Q: Will PowerLights and StudioMax lights work together?

A: Yes. Solair PowerLights , PL2 PowerLights and StudioMax lights all have built in optical slaves. When you trigger your main light with a sync cord or wireless triggering device, the flash from the main light will trigger your secondary lights. Many photographers are using Photogenic Solair PL500's or PowerLight PL1250’s as main and fill lights, and StudioMax lights as background, hair and accent lights.

Q: I want to buy Photogenic lights. How can I try them out?

A: Many of our dealers rent Photogenic lights. You may also have studios in your area that rent space and also rent lights. Renting is an excellent way to try Photogenic lights to find out which are best suited to your work and style.

Q: What is a guide number?

A: See the next question.

Q: What’s the best way to determine the light output of a flash unit?

A: The beam candle power seconds (BCPS) measurement of a flash unit is the most accurate way to determine light output. The higher the BCPS, the greater the light output. However, BCPS will change depending on which reflector is used. The reflector’s angle of illumination and finish will increase or decrease the BCPS. Generally, the narrower the angle, the higher the BCPS, and the shinier the finish the higher the BCPS. If you are comparing flash units made by different manufacturers, the most accurate method is to make a bare bulb BCPS comparison rather than a reflector comparison. Photogenic lists the BCPS measurements for our lights with bare bulb, seven reflectors and three Eclipse umbrellas. Unfortunately, not all flash manufacturers will give you BCPS measurements.

The next best method to determine output is guide number. However, guide numbers are not nearly as precise as BCPS. The standard for establishing a guide number is to point an incident flash meter at the center of a light source’s beam from a distance of 10 feet. Set the ISO on the meter to 100. Trigger the light and record the exposure as an f number. Add a zero to the f number to obtain the guide number. For example, if the exposure is f /16 the guide number is 160. If the exposure is f /16.5, move the decimal point one place to the right and the guide number becomes 165 Using the guide number to set the aperture with the light 10 feet from the subject, should provide a properly exposed image. The problem is that there is no definition of “properly exposed image”. If a manufacturer thinks that proper exposure is one f stop under exposed, the guide number will be one f stop higher than it should be. Consequently, two flash units with the same light output can have two completely different guide numbers. In our example the guide number for an accurate exposure is 160 (f /16), and the guide number for the inaccurate exposure is 220 or f /22). Which flash unit would you buy? The best answer is to take a flash meter to your dealer and determine the accuracy of the guide number. In addition to BCPS output, the Photogenic instruction manuals will also give you accurate guide numbers for our lights with bare bulb and all of the reflectors.

The least accurate way of determining flash light output is watt seconds. The watt second rating of a flash unit simply indicates the amount of electrical energy the power supply can store over a temporary period of time. There is no direct correlation between watt seconds and light output. Light output is affected by the electronic design of the flash unit, cable length, flash tube and reflector efficiency. Watt second ratings will put you in the power level ballpark, but will not tell you much about light output or light quality.

Q. What’s the difference between true watt seconds and effective watt seconds?

True watt seconds measure the actual number of watt seconds a flash unit is capable of storing. Effective watt seconds is a term that is used in an attempt to make you believe a flash unit is more powerful than it actually is. The seller of a flash unit advertises that the light is rated at 800 effective watt seconds and 300 true watt seconds. The implication is that the light is three times more powerful than other 300 ws flash units. In fact, the unit is only 300 watt seconds, but by using a highly polished reflector the light output can be increased by about one f stop which would be equivalent to a 600 watt second unit. By inflating the guide number by 1/3 f stop, the output is claimed to be 800 ws. Since there is no direct relationship between watt seconds and light output, effective watt seconds is not an accurate method of defining actual light output or a flash units ability to store electrical energy.

Q: Why is constant color temperature important?

A: Constant color temperature is particularly important if you are shooting digital. Digital cameras are extremely sensitive to minute shifts in the color temperature of your lights. It is important to understand that every time you change the flash power level on a flash unit, you also change the color temperature of the light. The current standard allows for a maximum deviation of 200 degrees Kelvin before you begin to see significant shifts in color. Conventional electronic flash units, without constant color temp., can have color temperature deviations of more than 650 degrees Kelvin from full power to 1/32 power.

For all practical purposes, if you have a one f stop difference between your main and fill light, the color shift probably will not be noticeable or can be easily cleaned up in your digital darkroom. However, if the main light is at full power, the fill light at 1/2 power, the background light is at 1/16 power and the hair or accent light is at 1/32 power, you may experience extreme variations in color. This will be apparent as a series of color crossovers that either cannot be neutralized, or will take a tremendous amount of time to clean up in the digital darkroom.

Constant color temperature lights are specifically designed to minimize shift in color temperature caused by changes in power levels. The Photogenic Solair and StudioMax III Constant Color lights will have a color temperature change of 50 degrees Kelvin over a six f stop range, and for the Solair lights a change of 150 degrees Kelvin over an eight f stop range. This is well below the maximum deviation standard of 200 degrees Kelvin.

Q: What is the difference between color temperature and Kelvin temperature?

A: They are both the same. The concept was developed by William Thompson, Lord Kelvin. When you heat a “black body” (a piece of carbon or black iron), the color of the object becomes cooler as the temperature increases. A one degree change in Kelvin is the same as a one degree change in Celsius. The Kelvin scale starts at 0 which is the same as -273° C. The light from a candle is about 1500K, tungsten photo floods and quartz lamps about 3200 to 3400K, sunlight or white light and electronic flash are about 5500K and blue sky is about 9000 to 12000K.

Daylight film is balanced to about 5500K which is the same for the light from most electronic flash units with color-corrected flash tubes. If you are shooting film you can compensate for differences in color temperature by using color correction filters over the lens or over the light source. Digital cameras will allow you, in most instances, to make color corrections by changing your white balance. However, you cannot mix light sources without filtering one of the sources to prevent color crossovers. If you use flash as the main light and a 3200° incandescent light as the fill, the highlights will be neutral and the shadows will be yellow orange.

Q: Is there any way to lock in the power settings on the Photogenic PL1250DR? Our company has 78 school photographers all using Photogenic PL1250DR monolights. Each four light setup must have identical power levels, and we don’t want the photographers to accidentally change the settings.

A: To lock the unit: 1. Set the Power Level and modeling light level, turn the unit off. 2. Press and hold the “Track Set” button, and turn the unit on. When the “Adjust” and “Full On/Off” LED’s are illuminated, release the “Track Set” button. 3. Quickly press the “1/10 Up”, then “1/10 Down” and then “1/10 Up” buttons.

To unlock the unit: Repeat instructions 1 and 2 above, and 3. Quickly press the “1/2 Up”, then “1/2 Down” and then “1/2 Up” buttons.

Q: Are top mount lights available?

A: Yes. You can order any of our Solair and PowerLight models with a top mount by adding T to the end of the part number. For example, the PL1250DR becomes PL1250DRT. Monolights in general should not be mounted upside down. Doing so puts additional stress on the capacitor vents that can cause premature failure.

Q: Can I get a manual for my older model lights?

A: We do have some manuals available for discontinued lighting systems. Please see our Manual page for a listing and links to available manuals.

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Service, Repair and Parts

Q: How long does it take to get a light repaired?

A: Repair times vary depending on the time of year and the number of units being sent in for service. It can take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks. Rush service is available for a nominal fee.

Q: How much will it cost to repair my monolight?

A: Warranty Repairs—
The warranty policy for your Photogenic product is shown in your instruction manual and the Service and Repair section of the website. If your light is under warranty, send it to us. Proof of purchase is required to validate warranty service. We will repair or replace the product at no charge and return it to you at our expense.

Out-of-Warranty Repairs—
There are a number of reasons a light may fail, and it is difficult to estimate an exact repair cost without a proper evaluation. Send your light to our service department. When the light is received, our technicians will evaluate the unit and provide you with an estimate. There is an evaluation charge of $35.00 per product. If you accept the estimate, the evaluation charge is waived. There is an additional $35.00 charge per product if you want rush service. When the repair is complete, you will be notified of the actual repair cost and shipping charges to return the product to you. See the Service and Repair section of the website for complete details.

Q: Do you only repair lights, or do you repair other Photogenic Products, too?

A: Photogenic repairs all products manufactured or distributed by us that can be economically serviced. In some cases it is less expensive to replace the product than to repair it. If the item is under warranty we will replace it at no charge. If the item is out of warranty and cannot be repaired, purchase a new product to replace it. Here is a partial list of items that cannot be repaired: umbrellas, Chameleon reflectors, soft boxes Talon light stands, cases. If you are not sure if the product can be repaired, call our Service and Repair department at 1-800-682-7668.

Q: How do I order parts for my lights?

A: If you are looking for parts that are not in the catalog, you can contact our authorized service centers in your area or order directly from us by calling 1-800-682-7668.

Q: Can I get my older model lights repaired?

A: Photogenic does repair some older model lights, but not all. Some of our authorized service centers across the country specialize in repairing older lights. Or try a photographic equipment repair center near you.

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Photogenic Dealers

Q: Where should I buy Photogenic lights and accessories?

A: Authorized Photogenic dealers will provide you with competitive pricing. Our dealers are also great resources for information about all Photogenic products.

Q: Does Photogenic have dealers outside the United States?

A: Yes. Currently, we have dealers in Canada. However, some of our dealers in the U.S. will ship internationally.

Q: Can I order directly from Photogenic?

A: It is best if you purchase Photogenic products from a dealer. Our dealers can provide you with information and equipment recommendations. Most importantly, many Photogenic dealers offer discounted pricing on our products. If a product or part is not in stock at our dealers, or the dealer can’t order it, you can place a credit card order by calling us at 1-800-682-7668. All direct sales will be at our suggested retail prices.

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Student Discounts

Q: Does Photogenic have an educational discount program?

A: Yes. Please see the Educational Program page or contact a participating Photogenic dealer for details on our discounts for students and teachers. 

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StudioMax Battery Operated Monolights

Q: Do any of your monolights work on batteries?

A: Yes. The StudioMax III monolights have four battery operated models: the AKC320B, the AKC320BR and the AKC160B and the AKC160BR. These 320 ws and 160 ws lights feature constant color temperature, AC and DC (battery) operation, 100 watt modeling lamp and color-corrected flash tube. The BR models have the added benefit of built-in radio triggering that works with the RTT radio transmitter.

Q: How many flashes can I get off the AKB-1 battery?

A: A fully charged battery in good operating condition will give you 150 full power flashes from the StudioMax III AKC320B and BR 320 Ws models, and 200 full power flashes from the StudioMax III AKC160B and BR 160 Ws models.

Q: Will my StudioMax work with other types of batteries besides the AKB-1?

A: You can use other 12-volt batteries, however some battery manufacturers use non-standard connectors on their battery cables, so it may be necessary to purchase an adapter. Please contact your Photogenic dealer for information about batteries that will work with StudioMax lights.

Q: My battery is charged and plugged in to my light, but my StudioMax will not turn on. What should I do?

A: Make sure the battery is charged and installed correctly. Turn off both the battery and the monolight. Connect the battery cable to the battery and light. Make sure your connections are firmly in place. Move the flash/charge switch on the battery to FLASH. Move the three-position power switch on the light to FLASH. Now, turn the battery power switch to ON. This should power up your light. For more information see the Battery Manual on our website.

Q: Where can I get a stand clip for my battery?

A: Check with any dealer that sells the Photogenic AKB-1 battery packs for our StudioMax lights.

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Triggering Photogenic Flash Units

Q: What is the trigger voltage of Photogenic monolights?

A: Since July of 2008 all monolights manufactured by Photogenic will trigger at 5 volts. (Lights manufactured prior to that date are higher. Please see the last question in this section for more details.)

Q: Does Photogenic have PocketWizard receivers built into the monolights?

A: Yes. The optional built-in PocketWizard receivers are available for all of the new Solair Lights and PowerLights. The big advantages are no more sync cords, and the built-in receivers never need batteries. All of our lights that are not radio ready will work with the standard PocketWizard receivers and transmitters. Your Photogenic dealer can supply you with all PocketWizard products.

Q: Can I use PocketWizard with my Photogenic lights?

A: With the exception of the analog-control PL1250 light, all Photogenic Solair and PL2 PowerLights are available with built-in PocketWizard receivers. Add the PocketWizard transmitter and you’re radio ready. You can also purchase PocketWizard transmitters and receivers from your Photogenic dealer and attach the receivers to your existing lights.

Q: My camera doesn’t have a PC connector. How can I trigger my new Photogenic lights?

A: If your camera does not have a PC connection, your Photogenic dealer can provide you with a hot shoe-to-PC adapter. Connect the sync cord to the light and then to the adapter mounted on your camera. All our lights have built-in optical slaves, so instead of using the sync cord, you can trigger the lights  with your on-camera flash unit. If you have through-the-lens metering, be sure to turn it off or you will trigger the lights prematurely. You can also use infrared or radio remote triggering devices.

We recommend wireless triggering when using any non-dedicated electronic flash with digital cameras. The reason is that in some cameras, line noise from the sync cord is not filtered out and can cause image distortion. For best results, we recommend radio remote triggering devices.

Q: Can I safely trigger my 40-year-old Photogenic lights with my digital camera?

A: Our older flash units have trigger voltages between 12 and 15 volts. To be on the safe side we recommend wireless triggering or using a trigger voltage reduction device with a sync cord.

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Reflectors, Umbrellas and Soft Boxes

Q: What is a parabolic reflector, and why should I use one?

A: A parabolic reflector is a bell shaped reflector that attaches to the front of your light. Parabolic reflectors have special qualities that are impossible to duplicate with soft boxes and umbrellas. Parabolics are extremely directional which means you can control lighting patterns with pinpoint precision. Parabolics are the only lighting accessories that effectively allow you to “feather” or work off the center of the light. Feathering helps create a heightened three dimensional effect by introducing specular highlights into the image.

Q: What is a scrim?

A: A scrim is a light modifier that reduces light output. Scrims work like neutral density filters. They reduce the amount of illumination, but they do not soften the light. Scrims are made of metal screen, usually stainless steel, and won’t burn up when used with hot lights.

Q: What’s the difference between an umbrella and a soft box?

A: Umbrellas have an angle of illumination of about 120 degrees. Soft boxes are much more directional and have an angle of about 40 to 60 degrees. White umbrellas produce a very broad soft light. Silver umbrellas are also a broad light source, but are more contrasty. Silver umbrellas are 1/2 to 1 f stop brighter than a white umbrella. Soft boxes also produce soft light but the angle of illumination is much narrower and much more directional. Umbrellas can be used for everything from individual portraits to large groups. Soft boxes are best for individual portraits, smaller group shots and still lifes. The closer umbrellas and soft boxes are to the subject, the softer the illumination.

Q: What is the difference between white and silver Eclipse umbrellas?

A: White umbrellas will diffuse your light, and make it softer. Silver umbrellas have more contrast, and will be about one f stop brighter than white umbrellas.

Q: I just bought a white Eclipse umbrella, and noticed the black back can be removed. Why?

A: The cover is removable so you can shoot through the umbrella using it as a large diffuser. This will give you more directional control than bouncing light off the interior of the umbrella.

Q: Do your Photogenic soft box speed rings fit all of your lights?

A: The Photogenic speed ring # BPP fits all our Solair, PL2, StudioMax III and StudioMax II monolights. The speed ring also works our older PL06, PL375, PL750, PL1500, PL1875 monolights, PhotoMaster light units PM2A, PA8 and FlashMaster light units FM2A, FM2AU and AA12.

Q: Will my non-Photogenic light work with your soft boxes?

A: Yes. We also have speed rings available for Bowens, Norman and Speedotron. Speed rings from other manufacturers will often work with Photogenic soft boxes.

Q: What color is the lining in the Photogenic soft boxes?

A. The embossed silver lining on all four sides is photo neutral and is designed to maximize light output. The inner baffle and outer diffuser soften the light and provide even illumination.

Q: Are soft boxes just for portraits, or can I use a soft box for product photography?

A: Soft boxes are excellent choices for all photographic applications where you need a soft and directional light source. The original soft boxes were called light banks. These were usually made of metal with a translucent white acrylic diffuser, were used with one or more light units, and were so heavy and awkward that use on location was impossible.

Soft boxes can be used as main, fill and accent lights. One classic commercial application is to add vertical or horizontal highlights to shiny or semi-glossy products. Use two narrow soft boxes (12” X 36”) on each side of a cylindrical object like a perfume bottle or hair spray can to produce a soft highlight with detail.

Q: What size soft box should I use for commercial and portrait photography?

A: The size of the soft box will vary with the size of the subject. Many photographers use a 36” X 36” or 36” X 48” for most tabletop applications. For larger subjects, you can place multiple soft boxes side by side or end to end. A 24” X 36” or 36” X 36” soft box is ideal for head and shoulder portraits. A 48” X 72” is ideal for full length and small group portraits.

Q: The light from my soft box and white umbrella have too much contrast. What's wrong?

It sounds like you have positioned the soft box and umbrella too far from the subject. In order to achieve optimum softness, the umbrella and soft box should be as large as possible and the soft box/umbrella distance to the subject should be as follows: an umbrella should be no farther from the subject than the diameter of the umbrella. A soft box should be no farther from the subject than the width of the soft box. Diffusers help soften light, but are not nearly as important as the size of the light source and the light source to subject distance.

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Flash Tubes and Modeling Lamps

Q: Why should I use color-corrected flash tubes?

A: Photogenic color-corrected flash tubes are daylight balanced to 5500 degrees Kelvin which is the equivalent to neutral or white light. This is particularly useful when you want to balance flash with sunlight or 5500K fluorescent light sources. Most daylight color films and digital camera daylight white balances are also set to this color temperature.

Q: Should I have a backup flash tube and modeling light?

A: Even though flash tubes and modeling lights have long life spans, it is a good idea to have backups in the event that one is accidentally broken or damaged in the studio or while traveling.

Q: I use 6 to 8 lights per shoot. I dropped one of the lights and broke the clear tube. Can I replace it with a color-corrected tube?

A: We recommend that you use the same type of flash tube in all your lights. This will guarantee consistency of color temperature from light to light, and prevent the possibility of unwanted color crossovers.

Q: What is the advantage of frosted flash tubes?

A: Photogenic frosted flash tubes make an ideal directional soft light source when combined with parabolic reflectors and diffusers. They also provide softer effects when used with soft boxes and umbrellas. The frosted tubes will reduce light output by only 1/10 f stop.

Q: Can I use a higher wattage model lamp than the one that came with my light?

A: No. The model lamp that came with your unit or the lamp shown in the specifications for your unit is the highest wattage lamp you can use. Using lamps other than those specified could damage the unit and will void the warranty.

Q: Can I get replacement bulbs for my old lights?

A: Contact us at 1-800-682-7668. Our technical sales staff will let you know if replacement lamps and flash tubes are available.

Q: Does Photogenic sell lamps and tubes for non-Photogenic lights?

A: No. All of our lamps and tubes work with Photogenic lights only.

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Wireless Remote Control System

Q: How does the Photogenic Infrared remote control system work?

A: This wireless system allows you to change your power settings on Solair and DR model PowerLights, even if they are thirty feet away. Attach an IR receiver to the phone jack on each of your lights. Next assign a different unit number to each light. Use the IR remote control transmitter to set the flash and modeling light power levels on each light individually. Or, you can assign the same unit number to all your lights to raise and lower the power levels simultaneously. The bright LCD display of the receiver shows you the exact flash and modeling light power levels you have set on each light. Once the power levels are set, trigger the lights with a sync cord or radio triggering device.

By adding the PLCPTR-2 Studio control kit, you can manage all your flash and modeling light power settings through your personal computer. You can save an infinite number of lighting setups on the hard drive. Choose the setup you want, and with the touch of a key, the flash and modeling light power levels are automatically set.

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Master Rail

Q: How high do my ceilings need to be to use Master Rail?

A: We recommend your ceilings be a minimum height of 10 feet.

Q: Can I attach other things to light lifts (computers, etc.)?

A: Our MasterRail planners can help you design ways to adapt other accessories to your light lifts. However, the maximum weight a light lift can take is 18 pounds.

Q: What are the minimum and maximum extensions of the MasterRail light lifts?

A: Light lifts will contract to about 2 feet, and expand to about 8 feet.

For more information, please visit the Master Rail More Information page.

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