or go to my system.

I make battery pack modules from the Metz holders that are thirty years old now and useless for batteries but makes a nice module similar to the Quantum and you save 60 dollars.  Ni-MH batteries used really makes this about a $39.95 unit.  It does not work on the old charger, the new charger is 80 dollars and still not worth it.


BOTTOM LINE - FAQ METZ’S FOR DUMMIES
The six-pack configuration that is used in the Metz 45 provides a different circuitry in those flashes for their own proprietary overly expensive, NiCad and NiMH battery packs.  Apparently that circuitry incorporates protection against high drains. 
True factory modules, not rebuilds or re-hacked allow and are designed to allow a flow of 7.2 volts by way of six rechargeable AA cells using the simple math formula of 6 units x 1.2 volts.  It’s  just simple math, and that equals 7.2.  Those are the holes at twelve O’clock and three O’clock.

The Alkali holder has it’s holes at twelve and seven and holds six 1.5 alkali batteries using the simple math formula of six x 1.5 equaling 9 plus volts.  It uses two different holes.

One of my solutions is to make a six-pack of today’s high capacity rechargeable AA’s like the VARTA 2600 that will actually hold more juice than a Quantum in the Alkali pack with the contact point moved to the 7.2 position.  

It’s physically impossible to charge and discharge all six cells uniformly with the Metz battery charger so over a period of time (a relatively short period of time actually) the battery pack will deteriorate, lose capacity and eventually refuse to take a charge.  This is another point against soldering as you change the resistance and is why we have a 4500 hundred dollar spot battery welder.  

👹  SMART CHARGERS for the METZ ALKALI PACK CONVERTED PINOUT  (Plan A)
This is also the difference between a cheap charger and a smart charger, the smart charger with batteries in individual slots will analyze the cells individually. Charging the whole pack lowers the charge to the weakest link.  This is also critical in the use of Lithium Ion cells, one bad one in a set can do damage to a pack, possibly cause a fire, just ask SAMSUNG the phone people, aka known today as SAMS-DUNG.  Just ask BOEING when they didn’t have the science needed for Lithium in the 787. Tesla cars knows Lithium, proving driving might be safer than flying.

The rechargeable NiMH rechargeable AA cells available commercially from a number of companies can be recharged in any charger of your choice - thats what they say.  Bullshit.  Take a cheap charger and stick Eneloops in them and you will probably have a fire.  The older cheapie chargers have different algorithms.

The better the charger which means in a high quality charger they are charged and reconditioned individually - not as a group and will not only perform better, a bad AA cell will either be reconditioned by the “SMART” Charger or you replace it with a good one.  This is why you buy your cells in volume by someone like Tenergy or Amazon Basics. etc. so there is some degree of conformity.

For 6 AA units, a four banger is useless, this Tenergy, sub $25.00 will do up to eight at a time and they also have a sixteen unit.
Now you have six batteries plus two at a time, which means in three rotations you can take the Metz, have a full three of the Sonia’s filled to the brink.  



 ADAPTING TO AN EXTERNAL BATTERY PACK - (Plan B)

Review - If you take apart both the AA and NiCad battery holders to adapt to external battery packs, you will find the only difference is the pin out on the top of the holder that directs the proper voltage to the proper circuit inside the flash unit. 

You will also find if you pop the tops off the 45-39 or the Metz 45-40 rechargeable pack the battery connection sequence is different so I remove everything not needed like extra metal and tabs, super light is right and some components are M.E.K. bonded so as to never fall out.  I only use packs, rarely battery holders as in Plan A as I am in the business.

Again when I make my modules I remove the guts, completely leaving red and black wires from the positive (Front) and a negative (Side) down to the bottom of the module where they terminate on to a heavy-duty commercial RCA female jack.   You can start with an exhausted 45-40 rechargeable pack in which the cells are already scrap and where the terminals are already in the right place anyway.  
The nextstep is rewire, solder direct to the positive node at 12 o
’clock, and the negative at 3 O’clock.  If you use the SONIA, relocate the seven o’clock to the three o’clock position for 7.2 volts and drill out the base and install a port, the RCA works best or if you have coil cord just go direct to a Black Box connector.
The next step is what to power it with and thats what I do.  
Better to send me what you have to work with and let me figure it out. I have several options, on varying levels.


COMPATIBILITY WITH - NEW DIGITAL CAMERAS

Another issue to think about before you tear one apart is compatibility with newer products. That hurt the handle mounts even with the SCA system, just too much basically in cost and other parts needed. And like I said the Metz parts are not cheap.
the biggest hangup is synch port compatibility and i have solutions for that too.  
I have a list of devices that cut the high voltage down for the synch ports.   

But, people don’t know about the METZ 45 series, probably the best wedding flash made.  Find them on line and at the pawn shops  (many businesses on eBay are pawn shops) and if you can steal one, go for it.  In my world they do work well enough to keep, if you use them to capacity and their best use is...  functions like weddings, and other social events especially if they have groups of people. The bigger head covers far superior to the small cobra-style units.

If your intent was as a stand or manual unit using into an umbrella, fine MANUAL mode works great. This is a stalwart true 150 guide power head with great color. Thus most are using them today on stands.  They make excellent portable location units for the budget minded shooter, no AC required and no cords for clients to trip over.  

The Metz will now with the pack consistently turn good numbers with a Pocket Wizard or other flash trigger with an umbrella or other light modifier since they have a bigger head. With a guide number 148 at ISO 100, that's about as powerful as many of the smaller cheaper hyped up Chinese studio lights on AC, about 170 @ 320 watt seconds. (more like 120)