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PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 12:31 pm 
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Forum member Tomis asked if I would write a short review regarding the flashguns used in my HSF work - so here it is.

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The above image is of a water filled balloon shot with a 0.22" air rifle pellet. The flash duration is 9 microseconds (1/111,111 th second) and the light was provided by 3 "Ultra" units simultaneously fired using a sound trigger.

The flash units are marketed and manufactured by http://www.highspeedflash.com to my design. I have designed and made custom portable high-speed Xenon flash equipment for over 25 years, mainly for my brother Alan's hobby of photographing birds in flight.

Highspeedflash dot com sell two Xenon flash units for two very different markets. The "Pro" unit kicks out 150 Joules in 50 microseconds (1/20,000 th second) and is ideal for outdoor bird in flight photography, or studio insect in flight photography, although you might not freeze the fastest little critters with "only" 50 microseconds :D Photographic parameters with the "Pro" unit come in at ISO 100, 6 feet, f#22 - which is what you would expect with 150 Joules coming out the front end. You can see examples of "Pro" images on the highspeedflash dot com site, and also on http://www.concept2innovation.com/

The second Xenon flash unit sold by highspeedflash dot com is called the "Ultra" and this is quite a different beast altogether. The "Ultra" kicks out a staggeringly short 9 microsecond (1/111,111 th second) light pulse at a very respectable 40 Joules (not 27 Joules as given on the HSF site). In photographic terms this comes in at ISO 100, f#22, 2-3 feet or thereabouts. This is clearly a more specialist flashgun, mainly for (but not restricted to) studio work where it will stop the action of practically anything except a bullet. The light bulb shot used 3 "Ultras" an ISO of 100 at f#25 at 2 feet.

Please ask highspeedflash dot com for pricing on their website, they are very quick to respond. Some background on highspeedflash dot com themselves. These guys have been in the Xenon flashtube manufacturing market for quite some time and I have used their product in other peoples' systems. HSF dot com wanted a product to put their tubes in and were sent to me via a third party who works primarily in high speed video. The HSF people were sufficiently impressed by the work I had done over the years, and by the reports of people who had used my units over the years, that they took on the (onerous!) task of not only manufacturing these units but also getting all the necessary EU and safety stuff sorted out to be able to sell to the public - something I could never be bothered with.

So there you have it! You now have the opportunity to take those "Edgerton" shots yourself with what is currently unique equipment unobtainable anywhere else in the world. You might be able to source (extremely expensive) "spark-gap" type flashes, which although extremely fast - carry very little power. You will also find the prices quoted are remarkably cheap for the quality of the product (well I think so anyway considering what I pay for various astronomical bits and pieces).

You can get the dimensions and weight of the units off the HSF dot com site, but they have been ergonomically designed with two nice beefy in-built handles on either side which makes handling very easy indeed. On the baseplate there are two screwed threads to take tripod/ball head fittings. An extremely nice touch is a frosted "outer tube" which sits around the Xenon tube itself and gives a much "softer" light output than a bare tube - a very nice addition.

All in all I have been very impressed with the units' performance so far. I typically take 100 - 200 shots in a studio session and they have (so far) performed flawlessly. The batteries last for at least 2-sessions and probably a lot longer, but I usually keep them topped up as I don't want to be caught out by a dead battery at the beginning of a shoot.

Hope the above is of some help to you.

All the best,
Greg

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Nexstar 11 GPS, 2 x Sky 90, M25C, MaximDL, Photshop CS3, Noel Carboni's Photoshop actions, 7 foot Pulsar fibreglass dome, Canon 40D, 100mm macro lens, 28-200mm zoom lens, 17-55mm f#2.8 zoom lens, 100-400mm zoom lens, 1.4x converter, 2x converter.
http://www.newforestobservatory.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12801949@N02/


Last edited by cybermystic on Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:32 pm 
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Wait... f/25? or f/2.5?

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Cactus V2s Wireless Trigger - 5 x Cactus V2s Wireless Reciever

MY FLICKR!


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:59 pm 
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f#25 - a strange number but it's on my Canon 40D :D
Greg

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Nexstar 11 GPS, 2 x Sky 90, M25C, MaximDL, Photshop CS3, Noel Carboni's Photoshop actions, 7 foot Pulsar fibreglass dome, Canon 40D, 100mm macro lens, 28-200mm zoom lens, 17-55mm f#2.8 zoom lens, 100-400mm zoom lens, 1.4x converter, 2x converter.
http://www.newforestobservatory.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12801949@N02/


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:33 am 
Very nice Greg! I am very envious of your equipment... maybe one day i will be able to afford such luxuries


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 2:01 am 
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Nice review Greg, and wonderful photos too - thanks for sharing the images and information!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:35 am 
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My pleasure Gordon :D And Tomis - a flash unit (with battery pack and charger) costs about the same as a top end lens, and quite a bit less than a top end camera.
Greg

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Nexstar 11 GPS, 2 x Sky 90, M25C, MaximDL, Photshop CS3, Noel Carboni's Photoshop actions, 7 foot Pulsar fibreglass dome, Canon 40D, 100mm macro lens, 28-200mm zoom lens, 17-55mm f#2.8 zoom lens, 100-400mm zoom lens, 1.4x converter, 2x converter.
http://www.newforestobservatory.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12801949@N02/


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:48 pm 
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Yes, very interesting. Perhaps out of my league. Does the studio you go to have these? It may be worth a weekend away to try them out.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:53 pm 
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The guy who owns the studio (Tony Allen) has 3 of the "Pro" unit equivalents. I take my 3 "Ultra" units up with me.
Greg

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Nexstar 11 GPS, 2 x Sky 90, M25C, MaximDL, Photshop CS3, Noel Carboni's Photoshop actions, 7 foot Pulsar fibreglass dome, Canon 40D, 100mm macro lens, 28-200mm zoom lens, 17-55mm f#2.8 zoom lens, 100-400mm zoom lens, 1.4x converter, 2x converter.
http://www.newforestobservatory.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12801949@N02/


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:10 pm 
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Thanks. I have taken a note of the email addresses on the http://www.highspeedflashphotography.com/ site. I just need to think about what I can do, as I have no commercial project in mind; it would be just for fun.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:54 am 
Nice review on Xenon flash guns


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:29 am 
Great review and photo, thanks Greg!

Just curious, but how do these sound triggers work? Do they respond to the sound of the gun or the sound of the glass breaking and how do you stop them from triggering the flash at the wrong sound? Is a sound trigger always fast enough for these kind of shots?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:43 pm 
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Glad it was useful Graham :D

The sound trigger is no more than a microphone hooked up to an amplifier which chucks a pulse at a thyristor which actually fires the flashes. You can change the amplifier gain so that either faint noises or only loud noises will fire the thyristor. As the air rifle goes off with quite a bang I have the sound trigger on minimum sensitivity which means that I can walk around and set things up, and even talk quietly to someone else in the studio without setting off the flashes. So its the firing of the gun that triggers the flashes (as this is the first loud noise to occur) and then you place the microphone some distance away from the noise source to get the delay time before firing the flashes - roughly a foot per millisecond of delay. For all the balloon shots the microphone was about 6 feet away from the rifle.

Greg

_________________
Nexstar 11 GPS, 2 x Sky 90, M25C, MaximDL, Photshop CS3, Noel Carboni's Photoshop actions, 7 foot Pulsar fibreglass dome, Canon 40D, 100mm macro lens, 28-200mm zoom lens, 17-55mm f#2.8 zoom lens, 100-400mm zoom lens, 1.4x converter, 2x converter.
http://www.newforestobservatory.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12801949@N02/


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:11 am 
Makes sense now! Thanks Greg. :)


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