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  1. #1

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    Flash batteries?

    I finally got myself a big flash. The problem is it uses 8!! batteries. It's old enough that I doubt the words NimH or maybe even Nicad had crossed the minds of designers. What are the issues in using these types of batteries? The voltage is lower but that shouldn't be an issue. I've heard problems with the batteries providing power quicker then alkaline batteries. How much of an issue is this?

    Quantum makes a battery for the flash but the price seems crazy. It's just a 12v lead acid battery and a charger. Is it possible to use a Quantum module with a third party battery? I can buy a 12v battery locally for $10.

    FWIW it's an Agfatronic 643. Hopefully it works when it shows up. OTOH the thought of feeding it batteries makes me wonder.

  2. #2

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    http://www.aljacobs.com/Packmodone.htm

    I've thought of being a pioneer and trying one of these packs. The guy, seems, to know a lot about batteries. He is also very pro-digital too... So, who knows ... He sells them with a quantam module too... I posted this here and it seems nobody has used them but I am alful curious about them.

  3. #3

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    I looked at his stuff yesterday. I don't think any of them are big enough-( His stuff is a lot cheaper then a quantum but still a lot more then a little lead acid battery.

  4. #4

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    I use two big, but old, Metz guns. I use them with nicads and, occasionally with dry cells, when I can't charge nicads fast enough. I've not noticed much performance difference between the two, except that alkalines last longer.

    David.

  5. #5
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    One thing to watch for before spending money on batteries: it's not uncommon for very old electronic flashes (like one I have, that is about 40 years old and, BTW, has internal NiCd rechargeable battery) to have a bad flash capacitor. These are large electrolytics and seem to have a shelf life issue; they simply dry out after 30-40 years and won't take a charge (and if the capacitor won't hold 400 volts with a suitable number of coulombs stored, the flash will be weak or won't work at all). And it can be hazardous to replace these capacitors; even if they're too weak to fire the flash, they can still deliver a jolt that's capable of killing you.

    That said, if the original power source is 8 carbon-zinc or alkaline batteries, you can probably cobble up a temporary supply from your car's lighter socket to test the flash circuitry before buying an external battery. Be careful out there -- even a lighter socket can bite!
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  6. #6

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    I'm just hoping Nicads will work without damaging the flash. The cost for something like the Quantum is way out there. The cheapest price I've found is 3x what I paid for the flash. Considering it's just a 12v lead battery I can't see myself spending the money. I'm not sure when Agfa quit making flashes but it's been awhile. OTOH I've got two smaller Agfas. Similar vintage and they're fine. Likely the best value in midsized flashes. I bought each one for less then the cable attached to them would sell for on it's own.

    I actually built a portable car lighter socket-) It's just a socket and some wire with quick connects. I can attach it to a small 12v battery and use it for anything that plugs into a lighter socket.

  7. #7
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    Careful with Nicads

    The other problem with Nicads is that they have a lower internal resistance, so in some cases the resulting current is too high. Even if that doesn't initially damage the flash, it can result in heat build-up, which can either cause damage, or result in burns.

  8. #8
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    The consideration with current from NiCd cells is valid with some equipment, but probably not with an electronic flash, especially not one that has an external power connector that likely would have used an gel-cell if it's new enough they'd been invented (and they go back into the 1950s). The other consideration, however, is that you may need 10 NiCd cells to replace 8 carbon-zinc or alkaline cells; the lower voltage might translate into not having enough peak to top off the capacitor, or getting very few flashes from a charge. The other thing to consider is that this type of device is capable of deeply discharging a battery, and doing so with a multi-cell NiCd risks reverse charging a cell, which is generally Very Bad. These cells shouldn't ever be discharged below 1.0 V per cell, if they're to maintain a good lifetime. That kind of deep discharge is bad for any lead-acid battery, too; it might be worth seeing that kind of life you get from the 8 alkalines. You can buy Duracells pretty cheaply at Costco...
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  9. #9

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    Hopefully it turns out to use AA then I'll get get rechargeable alkalines. I thought it used bigger batteries but all the sites on the web claim AA.

  10. #10
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    The other problem with very old flash guns is that the voltage can be incompatible with modern electronic cameras and can damage the circuits. For example I have an early Metz CT-1 which I can't safely use with recent Pentax autofocus 35mm SLR's.

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