Don't throw away your Hammer-Head flash !

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by hjoseph7, Nov 11, 2020.

  1. I got 3 Metz 45 CT 4 Hammer-Head flash units plus a Metz 50 MZ 5 lying in my closet collecting dust. I bought these back when photographers were dumping all their analog gear for Digital. The 45 CT 4's I got for peanuts($50 or less...), but now the prices seem to be going up ! i think I paid about $150 for the MZ5.

    In any case, I decided to see if I could get some use out of them since selling these items would not be of much benefit.

    I also have 3 Quantum Battery +2, lying around 2 of which I had to re-cell because the batteries were toast. I re-celled the batteries myself after purchasing replacement cells at BatteryPlus.

    With that said, I decided to create a wireless 3-4 light system that I could easily carry from place to place without requiring electrical outlets, or a heavy power pack.

    I also had to purchase 3 Metz Megalux 10 Slaves that require no batteries and work really great. However one of my SYNC cords for the CT-4's was bad so I had to get another one all from eBay. The way it works is that you plug one end of the Sync Cord to the flash and the other end to the Megalux 10 and then it triggers the flash after receiving a light signal from another flash. Apparently ambient light does not affect it.

    One reason I did not sell the Metz units is because the quality of light from these units is much better than what you get from a speed light. Not exactly Studio quality, but much better. They are also more powerful than your average speed light.

    I thought connecting these to a Light Stand might be complicated considering the bulky apparatus and awkward attachment unit on the Metz, but I did not find this complicated at all. Of course having the right equipment makes things a lot easier.

    Another problem with the Hammer-Heads is that you can't really attach accessories to them like you can with Studio Flash, but it is possible to create some type of effects with a little Velcro and DIY materials like cardboard. The good thing is that you can always bounce these flash off a wall, or ceiling since they seem to be made for that purpose.

    The quantum Battery +2 gives you a lot of pops on a single charge especially if you don't have the flash at Full power. Unfortunately there are only 3 options for manual flash FULL, 1/2 and 1/4, but combine that with distance and location, that's plenty enough. In Automatic Mode using Thyristor technology, you have about 6 Aperture options you can play with which is not bad. Of course there is no ETTL, or iTTL, but there is TTL I'm just not sure how it works, or if it would work with modern cameras.

    The picture attached shows that you can still use umbrellas if you have the right mount. Now all you need is a Back ground light and if necessary a Hair light...

    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
  2. A YN560 iii costs about £40 (~$50 US), has a built-in radio slave + 2 modes of optical slaving, variable output to 1/128th, attaches to a standard lighting stand adapter (with hole for a brolly stem), has a 'zoom' head from 24mm to 105mm, recycles in under 4 seconds from full-power to full-power, delivers about 50 full power pops from a battery charge, takes 4 standard AA cells, weighs about half of a 45CT-x, has a light output only one stop less than a 45CT-x and can point downwards without impersonating a sleeping bat.

    Yeah. I really love those old Metz hammerheads, and look forward to spending half a day replacing the cells in their battery packs, which last about 25 pops on a charge if you're lucky. Waiting for them to recycle also gives me some free time to fill in a crossword clue or three, or just try to figure out how many adapters I'll need to attach one to a brolly. Allowing, of course, for the fact that it won't be able to point anywhere close to the centre of said brolly. Nor be enclosed in a softbox.

    Or should I just shell out 120 quid on a set of 3 YN560s and leave those old Metz relics at the back of the cupboard where they can't do any harm?
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
    kendunton likes this.
  3. "A YN560 iii costs about £40 (~$50 US), has a built-in radio slave + 2 mod..."

    I have a YN560 II that I use with my Pentax K5-II. I tried my best to like this flash, but it's fickleness when it comes to iTTL/ETTL whatever, is outrageous. My keeper rate using this flash is well below 50% in busy environments such as weddings. I have not tried using it in Manual Mode, maybe that might help, or maybe it's just my technique. I keep my fingers crossed when using this flash, because you never know what' s going to happen next !

    One minute it works fine, the next minute you start outputting these weird colors that are extremely hard to fix in Photoshop. My Metz 45 CT-4's recycle in about 3 second(or less...) at full Pop with a Quantum power pack, so no problem there. Plus you can use the 'Winder Mode' for faster recycling. I get nice /even/predictable flashes time and time again.

    They have a Guide Number of 148 feet @ 50mm focal length, ISO 100. Most speed lights rate their guide numbers at 105mm focal length. You got to look in the back of the manual to find out what the REAL guide number is at a specific focal length. The Metz H-H also have that wrap-around light that is missing in speed lights, but is inherent in studio strobes, maybe it's the bigger head . Just my humble opinion...
  4. AJG


    I have Pentax TTL flash units (540 FGZ II) that are also not very accurate on auto. They have a tendency to overexpose seemingly at random and are less reliable on auto exposure than my ancient non TTL Vivitar 285s. They are much better than the Vivitars in other ways--more power at maximum, faster recycling time, more extensive manual power settings, etc., but TTL just doesn't work that consistently for me.
  5. In a studio setting, i.e. full control over light, you do not want TTL because TTL averages the light it happens to collect, and takes away your control. Set a light to blow out a white background, and TTL will see it an lower exposure for it and the rest of the scene. Et cetera. Bad.
    When spending time and effort to set up lights in a considered and controled way, using a meter to set exposure for your chosen bit of the scene takes no time or effort at all.
  6. That could be because the YN560 series don't support TTL of any sort!
    It certainly would, because manual is the only mode available on YN560s.
    Makers' guide numbers are pure fiction! Almost always inflated by one stop or more.
    What's 148' in real measurements?
    That's 44 in metres, right?
    The actual GN is more like 36(m) if you bother to use a flashmeter on one. While the YN 560 has a real GN of about 28(m) when measured with the same meter. That's slightly under one stop difference.
    I've never seen that with any flash - hammerhead or hotshoe-fitting. It doesn't seem likely, since 'thyristor' controlled (IGBT, quench-tube or whatever) flash always applies the same initial voltage and current to the flashtube. Different 'power' being obtained by curtailing the duration of the flash only. Not by altering the character of the light in any way.

    Actually, I wouldn't use a YN560 for weddings or functions since it doesn't have an auto-exposure mode of any kind. However, I've used other hotshoe-mount speedlights with AA mode completely reliably and successfully. Digital pre-flash TTL hasn't proved itself nearly as reliable.

    The YN560 iii and iv models are ideal for a small/portable studio setup, where their manual setting and radio triggering are a good combination.

    The Metz 45CT series guns only support SCA300 series film TTL modules. They're useable only in AA or (limited) manual mode with a digital camera. And the early models have a trigger voltage that's risky to use with a digital camera.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
  7. Makers' guide numbers are pure fiction! Almost always inflated by one stop or more.
    What's 148' in real measurements?
    That's 44 in metres, right?"

    I don't blame you for hating the Metz hammer heads. The reason I like them is because for large wedding groups, or Team sports, you still can't beat them. The quality of light is much better than any speed light in my opinion. Another reason is that I got my 45 CT-4's for peanuts and they have yet to fail me. However, the last handle mount in the hammer-head series, the 76 MZ5, was a total flop. I think Metz tried one last effort to hang onto the market, but they cut too many corners.

    I paid about $900+ for the Metz 76 MZ5 hoping to replace all of my CT-4's with it, but that never happened. I had to send the flash for repairs twice in the span of 1 year. Finally it died on me. The ETTL was a joke. I worked fine before I sent the Flash in for repairs, but when I got it back it stopped working. The whole thing of having to change SCA modules to keep up with the camera manufacture updates, was a complete turn-off for many. These things are not cheap !

    The Nicad battery back that you had to purchase separately, was a whopping $150+ back then ! And you still had to baby-sit it every month or so. It's very disconcerting when you Charge the battery pack for hours, only to find that it can only give you 5 pops. The external battery pack (P76) was much better, but at a cost of $400.

    When I purchased the flash, I was expecting a Guide number of 76 meters at focal length 50mm. This is the way Metz usually rated the power of their HH flash units. The 45 series had a Guide number of 45 meters @ 50 mm focal length. The 60 CT was rated at 60 meters @ 50mm. The 50 MZ5 had a Guide number of 50 @ 50mm focal length. For some reason the Metz 76 had a guide number of 76 @ 105mm focal length. This is maybe 1/2 f-stop over the much older 50 MZ5, which too me is a better flash, except for the ETTL/iTTl etc .

    With the 76 MZ5 you have to press on a switch every time you want to swivel the head horizontally. That requires 2 hands, whereas with the older Metz Hammer-heads you could swivel the head at will. The Metz 76 MZ5 had a 'proper-exposure' Beep that would wake up the entire neighborhood. You could not turn that beep down like you could on other units, you had to turn the damn thing off. Gone was the ability to mount the flash on the camera either for left -handed, or right-handed users, this flash only allowed right-handed mounting. This as well as other little things is what caused this flash to fail...
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
  8. "That could be because the YN560 series don't support TTL of any sort!"

    Sorry I thought you were talking about the YN585 EX, which is the one I have, with p-TTL.
  9. rodeo_joe|1 likes this.
  10. I don't think they ever went away.

    My first 'serious' flash was a Toshiba hammerhead model - with nowhere near its advertised 'power' - and much later I bought Sunpak AZ3600s and Osram Studio 440s. With a bunch of Metz 45s and 60s collected in between.

    There's a limit to the size of capacitor that can be housed in a hotshoe-mount speedlight, and so the handle of a HH flash provides more space for more or bigger capacitors.

    Current capacitor technology limits speedlights to housing a capacitor of 340v/1400uF or thereabouts; giving an energy of around 75 Joules. If you want more, and portable, light output then a HH or larger design of flash is your only option. However, with ridiculously high ISO speeds available from modern cameras, the need for more flash energy is less pressing.

    I'm not sure I agree that those old Metz things provide a better 'quality' of light. Light is light, and the light spread and reflector size of a HH isn't significantly larger than that of a good speedlight.
  11. Sometimes you need the extra power. For example you are shooting a large group of people and you want to keep the ISO low with a n aperture of f8 or greater so that everything from the front to the back is in focus.
  12. I think they are to be highly recommended for mashing potatoes:rolleyes:

    We didn't call them "hammerhead" where I come from.
  13. Hmmm. My kitchen potato masher has a grid of holes in the end and looks nothing like any kind of flash gun.

    My lump-hammer OTOH could easily be mistaken for a Metz 45CT-x, both in silhouette and in weight! ;)
    Then two speedlights on a bracket will do that, with more flexibility and probably less weight.

    Just look at any paparazzi pack these days. How many hammerhead flashes do you see among them?

    About as many as are still toting Rolleiflexes or Speed Graphics?
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020

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