New lighting products did
not prove to be an amazingly illuminating experience at this year's
PMA. Still, there were a number of welcome introductions. They ranged
from digital slaves to studio lighting, plus strobes for the underwater
enthusiast. Note: Select flash units are mentioned as having a safe
sync voltage for use with digital cameras. Check camera specs or contact
the manufacturer first to ensure the flash can be safely used with the
camera. With any camera, you may also need to verify correct polarity
for proper usage.
Shoe-Mount Flash And
Digital Slaves Nikon Speedlight Addition
We'll begin with dedicated shoe mounts. Nikon showcased the SB-600,
the latest addition to their Speedlight line-up following the recently
announced SB-800, featuring the same i-TTL flash control technology. The
SB-600 delivers automatic balanced fill flash and advanced wireless lighting
capabilities (on up to four channels) and is seamlessly compatible with
the newly announced D70 digital SLR's built-in strobe. It can be
used in tandem with the SB-800 for multiple lighting setups. This unit
also features a bounce/swivel head and modeling flash, and, when used
with the Nikon D2H, adds high-speed sync as well. FV Lock allows you to
lock in the flash exposure while recomposing. One especially noteworthy
feature is auto white balance adjustment, when used with the D2H or D70,
whereby flash color data is transmitted to the camera to compensate for
variations resulting from flash duration--a decided plus. And it
has a really cool control interface.
Sigma added to their dedicated flash line-up with the Sigma EF-500 DG
Super SA-N ($199 street), a shoe mount boasting a full array of capabilities
and designed for the new Sigma SD10 digital SLR (a similar flash is available
configured for other SLRs). This version specifically offers digital wireless
TTL-off-camera flash control with the SD10 alone, whereby this strobe
can trigger any number of EF-500 slave units (also compatible with other
Sigma film and digital SLRs minus this feature). The GN is 165 (ISO 100).
Other features include full TTL exposure control; lighted digital display;
swivel/bounce head; auto zoom; AF auxiliary light; rear-curtain sync;
FP (high-speed) flash sync for more controlled fill under a variety of
conditions; and stroboscopic effect, with built-in wide angle diffuser.
Sunpak Digital Flash
ToCAD America introduced the Sunpak PZ40X Digital Camera Flash ($149 street).
Lightweight, this shoe mount is available in Nikon, Canon, and Minolta
TTL-dedicated configurations, and will also work manually with cameras
having a standard, non-dedicated hot shoe. The GN is 102 (ISO 100) at
the 50mm zoom setting. Other features include TTL auto flash (D-TTL for
Nikon, E-TTL for Canon, and ADI for Minolta); backlit LCD for controlling
and monitoring all settings; power zoom covering 24-80mm; continuously
variable or in five manual power-ratio steps; tilt/swivel head; and built-in
autofocus assist light. The PZ40X is powered by two AA batteries, making
it less of a drain on the wallet.
In digital slaves, we saw Phoenix Corporation's D92-BZS Digital
Slave Flash ($75 MSRP), with a GN of 92. It features a swivel/bounce head
and four-position zoom, and can be used on a hot shoe or with sync cord
and the supplied bracket. It works equally well in fill flash and redeye
reduction modes and can be used with virtually any digital camera. As
a slave, it can be set to disregard any pre-flash blips.
S. Bower gave us a look at three new digital slaves with hot shoe and
bracket, sans sync cord, with prices ranging from $49-$109. Two models
are supplied with a flexible-leg tabletop tripod.
We all know how inadequate a built-in flash is underwater, so any off-camera
strobe is welcome. The new Sunpak G-Flash ($199 street) is submersible
down to 148 ft, and features an impact-resistant body, with a GN of 70
(ISO 100) and adjustable output. Since it is totally wireless, triggering
is via a built-in slave (requiring operation in tandem with the on-camera
flash). The G-Flash is compatible with any underwater, weather-resistant,
or standard digital or film camera with on-board flash and a standard
1/4x20" tripod socket. It can also be used with most flash-equipped
cameras in underwater housings or protective weather shields.
SeaLife MAXX Duals
Pioneer Research shed new light on the world of underwater photography
with the SeaLife ReefMaster MAXX Dual Strobe Set SL580. This system encompasses
two external flashes with sure-grip rubberized arms that are flexible,
allowing you to vary the lighting angle and avoid backscatter.
Booth Genesis Booth Photographic Ltd. showed the Genesis Uni-Lever Flash
in two models: G-400 ($699) and G-800 ($875), with variable output to
400 ws and 800 ws, respectively, weighing 6 and 8 lbs. These monolights
come with a 150w modeling light, umbrella reflector, and user-changeable
UV-coated flash tube (Pyrex enclosed). Uni-Lever accepts Photogenic accessories.
New power packs were very scarce, but we found a couple that dedicated
Norman users should appreciate. Photo Control Corp. introduced their sleek,
ultra-modern Norman D12 (1200 ws) and D24 (2400 ws) series 900 Digital
Power Supplies. These packs bring Norman into the 21st century and are
a serious departure from the more conservative packs we're used
to seeing from this company. Sporting digital displays, these generators
are adjustable in .01-stop increments, with symmetrical and asymmetrical
light distribution, featuring a slow charge option when shooting on location
with sub-par wiring. Plus these new packs reinforce the trend toward PocketWizard
radio-slave compatibility. A sync voltage of 6v DC should make them safe
for digital cameras.
We round out this category with battery-pack-based strobe systems specifically
designed for location work--from Lumedyne. Action Packs (starting
at $920 MSRP) feature fast-flash duration (as short as 1/3000 sec) and
fast recycling, in 200 ws and 400 ws versions. Quadramatic packs ($750
for starters) are made for Quantum's Qflash X/X2/X2D or a Lumedyne
head with an Auto Module. Next Generation packs ($720 and up) and heads
replace the Classic packs and heads and offer enhanced features over the
Continuous Studio Lighting
Who says manufacturers don't listen when we talk? Argraph proudly
displayed their newest addition to what has now become their Samigon Internet
Photo Studio line-up: the Professional Internet Photo Studio ($500), based
on suggestions I'd made previously for a larger, more robust unit.
This Internet Studio is a modular design consisting of an illuminated
18x24" base, with two adjustable arms fitted with 5000K fluorescent
lamps for a total daylight-balanced tabletop lighting solution, and designed
to hold a sweep backdrop.
Paterson Photographic had more to show us than strobes, introducing the
new Halogen 1000w Continuous Light ($199 street), which is dimmable and
rated at 3400K, featuring fan cooling, a Bowens fitting, and an extruded
aluminum body for maximum protection.
JTL displayed the ID Photo Kit ($600 MSRP), which consists of three tungsten
lights with 250w quartz-halogen bulbs. It is fan-cooled with thermo-control
to protect against overheating. The kit includes two softboxes, one with
barn doors, plus two heavy-duty stands and one backlight stand, and all
packed inside a padded carrying case; remote control included.
We also saw some new, cool lights--literally. Brandess-Kalt-Aetna
showed off their new AC-powered Color Corrected Cool Light Banks, as part
of their SP Studio Systems product line. Weighing in at 6 lbs, the SPSFB423P
($399 MSRP) offers a four-bulb bank with 23w, 5200K fluorescent bulbs,
whereas the 12 lb SPSPB923P ($649) is a nine-bulb unit. They are designed
for digital photography.
APV kept it cool with two new MH-Imagers cool daylight metal halide lamps:
MH-800 and MH-2400. Rated at 5200K, with an average life of 7000 hours,
they are flicker-free and self-contained. Model MH-800 ($190) uses a 150w
bulb but its output is said to equal an 800w incandescent, while the MH-2400
($400) employs three
on/off-switchable bulbs (total output = 450w, claimed to be equivalent
to 2400w incandescent)--bulbs and reflectors sold separately. These
heads fit inside a softbox. The larger lamp head comes with detachable
Studio Strobe Lighting--Monolights
High tech appears to be the wave of the future in studio strobes, especially
judging from our first few monolight systems. Paterson Photographic demonstrated
their new Interfit Combo 1200 digital monolight ($899 street), with an
operating voltage suitable for digital cameras. This unit employs a digital
display, with all controls on the side panel (except on/off switch on
back), counts flashes popped, and has a built-in photocell. Output is
variable in 0.1-stop increments. It features a 1000w halogen modeling
light to better simulate intensity of the strobe. Color temperature remains
constant as strobe output changes, regardless of watt-second rating. The
unit accepts Bowens fittings and a 700 ws unit will also be available
JTL went high tech with their latest monolights: the very impressive Versalight
D (for Digital) self-contained strobe series. These can be operated via
a remote control, and can be computer controlled so that saved lighting
setups can be used again as needed. Models are available from 300-1000
ws, each infinitely variable (available in 105-120v, 60Hz and 220-240v,
50Hz), with prices starting at $339 MSRP. Additional features include
audible signals; built-in stabilizer; digital power adjustment for strobe
and modeling lamp; an idle function to save electricity; user-replaceable
flash tube with built-in diffuser; overheat protection; and aluminum alloy
BKA Expands LancerLight
Brandess-Kalt-Aetna introduced the SPC3200 ACDC monolight ($489 MSRP),
which expands their LancerLight strobe series. Compact for tight spaces,
this unit will operate on AC or with the optional battery pack and is
rated at 320 ws, with full, half, and quarter-power settings (for strobe
and modeling light). It accepts softboxes, barn doors, and other accessories.
The new Norman ML400 and ML600 monolights (from Photo Control Corp.) also
boast digital displays, plus they add PocketWizard compatibility, with
6v DC sync voltage (suitable for digital cameras). Each comes with a 150w
and 250w modeling lamp, respectively, and each is adjustable in .01 steps
and compatible with Norman and Photogenic reflectors/light modifiers,
with a 2-second recycle to full.