Can I use my old Sunpak 555 auto-thyristor with my Agfa Isolette III?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by matthew_peretz|3, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. Can I use my old Sunpak 555 auto-thyristor with my Agfa Isolette III?

    Matthew Peretz , Mar 26, 2012; 03:26 a.m. (edit )
    I have always been horrible at using artificial lighting - meaning what used to be my old (but perfectly functioning) Sunpak 555 Auto-Thyristor flash - even when I had regular film cameras with hot-shoes or pc-synch.
    My Agfa Isolette III has the sync for the flash cable and works with the Sunpak. I got it from Jurgen Kreckel. This camera also takes stunning photos and is practically a pocket sized medium-format camera because it's a folder. .
    The problem is - I'm pretty sure if my lousy memory serves me correctly that these "modern" flashes weren't built to synch with the slow synch speeds of these old cameras.
    The problem is I have SO little information even to start this line of questioning:

    I have no idea what the flash sync speed of the Agfa Isolette III is either - but I do have a manual for that and could ask Jurgen.
    The REAL QUESTION IS: is there any way to manipulate this flash to work with OLD CAMERAS.
    It has all kinds of manual settings and fractional power settings but is there any method to using it that is quantifiable and explainable.

    The last thing is that my Agfa has an "X" and an "M" setting (I think a lot of old cameras did) and I think that had something to do with flash photography.

    I guess the first question to settle is if there really is any way to make the flash and this old camera compatible at all - or does the Sunpak really only work with cameras that synched at fast speeds like 1/125 etc - I don't know anything about physics but maybe it had to do with the duration of the light output - making it not work with slower synch speed cameras.

    My question is long and complicated and if anyone can even point me in the right direction or help me break it down - or tell me to post it elsewhere where they could answer something like this I'd appreciate it.

    Thank you. It's been a LONG time since I posted on these forums but people used to be very helpful.

    Matthew Peretz
    Croton on Hudson, NY
  2. It will work with the shutter set to X sync. M is for bulbs.
    You will be able to use it at any shutter speed.
  3. I want to say thank you for replying to me and helping me out so quickly :)
    This is already a 'tough' camera to use - although I like it - because you have to remember to do every single thing manually.
    I don't 'love' the lens quality - but I think if I stick to black and white instead of color it should be pretty good. And I adore the larger format - esp. combined with the fact that it's a 'folder.' Jurgen never steers you wrong and does an amazing job refurbishing these cameras.
    Next birthday I'm going to get a 6x7 or 6x9 from him (assuming he has them) - or at least maybe a better camera than this Agfa Isolette III - I do know he has brands with superior overall qualities...
    Right now I'm paying for processing only - then scanning in the negs - and if there is something worth 'printing' I'd do that - and just store the mediocre stuff somehow (which I haven't figured out a method for).
    What I didn't like was that although process only as about $8/roll, most places then will not ship it back to you w/o using FedEx or UPS because they 'say' that USPS is too unreliable. Problem is - the two rolls I sent in to LTI Lightside in NYC totalled $16 before shipping - but then they insisted on using UPS - which added $14 MORE cost!!!!! That's INSANE.
    I don't want to process myself because I'd have to get into buying and mixing chemicals and have the right 'set up' to process film (and I don't have a darkroom so I'd have to buy a changing bag). But mainly it's the chemicals - my house is small and messy enough and I had a darkroom as a kid and remember that chemicals take up time and space, IMHO.
    Thanks again.
  4. actually 99 percent of the time it is easier to
    use a modern thyristor / auto flash with an old camera.
    all you need do is set the aperture manually.
    and let the flass " look:" at the subject and set the amount of light it emits.
    one of the resasons old camera may have had x sysch was that there was a type of bulkb
    SM /SF that were gas filles and were not filled with crumnpled foil or thin wire.
    these bulbs had a shorter delay and worked best with X sycnch.
    One instance where an autoi flkash is not practical when set on auto
    are cameras like the Komica c-35 "automatic"
    that had a series of guide number settings on the lens barrel.
    this type of setting could be referred to as a 'flash-0-matic"
    In these cases you set the flash at manual and set a guide number on the lens barrel.
    the cameras usually had a fixed shutter speed when set on flash or when a guide number was set.
    and when you focused it adjusted the apertire according to the distance .
    This system usually worked quite well. But only newer cameras made after electonic
    flashes and before the auto flash had this way of working.
    the Agfa is likely too old to work that way.
    Old cameras like the Kodak Signet 35 and others of that era,
    were intended for use with bulbs.
    and only had M ( 20ms delay) so electonic flash usually only worked at 1/25 sec.
    this is for leaf shutters . folcal plane shutters were a different story.
    but a slow setting often worked.
    A big adbantage with a leaf shutter camera that has adjustable f stops and
    x sysch- will allow you to adjust things for fill in flash..
    so backlighted scenes will show detail in the foreground
    like a group of people facoing away from the sun.
    otherwise their faces will eb darkened.,
  5. OK. So what shutter speed do I use for flash on the Agfa Isolette III - or should I ask Jurgen Kreckel (the man who refurbishes them)?
    I will set it on "X" and choose an aperture and set accordingly on the flash... (as well as setting the ISO).
    But what shutter speed? The manual I dug up didn't seem to indicate this information.
  6. 3 threads is two too many, Matthew! Please see my reply to another of your threads.
  7. "X" is a specified shutter speed.
    I know nothing about the Agfa Isolette III. Does is have a focal plane shutter, which is in the camera, or is the shutter 'in-the-lens?'
    If it is the former, then "X" is probably your maximum 'recommended' shutter speed with your flash. You might 'experiment' with that setting. If it is the latter, then I have no idea.
    I doubt it is the latter as the 'shutter-in-the-lens' cameras characteristically synchronize at the maximum shutter speed available to the camera. They don't have a "X" shutter speed setting. There may be exceptions.
    So, as you have described your situation, I would set the shutter to "X" and choose an aperture BASED on the recommendations for the OUTPUT of your flash which are expressed as a range, feet or meters. I am not familiar with your particular model of electronic flash but I suspect it is functionally similar to the Vivitar 283 of 30-40 years ago.
  8. Josiah and the rest of the civilized world- thank you:
    It is virtually the same as the 283. My Agfa has a choice of X or M and so far I've learned that X is what I need to set it to - but I thought I had to choose a shutter speed. I'll ask Jurgen Kreckel. The shutter is in the lens.
    Sorry about "too many threads" Didn't know there was some limit- - given the size of these forums I was counting on the odds of being answered if I posted in ONE place (or 2) as LOW - so you'll forgive me if I've reached YOUR limit - or don't forgive me. I don't care. I meant no harm. I chose the places I thought I might be most likely to get the answers given that I was asking about two different cameras entirely - the Leica IIIf and the Agfa Isolette.
    Why am I apologizing. Inevitably I've experienced that if you post on forums there is a 100% certainty that for some reason someone will want to say something negative. Inevitable and once again true. Sorry for taking up too much of your time David. But frankly, I needed different answers for these entirely different cameras and I guess I'm not the genius you are.
  9. "X" is not a shutterspeed, but a flash synch delay setting.<br>In the days of flash bulbs, which needed time to ignite and reach peak output, the shutter was delayed for a different amount of time for different types of flash bulbs. One of these delays was for "M"edium speed bulbs, and this "M" setting became somewhat of a standard option on many shutters.<br>When electronic flash arrived, which does not need a lead time, a new flash synch delay setting was needed. One that in fact had no delay between the 'ignition' of the flash and the opening of the shutter. That setting is this "X" thing.<br><br>If you set the delay to "M" the flash is triggered the moment you press the release, the shutter opens a little bit later. So use that with delay-free electronic flash, and the flash will be done and over with before the shutter opens.<br>If you set the delay to "X" the shutter is released the moment you pres the release (no delay) with the flash being triggered the moment the shutter is fully open. Use that with bulbs, and the shutter will be closing again before the bulb has had a chance to ignite and reach 'full burn'.<br>the latter can be countered by using long enough shutter speeds. The first always results in the loss of whatever you wanted to use flash for.<br><br>Leaf shutters synch at all shutter speeds, so only need to have the correct synch delay set: "M" for medium speed bulbs, "X" for electronic flash.<br>Focal plane shutters do not synch at all speeds, and sometimes the fastest speed that does is marked using an "X" too. But though the "X" is used, it (the "X" marking) is not really there to indicate a shutter speed per se, but the limit of the usable shutter speed range.<br><br>'Shutter in the lens' cameras can have two types of shutter: a segment shutter, or a (more epxensive) leaf shutter (which is nothing more than a more elaborate segment shutter). Those leaf shutters do synch at all speeds. The segment shutters may, or may not.<br>But no matter what speeds are available for flash exposure, if there is a choice between "M" and "X" delay settings, you absolutely have to select the correct one for the type of flash used.<br><Br>What shutterspeed to use of all the available speeds then depends on the lighting conditions, and on what you like. A good choice would be to set the speed that provides correct exposure, with the aperture selected, for the bits not needing flash to record on film.
  10. Words are important.
    ""X" is not a shutterspeed, but a flash synch delay setting."
    It is not a 'fixed' shutter speed but it is a determinate 'shutter speed' for that camera. It is a shutter speed; I can 'set' "X," whatever that shutter speed might be.
    With a Leica, with the iiiF, you can choose to 'sync' your electronic flash at either 1/25 or 1/50 by using the 'synchronization ring' around the upper speed dial.
    There is no "X" on the iiiF speed dial; the flash sync setting is adjustable on the Leica iiiF.
  11. I don't know for certain if this is a leaf or segment shutter but you seem to be saying that it doesn't really matter - that it will sync at whatever speed I choose.
    I think in your last sentence you were kind of describing 'fill flash'? But that is a concept that I never understood very well - or at least the technical side of it. You lost me at "A good choice..." because if I have the settings set that provide correct exposure (let's say by using a light meter) then I've never understood how 'adding' more light (the flash) doesn't unbalance that equation.... I know there's something incorrect in my conceptualization I've just never figured it out. Later cameras did all of that 'for you' so it got dumbed down (and so did I) to the point where I really just forgot about it. Frankly I don't understand much about using artificial light (by which I mean flash photography). I probably have some fundamental flaws in my understanding of exposure in general that then do not help in understanding the complexity of adding 'extra' light. I'm sure I could find a gazillion pages of material to educate myself but I have instead stuck to using simple, non-flash photography for most of my life. When I was a kid and had a darkroom I read all kinds of books - even starting with Ansel Adams - but I think I've lost touch with most of the technical concepts and count on my simple Voigtlander shoe-mounted light meter to give me a pretty accurate exposure 95% of the time. It is a fantastic little meter that I can easily move from my Leica to my Agfa. I got it years ago on along with a great screw-mount ultra-wide Voigtlander lens for my Leica IIIf.
  12. Words are indeed important, Josiah.
    "X" may be marked on some shutter speed dials to indicate the fastest shutter speed you can use safely with electronic flash.
    Which one that is depends on the camera.
    And what you are really doing when selecting "X" on a shutterspeed dial is set that shutterspeed which happens to be, and is marked as such, the fastest speed you can use with electronic flash.

    But in an "M" vs "X" choice, it has nothing to do with shutterspeeds, is not a shutter speed. If you set the synch delay to "X" (or "M") on those many shutters which do offer a choice, you will not have set a shutter speed at all, but only the flash synch delay. Old cameras offer a range, a variable delay. Newer ones only a choice between "M" and "X".
    When using focal plame shutters which delay to use also varies with shutterspeed. Matching delay settings, shutter speeds and flash bulbs often was a rather complicated matter, requiring look up tables.

    Now, since words are important, it's important to distinguish between flash delay settings (the "X" and "M" thing) and shutterspeeds that are usable with either:
    ""X" is not a shutterspeed, but a flash synch delay setting."
  13. Matthew,<br>What shutter speed to select depends on what you want the bits of the image not depending on flash to be visible to turn out like.<br>If all of the image depends on flash, it really does not matter what speed you use (as long as it is not shorter than the flash's duration).<br>However as soon as there's something that will register on film even if the flash does not go off (for instance a lamp and the bits of the scene that thing illuminates), the appearance of that will depend on the shutter speed as well as on the aperture.<br><br>So if parts of the scene really need flash, while other bits will register even without, you set the aperture so that these first parts are exposed correctly with the flash being used. You then set the shutterspeed to control the exposure of those other bits, keeping the aperture at what it has to be to get correct flash exposure.<br><br>A simple example:<br>Imagine a dark room, with a window in the background providing a view on a garden basking in bright sunlight.<br>Flash is needed to expose the dark room. So you select the aperture such that with the particular flash in use, the room is exposed correctly. Say that would require f/8.<br>At that f/8, the view outside, through the window, will be horribly overexposed if you select a shutterspeed of 1/2 second. Underexposed if you select a shutterspeed of 1/2000. And properly exposed using a speed of 1/250. All at f/8 you need for your flash exposure.<br>So you have a choice: do you want to overexpose the scene outside the window, expose it correclty, or underexpose it? All can be achieved selecting shutterspeeds.<br>And since the exposure of the dark room itself only depends on flash, the shutterspeed you select will not change anything to that.<br><Br>So the answer to "what shutterspeed to use" depends on what you want these bits (if present) to turn out like.<br>Provided your choice of shutterspeeds is free, i.e. they all synch with the flash used (as leaf shutters do on all speeds).
  14. One way of explaining exposure is to think of a bucket that has to be filled from a faucet. You turn the faucet on to fill the bucket. How much you turn on the faucet on determines how quickly it will fill. You have a choice of filling it slower by turning the faucet on low for a longer period of time or turning the faucet up so more water comes out and fills the bucket faster. The bucket is your film or sensor and can only hold a fixed quantity of water it is up to you how to fill it. Your shutter speed and aperture are your faucet settings. ISO is also a variable. I suppose you could think of a flash unit as a second faucet that will help fill the bucket faster. I am going to blame my college teacher for this explanation I can't take blame or credit for this.
  15. Sorry about "too many threads"
    No need to be sorry - it's just that experience has shown that if you do ask the same question several times over, you get partial answers in several different places and end up confused :)
  16. or at least maybe a better camera than this Agfa Isolette III​
    Nothing wrong with the Isolette III. I have an Ansco badged version.
    If the flash is providing all of the light for the shot then the shutter speed doesn't matter. The burst of light from the flash is much shorter than even the fastest shutter speed.
    If you are combining ambient light with flash though, the shutter speed will affect the ambient light's contribution to the exposure.
  17. No disrespect intended,but you should heed Bakkers advice on this camera.
    It is sound. A leaf shutter,which is what you have,should synchronise well with any flash,on the X setting.
    Josiah is thinking of focal plane shutters,which the Isolette does not have,so,irrelevant in this context.
    Fill flash is the concept of adding a little light to fill shadows,not smashing the subject with a blast of light.
  18. Listen to Ian. He sums the discussion up correctly!
  19. David - I owe you an apology. I was being defensive and you are correct. I did need answers on two different cameras - the Leica and the Agfa being quite different - so I knew it might get confusing but in the end I think I got what I needed through so much kind help, including your own. Sorry for being snippy.
    I have a lot to learn and re-learn and just wasn't sure where to post. Now I know that these forums are incredibly active and the members do respond with care and detail and I won't make the same mistake again. I've been using on and off for a LONG time now but it has also been a long time since I have posted on the forums.
    You people are really knowledgeable and serious about photography and that is not entirely typical of all forums - and I realize that I can count on good advice here.
    So thank you all and thank you David.
  20. Even on focal plane cameras, X is not a shutter speed. I have cameras which have two PC receptacles-- one for X and the other for FP (focal plane type bulbs). The difference is, as Q.G. said, the delay. It is the same through the range.
    Some cameras do have an X position on the shutter dial, in addition to the regular speeds, and that provides the maximum shutter speed usable with electronic flash. So in that sense it could be said that X is a shutter speed, I suppose.

Share This Page