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Sunpak 120J


I was just wondering about the Sunpak 120J flash gun. I have heard it said that it is exactly the same as the D40 flash ( and that Sunpak make the D40). The biggest difference of course is that it is 1/2 the price of the Hasselblad product. It also appears that it can be adapted for other cameras via TTL modules which are not mentioned for the D40.
I wonder what the group experience is of the Sunpak.

Richard Marks
Have and use both. Use a 120J on a Contax 645with C/Y TTL Module.

D-40 is better built, and more modern looking. D40 is slightly more powerful. D-40 uses 6 AA batteries, 120J uses 4 AAs when working light and more portable. D-40 has a snap in battery cartridge allowing you to have a loaded one at the ready.
A pro friend has the Sunpak and swears by it. He could not afford the D40 and said the 120J design produces very similar flash (aside from the differences Marc pointed out). I found this out when I complained to him about Metz's horrible attachment brackets. Wish I knew before I bought the 45 CL-4.

Marc, how good is the D40? Which of the two is optimal from a performance and user perspective (setting cost aside)?
My preference is for the D-40 which seems better built. In addition to the features I mentioned above, the D40 shoe is overbuilt IMO, which is important to me when shooting hectic weddings. The D40 comes complete with all connections and is ready for TTL work out of the box. The connections needed for TTL 120J use on TTL Hasselblad body aren't included nor are they inexpensive.

Both can be powered by external batteries like the Sunpak NiCad, or many of the Quantums. But I prefer no external battery when possible, and 6 AAs trump 4 AAs every time for faster recycle and longer periods between battery replacement.

All that said, both provide a wonderful source of light. If you've not used bare bulb before, you are in for a treat. There are a zillion different light modifiers available for both these flashes, including most of those offered by Quantum. Check the Quantum site to see what I mean.

At one time I used Quantum flashes, but they MUST be used with a tethered external battery, and became quite tiresome.
BTW, I never use a bracket when using the D-40 on a Hasselblad. I slip it right into the shoe and go make photos.
Thanks Marc. That's great to hear. I'd be interested to see ex&les of bare bulb as I have not used it before. I also suspect that the circular reflector provides a reliably even light for 6x6.
My 2 interior photos in the Gallery were shot with D-40 fill against backlight.

When I get a chance, I'll post a few more. I'm processing the digital shots from Saturday's wedding, and too many of them came out great, : -) : - ( so I'm veeeeeery busy.
Many thanks Marc. I like your style - very natural relaxed and memorable.

I am, as you indicated, very very impressed by the type of light the D40 threw in the backlit interiors. It is as if the available light was nicely even and only slightly skewed to backlit.

I also was impressed by how it kept even light from the frist bridesmaid to the bride and on to the second bridesmaid in the "before the wedding" shot (enhanced the 3 dimensional effect of the Zeiss lens) - no highlight detail lost, no blasting of the red dresses and facial details are lovely.

Of course, your own light balancing and exposure skills were critical here, but the D40 seems to have enabled you to achieve your objective.

These raise the questions (I hope you don't mind the detail): 1. are the effects I pointed out specific attributes of bare bulb versus thyristor flash? 2. Does the shape of the reflector also play a key role in that illumination? 3. Does the better illumination type from the D40 reduce the need to play with film speed settings and devices like OmniBounces to achieve natural and even light? 4. Did you use the D40 as fill-in with the "Jewish wedding in Miami"? Your exposure was very very impressive - a wonderful effect!

Since you do this for a living as a pro I'm sure you are tougher with your expectations of the effect quipment enables you to achieve.

Finally, it seems to me that I should not bother messing about with how the Metz is fitted to my 503 when I will progressively become more demanding of the flash's light quality (95% of my shooting is available light, but I have plans to do much more flash stuff). Now I frequently need to mess about with camera film speed settings, diffusers and OmniBounce/soft box types of improvements to the light when I need flash.

Many thanks for your help.
I have been looking up the D40 and is it true it only has an auto ttl mode? No Manual mode or Auto (w/o ttl)? Have been looking at the 120J The D40 Metz 54 MZ-3 and Quantum Td modules for medium format flash. I usually shoot in auto w/o ttl when I have the opportunity (with 35mm film/digital)
No, the D40 is not (!) purely a dedicated TTL unit.

The only other mode it offers is 'full power manual'. But that's not TTL, is it?

Remember guide numbers and how to use them?