Geeze, Narelle, You coulda told me...
For those of you who have come into the lounge room late, the cultural reference you have just read is a Robina Beard advertisement for Palmolive washing-up detergent from the black and white era of Australian television. The product I am spruiking today is a camera accessory from about the same darned time. Trust Camera Electronic to have a steady supply of them...
Well, stop laughing. The Premier AC Mini Slave is one of those products that are older than dirt but exactly the right solution for any number of photographic needs. If you're not a studio shooter you can go boil the kettle but if you do any work that involves fixed flash draw nigh and give heed.
The Premier product is the latest name for something that I have seen as far back as 1964. I'll bet it is older...It is a self-contained electronic flash that screws into an standard E 27 Edison screw socket for 240 volts and then converts this to a self-firing strobe flash. There's a magic eye inside it that sees when another flash has gone off in the vicinity and then fires the slave in synch with it. Some of the models have open flash buttons and some have little synch sockets but some just fire in sympathy and that's that.
The power level is about what your'd get from an old Metz 45 unit - or a Canon 430 EX or a Nikon SB 700. Not inconsiderable power. The real advantage if the fact that it is screwed into the normal AC current so it charges instantly and for free. When you need a fixed flash, this is the cheapest way to get it.
I use it under my product table. A standard Arlec outdoor floodlight fitting takes the Premier flash and sits on the floor facing upwards. When the main flash above the table fires, the slave fires as well, and whites out the paper under the subject. Do a little measuring and fiddling and you never have to touch it again.
See. It works a treat.
There is a domed cover that diffuses the light, though not all that much. If you needed less power I'd pack it with something sophisticated, like a Kleenex...
You can also tape bits of gel over the light inside for colourful effects. I used to make artificial footlight effects for dancers this way. Three Premier lights on the floor didn't overpower the rest of the studio set-up but filled in nicely underneath.
I suspect that these humble accessories have been the starting point for a lot of budding studio shooters and they would probably be equally at home in photobooths. Or police lineup shots.
Less than a hundred bucks and they last forever - I love 'em.