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The Mystery and the Muscle of Bulbs
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Stilagrrl



Joined: 16 May 2004
Posts: 51
Location: SF Bay Area

PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi. I'm new here and I have a couple of questions I thought you folks might be able to help me with. In reading through some of the previous messages, M3, M5 and AG1 flash bulbs were mentioned and it was stated that M3 and M5 had close, if not the same, output as GE #5s. However, there was no mention if they burned as long or when they reached their peak output. Does anyone know if they're closer to the #5s or the Press 25s?

The reason I'm trying to dig up some of this information is that I have a pretty good cache of M3 and M5 bulbs as well as an old Polaroid 268 flash gun to use them in. The 268 has a 3" reflector, it takes a single AA battery and has a standard PC sync cord. I'm thinking of adapting the 268 to a Stroboframe and getting an adapter sync cable. However, before doing that, I want to find out what I'm losing from using a Graflex/Graflite flash with the #5 bulbs? I'm assuming the power is all in the flash bulb, so having a 2 or 3 cell flash unit only gives me more flashes, not more powerful flashes, is that correct? I'm also assuming that the 5" and 7" reflectors would give me better coverage than the 268s 3" reflector.

Has anyone tried this? Would I be better off searching out a Graflex/Graflite flash unit and some #5 bulbs?

Thanks,
Rachel
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t.r.sanford



Joined: 10 Nov 2003
Posts: 812
Location: East Coast (Long Island)

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The M3 and M5 bulbs have the same timing and peak characteristics as the larger #5 and #25 lamps. All of them were Medium-peak lamps, made for the M synchronization setting on leaf shutters.

Your 3-inch reflector probably would be more efficient than the larger Graflex reflectors, but (as you suggest) that isn't the whole story. If I were doing it, I'd use a 5-inch polished reflector, and find the little adapter that fit into a socket for the larger bayonet (#5 and #25, etc.) and took the smaller one (M2, M3, M5).

The reason isn't so much coverage as shadow -- the smaller reflectors produce a very well-defined, tight shadow; the larger ones produce a more natural effect.

An argument against the 2- and 3-cell flashguns is that they worked with 1.5-volt dry cells, and tended sometimes not to fire the flashbulb, despite your best efforts. Needless to say, they generally did this just when it was most important that they work! (Been there, done that...)

Otherwise, they're terrific flashguns, with the great advantage (when suitably mounted) of being readily detached from the camera. They also will work a solenoid, if you have one on your shutter. The benefit is that you can hold the camera firmly with your hand under the strap, unclip the flashgun, hold it over your head and trip the shutter with the little switch at the upper end of the battery compartment.

"Battery-capacitor" flashguns worked more reliably than the low-voltage, high-current two- or three-cell types. There is said to have been a BC insert for the "Graflex" and "Graflite" guns, but I've never seen one. You also might hunt up a "BC folding fanflash" -- millions of these were manufactured, and they're still pretty easy to come by -- and attach it to the top of a Graflex flashgun, with which you still could trip the solenoid. T

he problem here is that most of the "folding fanflashes" I've seen (and all that I ever owned) have attached, rather short cords, so you'd need to devise a sturdy extension cord, tethered to the flashgun.

I suppose you are familiar with Paramount, which produces very good cords of all kinds, and usually can make just what you need; and with Cress Photo, who has a great many flashbulbs on offer.
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1427
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

True enough, t.r., about the fan flashes. However, the 5" one that I own (which, by the way, accepts either the "standard" bayonet-base bulbs, as for the #5/25 and 5/25B, or the miniature plug-in base, as for the M-series) would need to be furnished with a female-PC-to-bipost cable anyway in order to connect it to the Graphex shutter, so its short length would thus be sufficiently extended. Come to think of it, in fact, you've helped me see what I need to order from Paramount so I can shoot up the four dozen or so 5B bulbs I have lying around. Now to find a fresh 22.5V battery for the flash....

[ This Message was edited by: Henry on 2004-05-16 18:43 ]
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glennfromwy



Joined: 29 Nov 2001
Posts: 903
Location: S.W. Wyoming

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have about 1,100 M3's, among others. A vicious guard dog watches over them at all times and I only use them for earth shaking events, such as taking pictures of said dog. The M3's pack a real wallop compared to your average hot shoe mounted every day variety electronic flash. The larger the reflector, the wider the coverage. You also lose light output in a given area as the reflector gets larger. I don't think I would use a reflector larger than 5 inches for these small bulbs. The 3 inch reflector will work fine if you are not trying to light up too large an area. Flash bulbs are harsh light. To soften shadows, a white cloth (handkerchief) over the reflector will help.

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"Wyoming - Where everybody is somebody else's weirdo"
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Stilagrrl



Joined: 16 May 2004
Posts: 51
Location: SF Bay Area

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all so much, especially T. R. for all your help. It sounds like finding a Graflex/Graflite flash gun with an M3/M5 adapter and a 5" refelctor will be my best bet. In the mean time, I think I'll order an adapter cable from Paramount to try my Polaroid flash gun. I have a few old reflectors from different flash guns, so I may see if I can adapt a 5" one to the 268.

Wow Glenn, 1100 M3s, that's quite the treasure. I have about 150 M3s and another 150 M5s. I have a few AG1s as well, but the only flash gun I have that will accept them is an old Polaroid Wink Light with the 256 auxiliary flasher. Unfortunately this unit doesn't accept a sync cord, plus it takes a special 45v battery that isn't made any more.

Anyway, thank you all again, I guess I'll take a look on eBay and see what's available.

Rachel


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glennfromwy



Joined: 29 Nov 2001
Posts: 903
Location: S.W. Wyoming

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never tried any of my AG-1 bulbs but they ought to be good for fill flash in a large reflector. Regarding the M-3's: it's a funny story. I bought a case (144) of them some years ago on eBay. The guy kept emailing me saying "I found more if you want them at the same price". This happened several times until I finally told him "I'll take all you can send". I wound up with 1,150 of them. I think the cost wound up to be 7 cents apiece or some ridiculous figure.

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Glenn

"Wyoming - Where everybody is somebody else's weirdo"
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office888



Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Posts: 41
Location: Southwest Michigan

PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2004 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I own a BC unit. It takes a 22.5 volt battery which is used through a capacitor. You could probably make your own out of thin pvc pipe,wire, and a capacitor. If anyone wants photos, i can send them.

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Stilagrrl



Joined: 16 May 2004
Posts: 51
Location: SF Bay Area

PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've watched eBay for a few days and I can see there's a huge variance in ending prices, from a low of $0.99 to a high of somewhere around $99.00. I realize there are certain models that are sought after by the StarWars crowd, but of the ones that *aren't*, are certain models better? Are third party units worth purchasing?

I'm a little confused by the battery/capacitor models and the 22.5V battery. Are 22.5V batteries still available? I hope this doesn't sound too naive, but why would a flash bulb need all the power that's stored in a capacitor? I understand why they're needed for strobes (or maybe I don't), but I thought flash bulbs didn't require the high voltage discharge of a capacitor.

BTW, the Polaroid 268 flash gun mounts easily to the Stroboframe, so once I get a cable, I'll be ready to test it out.

Thanks,
Rachel
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t.r.sanford



Joined: 10 Nov 2003
Posts: 812
Location: East Coast (Long Island)

PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have the patience to follow some of the earlier threads here, you'll find out (as I did) why the "Graflex" flashguns are sought after by star warriors, and which ones are prized. The others, including the later "Graflite" line, are not, so you can find them at reasonable prices.

Graflex, Heiland (later Honeywell) and many other manufacturers less well remembered made good flashguns for press cameras. A reason for preferring the three-cell "Graflite" units is that they provide outlets from which to power a solenoid, a Kalart "Focuspot" and, if you like, an extension flash. They also offer a little switch for tripping the solenoid. The solenoid is valuable as a remote release, which you can work with your right hand when you're holding the flashgun away from the camera.

I dare say other makers provided similar amenities, and others on this site may be able to tell us which ones they were.

The logic to the battery/capacitor circuit was that the capacitor tended to offset the progressive loss of power that all voltaic cells undero when used, and to some extent when just sitting around. The old zinc/carbon dry cells of the '40s and '50s were very vulnerable to that; today's alkaline cells are much less so.

The idea was that the capacitor would be charged, over time, even by a weak battery (of substantially higher voltage than the one to three dry cells conventionally used to fire flashbulbs). That charge would be released all at once through the flashbulb when the shutter was tripped, which improved the chances that it actually would ignite.

It might then take several seconds for the capacitor to recharge, but the user would be busy ejecting the spent bulb, resetting the shutter, advancing the film and looking for the next picture while the recharging was taking place.

The 22.5V. batteries that seem, almost universally, to have been used in BC flashguns are said to be available on special order from Radio Shack. The term "special order" is alarming; it usually is a euphemism for "expensive"!

The disadvantage to the BC arrangement was that it deprived you of the rather powerful current at 3-4 volts that you got from two or three D cells, and that you needed for the solenoid, the "Focuspot," etc.
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disemjg



Joined: 10 Jan 2002
Posts: 469
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ritzcam.com lists a 2773 flash unit for $39; I have gotten two from them and they were in nice shape and came with 7" reflectors. Hopefully they have more. The 5" reflector would have to be tracked down separately, but I see them offered from time to time and they seem fairly common. Ask them for it and you may luck out.

I believe that Midwest has the 22.5 volt batteries. There was a fresh set in the Super I bought a year ago, and they were Everreadys, not Radio Shack's house brand.
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Top



Joined: 06 Apr 2002
Posts: 198
Location: Northern New England USA

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I dare say other makers provided similar amenities, and others on this site may be able to tell us which ones they were".

Well, let's see:
The Sol(Heiland) and King Sol flashguns had the two tripper/extension sockets and focal plane shutter socket, but no two-pin Focuspot socket. The latter Heiland Synchronar did have the Kalart socket as well. All three of these also had the trip button on the handle. Heiland made a two-cell Synchronar that did not have the trip button, but all other features.
The Kalart Master (both the bakerlite and metal versions) have the three shutter sockets, a Focupot socket, an additional two-pin socket for their Automatic Synchronizer, and a shutter trip button.
All of these can be found on a noted on-line auction site for MUCH less than the Graflex flashguns, although sometimes the Heiland Synchronars go for stupid money (execpt when I'm selling one, dammit!)
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[ This Message was edited by: Top on 2004-05-20 03:43 ]
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t.r.sanford



Joined: 10 Nov 2003
Posts: 812
Location: East Coast (Long Island)

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There seem to have been a couple of nice imported flashguns of roughly the same sort, too. The "King Sol" gun was manufactured by a predecessor company of Paramount, and one is pictured on the Paramount website, but I haven't seen one in the round, up close.

I got a "Graflite Jr." as part of a "Century" outfit I bought while in college, and subsequently wound up with a couple of three-cell "Graflites" a few years later. Those in the market for a flashgun might keep in mind that the "Jr." takes two D cells and does not have the solenoid trip switch. In a recent discussion here, I learned that there was a two-cell model that did have the full complement of "Graflite" features, but I've never seen one.
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jdman



Joined: 13 May 2001
Posts: 302
Location: Midwest

PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2004 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Be aware that if you try to use a Heiland to trip a solenoid, and are using flashbulbs the bulb will go off. This is the beauty of the Graflites in that you can trip the solenoid and let the camera sync fire the bulb. Russ
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Micah in NC



Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 94
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2004 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rachel,

It seems no one picked up on the fact that your Polaroid #268 flashgun uses a single AA cell, even though you mentioned it. These are designed to work with additional voltage (to my understanding) from the 100, 200, or 300-series Polaroid camera it's attached to (one reason for the odd-looking "L" shaped extra contact on the 268's sync cord). These Polaroid cameras used either a 3.0 volt or a 4.5 volt battery (some used two 3.0 volt cells) for camera electronics (shutter & exposure meter).

Without this additional oomph from such an outside battery, I doubt a single AA cell in the 268 flash will fire your M3 or M5 bulbs. You'd be better off getting a Graflite flash or similar press-camera type gun like the others mentioned. (I've even used a Kodak B-C Flasholder on my 4x5" Speed Graphic, and they are common enough--in box--to go for $10-20 on ebay.)

Sorry to burst your bubble...

Hope this helps,
Micah in NC
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Stilagrrl



Joined: 16 May 2004
Posts: 51
Location: SF Bay Area

PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2004 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all again for your insight. I've been going back through the old threads and it's amazing how much information is there. I've been taking notes and I think I'll be able to figure out which is the best flash gun for me.

Also thank you for the information on the 22.5V battery and especially the information on the capacitor. It makes perfect sense, especially in the days of the older carbon batteries.

Take Care,
Rachel
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