The title “On not buying cheap crap” was a close runner up for this article.

A few months ago I bought a set of flashes from eBay. The price was very low, and obviously I wasn’t expecting miracles. For around £130 I managed to get two 150W flashguns, two tripods, all the power and sync cables, wireless triggers, three photographic umbrellas, a softbox and a carry case. Delivered. Not bad!

The build quality of the kit isn’t brilliant, and would quickly break if I lugged it around everywhere like a pro. But it seemed fine for occasional home use and I’ve used the various pieces several times with good photographic results.

The other day I used one of the flashes with a snoot to take a series of smoke photos. I kept the 50W modelling lamp on so I could see what I was doing. After I finished taking the photos, I turned the flash off and went to bed. In the morning, the snoot (held onto the front of the flash by one bolt) had fallen off and was lying on the floor. I didn’t think anything of it until I inspected the flash.

It seems using the snoot had significantly reduced ventilation to the modelling lamp, causing it to get hot enough to soften the plastic. The weight of the snoot (hardly anything!) was apparently enough to cause the front of the flash to sag, where it has now set.

Two flashes and a snoot

The snoot now doesn’t bolt onto the flash properly, so I will have to use it on the other flash. With great caution.

Lessons learnt

  • Don’t expect too much from cheap rubbish. By “too much”, I mean don’t expect it to stay as a solid during use.
  • Use the modelling light as little as possible when using a snoot.
  • If I ever build a hot light, I will not use thermo-softening materials.

One thought on “Meltdown

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