Strobist - SUNPAK 120J PROFESSIONAL


wahgongzai

Senior Member
Dec 13, 2006
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Hi all,

Before I start I will like to give a heads-up - the writing for this post is a bit "jumpy?". I will sort of switch to a different subject at some point. If you are new to this thread. I suggest you start from #139 and read from there so you will not get confused.

Below is the light setup with 120J for 1st wardrobe, my original idea is to use the 120J dome as a background ambient fill and the LEDs as a punch light to lit the face. However I quickly realized this is not possible due to the fact that a 120J with its lowest power is still way too powerful compared to the LEDs. After a few frames I decided I would just use one light (Flash). Now you will notice the over blown up corner at top left. It is so because I was shooting at ISO 3200, I wanted the background to be visible and the feel I go for is sort of a mid (50%) key exposure. So I shot a few test shots without flash to see at what ISO and shutter speed in order to get the background ambient exposure I wanted. After adding flash back in, I noticed the blown out corner but I let it go as the background was more important to me. The 120J lit images is sort of okay I guess, I can still tweak the 120J by shifting it more to the side and pull back further... I decided to switch to LEDs and see what I can get.

Model is Alexandra (or Alex in short as I called her) This is the first time I worked with an agency model so I was not sure what to expect and was a bit nervous. However the uncertainty quickly faded away when she showed up. Alex is focused and very independent. She is also professional and experience as a model. She arrived early, worked with MUA/Stylist Agnes on wardrobe and gave honest and good feedback when we discussed about the brief. She really knows her stuff. When we talked about the time constraint and the targeted 7 wardrobe changes within 90 mins, both Alex and Agnes expressed their concerns and suggested we do less wardrobe so as to have a better chance in getting good images. I explained to them why, and show them the mood board, the ideas, editorial story line on my ipad and macbook pro. Now I am going side track a bit. Communication is extremely important when you do personal shoot and when you are working with models, mua and stylist as a team. Respect and listen to everyone's point of views and try to work out something, be as clear as possible, if you do not have any references images, then draw it out. I assured them that I would assess the situation and decide while the shoot was ongoing. We reached the location early, had a quick bite and the owner graciously let us have a 15mins extra head-start. When the shoot started, I slowly got blown away by Alex - she warmed up very fast and took art direction well. She adapted and emoted so brilliantly that after 8-9 mins I decided I have also warmed up and proceeded with the actual shoot. I actually allocated 25mins for 1st wardrobe. 10-15mins for warm-up and then 10 mins to get the shot. We completed the 1st wardrobe including warm-up within 15mins. When it came to changing/re-style/touch up, both Alex and Agnes also amazingly did it at a impressive pace- on average 3-5mins. Both Alex and Agnes worked so fast and efficient that we went through 8 changes with 7 wardrobes. In fact we had extra time to repeat one of the wardrobes to shoot another idea I had. In the end we overshot the time by only 5mins.


Alex is truly awesome and I am totally impressed by what she delivered.​


Setup with LEDs, the result is more pleasing and close to the overall feel/exposure I wanted. The top right is still a tad blown up but I am cool with it. I have to push the LEDs much closer to Alex to lit her as compared to 120J dome which bounced light everywhere. The rim from model's left face and cheek is from the ceiling lights which give it more dimension, a happy accident bonus. Now can the 120J get similar result? Definitely yes. My guess is I would use a 120x80 softbox with grids and no diffuser. The larger size means that I can pull way back and a bit to the side to reduce the flash to better match the ambient background and give Alex a bit more shadows and highlight. The rectangle modifier also would allow me to move the light closer to wall, pillar or table if required.

The makeup and styling is done by Agnes and she is very confident, creative and had experience working with well known local and foreign photographers. Like Alex, Agnes also has ever worked on magazine editorial (published). She worked really fast and efficient on location, just like you have a female Super rank 50 Master Chief (Halo) on your team. It's surprising to watch the model and MUA who met for the first time could work so seamlessly in an unfamiliar environment. I guess being experienced and professional in their craft are 2 huge factors that made it possible.


In the end Agnes totally blast me away.


That's all, everyone. Lastly give a huge shout out to Keanu Reeves's John Wick 2 (check out the wicked cool purple low key lit poster photo). I watched it at it's 1st night preview, It is bloody amazing, refreshing and inspiring to watch. If you have not seen it, please go see it.

"The Pencil" makes an appearance in Chapter 2. It's Brutal to watch.
 

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wahgongzai

Senior Member
Dec 13, 2006
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Hi all, just to share a quick setup for wardrobe #02. This was actually shot with LED video lights. I did try the flash when I shifted to another spot but the images was a bit "meh..." + the scene just did not work out for me. So I reverted back to LED, moved to this new spot, shot a few frames and decided to proceed to wardrobe #03.


Now would I be able to achieve something similar if I were to use SUNPAK 120J? Yes of course. Not 100% identical, but it should be close with a bit of chimping and tweaking with the light and camera setting. If I were using 120J, the Godox AD-S17 dome diffuser definitely will not work. Instead I will use a 60x90 rectangle softbox with grid. Reason? For me the size and shape allow me to maneuver more easily in small tight spaces. The softbox grid will also constrict the light just like the barn doors on the LED although the latter has the benefit of fine tuning the light spread easily.


That's all everyone. Stay tuned for next thread when I finally bought a new camera to replace my Nikon D70.​
 

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wahgongzai

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Dec 13, 2006
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Hi all,

Let's get one thing right before I start - I really adore my Nikon D70. Yes, it is a 6 mega pixels 2004 DSLR, a great, great grandfather of Nikon D7200. The Nikon D70/70s/D40/D1 series have something special - they all use electronic shutters. Lets put all the quirks and cons of electronic shutter aside and discuss one of the biggest advantages they still have over all the "non electronic shutter DSLR" till this day. It can sync flash passed 1/500 to 1/1000 (using radio), 1/500 to 1/4000 (using PC sync/IR/Optic). Now I know High Speed Sync (HSS) can achieve something similar, and the tech has made improvements over the years. Cheaper HSS flash options from Yongnuo and Godox also let people own it without spending a fortune.

Although I am no expert when come to HSS, I do know that an electronic shutter camera has one advantage over it. HSS is a highly complex process that requires dedicated devices. That means a Profoto B1 HSS can only work with its Profoto B1 trigger (FYI, i don't know about B1, maybe it can work with other HSS devices). For my Nikon D70 I have no such problem. I can use my cheap PT-04/08, or any Pocket Wizard to trigger "almost any" flash at 1/1000. And if for some reason the radio trigger is not working due to external interference, I can switch to PC sync or IR to achieve even faster flash sync speed. Although I love my D70, sad to say its old age has caught up recently. The grip is getting sticky and the CF card slot sometimes is not so responsive during shoot where occasionally it gives an "err" message. The 6 mega pixels is also a bit limiting at times... my iPhone 5 can produce a 8 mega pixels photo. So last year I decided that I will replace my Nikon D70. After the disappointing purchase of Samsung EX-2F, I am more careful in picking what new camera I should buy. I shortlisted Fuji X100T, X70 and Panasonic LX100. In the end X100T was the winner. To double confirm my decision, I rented the X100T and went Hong Kong and did a photo shoot. It did not disappoint me. Now why did I not aim for the newer X100F? Actually I did consider, but when I went Hong Kong during late February this year, the X100F is still not released yet and the price is about S$500 more, as compared to a new X100T. And due to budget, I decided to go with a new X100T.

Now how well did the new kid X100T fair against the old grandpa D70 using the PCsync, which the Nikon D70 hit the insane 1/8000 (sort of).
It faired very well as you can see, sync effortlessly side by side with the old timer D70 all the way up to 1/4000. Now the X100T has an electronic shutter that can go up to 1/32 000. Why Fuji put a brake* and limit the flash sync at 1/4000 and not faster? I have no idea, maybe it is a hardware/science physic limit thingy? However the D70 has no brake limit set inside its firmware and it went pass the 1/4000 and hit 1/8000 (the fastest it can go), it did catch the flash but the image sort of got "burn"? I know when I pushed the D70 passed 1/4000, the image's color tends to shift but not this bad with "burn" and "corrupt" image effect? Signs of an old worn out sensor going to retire?
(*when you switch to electronic shutter, it will disable all flash options)


How about radio flash trigger, where D70 sync fastest @ 1/1250?

(From Left 1st and 2nd, Godox FT-16 triggered a Godox Cell II. 3rd image, PT-08 triggered a PT-04 receiver)
This is surprising! The X100T outperformed the D70 when it came to radio trigger. It sync passed 1/1250 all the way up to 1/2000. At F2.0 it did catch the flash @ 1/4000 although compared to PCsync @ 1/4000. It is significantly darker (radio frequency delay or leaf shutter limit?). Before I bought X100T, i did a lot of read up on the interweb. Based on what I read, the X100T can sync 1/1000 at all F stop. But to go beyond 1/1000, it needs to step down. You can read this from Mr Ken Rockwell review of X100T. 1/1000 all Fstop, 1/2000 from F4 and 1/4000 from F8. I manage to sync 1/2000 @ F2.0 and F2.8 (although the later black out @ 1/4000). More testings are needed, so I can get to know more about X100T limits.

So conclusion? Is the X100T a replacement for my beloved D70?
The answer is yes and no... X100T is a totally different camera from D70. It is well received and reviewed by many as a great street photography camera. The "flash sync speed" is just a happy accident due to the mechanical leaf shutter design on the X100.

What I like about the X100T
Mechanical Leaf Shutter - able to get fast flash sync at 1/2000-4000, 3-4 stops difference as compared to most non electronic shutter DSLR @ 1/250.
Compact size made it a great second camera for all types of shoot.
The optical and electronic viewfinder is refreshing and fun to use.
The Look - it is a damn handsome camera, I got to admit.

What I don't like about the X100T.
Fixed lens (it has options of mounting a wide or tele adapter lens, expensive though...)
Does not have Flash WB option like the Nikon D70. (Although it does have a "K" - Custom White Balance option)
Compact size makes it a bit slippery for big hands (I bought a hand grip + thumb grip just to feel safe handling it)
No dual card slots. (maybe it will have on Fuji X100V?)

Ultimately the X100T is a good but not the best replacement for my Nikon D70. Personally, as of now I don't think there is any camera that can entirely replace the Nikon D70. Maybe I should write a letter to Nikon? Hmmm... :think:


(sorry for the crabby drawing, been a while I used a mouse to freehand draw. I sucked)

Want to know more about Shutter/Flash Synchronization, please check out this Youtube video by Mr Paul Duncan
Dpreview also wrote an interesting article about Electronic shutter, rolling shutter and flash. Do check it out​
 

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wahgongzai

Senior Member
Dec 13, 2006
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Hi all, "Something happened" and I am forced to re-edit all my clubsnap posts and threads since 2008 which I will explain why later. This sharing will be a quick one.



LED facing front slightly on the side, nothing complicated. Just to give a bit more light to the model's face without affecting the overall ambient environment.


Another photo that I like using the LED as main. Now if I were using 120J and I could move away all the tables and chairs, I would use a 60" reflect umbrella, roughly same position but much further away to fill up the background and add more artificial ambient to the scene. This would let me shoot at higher shutter speed to minimize camera shake. That's all everyone.


"Something happened"?

Early July, a big photo news happened. Photobucket decided that they will no longer provide FOC image hosting and broke Billions of photos (hot links) across the world wide web. The news was covered by Petalpixels on 1st July. That day I checked all my image links and they seemed okay? Yesterday early morning, I received the "pay us US$400!" email from Photobucket and sure enough, all my image links have been broken. Anyone who visited this thread yesterday will notice the missing images.

I started using Photobucket around 2008. During that time I knew about Flickr (later joined 2009). I really like Photobucket html link code which has the image file name in it, enabling me to edit my posts and html easier. Flickr generates a html link code without any of the image name which makes it hard for me to identify by looking at the HTML source page. I understand that Photobucket is a company that needs to make money in order to survive and their decision is comprehensible. However the sudden implementation without any early warning to its user is a bit too much. They also add salt to all users' wounds by providing solely one hosting paid plan of US$400 per year. This is truly a thoughtless business decision. I paid them US$2.50 a month to get ad free and 2GB of image hosting. And for the past 8 yrs, I never exceed 3% of the 2GB data. As a low usage user It makes no sense for me to pay S$550+. I am okay paying but not this ridiculously much.

So yesterday I scrambled to reload all the images from Page 8 to Flickr. It took me some time. Bizarrely, today all the photobucket links are back (for now), and i am not sure what happen? I have decided to switch entirely to another image hosting platform. However after this incident, I will need time to research which platform suits my needs and hosting fees budget.

For now, I will re-link all the images from page 6-8 to Flickr by next Tuesday. After I have decided and confirmed a platform, I will proceed to reload the remaining images to the rest of the pages. If you happened to revisit any of the pages and the links are broken, please accept my apology. I will try my best to solve this problem asap.



I am grateful that Photobucket has given me 8 yrs of good image hosting service, I would like to say "Thank you". However I think you Photobucket have lit yourself on fire. Sorry to say this. I am bailing out from this hot mess you have created. Live Long and Prosper to you... I hope...

Lastly a kind reminder, if you have any comments or thoughts on the Photobucket Ransom saga, please start a thread or post at CS's General Discussions like Kopitam or General Talk. Thank you and much appreciated.​
 

wahgongzai

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Dec 13, 2006
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Hi all, today I am going to share another method in triggering camera flash or strobe, using Infra Light Flash Trigger.

Why use infra trigger, instead of your pop up camera flash? For me, there are 2 main reasons:
First, It won't affect your exposure, because we can't see it and so do our cameras (unless you modified it).
Second, it syncs faster than radio trigger. How fast? Lets find out and compare it to PC sync cable which syncs at an insane 1/8000 with Nikon D70.


It syncs effortlessly side by side with PC sync up to 1/4000sec. I forgot to take the 1/8000 test shoot as I was testing out my X100T a few weeks back. The X100T maxed out its flash sync at 1/4000.

Here is the 1/8000 test shot straight from camera, just resized and nothing else. The IR flash actually fired and it bounced off the white facing wall and triggered the Yongnuo flash's front facing IR slave sensor. Interestingly the EXIF data indicated that the flash was not fired? Not sure what happened... I will do more testing to confirm that in future.

As always there are pros and cons in every device.

Pros about IR Trigger
1. Sync flash up to 1/8000 (Nikon D70)
2. The IR flash will not add exposure to the photo.
3. Will work under water with the right waterproof gear.
4. Almost all optical/IR receiver do not need battery and relatively small in size.
5. Fairly affordable, easy to find online - used or brand new.
6. The IR flash will trigger "most" hot shoe camera flash/strobe with built-in slave mode.


There are many types and designs of IR receivers catered to different needs. Most mid to upper price range flash will also have built-in slave mode which will work with IR flash trigger.​

Cons about IR Trigger
1. Recycle flash time limitation. The Wein SSR recycles about 1sec but some consumer models may take 5-6secs.
2. Line of Sight, if the optical/IR receiver can't "see" the "IR flash", it won't fire.
3. May not work very well under strong ambient light condition (eg, Sunny noon outdoor)
3. Some IR receivers might misfire by external sources like a a flickering light bulb, thunder lighting or another nearby flash.
4. IR receiver (seldom though) may fail without warning due to component deterioration and aging.
5. Effective range is still slightly shorter than radio trigger, 8-10m for cheap IR models and 60-180m for pro IR models.

For me, if radio trigger is not able to work due to radio interference. I will choose IR flash trigger over PC sync cable when I am using more than 2 lights or I am in an environment where there are a lot of human traffic.

That's all everyone, hope you find it useful. Lastly Happy 52th Birthday Singapore.
 

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wahgongzai

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Dec 13, 2006
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Hi all,

Just a quick sharing for the 5th wardrobe setup. LED close to model on the side, sort of a "Broad lighting" depending on which direction the model's face is facing the light. So if I am using flash (?) what will I do? I think I will used a boom and raise the flash up to mimic a ceiling light effect. The light fall off from top to bottom will give it a bit "dramatic" feel.



That's all everyone, thanks for dropping by.​
 

wahgongzai

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Dec 13, 2006
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Happy New Year Everyone, 2018 has arrived.
Heads Up - this post will be my sharing of year end reflection with some gear and photography stuff ranting and what new things may happen in 2018.​

Last year I tried to do Polaroid Gal #07. The project was again (...I know, I know) put on hold when one important part of the plan did not go so well. I won't elaborate on what this part is, but is something I really wanted to try. Since it's my first try then, I think I will tweak my approach and try again. As my favorite movie quote goes - Never give up, never surrender!

2017 is definitely not a creative bleak year in terms of photography. I did do a few personal and paid photography projects which I gained interesting experience in term of transporting/handling gear and on location workflow. One of the personal shoots I did, instead of using flash and big modifiers, I used solely LED video lights. LED lights are really cool tools. They work well in small tight spaces and enable me to shoot much faster as compared to flash. Of course LED are not perfect. I have to shot at high ISO 800 and above because the light output is not strong enough and the LED lights are not ideal for long day shoot unless you are prepared to bring lots and lots of batteries. The shoot lasted about 6 hours - 4 hours into the shoot, all 5 LED lights chewed through all 15 NP-F550/750 batteries. In the end I had to charge and swapped the drained batteries continuously on the fly...not fun. Despite the few cons, the LED video lights will definitely still be an indispensable lighting tool inside my gear bag in the future.

I will also be looking into buying and trying new gear/accessories and possibly a new bare bulb flash beside 120J. Reason? After 8 years of using my 120Js, 3 of my 120J are out of commission 1 by 1 from mid to late 2017. I hope I can get them repaired but this did prompt me into looking for a 120J alternative as I am now only down to 4 set of 120J. Comparing to the availability of Bare Bulb Small Flash similar to 120J, I have much more options now than in year 2009 (back than only Quantum Qflash, great flash but super expensive) . The price of flash and strobe has also become more competitive when China makers like Godox, Phottix and etcs started making strobes. In addition I will also be sharing some cool accessories I bought last year that can be used with 120J in the strobist mini tips post.


The 3 set of 120J strangely all shared the same problem. The flash output adjust would not work and could only fired at 1/1 power.



Stay tuned for more strobist mini tips and sharing of new gears that I used together with the 120J​

2017 was mostly a good year for photography world. Of course, life is not a bed of roses. We saw companies like Bowen closed shop, Lexar exits its memory card/reader business. New55 forced to end its short-lived 4x5 peel film line and lastly Fuji killing more of its film products. On the bright side, we see the new life of Polaroid Originals with their instant film price finally reduced (not much but is a good start) and introduced a New cheap US$100 Polaroid film camera. LED light technology is maturing and prices have dropped sharply compared to 2016. The release of "Jack of all trade" Sony A7RIII and Nikon D850, caused an influx of Sony A7RII and Nikon D800 into the used market at very good prices. 2018 is definitely a good year to shop for used gear.

That's about it. Thank you for dropping by from time to time. Wishing you all a Happy Happy New Year. ;)
 

wahgongzai

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Hi all, The year of the man's best friend have arrived. Happy Lunar New Year, Everyone.

This mini tip is about a piece of strobe accessory that is not meant for SUNPAK 120J but it works perfectly. It is called the "Pencil Light". Why it is called the "Pencil Light" or "Light Stick" - I have no idea. I do know that the pencil light is designed for sticking in confined space or to conceal it from a scene to create an accent light or back-lit an object. However when I bought it, I have a different idea on how to use it.

I used softbox modifiers a lot. The SUNPAK 120J is not huge so sticking it inside a softbox is easy and it works well most of the time. However when I need to adjust the power setting, power off or change batteries. I need to un-velcro the softbox diffuser to access it. It takes less than 20 secs to do it so no big deal for me. However in some situation - an example where I am using a boom, accessing the 120J will take a longer time so this is where the pencil light come into the picture.


FYI, if you want to know how I usually mount my 120J inside the softbox, please check out mini tip #01 let there be light, thread #62.

By "separating" the 250W flashtube away from the 120J body, I now can access the 120J easily. It also lessens the load if the softbox is on a boom arm as now the 120J is not inside the softbox. Currently I have yet to use the pencil light in any of the shoots as I need to figure out a good way to mount the 120J and the flashtube attached to the pencil light. Stay tune for an update - I will share more in the future.


The Lumedyne Pencil Light is simple. It is just an "extension cord" made for flash. The cord length is about 1.45meter-ish. It is sufficient for most lighting scenarios, except if I was using a boom arm way up like 2.5m or higher than 1.45m will be too short.

So that's about it. Lastly, give a shout out to Guillermo del Toro's movie The Shape of Water. It is a very beautifully shot movie. I am in awe when I watched it.


MiniTip #1 Let there be Light
MiniTip #2 H2O weight
MiniTip #3 Cheap Color Gels
MiniTip #4 Cheap DIY Reflector and Reflector Holder
MiniTip #5 SUPER Clamp
MiniTip #6 The 120J Mount Compatibility
MiniTip #7 The PC Light Booster
MiniTip #8 The Tape Measure Light Meter
MiniTip #9 Bit Update

 

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wahgongzai

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Dec 13, 2006
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Hi all,

Just back from a Taipei trip. Taipei is quite awesome and the night markets are definitely an eye-opener for me. Interestingly a few 120Js also tagged along with me to Taipei. Why? I will share more in my next posting.

Now, back to another light setup for Wardrobe 6. This was a quick shoot as I already knew what I wanted for this scene. Below is the first shot with Alex sitting on the stairs. I was shooting from the bottom of the stairs with one hand holding X100T and the other hand gripping the LEDs mounted on a light stand lighting Alex's right side. Originally for lighting, I wanted a flash to hit the stair's baluster to create shadows on model and a boom light high up as main to mimic a ceiling light. Lacking time and necessary grip gears, I had to lit simple on the fly.

I took one shot of Alex with a confident pose. Then I directed her to give me this pose which she did brilliantly. I chimped on my screen, it's okay... I sort of like it but.. the shoes sort of didn't match with the wardrobe. This was totally my bad. For a personal shoot, shoes are just one thing very hard to tackle due to budget, right shoe size and matching genre. Alex did brought 3 pairs of shoes - one was a really cool pair of long boots which will match perfectly with one of the wardrobes, and the remaining 2 pairs were a pair of black heel and a light color platform (both were a tad bit modern). Since I was not feeling it for this shot, I decided to let it go and move on to another angle. Btw, when I went back to hotel, I realized all the shots were not sharp. Most likely it was due to the fact that I was using one hand to shot. 1/60 with both hands should be okay most of the time because X100T used a leaf shutter. Lesson learnt: I should have shifted to ISO3200 to get 1/125.



FYI: You can actually see the LEDs reflected at the front finder of the Polaroid 600​

For this shot Alex just moved down a few flight of stairs and I asked her to give me a similar pose like the one above. I got her to tilt her head to face away from the camera. Then I saw the reflected light from the nearby ceiling fluorescent tube on the glasses. Now I could ask her to totally face away from the ceiling light but it lost the impact or I could have taken the glasses and removed the plastic lenses so it would not reflect any light source. Instead I decided to have Alex to tilt her head slowly to find a spot where the reflected light did not block the pupils. And when I saw 'this' I told Alex to stop and took 'this' photo. I took 2 shots, chimped and said to Alex. "I got the shot. Great Job Alex, next wardrobe."


Lastly give a huge shout out to Deadpool 2, as usual a maximum effort movie. It is a "bloody" fun and mind "blowing" family film(?). Most likely I am going to watch it again, but in IMAX format.
 

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wahgongzai

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Panoramic view - standing at Taipei North Gate (ChengEn gate), the front entrance? to Taipei Camera Street.​

Hi all,

This post is regarding my holiday trip to Taipei. One of the places I was very interested to visit is Taipei's camera street, which was quite near my hotel. Based on my research, I found out that Taipei has a dozen of camera repair shops. Since I intended to spend a week in Taipei, it gave me the idea to bring my 3 out-of-commission 120Js (refer to thread #147) along and hopefully get them all fixed.

On the first day of arrival, I visited "蘭陽", "全泰", "二哥" and "雷虎". All of them were helpful and courteous but unfortunately none of them can repair them as spare parts for 120J could not be found in Taipei (not surprising here). Feeling a bit dejected, I decided to try my luck and visit one last repair shop, "尚品" which has a very good online blog repair review on a canon flash.

I took a cab down as "尚品" was a bit out of the way and I dropped off at the wrong building number. Fortunately they directed me when I called them to ask for direction. After some wandering, I found it after realizing that the building is hidden inside an alley lane. The workshop is actually located on the roof level, not 5th floor.

After climbing 6 flights of stairs. I was panting like Kungfu Panda Po. "尚品" is a small and neat workshop, manned by its owner Mr Tsang (I also address him as Tsang Shifu), a young assistant and Mrs Tsang. Mr Tsang has been repairing cameras since the late 70s. Despite amassing master shifu level of experience, Mr Tsang is extremely modest and friendly. Even though no spare parts were available, Mr Tsang kindly agreed to do a quick check on one of the 120J. Within 10 mins, the flash was dismantled and the diagnostic result was circuit board and wire contacts being corroded and the capacitors have signs of deterioration (but still can use). All these were shown to me and explained in detail. Mr Tsang then said that this could be repaired but a capacitor replacement is ideal. He then asked whether I can leave all 120Js and he would try to fix all 3. Gleefully I agreed and thanked Mr Tsang. He smiled warmly and said "不客气, 应该的"


A fully dismantled 120J by Tsang Shifu.
Thank you Tsang Shifu for giving me the photos of the repair prosess. I added the watermark to indicate that the photo belongs to "尚品精修 Studio"

4 days later, despite not able to source for capacitor replacements, Mr Tsang managed to fix all 3 120J back to operating conditions (Capacitor replacements are still advisable). When handing over, Mr Tsang also took his time to explain one by one what he did for repair and patiently tested all the flashes to make sure they were working. Total repair bill for all 3 flashes was S$94 was very reasonable (inclusive of a small inverter on one circuit board replaced). However the professional and warm selfless service I got from Mr Tsang "尚品精修" is truly a "million dollar 5 star service standard".

I will be back next year to visit and hopefully this time I will get the capacitors replaced.


How to get to "尚品精修"
Despite that it is not located at the camera street, getting there is still fairly easy. I took a cab down from Bo'Ai road and it took about 20 mins to reach and the cab fare was about Twd 250+. My advice is not to take taxi as locating the small alley is hard and the traffic is very busy. Otherwise another good idea is to drop off at Sichuan Road upon turning into the 65 Expressway then walk along the row block buildings and locate the small alley on the right. If you decide to travel MRT, take the blue line from Taipei Main Station (BL12) and alight at Far Easter Hospital station (BL05), exit from the station's Exit/Entrance 2. Once you are out of Exit 2 you will see the Hospital facing opposite you. From Exit/Entrance 2, just walk straight down and you will see Oriental Institute of Technology. Keep on walking and you will this Sichuan building and not far away there is an overhead bridge. Walk towards this bridge and turn right into 65 expressway. Keep walking and you will see a small lane on the right - Lane 140, Section 2, Sichuan Road. There is a shop selling and repairing coffee makers at the alley entrance. Walk straight in turn left. Keep walking straight, "尚品" is on the right. Opposite "尚品" is a small car garage. Press the door bell and wait for "尚品" to remotely open the metal door for you.

Although my interactions with other Taipei camera repair shops were brief, my first impression for all was very pleasant.
全泰相機修理中心 - one of the oldest and well known camera repair shop in camera street. I had a chance to speak with the boss who is very knowledgeable and friendly. He has a cute pet dog wandering inside the shop. Can't repair 120J cause no new parts readily available.
二哥的店 - managed by 2 helpful young men. Will accept hot shoe flash repair provided if parts are readily available.
蘭陽相機維修中心 - hard to find... have 2 ways into the building? Only the entrance with a security mini desk leads to a lobby have lifts. I used the "back passage" no lifts only stairs? Had to climb 5 flights of stairs. The boss about mid 30s was friendly and chatty, quite intrigued about me using such an old flash. Able to repair hot shoe flash if parts are readily available.
雷虎相機修理 - Boss not in (usually come in after 1-2pm), Lady boss said they only repair modern camera flashes. She also told me they had many pending repair jobs and turn around time was 3-4 weeks.

When you visit Camera Street (Bo'Ai and Hankou Street), you may also consider dropping by "Book Street" along Chongqing South Road (about 80m next to Bo'Ai street). "Book Street" has shrunk very significantly in the number of shops since its golden era. But you still can find a few well known old book stores, for example San Min. I found that photography related Chinese books in San Min have a bit more selection and topics, as compared to the modern and popular Eslite Bookstore. And the pricing is very competitive as you can find a lot of local publications. If you like food, you can also try the famous pepper bun (instead of going to Raohe Street Night Market) which is also along Chongqing South Road. Btw I found this "Singapore Barber Shop" while I was wandering along the camera street - took a photo out of fun.

Please take note: For all foreign photographers/tourists who are thinking of bringing camera gear to Taipei for repair, it is advisable that you first try to contact the repair shop by email and tell them what gear you want to repair and how fast you need it back. Frankly speaking all the shops including 尚品 are busy throughout the years. Depending on parts availability, the repair level (from simple to complex) and pending repair jobs, it may take days and even weeks. So if your stay at Taipei is short, maybe it is not a good idea. A few (not all) shops do provide mailing back service to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. However you have to check with the shops first. Eg like super expensive Leica Lens or camera. For such items , most of them don't accept as the risk is too great to bear for overseas mailing.

Btw, please do not ask/pm me whether which shop can repair what? Or can the shop repair your gear? Please google the shops and read their info as well as emailing them to ask are the only best way to go about.

Lastly I would like to do a quick update. About 2 months ago, a friend alerted me that when he visited the thread, he found a lot of missing-link images? Upon checking, I discovered that indeed I have one missing-link image which I have updated. I also discovered that when browsing this thread using mobile phone or tablet, it will not load all the images. This however can be resolved by refreshing the web page (1-2 times). I am not sure what causes this... I will try to find out more. If you find missing-link images, please just refresh the page.

Upcoming post I will be sharing why I decided to repair my 3 out-of-commission 120J instead of buying new flashes.

That's all everyone. Thanks for dropping by.​
 

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wahgongzai

Senior Member
Dec 13, 2006
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Happy New Year everyone. It's been a long while since my last post.

Let's proceed straight to the topic why I decided to repair my 120Js, instead of buying the newer and better(?) AD200?

Godox AD200 is a really interesting and competent flash. Its advantages are:
-More power, 200Ws means that it is at least 1 1/3 stop more light, compared to the conventional hot shoe flashes (45Ws-75Ws)
-Able to change how the light emit using interchangeable head module depending on photographer's need. (similar to SUNPAK 622 Pro)
-Competitive price, @ S$375 (HK2150) is still much cheaper, compared to Nikon or Canon TTL flashes. Nikon SB-700 S$499, SB-5000 S$799 (omg!)
-Its compact size makes transport and storage easier for "one-man show" photographer.
-Built-in radio receiver to work with Godox radio triggers (*Note: some older models will not work)
-Lots of accessories like the AD-S18 (similar to Quantum bare bulb enhancer, which I used here), AD-L (A LED Light head module), EC200 (something like the "Pencil light" I talked about @ #148), AD-B2 (combined 2 AD200 to give more light) the new H200R (a round flash head module) and others.

Although Godox AD200 is almost perfect, all flashes will have some cons. As I don't own any AD200, I can only find 1 fault on AD200 based on paper. And this fault is the very reason why I am still on the fence on AD200 and decided to repair my 120Js.

The fault is - It can't be powered using AA batteries or other optional external power pack. Now before any Godox AD200 owners start to scream @ me, please hear me out. AD200 uses a 14.4V 2900mah Lithium-ion battery which can give 450-500 full power pops. With this kind of battery power, it is more than adequate to last from start to finish for most types of photo shoots. However when it comes to commercial photography, having a plan B is always important to me. Unpredictable situations always will lurk around despite how prepared the photographer is. Situations like lithium battery died on location or the charger having problems and can't be charge and etc. Of course this kind of problems can be solved by buying more spares. However what if AD200 and its batteries both were to be discontinued (eg, replaced by a new model). How long do you think AD200 can operate when the only proprietary power source is no longer available?

SUNPAK is a very old flash. How old I am not very sure. I do know that 120J TTL came out a bit earlier than 622 pro which started its sales during the late 80's. So 120J's design is at least 30+ years old. Despite being aged, its ability to use AA batteries and different external power sources* have made 120J more reliable when it comes to powering. Of course 120J is not a super flash which is unbreakable. Common failure problems are - the flash head has a tendency of breaking or losing its fiction locking from wear and tear or impact from drop, capacitors degradation (can be replaced) and circuit board degradation.

So when 3 of my old 120Js broke down. I decided to bring along the 120Js and was hopeful to get them repaired when I went Taipei last year. Fortunately I met Tsang Shifu who managed to repair all 3 flashes.

So why?
Reason #1
- 2 of these used 120Js have been with me since 2009 and been to many shoots. Feeling a bit sentimental, I felt sad to just throw away these flashes without trying to fix them.
Reason #2 - Despite lacking advance features, I think 120J to me is still currently the best "AA battery power" 100w+ bare bulb flash which serves my needs and requirement.

So if I were asked to give an ideal version of a "True 125Ws" 120J MK II, what will it be like? Hmmm... I hope it will be like this. "Dream on... dream on..."


Lastly give a huge shout out to Spiderman : into the spider verse, It is bombarded with lots of colorful visuals, unique graphic styles and execution, seamless blend of comic elements with motions that it will give all anime and comic fans "web" dreams... Ya I just make a really bad spidey joke.



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