Well, that's what the images of the new Fujifilm EF X-500 flash reminded me of after I took their pictures for this column. I kept feeling around the left hand side for the filler hose...
The real reason is I wanted to show you the easy menu system of the flash. The menu of the previous flash was only a two-button affair, but that meant that you were condemned to following through a whole series of things that you did not want before coming to the bit you needed. The new flash uses more buttons and a control dial but lets you in and out far quicker - and it lets you do far more things.
a. Standard - 91 octane - you set to set your own level from full blast to 1/512 of the power. Or you can just leave it on TTL and see what you get. The oblong lighted button under the Mode sign opens the page and you whizz the control wheel round to whatever you want. Then punch either the page button or the central wheel button to set it in place. No waiting ten seconds while the computer thinks about it.
b. Ethyl - 95 octane - the next push on the page button sets up the zoom for the flash tube - you can run it from a 24mm wide angle to a 105mm portrait length. Again there is the Auto zoom option if you are changing gears frequently.
c. High Test - 98 octane - the page button will also take you to the LED light. This light glows just under the main flash head and can be operated separately or together with the flash. It acts as a quasi-modelling light or can be run up to quite a fair power as a video light. Again there is an intensity control and arrangements for this light to assist with illumination for auto focusing.
d. Oh, I almost forgot...how do you know when the flash is receptive to change and when it is locked? The part of the screen that contains what you are trying to adjust - in this case the power of the manual flash - is rendered black when it is active. Once you hit the page button or the central wheel button it is locked in and turns white.
e. Aviation Petrol - 100 octane - now it gets fun. See the thing that says Multi? That means the flash is going to fire like a stroboscope while the shutter curtains are open and you are going to get multiple images recorded on one frame. It is either going to be art or science.
You get to choose how many times the flash goes off and how it is spaced out - the Northeast corner of the green panel contains two figures; the left one is how many times it fires, the right one is how often. You can set the power level as per usual on the scale below these. This is a manual operation - not TTL.
f. Diesel - this is the setting for the flash when it is going to serve as a slave in a flash group. The amber colour is a distinct warning that you have clicked the switch on to the next segment. You'll see that it shows as Manual but you can also switch it to TTL. I am in several minds about this - the times I have tried to run systems where they had a degree of autonomy have always seemed to contain the most out-of-control light levels.
I have decided that I know what ratios I want and am prepared to dial them into the various group flash guns. The number of times that I have had to deviate from the plan are minimal, provided I have had time to test out the shots before the actual action start`s.
g. Cognac - when you have finally decided to be the boss. This is the master position for the flash - it can run up to three other groups of flashes, with multiple flashes in each group. As you can see, there is TTL, or otherwise. The degree of control may be far more than you can sensibly manage in any one shooting session, but if you find the combination that works, you can lock it in for future reference. The flash gun will return to previous settings after it is turned off and on.
PS: You don't get discount pixels at Camera Electronic but the restrooms are clean...