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2004 Itbs going to be a great Contax year


Well-Known Member
Hello all.

I for one am going to stop focusing on the future (or apparent lack of one) and enjoy the Contax gear I have, use and love.

I just signed an all film (no digital) wedding in Miami for this spring. N1 and 645 will be my solution. I just bought a SunPak barebulb 120J with a 3 pin TTL Y/C module for use on the 645 and tested it with the Kodak 645C back and it works like a charm. More power & barebulb flexibility to replace the TLA360 at a fraction of the price. The 360 will now act as a back-up.

Have upgraded my MiMH to 2200 for the ND, and I have 4 battery inserts for the camera. Plenty of power source for extended shooting on location. Since shooting primarily with the camera set on J-Peg large, I've experienced few problems getting any shots. The dynamic range (or whatever it is) of this camera makes using J-Pegs a lot easier to handle in post adjust than any of my other digital camera J-peg files. I'm currently hunting down a second ND body.

I'm looking forward to a very happy Contax new year. I wish all of you the same.


Can you tell us more about the SunPak 120J? I am thinking to get either the Quantum digital Q flash or the Metz 54 mz 3 (in case I get a R9 for HSS) for my C645. Currently I am using the TLA360 for my N1 and pretty happy with the results.

either the quantum or the sunpak 120j (bare bulb, if i remember = correctly), will give you the same thing. the quality of the quantum (light and = built is) better but also more $$. it also has more features and upgradeable. = the service is also wonderful. i have dealt with both quantum and sunpak and quantum wins hands down.=20


mark, whose idea was it to shoot all film for the wedding? do customers/prospect care or ask for either digital or film??
Hi Albert. I just sold a Quantum set up which I never used because it was to big, unbalanced, and required a tethered battery on your hip. The Sunpak 120-J can be used either with a rechargeable pack (Quantum or sunpak) or as a stand alone with 4 AAs in the flash itself ( I use Duracell Ultras). I hate having a battery pack tethered to the flash when shooting weddings, as I move fast, light, and am constantly swapping cameras.

The Quantum Q flash is more powerful, but not enough to warrant being forced to carry around a Quantum battery just to use it. ( I tested a Quantum, 120-J and a Hasselblad D Flash 40 and in normal circumstances all of them were pretty close in output).

In the end, I found the 120-J to be a good compromise between price, output and convenience. It's the bare bulb that makes them all attractive.

As far as service, I can't comment. Neither flash system ever needed repair. I can say that the 120-J that I already own (non-TTL), has seen hard service for over 10 years and it still is going strong. I once tried to make it fail in a test by firing it continuously until it exhausted the Quantum battery and a set of 4 AAs. Nothing happened. and that was about 7 years ago and I'm still on the same bulb.

Mehrdad, the client requested all film and silver prints. It is the first of my wedding clients to ask this. He probably wanted all film because he is an accomplished traditional photographer himself and has a relationship with a master B&W printer in the Miami area.
Here's what a 120-J looks like on a Contax 645. Easy to handle, not much bigger than a TLA360 and actually a tad lighter.
This is same set-up with a ball diffuser for the barebulb.
If anyone knows where you can buy this diffuser please post it or e-mail me. I want another for my Hasselblad D-40.
Thanks all for the info.

BTW, Marc, any concerns or suggestions on vertical shots with top mounted flash setup? I am thinking to get a rotatable custom bracket, does it worth the trouble (on C645 or N1)? My guess is that, with the diffuser, shadow should not be a problem, right?

Albert, when shooting the 645 I usually have the Kodak 645C digital back on it. The sensor is 4X4 square. So, like a Hasselblad, flipping the flash for a vertical shot is not necessary.

When using film in the 645, or shooting an N camera, I use a Stroboframe Pro-T flip bracket. I haven't experimented with my new 120-J on a Pro-T yet, but it should work fine.

There are brackets that allow flipping the camera on it's side leaving the flash stationary, but they are a lot bigger and heavier than a Pro-T.

With the flash up above the lens and a diffuser mounted, cast shadows become less of an issue, if an issue at all.
One post thought on the subject of brackets and off-camera flash.

The Contax off-camera, 3 pin TTL cord is a dangerously under designed accessory. When used with a flip bracket like the Pro-T and a TLA360 flash, the smallish connector on the bracket portion (holding the flash) is prone to breaking in half and flinging your flash to the ground. It's happened to me and another photographer friend of mine.

This would actually argue for the type bracket that flips the camera instead, leaving the flash stationary.

Thanks for the warning. I am planning to use my C645 on location a lot in the next four months. Hence I am shopping for flip bracket and better TTL flash. I finally decided to give the TLA360 and the 3-pin cord a try as far as flash go.

I have not be able to find any third party flash provide wireless TTL. If there is one, I could just mount the flash on a light stand and shoot away (not for wedding of course.)

Marc, any suggestion on the problem you described above?