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Re: Zykkor Lenses
One of your readers asked a question about a Zykkor lens in the June 2009 issue of Shutterbug. I purchased a Zykkor Strobe Model 150 back in 1985 for use with my Nikon FT (still using both). Zykkor was a trade name for a number of different camera components that were made in Korea and a company in NYC handled the outlet for their equipment (I could not find the name of the company in NYC in my paperwork). I purchased mine at Peerless Camera in NYC. If your reader’s lens is as well made as my Strobe he should have no problem with it.
Bob Lejuez
via e-mail

As a photographer for over 50 years I recall issues with Zykkor lenses. They were a very cheaply made line popular with “bait and switch” photo dealers in the 1970s-’80s. These dealers would put a Nikon body and lens kit in ads for great prices. When customers complained who received a Zykkor lens instead of a Nikkor, they were told the Zykkor was actually a better product than the Nikon brand. It was not unusual for the salesperson to say, “I could get in trouble for letting you have such a great deal on a high quality lens.” Furthermore, the confused customers were often told they could keep the “upgraded pro kit” or have to pay a “restocking fee” to have the lens exchanged for the “inferior” Nikon lens. I remember this because several professional colleagues and some friends got caught in these “bait and switch” schemes.
Asher Pavel
West Cornwall, CT

Thanks to both of these readers for sharing their experiences with the Zykkor brand products. I had heard about this “bait and switch” tactic but I never encountered this myself. The similar sounding name to a major brand lens would be confusing to some individuals and might result in their purchasing the item instead of the “name” item.

High Voltage Safety
Q. I have an older set of Speedotron Brown Line lights (power pack) and want to use it with my Nikon D50 with a Wein hot shoe adapter, which supposedly offers protection against high voltage. Is that right?
Barbie Fowler-Steele
via e-mail

A. The primary danger from using older AC-powered and older smaller battery-powered flash units is they often use a high 200-400v trigger voltage, which could seriously damage the circuitry of a digital camera. If the Wein hot shoe adapter is the Wein Safe-Sync, it is designed to reduce the flash voltage ranging up to 400v down to a safe 6v, which should not cause damage. Alternatively, you could purchase a radio trigger that fits onto the camera’s hot shoe plus a receiver that goes on the flash head. If your model Speedotron has an infrared receiver slave built-in, you could get just trigger from the camera. Since there would not be any wired linkage between your camera and the flash, this would also be a safe method of firing the older flash. (Editor’s Note: We will be publishing a full report on using older flash units with digital cameras in an upcoming issue.)

Protective Foam
Q. I have two large aluminum Halliburton cases that I keep my large format cameras in for storage. These cases are over 25 years old and are in need of replacement foam protection inside the lid and base of each case. I would prefer to replace the protection in the cases with material that is similar to the original. Do you know of any place that I can purchase this material?
Frank Przewoznik
Newport, KY

A. I just checked and you can obtain replacement foam for your Halliburton cases by either calling (866-929-9376) or e-mailing ( Zero Halliburton. On their website they state that although these extremely durable aluminum cases carry a lifetime guarantee, the life of the protective foam inside varies due to how it has been kept and environmental factors such as UV, heat, and humidity. If you notice a fine powder, loss of resiliency, color or consistency change, it’s recommended that you get replacement foam. They further state they will not be responsible for damage to the contents stored in the case due to foam degradation. I, too, have several aluminum cases (not Halliburton) where the foam began to crumble and disintegrate and had to be replaced. I always suggest contacting the manufacturer first when seeking any replacement items.