THE METZ 45-70-76 SERIES


THE METZ 45/70/76
SERIES and HISTORY _________________________ by the “METZ-MASTER"

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 where the phrase “Chinese JUNK" means more than a class of boats.

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.

Surprise, surprise, there is no real TTL anymore, a beam adjusts the output since digital doesn’t have the type of mirror needed for TTL.  When I run into a new shooter, it’s one of my trick questions.  

You would be surprised how many know so little and being affiliated with a lab, the results I see back up a lot about poor quality and technique.  Especially the Wedding pretend shooters, sometimes called Chimping looking at every shot.  To the right is the real deal.

Now that the used 45’s have drastically come down in price, I can once again afford to experiment, spent a few days building and so far the results have been excellent,  even spectacular  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 packs I’m using in series are working well.  I had forgotten what these retail Cobra units really put out and since most shooters do not own a flash meter they all go by what the manufacturers told them and well some manufacturers statements are worse than political promises.


REVELATIONS
TRUTH AND FACT
An older METZ 45 in working form is way superior to the older and newer old style Vivitar 283-285-285HV  units obtained from  the five countries, who built them in five decades or more, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia.  The last run for B&H and SAKAR was from the mainland Chinese Junk Works factory Lotus Blossom #4 and about half survived the trip, the rest blowing up shortly after arrival and usage by the Strobists which became short lived as the clan moved on.

The Yong-Nuo’s gained in popularity because they had a simple PC port, and their clones were sold by everybody and all their relatives sold because of the Strobists.  Lately I see the word 285 HV DISCONTINUED on retail sites  and I’m afraid the mighty cockroach of the flash world has seen its day after a huge resurgence by these Strobists.  Some still on eBay, be careful, email me first.

The advantage of A mode which is faster and does a better job working in manual situations but retaining auto focus.  Any ttl or pre-flash integration slows down shooting.  Lets face truth TTL in any manufacturers camera had it roots in making the amateur better, the pro who knows what he is doing prefers the control.

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 clean 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.  


NEW REASONABLE SYSTEM
REDESIGNED AND SIMPLE 

I worked and have re-designed a whole new system of 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 were slower than in comparison to cobra head  Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Nissen and Canon flashes

But and after you use one, just call it kicks BUTT,  and you see the difference in flash distribution, coverage, technique  and power, you will become a convert.  Not to mention reliability, and longevity.  Oh I forgot to mention cost.

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 and nine times out of ten the information is wrong.  I pay attention to these simple rules so that things get done right, almost sixty years doing this taught me, do what you do best and if overkill and safety makes sense, don’t change.

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 of the new chemistries will fit into the Black Box thus units may be upgraded and changed, not possible with the offshore junk available. And I like simple, as simple usually works and doesn’t let you down.

Most of the projects I work on and offer come with decades of experience, and a strong effort to be completely safe. Many of the strobes, flashes and other devices using capacitors to build and release energy are dangerous in more ways than one. Not just a 330 volt shot, they are hot enough to weld a pair of scissors together when used to short the capacitor.  “Me bad” dumbass rookie mistake and I plead guilty.

In one case I was working with a gentleman who said his strobe had a funny feeling and I had him bring it to my workshop.   Funny feeling all right,  the Vivitar was shorting at the base from a poor solder job to the homemade flash bracket to him.  Not enough tingle to kill, it was Vivitar 285, Japanese, except the man has a Pace-Maker.  He doesn’t know how lucky he was, he’s still breathing.  Had he added on the bracket a second strobe, I don’t know what could have happened.

The newbie-pseudo technicians suggesting you take these things apart as I saw on the Strobist page with an exposed large capacitor that these 45’s have and suggesting newbies work on them just drives me nuts.  If you don’t know what you are doing, send it to me and I will do it for you very reasonable and not blow it or you up and most likely it will work fine. My work arounds do not need the strobe taken apart.  But I need them to test the output and the configuration.

    

THE PROBLEMS
ISSUES WITH THE 45’s
It had a serious problem.  Not how it works, they worked great, but what it cost to power it.  The main reason many dumped their Metz strobes is because their weak link was the cost of power.  

This is not Rocket Science.  German builders are over-killers and over-pricers.  Simplicity is not a word they have in the Teutonic Lexicon.  Its simple, they are a lot more powerful and they need more power.  
METZ batteries and power supplies were very overly expensive, proprietary and they still are way off the grid in cost.  When sales drop, some prices for parts and accessories go up, not down because of availability.

The good side 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.  I’m using and redoing all of their modules to make modules that have superior power and are inexpensive and look like they belong, not an add-on hack job glued or velcro’ed to the outside.

BE CAREFUL:  The honesty of the web and the last great deals on eBay require som scrutiny.  Some not all METZ 45’s bought on eBay arrived in need of the $179.00 trauma room at Metz.   There is no trauma room anymore.  The circular sliders if left in a bad environment like at the seashore, salt air, are prone to corrosion and wear, and the hot circuits shorted in many simply due to age.  If unsure email the ad and I will assist you.  if you own one be sure to exercise, move the sliders and controls as often as possible as this remove some of the corrosion.

Now I have three 45’s, plus one 70 and two 76’s, and a pristine SunPak 522 all running on my gear.  I am the anti-christ of the AA battery.  No eneloops, no expensive packs, just simple adjustments to a good system with newer components.  I have had two of the 45’s for thirty-five years now mounted in tandem and I would not hesitate to shoot a wedding tomorrow with either one,  but I take care of my gear. 

It’s my big room gear.  I cycle them once a week, run the strobes on to keep the capacitors working properly and keep moisture from them. Yes, I have a dozen assorted Cobra heads also but the light is so much better on the Metz I use the Cobra heads outdoor for fill-flash.

CAUTION: 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. I can advise you on this. Thus older CT-1 units stronger than bulls with numbers under 534,000 are related to stands and dual mounts as shown. Over the number 534,000, I gladly shoot with Nikons, Canons, and Sony’s.

POWER AND CAPACITY:  A big complaint was the Metz Ni-Cad packs which were 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. However they might be rebuildable for a real power pack. Do not pitch them. send them to me. I even buy them.

There is an old Quantum Cable and also one by Pc- Cords sometimes on eBay. I can make a module from any of the Sonia aftermarket modules, either for 7.2 or 9.6 usage.   I had a few in stock and grabbed them for myself, sorry...but there is a downside if you try to do it yourself.  I have built my own and for a hundred other folks without a failure for forty years using smartphone tools to take them apart.

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.  

Even the aftermarket is about a thin as the knockoff company can build with.  CHEAP comes to mind.  These battery modules I modify into a cable similar to the Quantum factory one on the left and save you money.  I use the same tools I repair cell phones and smartphones with.

In some cases the contacts will have to be resized and re-soldered to work. If not, that popping sound might be a meltdown and the smell will be the first indication as the plastic melts and you just ruined it,  I use heat sinks and certain techniques.  

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.

MARY ANN - The big boy on the right is a dual setup with my Perfection bracket, two Metz 45’s, and a power controller with 3800 dual 9.6 volt batteries in NIMH.  Powerful and allows many modes for bounce single dual wide,  10 degree coverage for Weddings and events.  I use her for with and without an umbrella.  About a 20th, the price of the Profoto and similar rigs...

The Name:  I call her Mary Ann.  All day, all night, Mary Ann, down by the seaside sifting sand...as the song goes.  Mounted on one of my sand poles she shoots great shots on back-lighted beach settings, and sundown work with large groups such as beach weddings and corporate cookouts popular here in Florida.  And they all want shots with the skyline lit on the background after the sun goes down.  

No problem, thats if they are all standing and not passed out from alcohol.  When the wedding parties are six to ten per side and you really need wide coverage, I simple move each head 10 degrees off center.  At weddings or events I also use it in one head bounce, one head direct with diffusion, cool results and again one Metz is powerful, two is incredible. Thats a guide of about 300G hit on max.


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.  You cannot bring them back. Do not waste your time. Send them for a conversion to power pack usage.


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

The second, type is simply an unfilled empty holder you fill, with ALKALI only, not rechargeable batteries, it is designed to work with the ground and PIN A which is in a different location from the Ni-Cad/NiMH  pack and it is the 9.X volt version.  

•  Most come from overseas, the true Metz from Germany about 28.00 for one, and the knockoffs made by SONIA BRAND from Karnataka, India about three for 25.00 dollars.  Every five I use, I throw one away, poor fit, won’t lock in the handle but   I save the pieces as sooner or later I have enough to build one complete unit. 

•   Note: The Sonia battery layout is poorly marked, use the layout I have posted here. Again, it was designed voltage wise to handle Alkali not NiMH. Six (6) times 1.5 Volts equals 9 Volts. Six (6) times 1.2 volts equals 7.2 Volts not enough and can overheat the circuitry and might or not work properly.  The alkaline layout is different from the rechargeable layout.

I can convert this holder to a battery pack module by rebuilding the unit. 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.  Actually I make them stronger than the Metz by welding and MEK and epoxy.


MODEL 54XXX NiMH - DO NOT PURCHASE IT, IT IS OLD INVENTORY
•   The third version is the newer Ni-MH and more current if you know it’s age and condition which is why I have an expensive load tester on my bench, 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.  Many are only partially well and will fail after a few dozen shots.

•   One bad cell in a Ni-MH and the whole clip is bad, very common, and the pack is as good as the weakest link.  They can be rebuilt by a qualified builder but amateurs do not have welders and access to Sanyo commercial products.

 •   Some new, never 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 it might not make a year, these things have shelf life and just because they call it new, means it was never sold, not a statement of condition, and might be older inventory.


BOTTOM LINE - FAQ METZ’S FOR DUMMIES
•   The six-pack configuration that was 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 welded rechargeable 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.  

•   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. I have converted these modules every way but Sunday and do a lot of them.

•   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.  I remove extraneous parts. Everything not needed like extra metal and tabs, and the components are M.E.K. bonded so as to never fall out and the rewiring is over-kill using commercial grade 18 gauge nickel coated fireproof wire.

•   If you have not used M.E.K. learn about it, it melts almost anything plastic, extremely flammable and dries in seconds after melting the brush us used.  I use certain techniques, to build packs and not wind up with a melted mess either from a hot solder gun or a chemical.

Do send me what you have to work with and let me figure it out. I have several options, on varying levels and some spare parts and resources.

•   Another issue to think about before you tear one apart is compatibility with newer products.  I have a list of devices and the knowledge that cut the high voltage down for the synch ports.  

•   In summary, 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 soon most  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)