THE METZ 45 UPGRADE



THE METZ 45 - MODIFICATION PROGRAM 


EVOLUTION LESSON

•  
The first flash pictures were produced using Black Powder which coined the phrase, “ Just one more shot”.  It was deep in the mine when the photographer asked for the last shot and the mountain blew up from the Fire-damp, a methane type gas combination that had accumulated when mixed with his ignited black powder.  It was the last shot taken by that photographer.   His last picture and his remains are splattered on the walls of that mine which is now a museam.  

•  The great evolution in artificial photography was the strobe capacitor flash.  It replaced the also exploding bulbs which had a tendency to either burn you if you removed them wrong, or exploded when you dropped one on the pavement.

•  The POPE’S personal Photographer for years, decades, the late Mr. Mari Giansanti used all Metz .  So do many of the current papal photographers, after Mari retired, theres a whole gang in there now… and using handle-mount Metz units.  When you see his Holiness look at the Papal photographers, not the press, mostly handle mounts... all Metz.  You might say METZ has been blessed.

THE PROBLEM WAS MONEY - NOT THE PRODUCT
The best Wedding/Event units over the years were the Pro Metz 45 and 60 series handle mounts.  But they were expensive to power and worse the power was insufficient for todays throw it against the wall and hope it sticks shooters.  The 45 was smaller and is really a good fit with todays DSLR. The 60 was far more complex and you can’t do a lot with it because of it’s weird battery setup.

I found ways to circumvent the power problems. I am upgrading the 45’s. every day for customers.  The The Metz hammerheads are still very viable today. In three distinct areas of shooting, and it is wonderful that you guys dump them on the market, so I can get them fairly cheap and turn them over to the program.

Chimping: Especially the Wedding pretend shooters, sometimes called Chimping looking at every shot.  Sure those smaller heads do miss all the people on the sides.   To the right is the real deal. Real Chimping!

Weddings: Nothing on the market has the spread and power of the Metz big boys unless you have thousands of dollars for high end stuff.  Especially outdoor and late night work in big halls.  

Group Shots - Wide: Using my perfection bracket and a pair of Metz 45’s, triggered by simple Yong-Nuo’s or Pocket wizards, lighting a hall room at events or outdoor fill flash with large groups is simple and those bridal parties of ten or more wide get good even lighting.  

Hundreds used my Perfection bracket before all the plastic cheap crap came out and now I use the bracket on dual 45’s.  Killer! Take two  METZ 45’s x 148 guide @ ISO-100 = 296 or F16 at 20 feet wide.  Those numbers are verified with a Sekonic 358.  See the photos here.

Beach Scenes:  High key lighting for models on the beach where you are fighting the sun, and the finances.  Many model shots are money losers and portfolio swaps.   

THIS IS WHAT I DO AND WHY...
I build these units for guys in the business who do this for a living and these units are dependable.  

Manufacturers lie a lot about Guide numbers.   For example, I worked on, repaired, upgraded, modified, and tested thousands of Vivitars over 45 years and never hit a guide of 120.  The Vivitar 283-285-285HV units, made in five countries, for five decades or more, never rose above 9.1.  Forget reviews by cut and paste dorks.

I moved them into the legacy section since there is little activity anymore, no parts and after four almost five decades, enough. And then my closet of METZs came out of hibernation.   And its like twice the power and coverage. It was awesome with film , incredible with digital.

The METZ was a better investment for the Wedding, Event, commercial shooter simply because it was a better flash than the Vivitar, bigger head, true guide close to 150 @100 ASA and no slide gizmo to screw up your shots.



PRO - MODE-USOPERANDI
LEARNING MODE - The advantage of learning to use the A mode and manual which is faster and does a better job working in manual situations is critical to Wedding and event shooter who work in the dark locations like old churches and halls.  You still have auto focus but still retaining full image control .  You simply let the flash do the thinking instead of the camera.

Any ttl or pre-flash integration slows down shooting.  Lets face truth the 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, for 90% of my wedding work and they were excellent on film based medium format cameras.  They were reliable,  dead on exposures and color perfect for slow films like VPS professional and the FUJI line of PRO films. 


NEW REASONABLE SYSTEM
REDESIGNED AND SIMPLE 

I re-designed a whole new system of battery packs based on the availability of newer battery and charger components and found a decent source.  But and after you use one, 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 can custom build one for you.

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. 

First:  I check the serial number of the strobe.  READ ON WHY.  Power, we test them on the 7.4 side and then the 9.6 side. Check slides and controls and look for corrosion.
Second: We create a module for the side showing the best results. Since the design allowed both NiMH and Alkali voltages, we may use different input speeds. 
Third: We manufacture a Black Box and charger combo with the desired MAH which can vary from 2000 to 4000 MAH.
Fourth: We determine if the setup is best for single or dual use.  The beauty of this set up is with two high-power black boxes and their dual ports you can mix and match both setups. 
Fifth:  The modules are then fitted with Quantum coiled cables I modify and test and test.   

    

POWER PROBLEM SOLVED
ISSUES WITH THE 45’s - NONE
•  It is still my favorite strobe of all time.  It made me money, it was reliable and I made my own power packs.  Metz proprietary parts are expensive.  The  problem was money and what it costs to power them.  

•  The good side today 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.

•  The honesty of the web and eBay has always been dubious.   Look out for 45’s on Roberts Camera on eBay, some of their 45’s should have been trashed.  One customer I worked with received three till they had one that worked. For some reason they part them out and then ship you half a strobe.  Cheap price but missing parts like brackets, modules, cables, etc.

•  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.

•  Beware of ads using factory pictures. Beware of ads claiming could not be tested. Tell the seller you’ll give him 20.00 dollars and if it’s in good shape you’ll pay the difference.

•  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, my sniff test tells me someone was in the unit before me. 

•   Thus older CT-1 are units stronger than bulls with serial numbers under 534,000 BUT they have a high voltage synch rate. Those we use on stands and dual mounts as shown with a remote or light sensitive trigger.   

•  If the number is higher than 534,000, I gladly shoot with Nikons, Canons, and Sony’s off the hotshoe made today.


POWER AND CAPACITY:
The Metz Ni-Cads were great for film, today are useless. They have a really 50 shot capacity, were OK in the days of film weddings when you carried two packs, barely made it and only shot 120 pictures. 

RULE ONE: However do not pitch them.  They might,  if not killed by age and neglect be rebuildable for a real power pack.   

RULE TWO: Also there is an old Quantum Cable I modify and also one by PC- Cords sometimes on eBay. 

RULE THREE:  I can make a module from any of the Sonia aftermarket modules.   

RULE FOUR:  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.

RULE FIVE:  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 like MEK integration glueing and plastic welding.  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 units available in stock.


The NAME
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.  

It is powerful and allows many modes for bounce flash, single or dual wide flash, 110 degree super wide coverage for Weddings and events.  I use Mary Ann with an umbrella, low settings for portraits, and the second head a bounce for background.  Few other units on the market can do this.   About a 10th, the price of the Profoto and similar rigs...

OK, my sense of humor sometimes runs away from me. I call her Mary Ann.  She works all day, all night, and now Mary Ann, down by the seaside sifting sand...as the song goes.  And she works down by the seaside...

BEACH PHOTOGRAPHY
Mounted on one of my sand poles ( see DIY section) 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.  I can build you one with the same setup you see for 250  to 400.00 depending on what you have in controllers, batteries, transmitters, receivers,  etc.

The kit finished includes Two MetzCT-1’s, one perfection bracket, Two Yong-Nuo receivers, One transmitter, One 9.6  4000 mah power pack custom cables, end of the year price 375.00 plus shipping good till DEC-15, only one at this price, it’s called a loss leader. Does not include light stand.


CLIPS ARE NOT
CREATED EQUAL

There are three versions of the Metz clip. (Battery Holders) Look inside the handle. You see three pins but your module only has two contacts.  Thus eliminating all BS and those who say it doesn’t matter, it does. For me the modules serve one purpose, to be disassembled and rebuilt as a power cord, otherwise useless.  

The modules all come from overseas, the true Metz Alkali from Germany about $28.00 for one, the TYPE three very expensive, and the knockoffs made by SONIA BRAND from Karnataka, India about three for 25.00 dollars.  Every five of the cheapie’s I use, I throw one away, poor fit, won’t lock in the handle, thin plastic.  

TYPE 1 - MODEL 54557 METZ RECHARGEABLE  NICAD 
The first module is the older-welded cells factory issued NiCad pack.  It is welded, not soldered.  Solders are homemade refills. Also look for corrosion, not a good choice, thus good for a pack when I gut it.

TYPE 2 - MODEL 5312   45-39  METZ and SONIA BRAND
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. 

TYPE 3 - MODEL 54XXX NiMH - DO NOT PURCHASE IT
The third version is the newer Ni-MH offered by B&H and more current, marked new, when? How long has it been current on their shelves. Which is why I have an expensive load tester on my bench. Most likely it is what they call  “Old new inventory”  Pass if you are smart. Waste of money. NiMH has a one to two tear life expectancy when not used.

I can convert all of these holders to a battery pack module by rebuilding the unit and we’ll save you about sixty dollars.


WHATS NEXT

•  Do send me a list of what you have to work with, pictures help and let me figure it out. I have several options, on varying levels and some spare parts and resources.  I’ll quote you. 
•   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.  
•  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)

•  If this make sense and you can handle a better solution, call me, or let me know what you have and I’ll quote you on the changeover to my system. No batteries needed in the in the handle, they are pretty light, and a pack on the belt is about the same weight maybe a few ounces heavier, about a pound but twice the power, width and range and the head weight is less, the battery on a belt keeps your pants up. 😍