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Thread: Flash for Handheld 4x5

  1. #1

    Flash for Handheld 4x5

    Hi.

    I have a couple of 4x5s that I sometimes shoot handheld (a Graphic and a Tech IV). I'd like to try to use them with a flash, Jimmy Olsen/Weegee style (i.e., "125, f8, and don't be late"). My Metz 45 CL-1 isn't powerful enough to provide much more than fill, even with 400 film, unless I'm shooting close-up. I think I need something that exceeds GN 200 -- the old GE No. 5 bulbs, which were among the least powerful used by Graphic photographers in the 1950s, had an ASA 100 GN of something like 225. The no. 22 bulbs, which were also common, were close to GN 300.

    Does anyone have any ideas, other than buying stockpiled bulbs on the Net? Is there such a thing as a midget portable 400 w/s flashhead that can be mounted in front of a 5-inch reflector and attached to an L bracket?

    Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Re: Flash for Handheld 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by David Finch View Post
    Hi.

    I have a couple of 4x5s that I sometimes shoot handheld (a Graphic and a Tech IV). I'd like to try to use them with a flash, Jimmy Olsen/Weegee style (i.e., "125, f8, and don't be late"). My Metz 45 CL-1 isn't powerful enough to provide much more than fill, even with 400 film, unless I'm shooting close-up. I think I need something that exceeds GN 200 -- the old GE No. 5 bulbs, which were among the least powerful used by Graphic photographers in the 1950s, had an ASA 100 GN of something like 225. The no. 22 bulbs, which were also common, were close to GN 300.

    Does anyone have any ideas, other than buying stockpiled bulbs on the Net? Is there such a thing as a midget portable 400 w/s flashhead that can be mounted in front of a 5-inch reflector and attached to an L bracket?

    Thanks.
    First a watt second is not an output. It is the storage potential of the capacitors of the flash. The output changes with the angle of coverage of the reflector, the efficiency of the reflector, the diameter and length of the wires between the caps and the tube, the size and number of connectors between the caps and the tube, the diameter of the flash tube, etc.

    Assuming that you have a flash with a given storage capacity and you make three shots, one bare bulb, one with a 40 reflector and one with a 70 reflector you will have three different outputs from the same unit even though the power didn't change.

    What you need is a power pack flash with as tight an angle of illumination as you can use.

    BTW, those GN for flash bulbs changed with shutter speeds. Electronic flash is the same GN for all shutter speeds that you would use hand held.

    Some suggestions for a powerful flash would be the Metz 60 or it's successor, Norman, Lumedyne and similar units.

  3. #3
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: Flash for Handheld 4x5

    I use a Norman 200C. Here are some sample shots from the Greenwich Village Halloween parade that I've posted here before with technical info and some background--

    http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/pho...ween/index.htm

  4. #4

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    Re: Flash for Handheld 4x5

    I still use Press25 or Nr. 5 bulbs when I want to be Jimmy Olsen. If one shops carefully and is persistent there are still some affordable deals to be found on bulbs.

  5. #5

    Re: Flash for Handheld 4x5

    David, those are great pictures, just like Weegee without the grain and outline touchups. I've used Norman and Lumedyne flashes, too. They are extremely well-built and they recycle quickly, but the ones I've used weren't much more powerful than my Metz. How powerful is the Norman 200C?

    I guess I'm somewhat familiar with the distinctions between watt-seconds and guide numbers, and the fact that effective guide numbers vary according to film speed, distance, reflectivity factors, etc. Even so, there's a correlation between w/s and potential GN, which in turn is a useful shorthand for potential output. It seems that 400 w/s monolights are typically rated by their manufacturers at around GN 225 (at 100) when shot through a cylindrical housing without an external reflector. If you mounted the bulb in front of an articulated mirror that intensified the light while minimizing the angle of reflection, I imagine you could boost the GN considerably. But you don't want to do that when you attach a flash to a handheld 4x5.

    What you want to do, at least for Jimmy Olsen/Weegee purposes, is get as wide an angle of reflection as possible, as well as the option of lighting up the background (especially when taking interior shots). For that you need lots of power.

    As for bulbs, I read somewhere that an Irish company is manufacturing No. 22 replicas at around $15.00 each. An old-stock Press 25 -- which may or may not work -- runs around $6.00 on the Net. That's a lot of money.

    I suppose I could jerry-build a two-shoe handle-mount and attach two Metz units on top of it. But that would look pretty inauthentic. No one wants to use a handheld 4x5 unless it looks authentic.

  6. #6
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
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    Re: Flash for Handheld 4x5

    You can get flashbulbs very cheaply on ebay.

    Jon
    my black and white photos of the Mendocino Coast: www.jonshiu.com

  7. #7
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: Flash for Handheld 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by David Finch View Post
    David, those are great pictures, just like Weegee without the grain and outline touchups. I've used Norman and Lumedyne flashes, too. They are extremely well-built and they recycle quickly, but the ones I've used weren't much more powerful than my Metz. How powerful is the Norman 200C?
    Thanks, David.

    With a plain 5" reflector, I get GN 160 (in feet at ISO 100) at 200 W-s, based on tests I've made with slide film and later confirmed with a Minolta Flashmeter III. I was shooting at EI 200 in those shots, mostly at f:8 except for one at 5.6. With the telephoto reflector and flashtube spacer, I get a GN 320 by the same methods.

    With a Norman 400B you can get double that, but the pack is heavier and bulkier, and I've managed thus far with the 200 W-s packs.

    I've seen photos of Weegee shooting with two flash reflectors mounted on the camera.

    Also, scroll down toward the bottom of this page to see a Gowlandflex setup with two Norman LH-2 heads mounted on it--

    http://www.petergowland.com/camera/

  8. #8

    Re: Flash for Handheld 4x5

    Actually, thinking about it, it makes sense that Weegee put two reflectors on his Crown Graphic. With big bulbs he could've lit up an entire alley at midnight.

    I remember looking at some 4x5 shots taken during a Senate hearing during the late '40s. They were incredible: fantastic tonal range, depth, and detail; the flash lighting soft and deep in the big room. You'd think it was shot in a studio and processed by Ansel Adams, when it was probably the usual 10-minute Dektol/contact print/Dektol job. That's the sort of thing I'd like to learn how to do. The right flash, I think, is the key.

  9. #9

    Re: Flash for Handheld 4x5

    Here are a couple of sites for flashbulbs and the power they pack. Check out the meggaflash gallery for some examples of flash bulb photography. Meggaflash still manufactures bulbs in Ireland.

    http://www.meggaflash.com/
    http://www.flashbulbs.com/index.shtml

    If you ever get a chance to see any of O. Winston Link's photographs of trains at night shot with multiple bulb flash it is well worth it.
    http://www.linkmuseum.org/

    Gord

  10. #10

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    Re: Flash for Handheld 4x5

    I use a Metz 45CT1 with my Linhof STIV. I mount it so I hold the Anatomic grip in my left, and the flash in my right hands. It works well for me, and the 45CT1 is quite bright.

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