TRUTH ABOUT FLASHES



FLASH UNITS ARE NOT UNIVERSAL - FACT DEPARTMENT

•  Each of your flash units has to have a cable that goes from the battery pack (the Black Box) to the flash itself.  
•  This is the power for the flash.   This is not the cable from the 
charger to the box,  but they do use the same ports.
•  
Either port will charge the Black Box 
•  Either port will work the flash or both ports with two flashes when used with our Perfection Bracket
•  
DO NOT CHARGE AND DISCHARGE THE BLACK BOX AT THE SAME TIME, PERIOD.  DON’T EVEN TRY IT.

We usually do not stock the flash modules as there are hundreds of flashes made and stocking them all would be suicide financially… The best source for your cable, after you locate the right one will be the A/B of photographic web buying,  ADORAMA, and B&H.  I use them as a warehouse, it keeps pricing down by not stocking dead items.  Free freight sometimes, no sales tax, and they drop ship direct  to me saving you time and postage.

Be careful with eBay looking for a steal unless you know the quality of what you are bidding on or who you are buying from. If needed, I will order them for you, at the better price, averaging about 60.00 per cable.  Local stores get 79.00 plus tax.  ADORAMA and B&H sell used generally OK but make sure returnable.


NON-BIASED ANSWERS - ABOUT STROBES

And because I am not aligned with any manufacturer, I rep for no one, nor take bribes, freebies, or gifts, to endorse things, I have a reputation for telling you the things you won’t hear from others.  I don’t sell the stuff,  but I sure get a lot of honest feedback from 50 years of working with pro’s.  Call me, I don’t charge for advice.  My customers are very candid and are in business, thats someone who makes money at this game, guys like those at Getty, and other shooter companies.

Strobes are manufactured and marketed in three levels, PROFESSIONAL, CONSUMER, PROSUMER. The strobe units are both made and labeled by the big camera companies, the big boys make cameras but don’t make strobes,  they come from sub vendors and many brands share some components. 

Generally, the PROFESSIONAL, most expensive ones in the line come from Japan and the CONSUMER ones come from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan and Viet-Nam.  PROSUMER, a new branding term is a CONSUMER strobe sold at PROFESSIONAL prices, because of some special function which you probably didn’t need. 

We have a rash of “reviewers” all over the web looking for handouts, free units for great write-ups and self gratification. Most of these units do not require pie charts and extensive white papers on a 46.00 dollar strobe like the Vivitar written about for at least 45 years like it’s a new Harvard Doctorate thing.  They parse , cut and paste the written manufacturer sheets and parrot the experience.  Rarely do I see a MacBethColor Chart, a KODAK grey scale or Gradient TestPro’s Color Wheel in real life circumstance like in a dark church for color comparison and flash “ Throw”.  These commentaries are statistically boring, and have no relative value.

These testers join the ranks of the other Village Idiots, the PRO’S who endorse when they get paid for the endorsement. Just like on HSN or NBC food channels. Hey, it’s a common thing in all business, the manufacturer makes it up and someone swears to it.  It is called the BBB, not the Better Business Bureau,   but “ Brand - Bullshit - Bribe”.  The two biggest names in the business are the two biggest abusers of this. 


FLASH TESTS ONLY - WITH A FLASH METER

How to establish a true guide number for your flash since they all like politician lie and bump the numbers. We use and endorse SEKONIC flash and ambient meters and my trusty 358 has been my pal for years.  What you are concerned with and going to achieve is reality, as to how your flash really performs.  

It will answer the questions before you try this at a real wedding and screw up.  
•  Real power rating, known as the guide number.
•  How wide the light beam really is.  ***
•  Very important is the fall off on the edges.
•  If your strobe has a hot center,  giving you those Al Jolson portraits.  

*** Critical for the width of the beam of the flash, in relation to the subjects like a wide wedding group so the prints are even edge to edge.   Heres the straight poop, most higher level strobes have wider larger heads and disperse the light more evenly than consumer or prosumer heads.  You generally get what you pay for.

PROCESS - GUIDE TEST
A plain room with no bright lights nor windows facing camera, totally dark is not required, just low levels of light.

  1. Camera on tripod 60- 65 inches off ground. Normal 50mm lens setting.
  2. Flash on camera with fresh unused batteries.
  3. Place meter ten feet from flash to flash meter.   Place a book at ten feet.
  4. Set camera, flash, flash meter, toaster, vacuum cleaner and TV set to ISO 100.  Shutter at 1/125
  5. Stand on book, trigger flash.
  6. Read meter.
  7. Recite “Oh Shit" it’s less than the ad said.

TRUTH BY METER
The Vivitar 285 claims a guide of 120 or simply F12 with ISO 100.  Test it yourself and you will find their guide number vastly different and not what you got.  You got a lot less, less than F/11, and in most cases testing about 50 of them when they come in for conversion, we only got 8.8 from the best and many lower.   

If a reviewer or what who we call “cut and paste speculators” post his revelations and quoting specifications, or mentions a guide of 120 just forget it.  Why?  It’s just outright misrepresentation, OK, bullshit,  he or she never tested it properly.   

The manufacturer forty years ago tested it in a white tunnel think of a 12 inch PVC pipe, literally centering the power since the meter can’t discern the width.  The bulk of pros usually shoot in manual and rated the Vivitars at ISO/ASA 80-100 depending on circumstance when shooting Kodachrome and Kodak Color Film like Kodacolor or VPS.  To get F/12 just buy ten feet of PVC white plumbing pipe 12 inches in diameter, place strobe at one end and meter at the other so you have no light dispersal. Thats what they did. I call it the fifty year lie.  Use your corrected guide number.

PROCESS - THROW TEST
Then take a king or queen size bed sheet hung on two light stands as a backdrop.  Dim the room, set the flash and camera at the real guide number and ten feet at ISO 100.  You will find on the less expensive strobes the drop off is significant and loses much at the edges.  You’ll see that when the prints come back and the center is weighted and edges are underexposed.  The perfection bracket we offer and dual strobes are critical for cross the board evenness on wide shoots.  Smaller less powerful strobes fall off on the edges and you get very uneven shots. Build your own double bracket for peanuts under my section “Informational”.