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11-29-2021, 10:06 PM - 1 Like   #16
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My Vintage Flash Unit

It was 1952.
My first flash unit was made in England by a company which was still making studio flash equipment many years later, Clive Courtenay!
It was called the Courtenay Speedflash and Its output was rated as 100 Joules
It consisted of two parts, a flash gun and a power unit.
The flash gun was the size, and looked very much like those used by the press in old Hollywood movies. It connected to the power unit by cable and plug. It These very early units were based on flash tubes much the size of a radio valve, 6V6GT perhaps, and operated at very high voltages 1200 Volts DC or thereabouts.
The power unit was built in to a polished wooden case, the top of which had two opposing lids, hinged in the middle of the case. One lid covered the control panel, the other covered the battery compartment. The battery was a small 6 Volt lead-acid unit in a clear plastic casing.
All up it weighed around 14 pounds!
Despite much Internet searching I havenít been able to find any reference to my unit.
The Courtenay Speedflash was a very early design, certainly too early, as it used technology (and I use the term loosely) that existed pre WW2.
To provide the required high voltage from the 6Volt battery, a Vibrator similar to those used in early car radios was used. The vibrator interrupted the DC current and allowed the use of a transformer to increase the voltage to the level required. It was then rectified and used to charge a capacitor, usually an oil filled paper type in a metal housing, with ceramic insulators to cope with the high voltage. For the 100 Joule output the capacitor only needed to be of a small value, because of the high voltage involved.
The high voltage used in these units had a plus and a minus. The plus, was the very short flash durations, perhaps up to 1/10,000 of a second. No camera shake here.
The minus was that, due to film emulsion latency, a sizeable part of the light was wasted.
Owners of this type of unit felt it imperative to take at least one photo to demonstrate the short duration of their flash.
Of course, so did I, with this very crude shot.
As electronic flashes developed, they became more efficient. For a given output the capacitor became larger and the operating voltage lower. Flash duration became longer, hundredths of a second now, film emulsion latency no longer a problem.
To get back to my Speedflash. It worked for about one year then died. No warranty, I couldnít find anyone among the camera shops who would take on the repair. Eventually I was able to trade it in on a lighter more modern Blaupunkt Ultrablitz flash running on D cells.
A number of flash units followed, becoming smaller, more refined and easier to use (If you still have the user manual).
I hope you found this of interest, Don.

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12-01-2021, 05:13 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by donhon1928 Quote
G'day Arnold.
Here's another 10 ASA Kodachrome shot. My wife and first born taken in early 1954. He was one year old and had just taken his first steps that day.
Leica IIIc and standard Elmar 50mm f3.5 lens.
That is a brilliant example of the old Kodachrome 10. I wonder if costs led them to change the formula, because the results were superb.
12-02-2021, 07:59 PM   #18
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G'day Arnold.
Here's another. Same little fella but some time later, definately prior to Christmas 1955. Leica IIIc. I'm not sure, but lens could have been a Steinheil Culminar 85mm f2.8 coupled for the Leica. Flash used.
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