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Photogenic Flashmaster pack/head system?

Josh Wand , May 31, 2001; 12:01 p.m.

Does anyone have any experience with Photogenic's old Flashmaster line of studio pack/head systems? Lots of them seem to be coming up used, and I wondered if they were reliable or powerful (i.e. is 600 w/s actually 600 w/s?)... a search of the photo.net archives was fruitless. Any particular bugs I should watch out for when looking at used Flashmaster packs/heads?



kevin kolosky , May 31, 2001; 03:05 p.m.

Josh. The flashmaster line was Photogenic's second tier line for many years, right behind their STudiomaster line. The difference between the two is that flashmaster is a pack with heads, whereas the studiomaster were selfcontained in that each head had its own pack. As you are well aware, with a system such as the photomaster, the full power is only available with one head working. each time you add a head, you decrease the power to the rest of the heads. If I remember correctly, photogenic used to offer plug in modules so that you could control exactly how much power you wanted to go to each head, whereas today in their photomaster line they use a dial for that purpose. Photogenic is a workhorse. Built tough. If you can get a good deal on a set they buy them as photogenic will fix anyting they have ever produced. Good luck. Kevin

John Sonewald , May 31, 2001; 06:11 p.m.

I have 2 really od Studiomaster packs. They're heavy, beat-up, ugly, and have clunky radio style push buttons to change power levels; but they work. They only down side I've noticed is that recharge time is a bit long (15-20 seconds) to full power. I paid about $150 for both sets with extra reflectors and easily got my money's worth.

Bill C , May 31, 2001; 07:59 p.m.

>> If I remember correctly, photogenic used to offer plug in modules so that you could control exactly how much power you wanted to go to each head,… <<

Kevin's comment jogged my memory about these; they were generally called "power plugs". They looked like little metal cans, about 1" tall and similar width and would be plugged into a socket on top of the pack. As I recall, there would be a stamped number on the top, such as #3 or #4, and POSSIBLY stamped with a breakdown of power distribution. If one is NOT installed, I don't remember the results; maybe power is evenly split.

At any rate, if you find that different lighthead sockets have seemingly weird output levels, it's probably the specific power plug being used. Just something you should be aware of this!

Fred Maize , May 31, 2001; 10:19 p.m.

I can't comment on the newer Flashmaster packs but I regularly use the older 400ws AA-01 packs I bought used back in the 70's with no problems. These are the big heavy ones with constant voltage transformers in them. The output is very consistent. Their biggest disadvantage is the relatively weak modeling lights (about 40 watts, if my memory is correct). As for the power plugs, they are stamped with a model number and the output levels. If no plug is inserted, there is no output.

Patrick Clow , Jun 01, 2001; 07:43 a.m.

This seems like a good time to mention sync voltage. I do not know what the Photogenics have (any owners out there with multimeters?).

A blanket statement to work with as you will: Some older studio packs can have extremely high sync voltages and some newer cameras (especially digitals it seems) cannot handle high sync voltages.

Know your voltages and limits before you accidentally release the smoke from within your camera's electronics that makes it run (it is not electricity like everyone thinks -- as soon as you let the smoke out they just don't work right anymore...)

Josh Wand , Jun 01, 2001; 10:59 a.m.

Fortunately, sync voltage isn't something I'll have to worry about: I'd be using the system with an old mechanical self-cocking Betax shutter with bi-post sync... no electronics there to fry, right?

Patrick Clow , Jun 04, 2001; 10:01 a.m.

Sync voltage with mechanical cameras can be a factor over time. The shutter in mechanical cameras is the physical switch that makes the connection. Carbon can build up when using a high voltage flash causing later firing or mis-firing. I have heard horror stories of misbehaving flashes that had somehow got extremely high voltage and current running through their sync connections. Upon trigger the shutter contacts vaporized. Other horror stories have the contacts basically welding themselves together. This was with really wonky flashes, though.

Same thing would happen if you accidentally plugged your sync cable into a 120v outlet and triggered the camera.

So in theory it could become a problem. In practice it might never happen especially with lower voltage flashes. If you are an extremely safe person you might consider a Low Voltage Trigger device or a slave device.

Russell Britt , Jun 04, 2001; 06:47 p.m.

I have used one for over 15 years (BOUGHT USED) never had a problen with the power pack, but have used up a few flash tubes in the heads. The only problem is no parts for the heads or power packs from photogenic now? Like said above slow recycle times but lots of power. Yes they do use power plugs to adjust power to the heads. I have NEVER had a problem with any of my cameras with this unit.And I use it on location some times and its VERY tough.

Chris Klug , Feb 20, 2003; 10:30 p.m.

I have a relatively modern AA06 model, 600 w/s rated but more like 1000w/s....no problems for 7 years...then pffft! called photogenic today, and they said send it in and they'll fix it...Their stuff is heavy duty and very, very efficient. They know their stuff. nuff said.

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