[rollei_list] Re: Rollei bulb flash

  • From: `Richard Knoppow <dickburk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2019 13:47:22 -0700

It seems to me (delving into very old memories) that flashbulbs were improved over the years so late ones were less sensitive to RF. An old press photographer's trick was to wedge a second flashbulb into the reflector next to the first. Both would go off although the second one did not put out as much light as the first. Not sure this worked on later bulbs.
I have heard tales of photographers carrying a bag of flashbulbs which all went off at once.
The bulbs I used all had a lacquer coating to prevent shattering, you could hear it fry when flashing a bulb. Back in the bad old days press guys would just drop used bulbs on the ground leaving a mess of crunched glass after photo ops. Around the 1950s portable strobe units became available but a large flashbulb would still put out more light than any of them. Plus they were heavy.
You will sometimes see pictures of press photographers with triple head flashguns or sometimes one on each side of the camera.
A problem with all of them was being able to put out enough current to flash the bulb and work the synchronizer. Some shutters, particularly Kodak and older Compur shutters use a booster spring for the hightest speed. This results in greater force being necessary to trip the shutter. Sometimes a three battery case would not be able to trip the shutter at the highest speed or might trip it but not have enough voltage to flash the bulb. There was an extension for Graflex flashguns (and I think others too) to take an extra battery. Wollensak shutters had constant tripping force, an advantage. One occasionally sees Zeiss or Kodak lenses in Wollensak shutters. The Wollensak lenses were not very good despite the excellent shutters they came in.
Many press photographers used the solenoid as a remote tripper even when not using flash or using the built-in synchronizer in later shutters. It was convenient to have that push button on the back of the battery case. Graflex began to equip Speed and Crown Graphics with a body release but the battery case tripper was still more convenient for the front shutter (didn't work on the focal plane shutter).
I am glad to hear that the Irish company is still in business. Flashbulbs are still useful where a very large amount of light is required and the equipment is very light weight.
I think flash powder is still very occasionally used for illuminating very large areas, it puts out more light even than flashbulbs.
Done forget flash sheets. These were paper sheets impregnated with flash powder. Used on a fixture and tripped with either a battery or a spark like cigarette lighter. Kodak used to make them but they were discontinued after bulbs became available. Flash powder and sheets are quite hazardous and are dirty (smoke). BANG!!!

On 8/11/2019 1:11 PM, Don Williams wrote:

I guess I am lucky.  I probably did every one of those things during my flash bulb days.  I used to have a rubber strap with 12 holes in it that I attached to my Rolleimarin.  I had 100% success with flash bulbs in the ocean and at depths up to 150’ which was my personal limit.  I always used blue-coated bulbs, even underwater.

Rollei List

- Post to rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

- Subscribe at rollei_list-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'subscribe' in the subject field OR by logging into www.freelists.org

- Unsubscribe at rollei_list-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the subject field OR by logging into www.freelists.org

- Online, searchable archives are available at

Other related posts: