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Thread: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

  1. #1

    Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    hello

    Please enlighten: is there any reason why a Speed owner would want to purchase/use the original flashbulb lighting device--versus buying an electronic flash? Are the bulbs they use readily available?

    thank you!

    Dean

  2. #2
    SpeedGraphicMan's Avatar
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    Re: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Taylor View Post
    hello

    Please enlighten: is there any reason why a Speed owner would want to purchase/use the original flashbulb lighting device--versus buying an electronic flash? Are the bulbs they use readily available?

    thank you!

    Dean
    Several reasons...

    1. High Guide Number per bulb than most inexpensive portable flash units.
    2. Nostalgia
    3. It is just so damn cool!

    Flashbulbs are still readily available, but pricey! (Roughly $30 US a dozen).
    If you intend to shoot a lot of flash pictures you might be better off getting an older Norman 200B.

    But in reality you are not a real Speed Graphic user unless you own a Flashbulb unit!
    "I would like to see Paris before I die... Philadelphia will do..."

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    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    I love using flashbulbs. I was very lucky to acquire many cases of them, from #5 to Edison/Mazda base, and even some Mazda 75 bulbs (that scare the hell out of me), and I have dozens of flash units, cords, relays, slaves, and even flashes that use no battery.

    The light is soft. With a leaf shutter you can flash fill at 30 feet in daylight. Heck, you can light a forest. Stick a bunch of them on pic stands with slaves and you can light an auditorium. If you get into this, then find some good old books on bulb flash. There are some tricks to be learned, especially with multiple bulb setups.

    Flashbulbs are still made in Ireland by http://www.meggaflash.com/
    I would not buy from Cress Photo. Very expensive.

  4. #4

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    Re: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    A Press 25 bulb has the same output as 1200WS of electronic flash. You can measure the exposure from a bulb with an electronic flash meter that has adjustable shutter speeds and the ability to connect a sync cord like the Quantum Calcuflash II. Just set the meter shutter speed to 1/15 so you measure the full output of the bulb.

  5. #5

    Re: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    When my dad gave me my Crown Graphic 4x5 in 1964 bulbs were the only logical way. I started my professional career in 68 and used bulbs almost exclusively. Even working for Union Carbide as an industrial photographer in the mid 70's we still used super speeds and bulbs. Up into the early 80's I used bulbs to light large interiors. You cant get this level of illumination with strobes without a ton of lighting. A dozen #3 bulbs would put out more light than the 40k eat seconds I used to carry on big jobs.

    I'm actually thinking of recreating some Weegee style images using my crown graphic and bulbs.

    Take care not to accidentally discharge one while putting it in the flash. I e done that and it burns bad. That's what the sleeve is for, to protect your fingers.

    Check the work of O Winston Link. It's all lit eigh bulbs. I actually have a #11 signed by him.

  6. #6
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    Quote Originally Posted by Neal Chaves View Post
    A Press 25 bulb has the same output as 1200WS of electronic flash. You can measure the exposure from a bulb with an electronic flash meter that has adjustable shutter speeds and the ability to connect a sync cord like the Quantum Calcuflash II. Just set the meter shutter speed to 1/15 so you measure the full output of the bulb.
    Many LF shutters have a setting for bulbs - M, and some even have two different settings for bulbs. Generally, the M setting gives a 20 millisecond shutter delay so the flash is rising to peak intensity when the shutter opens.

    Here is a funky flash unit I put together. It uses three big bulbs and requires no batteries because the lower part of the unit is a magneto which also has an actuator for a leaf shutter.

    Here is a PDF of just a few boxes of bulbs which show the guide numbers to determine F-stop/distance and shutter speed. Note that not all film speeds are ASA.

    A flash bulb signed by O. Winston Link is so cool!

  7. #7

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    Re: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    I use Wabash/Sylvania Press 25s. I only use them occasionaly, because I normally am a natural light photographer. In my "studio", I use photofloods in hardware store reflecters. I find 25s on e-bay, and normally find them (with looking) for a dollar each. I would only buy an electronic flash if I took a lot of flash pictures. It is next to impossible to find an affordable zap flash as powerful as a 25 bulb. When I don't need the power of a 25, I use a 25B (blue). In ye olden days, I set my Speed Graphic at 12 feet, lens at f32, a 25th of a second and I was good from 8 feet to 25 feet. It was great for newspaper work.

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    Re: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    it's cool looking

  9. #9
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    Quote Originally Posted by premortho View Post
    [...]In ye olden days, I set my Speed Graphic at 12 feet, lens at f32, a 25th of a second and I was good from 8 feet to 25 feet. It was great for newspaper work.
    You must go back farther than I do!

    You might appreciate how I got into bulbs. One day a fellow driving a VW Karmann Ghia stopped by my house because he saw my Bugs in the drive ('58 and '72). He asked if I had parts. He was looking for a distributor. I had a good spare. He asked if I was into trading for something and I said, "Maybe some photography equipment". He asked, "Old fashion stuff?"

    Then he said, "Well, I just bought old One Shot Kelley's house. (One Shot had died the year before). "He left big cases of bulbs in the basement." We traded. A huge lot of #6 and #11 bulbs, 250-watt incandescent bulbs and a case of enlarging bulbs. That's the kind of luck I rarely find.

    DrTang: it's cool looking
    I can make a few more. Got lots of parts!

  10. #10
    adelorenzo's Avatar
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    Re: Speed flashbulb system, versus electronic flash...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Taylor View Post
    Please enlighten: is there any reason why a Speed owner would want to purchase/use the original flashbulb lighting device--versus buying an electronic flash?
    One word: Lightsaber

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