P4000 Norman Power Packs

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I received some excellent input on lighting for architectural photography in an earlier post.

That said, can someone tell me about Norman P4000 power packs? This is "P4000", not P4000D, or some other designation. I'm pretty sure these are 4000 watt-second packs, but they're lighter and about the same size when compared to current P2000D packs, and this seems quizzical. Why would this be? They have options of 2000, 1600, 1200, 800, 400, and 200 watt-seconds, and combinations thereof. Have standards changed, and have power packs have gotten heavier? Given their size, weight, and power, they look like excellent packs for architectural purposes.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), July 25, 2001


Well they probably are fine packs -- if you don't mind that the Norman system is half as efficient at turning potential energy (watt seconds) into light as Speedotron, Balcar, Elinchrom, Profoto and Comet, just to name the brands I've tested.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@heartstone.com), July 25, 2001.

If I reall correctly, the pack is a 2000w/s pack. Heavy, yes... efficient, not really as Ellis states. I didn't care much for Norman heads either. Norman as well as Speedotron Blacks are a bit large and heavy and are good in the studio but if you have to transport alot, I would think twice... that or hire an assistant. I have Dynalites and love them! I have Dynalites and love them! My 1000w/s packs have NEVER let me down and have always been enough power whether it is in the studio or location. Neil, if you like the Norman line, by all means get them. Look into what you have to do with the sundries like softboxes and all that you will need for your shooting.

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), July 26, 2001.

Neil, the only Normans I've used were 200Bs, so maybe the others could answer this better. But we use speedotron blacklines here, they are heavy but man, they're rugged & built to last. The thing I've noticed about Normans has been that alot of their packs seem to draw less amps than say a similar sized speedotron. They call it "soft start" or something like that, and all the packs pull just 15 amps. That's alot less than any speedos, and even a 2000 watt Dynalight pack pulls more than that. So, that may be a nice feature for location work....

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), July 26, 2001.

My statement about the inefficiency of Norman heads is based on a series of test i ran in late 1999. A Norman P2000x pack with a standard Norman head and a new flash tube, set to full output produced half as much light as the same pack with a very slightly rewired (just the modeling light circuit ) Speedotron 102A head in a variety of configurations; Softbox (Plume Wafer 140) Umbrella (50" Photek Goodlighter); and with standard umbrella (5" forthe Norman, 7" for the Speedo) and 10" reflectors with the meter on axis to the flash tube and with the heads pointed at the ceiling. Using a Speedotron 2405 pack at full power the output onthe Speedo head was slightly higher, which I attribute to the Speedo pack being a 2400 w/s pack. My results comparing the other brands were very similar to the readings I got from the Norman pack/Speedotron head combo and the all Speedotron combination. I used a Minolta Flash Meter IV for the measurements.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@heartstone.com), July 26, 2001.

Thanks again for the helpful comments. These Normans are not for me.

I found out that they're actually 4000 W-S packs. But, one has to do things just "so" to avoid arcing, either at the plug or internally. While looking at the pack with a head attached, I turned off the pack at the main power switch, depressed the discharge switch several times to make sure it wasn't holding a charge, and then threw a switch from 1600 to 800. With the unit off, my idea was to reconfigure it with a different power source to the head. KER-WHACK!!! The damn thing arced internally. Apparently, you can't throw a swith with the unit off, and you can't pull a plug with the unit on. Good Lord, talk about confusing. I can just see myself glowing in the dark after making some fateful error. No thank you!

So, I continue to look, probably for something a little more recent with a little less power. Perhaps I'm showing my ignorance, but better ignorant than dead.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), July 27, 2001.

There is definitely something wrong with those packs as what you did is a standard operating proceedure for Normans. You can switch power settings with the pack on of course, but you absolutely have to turn the pack off and bleed it befoire plugging in a head orr disconnecting one.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@heartstone.com), July 28, 2001.

I think Ellis is right that something's wrong with your pack. I have a P800D, and I turn it off and discharge it before plugging anything in or out, but I switch the settings while it's on, and I've never had any arcing.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), July 28, 2001.

Actually, it arced when I switched the power setting from 1600 to 800 with the pack OFF after pressing the discharge switch several times.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), July 29, 2001.

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