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  1. #1
    Fragomeni's Avatar
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    Modern Batteries for Vintage Flash Units w/ Bulbs - Specifically Argus

    This question has to have been asked and answered time and time again but for the life of me I can't find anything on the subject. I apologize if this has been answered before.

    Anyway, is there any resource that describes using modern batteries in vintage flash units that used flash bulbs?

    I have an Argus C3 with flash unit thats been sitting in my collection for a while and I did some work getting it back to prime condition and I'd really like to take this out and use it with some flash bulbs in the flash unit. Now I know nothing about batteries or battery equivalents. The battery compartment of the flash unit appears to take 2 batteries the size of modern C batteries. Is the solution so simple that I can just use modern C batteries?? I don't want to damage anything so I've not tried putting modern batteries in the unit yet.

    If someone could let me know what batteries I can use and what bulbs I can use in the flash unit it would be very much appreciated. Thanks!
    Francesco Fragomeni
    www.FrancescoFragomeni.com

  2. #2
    Fragomeni's Avatar
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    I answered my own question. You can se modern C cell batteries in this flash.
    Francesco Fragomeni
    www.FrancescoFragomeni.com

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    2F/2F's Avatar
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    IME, modern alkaline cells work fine in old flashguns, and they also last a very long time, unlike when used for electronic flashes. The ones in my Speed Graphic's flash have been in there doing their job fine for over five years, both for igniting flashbulbs and simply for releasing the shutter - via the solenoid on the lens board - for every shot (mostly without flashbulbs).
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  4. #4
    Fragomeni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    IME, modern alkaline cells work fine in old flashguns, and they also last a very long time, unlike when used for electronic flashes. The ones in my Speed Graphic's flash have been in there doing their job fine for over five years, both for igniting flashbulbs and simply for releasing the shutter - via the solenoid on the lens board - for every shot (mostly without flashbulbs).
    Yea, im excited to play around with this. I've got 2 dozen Sylvania 25b bulbs that Im testing out. Its a lot of fun and really draws some attention hahaha! Unfortunately I put in a bad bulb while looking at it with my face only about 8 inches away from the bulb and reflector and the bulb went off on its own right in my eyes. Singed my hand and really messed with my eyes pretty bad. I think it was so powerful that it actually made me a little physically sick and almost 4 hours later my eyes are still not back to normal Lesson learned! Never look at the bulb especially not that close!

    Anyway, Im shooting them off in this Argus C3 and running Tmax 100 through it. Not sure how the ISO lines up but we'll see how they turn out after I develop the negatives and pop out a contact sheet. I was using the recommended f-stops for "Daylight Type Color Film" from the original Argus C3 manual. I noticed the recommendations progressed from ASA 10-16 films to ASA20-32 to ASA 40-46 and then to "Daylight Type Color Film" which I'm assuming was higher ASA then 40-46 and Im hoping it was at least somewhere near ISO 100. Any clue how to figure out the recommended f-stops accurately for ISO 100??
    Francesco Fragomeni
    www.FrancescoFragomeni.com

  5. #5
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    IME, modern alkaline cells work fine in old flashguns, and they also last a very long time, unlike when used for electronic flashes.
    THe cells in bulb flashes do not have to be able to supply an instantaneous current to fire the flash as there is usually a capaitor in there as well.

    When the bulb is inserted the capacitor is charged by the capacitor via a resistor (to limit the current and prevent the bulb from firing early*). When the shutter contacts are closed the capacitor is connected directly to the bulb and fires it.

    The cells therefore have quite an easy life.

    capacitors have a low internal resistance and can supply a high current peak easily. If it was just a simple circuit with cells and a bulb, the higher internal resistance of the cells could lead to late and/or erratic firing of the bulb.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragomeni View Post
    Unfortunately I put in a bad bulb while looking at it with my face only about 8 inches away from the bulb and reflector and the bulb went off on its own right in my eyes.
    * exactly what the resistor should stop it doing!


    Steve.

  6. #6
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Circuit if anyone is interested:



    Steve.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Flash.jpg  

  7. #7
    Fragomeni's Avatar
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    Any clue how to figure out the recommended f-stops accurately for ISO 100??
    Again, I figured this out right after writing that post. I don't know why I can't figure this stuff out before I post questions haha. Anyway, I found my solution on the back of a second Sylvania 25b bulb box (I have two different bulbs from different time periods). Here is how to figure it out if anyone needs it or is interested:

    (Pay attention to "Guide Number" which I abbreviate "GN". You'll use this to figure out f-stops)

    Film Speed 80-125 ASA (ISO equivalent) @ 1/30 = GN 200, @ 1/125 = GN 95, @ 1/250 = GN 70, @ 1/500 = GN 48, @ 1/1000 = GN 46

    For f-stop, divide Guide Number (GN) by distence, in feet, bulb-to-subject. (Ex: If Guide Number is 110, distance 10 feet, 110/10= f11

    If anyone wants the full chart with ASA/ISO 10-500 let me know and I'll try to upload the chart so you can have it.

    * exactly what the resistor should stop it doing!
    You're right! I suppose maybe it wasn't a bad bulb but perhaps the resistor is broken. There is a little rattling in the socket of where the flash unit receives the bulb. I noticed this before putting in the first bulb and was concerned that the unit wouldn't work but it did and I put the rattle out of my mind because I was just happy that the flash unit still worked. I guess that rattling could have something to do with the resistor.
    Francesco Fragomeni
    www.FrancescoFragomeni.com

  8. #8
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    It's unlikely that a resistor would go short circuit or lose resistance over time. More likely it would go open circuit and the flash would stop working.

    Does the rattle stop if you place a bulb in the socket? The rattle is more likely to be the flash bulb contacts within the plastic (I assume) moulding which are a bit loose untill they are pushed out by the bulb.

    I expect your mishap with the first bulb was caused by a bit of residual charge in the capacitor and an accidental shorting of the sync. contacts. Is there a manual fire button on the back?

    I used to have an Agfa bulb flash for my Isolette I had when I was ten (35 years ago!). I have an Isolette now and some bulbs so it would be nice to get a flash for it. Mine used a 22.5v battery, the same size as a standard 9v battery but with a contact at each end.


    Steve.

  9. #9
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fragomeni View Post
    Again, I figured this out right after writing that post. I don't know why I can't figure this stuff out before I post questions haha. Anyway, I found my solution on the back of a second Sylvania 25b bulb box (I have two different bulbs from different time periods). Here is how to figure it out if anyone needs it or is interested:

    (Pay attention to "Guide Number" which I abbreviate "GN". You'll use this to figure out f-stops)

    Film Speed 80-125 ASA (ISO equivalent) @ 1/30 = GN 200, @ 1/125 = GN 95, @ 1/250 = GN 70, @ 1/500 = GN 48, @ 1/1000 = GN 46

    For f-stop, divide Guide Number (GN) by distence, in feet, bulb-to-subject. (Ex: If Guide Number is 110, distance 10 feet, 110/10= f11

    If anyone wants the full chart with ASA/ISO 10-500 let me know and I'll try to upload the chart so you can have it.



    You're right! I suppose maybe it wasn't a bad bulb but perhaps the resistor is broken. There is a little rattling in the socket of where the flash unit receives the bulb. I noticed this before putting in the first bulb and was concerned that the unit wouldn't work but it did and I put the rattle out of my mind because I was just happy that the flash unit still worked. I guess that rattling could have something to do with the resistor.
    It is interesting that they list a GN for '1000, as this speed was only found on FP shutters. I don't think any of my boxes for class M bulbs list a GN for that speed. Are you sure you don't have class F bulbs?

    Notice how different it is from '30, in which the film records the entire blast of light, though. You lose over two stops by clipping the duration of the flash.

    You also lose a fair amount of light by using the B bulbs instead of the clear ones. I try to only use the B ones for color film, but I am all out of clear #25/G.E. #5 bulbs, and only have #40/G.E. #11 bulbs left in the clear variety.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 08-11-2010 at 09:57 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  10. #10
    DWThomas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Smith View Post
    THe cells in bulb flashes do not have to be able to supply an instantaneous current to fire the flash as there is usually a capaitor in there as well.

    When the bulb is inserted the capacitor is charged by the capacitor via a resistor (to limit the current and prevent the bulb from firing early*). When the shutter contacts are closed the capacitor is connected directly to the bulb and fires it.

    The cells therefore have quite an easy life.

    capacitors have a low internal resistance and can supply a high current peak easily. If it was just a simple circuit with cells and a bulb, the higher internal resistance of the cells could lead to late and/or erratic firing of the bulb.



    * exactly what the resistor should stop it doing!


    Steve.
    Sorry, but I am forced to question this one. I have a 1958 vintage C3 and I'm pretty sure its two C cell flash gun is purely brute force. It was early sixties when I acquired a flashgun with a fold-up fan reflector (Honeywell "Tilt-a-Mite") that took smaller bulbs, when I saw the capacitor type unit. The one I had took a fifteen volt battery, common for portable electronics at the time. The capacitor in the unit I have slid into the holder next to the battery (to allow easy replacement I guess), each was slightly smaller than a double A cell. I think that was the big deal for the capacitor units, that it allowed a much more compact flash unit. When I originally saw this thread title, I feared the OP was looking for one of those 15 volts battery types which may have gone the way of the dodo by now.

    Further possible unhappiness, any 1950s vintage capacitor that hasn't seen occasional use over the intervening years is likely no longer a capacitor (this assumes they were electrolytic types which they'd surely have to be for the required output surge).

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