OK, my name is Robert, and I'm hooked on flash bulbs. Yes, flash bulbs.
Sheer freaking POWER!
It started when I took to hiking in the woods, taking pictures. Unfortunately, with the powerful sun here in Arkansas, there are deeply shaded areas mixed with brighly lit tree tops. So, I then tried my most powerful electronic flash, and it was an improvement. But, it didn't seem to be enough.
Then I discovered the Nikon BC-7.
Takes bayonet base (e.g. #5)
Miniature base (M2, M3).
and all glass (AG-1) bulbs.
Uses a #504 15V battery, which I obtained online.
Plugs directly into the hot shoe of your Nikon F, or F2. These have the contact at the rear of the shoe.
Using an adapter, you can also plug it into your rangefinder Nikon (S3, SP, etc). The rangefinder Nikons have the contact at the front of the shoe.
Adapter AS-2 lets you mount the flash onto any conventional ISO hot shoe.
Adapter AS-3 lets you use this on the F3.
For completion, AS-1 lets you use a regular flash on your F or F2.
AS-4 lets you use ISO foot flash on your F3.
Yes, I've got all these adapters. I told you I was an addict!
Info page on Nikon adapters: http://mir.com.my/rb/photography/har...pler/index.htm
The BC-7 lets you adjust the beam for 35mm lens coverage, and for 45mm lens coverage (the famous Guide Number Nikkor lens).
Using the AS-2, and a Safe voltage hot shoe adapter (e.g. Wein sync safe, but I use a Vello product that is less than half the price of the Wein), I tested it out using my Fuji GS645's hot shoe, with an M3B bulb.
It's blinding, even at 15 feet away.
I now understand why the old photo books say to take portraits 10-15 feet away, and to use a 90mm or 135mm lens. Your victims don't want to get too close to the flash bulb.
Plus, tell them not to stare at the camera:
1) prevents red eye
2) prevents them from being temporarily blinded for 5 minutes.
I was the subject of my initial tests, not due to vanity, but because I was using my Gossen Luna Pro F in flashmeter mode to see what f/stops I should be using.
There is a difference in guide numbers between the 35mm and 45mm reflector settings.
Guide number was 160 for ISO 160 (Portra 160) at the 45mm setting. Handy, eh?
Guide number 140 for 35mm setting (Portra 160)
Note, this is much lower than the guide number on the box of bulbs, so I'll have to see when the film comes back which is accurate - box or the Gossen Luna Pro F.
Note #2 - the flashmeter is correct.
I also tried not hooking up the reflector at all, to see if it would cover a 28mm lens. Guide number then is 125.
Finally, I had to push it to the limit.
Nikon F with an 18mm lens, and bare bulb (no reflector).
Guide number 100 (f/6.7 at 15 feet, 160 ISO).
For off camera use, there is a handy extension cord that plugs into the BC-7, and the other end has a standard PC socket.
This is the way I use this flash unit now, as I mount it on a flash bracket when i'm not using a Nikon F or F2 camera.
Chapter 2 - Infrared. While I was taking pictures in the woods, I also tried out Rollei IR400 film, rated at EI 25. I used a Cokin A007 filter (equivalent to 89B), and just held it in front of the lens of my Fuji GS645.
I must say that for IR work, rangefinders are ideal. You can't see anything through an SLR with an IR filter on.
Results from the hot Arkansas sunlight was amazing!
White trees! Shadow detailed opened up a lot.
But, I want more.
I want infrared fill in flash!
Electronic flash is useless, as most of the output will be blocked by the IR filter.
Why not flash bulbs? They generate tons of heat, therefore infrared energy.
I used the M3 (clear bulbs) this time around. Not knowing what guide number to use, I just used the number on the box for ISO 10. I figured that at least 1/2 the light has got to be wasted as the visible light portion. The rest should be my IR light.
I tried this out today with my M4-2. The beauty of the Leicas until the M6 is that they give you both an M sync port as well as an X sync port (as well as a hot shoe from M4-2 upwards).
You can actually use both flash units together, simultaneously!!!
Think of the possibilities.
Use the electronic flash for (non-IR) lighting up your subject.
Use the bulb flash to light up the background.
Anyway, I climbed up hill and dale today with my M4-2, the Nikon BC-7 and AS-2 adapter, M3 clear bulbs, and Gitzo tripod at hand.
Lens was 35mm Summicron ASPH with a B+W IR filter installed.
I got tired of slapping that Cokin IR filter in front of the lens all the time.
Rollei IR400 film.
While I was finishing off my Portra 160 roll, I did try some bare bulb photography with a 21mm f/2.8 ZM Biogon, using M3B bulbs.
Spent bulbs were placed in a small cardboard box that I carried with me, until I could find a garbage container to discard them into.
I haven't finished the roll yet, so I don't know if this is a total folly or not.
I notice that the Leica instructions say that you can use up to 1/125 shutter speed with M synch and an M3 bulb. However, since I did my testing at 1/30 shutter speed, I kept to that speed.
Chapter 3 - MORE POWER.
As nice as the Nikon BC-7 flash unit is, it won't take those Mazda base bulbs. The screw base bulbs that look like a 25 W incandescent light bulb.
Bulbs like the Press 40, or even more powerful ones.
So, I just bought a Minicam Synchro Junior LBC. This is a batttery - capacitor unit that can accommodate the Mazda base bulbs as well as the bayonet bulbs. As well, I've got a bunch of #5 and #6 (focal plane) bulbs coming to me, in clear and blue versions. If this unit works, I'll then try those bigger bulbs!!!
I can't afford a Corvette to feed my middle age crisis, but I can get flash bulbs.
Anyone else who uses flash bulbs, please share tips, encouragements, and photos.