Friday, January 28, 2011

Flash in the Pan


I mentioned earlier this month that we have come into a lot of film cameras. We are in the process of selling many of them but we now have several of the more interesting cameras on display in our home. These aren’t worth much and it’s not worth selling them, but they are interesting to look at.

One in particular has a large parabolic reflector attached to it. When I look at it I realize that there are many people who are young enough that they have never seen a flash bulb. The strobe became the device to use on cameras in the early 70s. Cameras were fitted with hot shoes that you connect your strobe to that synchronized the flash with the shot.

Before that the common means of illumination was a flash bulb which could only be used once. It would flash and you eject the bulb, which was hotter then hell and could actually start a fire if it landed in dry grass. You would need to insert another bulb for the next photo.

In 1960s Kodak came up with a new flash system for their Instamatic cameras. It was a flash cube, which was a four chambered cube with a flash bulb on each side. After taking a photo one would advance the film and with this action the cube would also rotate in place with the next bulb ready to go for the next shot.

Once bulbs were obsolete we used bulky strobes that made a high pitched squeal between shots to indicate they were recharging. Today the strobes are tiny and are built into hand held devices that are smaller than the former flash arrays and hot shoe strobes.

It’s kind of funny when you see things you grew up with that were considered innovative at the time now sitting on shelves considered as obsolete antiques.

3 Comments:

Blogger darev2005 said...

I've got a set of lights for photography that I picked up at a yard sale or something years ago. They can be hand held or screwed to a tripod. There's three or four lights on the bar and they are so bright you can feel the heat coming off of them ten feet away. It's like a portable microwave. And when you turn them on you can feel the power like switching on a light saber. They're awesome.

7:49 AM  
Blogger mark said...

You can still buy flashbulbs and those flash cubes on ebay. As I understand it, pro photographers could be easily identified by the scorch marks on their jacket pockets from hot flash bulbs.

7:58 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev there were some lights on WWII planes that could incinerate anything within 50 feet.

Mark, It's amazing how hot they got from a flash that fast.

6:11 AM  

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