AC Flash Power Pack 101
Thank you for all the reads on our “Bare Tube Flash Head 101” article. This one is the obvious follow-up story. Without the power pack component, the flash head has no fuel. The pack’s the control panel for the system.
Most people who are new to AC flash get comfortable with the heads right away. Using them is second nature. The power pack, however, is a foreign object to the new user. It’s unlike familiar photographic tools, which are typified by refined glass. There’s nothing to be scared about when it comes to the power pack. It’s far simpler than your TV’s remote control or most microwave ovens. Much like advanced kitchen appliances, the more familiar you become with the power pack, the more tasty your results will be. We want you to master the pack by the time you finish studying this feature and the additional information about power packs on our website’s online learning section: http://m2media.com/learning.html.
The image of the breaking light bulb is an excellent representation of the power that AC flash offers you. The flash froze most of the action. One of the beautiful benefits of this much flash power is that you can show your audience something they couldn't otherwise experience.
Though a few new manufacturers of AC flash are very limited in scope, well-established brands, like Novatron, are very system-oriented. There are quite a few heads, packs, monolights, reflectors, and accessories which are easily interchangeable. Photographers love this. They might have gotten started with one pack and head, or a kit, and many decades later they possess quite a few lighting instruments and packs which they've acquired as the need and opportunity arose.
Most photographers look to us for pointers on where to start. Novatron has some entry-level packs, which are very affordable. They are very lightweight. The V240-D is only five and a half pounds (about the weight of a flagship dSLR with a serious zoom lens). This is the power pack which comes in the Fun Kit.
Many professional photographers prefer the two Novatron digital power packs: the D1000 and D1500. These are our favorites. As pictured below, in relationship to an Apple MacBook, the D1500 (Novatron’s biggest) is not all that large. The biggest packs for some brands resemble a suitcase that’s too large to qualify for carry-on luggage.
The Pack’s Control Panel
Most power packs have room for around four flash heads. In the photo, the first port has one head plugged into it. This is an excellent point in this discussion to inject that the power pack needs to be shut off when heads are plugged into the ports (or “outlets”). Some professional photographers and their assistants try to “hot swap” flash heads while the pack is live. This is a foolish and risky practice. Though Novatron and other reputable manufacturers have safeguards to protect against something going wrong during a hot swap, it’s best to play it safe. As many as 1,000 volts of DC power are generated by some power packs. Even little flashes on point-and-shoot cameras can use a few hundred volts. It’s wise to treat these units with great respect.
There’s much more to this story than we can fit here. Read more here and scroll down to “Flash Power Packs.”