Where for best prices on Balcar lighting?

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Doing initial research for powerful packs (ie, 4,800ws & up for LF portraiture)of the type which will be less likely to trip household breakers. This has led me to look at Balcar brand flash packs (even though I like the value-for-money Speedotron line). For example, there's a 6400 ws pack with a listed current draw of only 16 amps (compared to 20 amps for corresponding Speedotron pack)for $3,600 at Calumet. Ouch!

Other than ebay, can anyone suggest a dealer with the most competitive prices on these packs? I won't be buying right away, so feel free to add to this post whenever so inspired. Thanks. Andre

-- Andre Noble (andrenoble@yahoo.com), February 20, 2002


I have been a Balcar user ever since Dick Bali and Fred Thomas started building them 35 years ago. I have used lots of others too. All WS are not the same. There is a BIG difference in light output. I sincerly doubt that you need 4800 WS of Balcar output for LF portraits. The heads alone are a major factor, then the electrical design. On one surprise situation, I lit the atrium of the Wash. DC Marriot with Bill Marriot in it, when on assignment for Forbes, with a 600 WS Balcar Rapid 600, using asa 50 Chrome film. It would have taken 2400WS of another makers power to do the same photograph. I can assure you that 3 Balcar 1200 WS packs will not trip a household breaker in fast mode. They make a lot of usable light and in LF portrature, the slow charge mode is faster than most others running full out. Balcar is a good choice. So is Comet and most of the big bucks Euro systems. They are worth the price.


-- Fred De Van (fdv1@ix.netcom.com), February 20, 2002.

I second Fred de Van's post about Balcar efficiency. look for some of the older A1200 or A2400 packs on eBay, where I bought most of my Balcar kit. i have a Rapid 600, a Rapid 1200, 3 A2400 and one A5000 pack and about 12 heads and about a half dozen head extention cables, various reflectors,sync cables and cases that I don't think I paid more than $2000 for (over a year and a half ) to acquire them. A couple of packs have needed some relatively minor work but that is all. The newer design for the U heads are a bit better than the older "silver bullet " cans if you are going to use softboxes because of the three point mounting system. But either head type will get you started.

If you think Balcar is expensive, then price Comet, Profoto and Broncolor!

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), February 21, 2002.

"All WS are not the same"

Not so. All WS are identical. They are the unit of measurement (also called Joules) that measures the STORAGE capacity of a flash.

What they DO NOT DO is indicate flash output.

Flash output is effected by the angle of coverage of the reflector (or lack of a reflector), reflector finish, diameter of the flash tube, length of cabel from capacitor to flash head, diameter of the wireing, number of connectors between the capacitors and the tube, size of the connectors, capacitor size, capacitor loading, etc.

It is impossible to accurately measure the output from a flash from the WS rating.

Output is always rated by guide number, F stop, BCPS at a given angle of coverage, etc.

Buy a flash by WS and you will invariably find lower WS flash that has = or greater output at the same angle for the same or much less money.

A favorite way to mislead is to give the output at a narrow angle or at 2 meters instead of 10'.

Make everything equal coverage, distance, etc. and then compare power.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), February 21, 2002.

Thanks all for info and feedback. Will continue to keep eye on Balcar. Thanks.

-- Andre Noble (andrenoble@yahoo.com), February 21, 2002.

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