Sunday, February 21, 2010

My more serious photographic journey started with the Revue 3000 SL which is a re branded Chinon CX. With it came the small electronic flash the Revuetron 18.

The camera is still in good working order. When I tried to use the little flash for this Blog I found out that the power supply seems to have issues. It started to make funny noises when switched on.

So there will be no new experiments with this little gem. For its time (I got it in 1979 and it was not exactly new) the little flash was already quite comfortable.

The Guide number was 18 (m). It operated on an internal rechargeable battery and came with the power supply, a hot shoe adapter (not in the picture) and a PC extension cord. The last two items allowed off shoe flash !

How did it work in practice?

On the camera all the orange timings up to 1/125s could be selected to synchronise with the flash.

On the flash the red switch had three positions. Charging, or operating by internal battery, or operating directly from the attached power supply. Using the flash with the power supply plugged in had the slowest recycling times.  The recycling time from the internal rechareables was a bit faster but still distinctly pedestrian.

The dial on the back of the flash was set so that the white arrow pointed to the film ISO number. In the picture it is set to ISO 100. The scale at the lower half then matched aperture and distance. In this example aperture 4 is aligned with 4.5 meters. Quick check 4 * 4.5 = 18 the guide number! The dial is only for "comfort" as it has no internal function whats however. It is only a help to perform the guide number calculation.

A guide number of 18 seems to be low these days, and it was not ample at the time, but with a 400 ISO film and aperture 2 the distance was theoretically 18 m. That is a long way to stand from your subject(s).

The big drawback of this little fellow is, that he always delivers full output. The biggest drawback is, that you have to wait the full recycling time for the next shot. When connected to the power supply or fully recharged batteries that was already a long wait . If the batteries where no longer fully charged it became veeeery looooong.

The work flow for "snapshots" with the flash in the hot shoe something like this:
a) Set the camera focusing to the snapshot distance, usually 2,5 to 3 m depending on the occasion and the location.
b) Determine and preset the aperture for the selected distance, say ISO 100 film, 3m preset results in 5.6. (In those days the aperture was still set on the Lens)
c) If you want frozen movement flash pictures with potentially dark backgrounds choose 1/125s as time. If you want to see some ambient light in the picture; measure it with the camera meter for the chosen aperture and select to taste.

Taking Pictures:
d) Now you are set, take care to be approximately your chosen distance from the subjects, aim, adjust focus and fire away. And after only 3 - 5 minutes you can take the next shot!
If you want to be nearer or further away, just open or close the aperture a half or one stop. In case you bothered in step c) with ambient light, you might need to adjust the time accordingly.
(That all sounds a bit complicated, but it becomes very quickly quite intuitive. Also with up to 5 min recycling time you can adjust the camera, have a drink and a bite from the buffet before the next shot is due.)

e) Repeat d) until the party (occasion) is over. If you were dedicated a 36 frame film could last for about 2 to 3 hours! (Dedication and exact time varied depending on the quality of the buffet.) The good thing is, that the flash actually lasted for that number of shots, and it could then recharge over night.

With more static subjects, when the camera was mounted on a tripod the flash could be used off camera. That was very handy for the obligatory beginners choice of subjects like flowers, macro shots and macro shots of flowers!

Two examples below. I still love some of the pictures shot with the little fellow. He has now definitely reached the end of his serviceable lifetime and can retire forever.

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