Photography flash units and safety in use

Some people when buying ‘studio’ photography flash units do not consider safety aspects or the actual quality of light and the general performance of the flash unit. Instead they just worry about the price. For amateur use the consistency of the flash output in both power and colour temperature along with being able to be used hard for several hours at an event are likely to be low on the priority list. For professional use price should become a secondary consideration to if the flash units will actually do the job you are being paid for. Unfortunately the safety of the units in use is seldom considered.

There is a wide range of equipment available for flash photography these days and one simple safety design consideration makes some equipment stand out. Different design approaches between equipment made as cheaply as possible and equipment designed for onerous professional use is hardly surprising. Most of these impact on the technical performance of the flash and the actual quality of light. These affect what the photographer can do with the lights and the maximum quality that is achievable. There is however one simple example that doesn’t involve any technical aspects of the quality of the light photographically but can impact on the safety of the equipment for whoever the light is facing. It is just a Pyrex glass dome that covers the flash tube and halogen modelling light. Something that is easy for anyone to see if it is there or not. Whilst it doesn’t happen very often flash tubes and halogen light bulbs can explode. There are different ways of dealing with this possibility. One way is to assume that you will not be one of the people who will have an exploding glass bulb. Most people will be correct in making this assumption since it doesn’t happen very often. Another will be ‘my public liability insurance will cover it’. Some people will deal with it by not having exposed flash tubes or halogen bulbs facing their subject. Professional lighting equipment deals with it in another way, one that will protect people from the possibility of an exploding bulb. The method they use is to have a Pyrex glass dome covering the flash tube and halogen modelling light. If a bulb does explode then the glass dome will stop the glass shards from flying around.

Hensel Expert Pro 500 flash head showing the glass dome covering the flash tube and halogen modelling lamp.

ProFoto have a slightly different protection approach on their D1 monoblocs and B1 & B2 mobile flash heads. Instead of having an exposed glass dome they have a thick layer of glass covering the flash tube.

ProFoto B2 flash head showing thick glass plate that covers the flash tube.

 


Cheap flash head with no protection from the risk of a tube or bulb exploding.

One Hensel Pyrex glass dome costs more than a cheap ‘EBay / Amazon’ flash head plus stand plus modifier etc. To me that is a small price to pay in order to neutralise the possibility that someone I’m photographing might get blinded by an exploding bulb. The risk is very low but why take a risk when you can avoid it altogether ?.

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