Saturday, April 17, 2010

Metz 45 CT-1 and Mecamat 45-20

This is the first installment dealing with the accessories available for the 45 series.

There are some that fit all 45 ers, others are general flash related and do in fact fit most flashes and some are specific for the model.

The filter set fits all 45ers. The early versions (45-21) had red, green and blue filters plus a clear one for your own gelantine filters and a wide angle adapter. The Wide angle adapter came already as a standard with the flash and extends coverage to 28mm. By buying the filter set you ended up with two. In later and current versions (45-32) it was replaced by a yellow filter. The filter sets seem no longer to be on the market and is not listed on the Metz website anymore. I found it to be one of the really useful add ons.  But maybe Metz decided to stop production in view of the many gel filter sets that are on offer.

In the picture on the right from the filters there is the simple photo cell Metz Mecalux 11. I said simple, because it can not suppress pre-flashes and is today only useful in 100%  manual set ups. Nevertheless I own several of it. It's big advantage is, that it can take any trigger voltage a 45er or 60 can produce. It is my go to trigger for the older CT-1s that I do not want to attach to any electronic device.

I did another little test with the Mecalux 11 and an SB 900. The modes which do not use a pre-flash on then SB-900 are:
- the Manual mode
- the Guide number mode
- the Automatic mode if the pre-flash is disabled in the menu

The Manual mode is for a number of photographers the preferred (Strobist) way but the Automatic mode can also be pretty useful as we will see later.

It is worthwhile to note that the menue option of the SB 900 to disable pre-flash does NOT work in any of the TTL modes with a DSLR. Pre-flashes are emitted and trigger simple photo cells such as the Mecalux 11.

For the Metz 45 CT-1 to be fully usefull in Manual mode you need an accessory called the Mecamat 45-20. It combines an external sensor with an upgraded electronics. Metz has produced a number of different versions of the Mecamat for different models of the 45er. Mecamats can ONLY be used with the model they were designed for.   

So only the 45-20 will work with the CT-1. (Please note that later versions of the CT-1 have low voltage electronics and use the mecamat 45 -43. The later versions start at serial number 534000) The logical reason is, as mentioned above, that the device is an upgraded version of the flash sensor and electronic and it had to be changed whenever newer electronics were used.

The upgrade provided by the Mecamat has three major benefits :

1) In Automatic mode it extends the number of usable Apertures to 9
2) In Manual mode it allows manual power setting in full stops  from 1 to 1/64
3) It has a spot meter option. (bride in dark church scenario)

It was the most useful accessory when the flash came onto the market and it effectively extends its usefulness to the present day.

There are a number of people who collect a full studio set up from used Metz 45 CT-1 and Mecamats in Strobist style on the cheap from the bay.

When the CT45-1 came on the market the Mecamat was marketed as a Macro-Tool, but it is much more versatile than that.

Seen from the back there are five elements. on top is the left right switch. It activates either the extended automatic dial on the left side or the manual dial on the right side. A white indicator shows which side is activated. Below in the middle is the flash ready lamp which replicates the flash ready status from the main unit. Below the flash ready lamp is a red led which lights up shortly if there was sufficient light. (The sensor did switch off the flash.) At the bottom uf the housing is a screw dial that allows to adjust the angle of the Mecamat upwards or downwards, in order to point the sensor when using the spot metering mode. Pointing downwards is also speciffically suitable for Macro work, when the subject is very near to the camera.  The little red button on the hot shoe can be used to trigger the flash for a test shot.

The front can be tilted to the side and the hole then acts as a visor so that you see where the Sensor is aiming. In the back a plastic part can be pushed out to be used for aiming with the visor.  (you can see it in the next picture at the feft sid near the bottom of the case in its pushed in state.) the The sensor itself can be turned with its black plastic rim and then pulled out to give a spot metering effect.

On the right side is a dial that looks very simmilar to the one on top of the the flash itself. When the mecamat is attached the dial on top of the flash is without function and it does not matter how it is set.
The inner dial is used to select the ISO. The outer dial can be set from Manual full power to 1/64 power. For each stop the table indicates the flash duration time between 1/300 to 1/16000 of a second. The upper part matches apertures with distance for the chosen setting. The highest ISO setting is only 400 but that does not matter as it is anyway only for informational purposes. A strobist shooting digital will get the right power setting by test shots and can ignore the ISO setting completely.

On the left side is a second simmilar dial and a switch. The switch can be selected to activate a "green" and a "red" modus. Waht you can see is currently active. In each modus 5 automatic apertures can be selected by turning the big dial. The "red" modus allows lower apertures. The  "green" modus allows higher apertures. The two modes overalp for one in the middle resulting in a total of 9 selectable apertures. For ISO 100 the apertures range from 2.8 to 45. The scale also shows the maximum distance for each aperture. Again ISO 400 is the largest ISO, but that is not tragic either. As aboove mentioned the ISO settings dial is just there to mechanically align the values printed on the dial. If higher ISO values are set in the camera simple adjust the aperture by the muber of stops necessary.

For example the read out of the dial says 400 aperture 2.8 and your camrea is set to 800 you need to close the aperture one stop to 4.

I will give a more detailed explanation how to work with when we come to an automatic set-up with multiple flashes.

This is my initial set up with a mecamat. I have swiveld it slightly to show that it could be moved about 45 degrees left or right.

Making this picture I used the Nikon 300s and the SB-900 in the hot shoe. The camera is set to manual and the Flash to slow sync TTL. It is pointing 45 dregrees up, the white reflector card is out and I use the wide angle reflector.

Following are a number of test shots that show how to make ugly pictures when using manufacturer recommended settings.

This is - no joking - the shot with level flash head Camera set to Programm and slow flash sync. The problem is the 3D Matrix Metering which wants to get a correct exposure for the focus distance, ignores the back ground and struggels with the combination of black and shiny subject surfaces. A picture straight for the bin.

Now this is the opposite extreme shot straight into the ceiling otherwise like above. My background is OK but there is no fill from the camera angel and my main subject is underexposed in its own shadow.

This one is nearly good.The camera is set to Program the Flash to slow sync TTL. It is pointing 45 degrees up shooting forward the white card is out and I use the wide angle reflector.

I can only encourage you to go and really play through all options with you gear and compare the results. The cameras and flashes of today are full of microchips that have a mind of their own and the only way you keep halfway in control is, to know how they react to each setting. You can also go the strobist route, dial in manual and be in control from the start.

Now back to the main program and the key question: How useful is this combo for my modern DSLR? There are three questions to be answered:

1) How high is the trigger voltage and can I attach it to my camera?
There seem to be three different types of 45 CT-1 on the market. Very early models seem to have voltages over 300V which is a clear NO to any modern camera. I could not find anyone who can confirm the serial numbers for the first batch. But it seems to be only a small run of early production and these are rarely encountered in today's second hand market. The second production model has numbers lower than 534000.  I tried to find as many references I could of people who measured the voltage of their CT-1 and so far all information I could find points to the following:  Models with a serial number beween 200000 and 534000 seem all to have a trigger voltage around 230V. My own has something like 219. BUT the 200000 for the lower end of the range is a provisional figure based on more than incomplete observation and in the absense of better information. Measure before you connect!!!
Hmmmm the camera manual of my Nikon says that it is OK with 250V maximum. Will I attach a CT-1 to it?  NO!
I fully admit that I am a chicken when it comes to wrecking expensive equipment.

2) Is It usefull in a remote flash set-up?
If your remote set-up is manual flash you will need the Mecamat 45-20. (or 45-43 for later versions) If it is Automatic flash it is useful in itself but even more usful with the Mecamat (9 stops range).

3) Can it be integrated with CLS?
Not really. It can serve as background lights or for a very specific purpose and also in this role only if you find a remote cell that can supress pre-flash.

This picture is part of a shoot for the Swiss artist HAFIS. He was working in a ceramic tile factory on a set of large handpainted tiles.
Knowing that a factory is mainly gray, gray and more gray I took two 45er along, used the red and blue filters and set them to remote triggered automatic mode. Suppressing the pre-flashes I got nice dramatic back ground light fitting to the subject of an artist. He is lit with an SB-900 in the hot shoe.

Admittedly the flashes used in this shot were not CT-1 but CT-3.
But the same result can be achieved.

A Macro set up in the early eighties looked something like this for me. The lens was in a retro mount. The flash was sometimes used with lumiquest reflector when softer light was required.

It could be used to make something like this

Stay tuned for more automatic flash experiments.


  1. What remote trigger used whith CT-1 or CT-3 ? is necesary a safe sync voltaje whit remonte trigger ?
    Sory for my english.

  2. In the picture with the artist I used SCA system remote module 3083 for the CT3 flash.

    The CT3, CT4, CL1, CL3 and CL4 can be used with any optical or wireless remote trigger.

    For the CT1 you will need the either a safe sync module or one can use the original Metz mecalux 11 (seen in the piture above).

    However you will have to care of pre-flash one way or teh other. There is a dedicated blog about the remorte trigger in the pipeline.

  3. I have an old model of the CT45-1, and working now to make a trigger with optocoupler.
    At the other side on de flash gun there is alzo a connector. I am told that you can use it for a 300 volt power supplythis the flash-elco directly. Can you aknowledge this ?

  4. Actuly I wanted to make long lasting battery pack for but I don't know how much current in mah Metz 45 ct 1 takecan any buddy tell me my email is plzzzz somebody help meeeee.