There is a kind of unwritten, un-named natural law that seems to apply to photographic studios. A kind of “Techno Sod’s Law“. This law dictates that…
- If a piece of key equipment is going to fail, it will fail when it is most needed, and
- If you have a back-up piece of equipment, that will fail shortly afterwards.
And so it came to pass. My radio trigger system for the studio flash, which had been a little erratic of late, finally gave up the ghost altogether a couple of weeks ago. Not a huge surprise and I can’t really complain as it’s been in regular use for about 18 months and only cost £15 in the first place (a last-minute purchase from Focus On Imaging 2012). And so I dug out the spare system, which I usually reserve for shooting graduations and other off-site stuff and that too fell off it’s perch within 3 days.
This left me with just the trusty cable to rely on, which when you hire the studio out to others, is like counting the minutes until someone forgets they’re tethered to the lights and pulls them over. Unsurprisingly, I hurried to order more triggers online. I ordered one set, realised that delivery could potentially be a number of weeks so ordered another set with a faster delivery time but higher price. Then I realised that I also needed a system that included two recievers rather than the one-trigger-one-reciever sets I had ordered thus far, so I ordered yet another set. It was only when the first set arrived in the post that I realised I had another unused set, still in the packaging, languishing in the storeroom. Hmmph!
So I thought I’d share my feedback for a couple of these systems in case it will be any use to you. The first trigger/reciever system that I pressed into service was the Lastolite Lumen8 Radio Trigger Set 3265. I connected it up and then tested it in as scientific a way as I could. I took 100 photographs – 70 with me in the studio room where the flash was, 10 with me in the dressing room, 10 in the corridor adjoining the studio and even 10 in the storeroom. Here’s the ground-breaking results…
- Total Fires: 100 (so 100% – even when I wasn’t even in the same room as the reciever).
I was quite pleased with this. But this is my equally scientific (or not) opinion on the Lastolite trigger system…
- Seems to fire consistently with a good range.
- Has an “in-line” mains-powered reciever and so only the battery on the trigger to worry about.
- Not horrendously expensive at £46.90 from Amazon.
- Decent brand.
- Quite robust-looking and looks unlikely to break at the usual connection points (though I’m sure one of my studio users might prove me wrong).
- Only one channel and so not great for situations where you’re shooting alongside other togs and their flash systems. It even seemed to be activated by a trigger from a completely different system.
- Still a teensy bit over-priced for a single-reciever, single-channel system in my opinion.
And I’m not sure whether this is a good or bad thing but the instruction sheet supplied is borderline hilarious – a classic example of Chinglish I think. For example: “There will be miss out trigger phenomenon when the battery will run out” and “remote trigger for studio flashlight, is a control discreteness for camera to trigger studio flash synchronously”. Get that? Nah, me neither.
But overall, not a bad bit of kit and proof that for what this trigger will be put through on a day-to-day basis, you don’t don’t have t pay the earth.
Images taken on the iphone (sorry for dodgy quality).
Over a Christmas drinkie with my mate Mark, he casually announced, “I’ve got a few bags at home. I think they’re camera bags. Do you want ’em?”. I can never have enough camera bags for the ever-growing mountain of kit piling up in the studio so I agreed to pick them up later, half expecting them to be well-worn car boot finds. “They’re black. I think they’re new”, he added finally.
So when I went to pick them up, he brought down a big cardboard box and pulled out…
…a black Billingham bag, and of a style I’ve never seen before. Not a camera bag as such (no padded sides or partitions) but unmistakeably Billingham in style, black canvas with black leather straps. And there are six of them! I know that “Billy” bags start at around £100 so this was rather a nice surprise.
They’re actually more like messenger bags, with shoulder straps (still separate and folded inside most of them). I’ve trawled the internet and found nothing like them anywhere.
So where did they come from? Mark was clearing an empty unit in Brierley Hill near Dudley (where Billingham used to be based) when he found the box of bags. I can only guess that these were part of a test run or aborted product line. They’d been sitting in Mark’s shed for a while before he thought to mention them to me. Consequently, some of the metal fixings are a bit dulled, but I’ve successfully removed this with a dry cloth.
As I’ve said, there’s no padded internal seperators, but there is a zipped document pocket at the back of the back and a leather handle at the top (in case you’re not using the strap, perhaps).
I’d be interested to know if you have a bag like this, or have ever seen them before. I certainly haven’t and I bought my first Billingham bag direct from the factory (an ex-display model) close on twenty years ago.
I’m going to keep two of these rare bags, plus another for a future competition prize. So I have three more than I’m going to sell. Any offers?
PS. Sorry about the dreadful hastily-snapped photos. In my defence, I was a bit excited.
UPDATE: I have spoke to Billingham and it seems that these are actually “Hadley Pro” bags (currently retailing at £135+) but without the padded partition insert which can be bought separately for £37+VAT from Billingham.