The Metz 45 has died. It was having its capacitor formed on the battery yesterday and after twenty minutes it gave out a mighty bang and went dead. I think the capacitor has exploded inside the handle.
Capacitors in strobes do not last forever. There have already been two replacement caps in the studio Elinchroms in 30 years and any day now another will go. Fortunately, replacement of them is a standard tech job and I have a standard tech who does it at cost. It costs me a bottle of rye.
But what to do about the dear old Metz. It owes me absolutely nothing now…it is one of a series of secondhand Metz guns that have been used for wedding work for decades. I started with a 45 CT-1 in 1975 and have been through a series of s/h CT’s and CL’s since. They have been fed off every sort of battery including some heavy but powerful Sonnenschein lead acid gels in Qantum packs. They’ve fired through Tele-Vorsatz concentrators from the back of theatres and up into plastic diffusion panels in churches. They’ve never been light to carry but the big handle is a great comfort when you are swinging a camera for hours.
The weak point has always been the synch cords, but then you could say that about any flash – as soon as a wire gets a little age it starts acting intermittently and then all you can do is throw it out and get another. The only people I have ever seen beat this are Superior in Brooklyn.
There are always some Metz 45’s for sale at the photo markets but the problem about picking up more is that they will be just as old as the one that blew and they can go at any time. Their output is such that they get taken to jobs where you can’t afford to fail, but you don’t want to haul three units to have two spare.
I guess it is time to admit that replacement is needed. Metz have just issued their little 44 AF MkII in Fujifilm circuitry so I think I will look at this for the pro work. I use 2 Fujifilm EF 42 units now for car and dance shows and they are fine when you can wait a little for recycling…but they have plastic shoes that I have always mistrusted.
And they are rebadged Sunpak anyway. Call me old fussy, but I still trust Metz more than Sunpak. The new Fujifilm 500 model is nice, but big, expensive, and needlessly complex with wireless TTL and an attachment that does back massage . For pro work I just want adequate output, fast recycle, and consistent quench performance – I can manage the rest of the mathematics. Plus I’m married and back massage is one of the things in the marriage contract…
I think it will also be time to Steingeneer a handle attachment for the flash that lets me have that traditional Metz grip while still letting me open into the bottom battery and card flap of the X-Pro1 and X-E2. The last thing I want is to go back to the old days of taking the bottom of a camera and flash mount apart every time I needed to get into the works to change things. I had enough of that in the 45 CT-1/Leica M2 days. I was never a good juggler…