-  Each of your flash units has to have a cable that goes from the battery to the flash itself.   We usually do not supply them as there are hundreds of flashes made and stocking them all would be suicide financially… not a prudent position to be in.  There is little or no demand for Canon AE-1 battery cables anymore since thats a camera from the seventies.  I watch my costs so you don't pay for mistakes and overstocks, stupid buys, bad moves and glory changes, just common sense.  

-  The best source for your cable, after you locate the right one will be the A/B of photographic web buying,  ADORAMA, and B&H.  I use them as a warehouse, it keeps your pricing down.  Free freight in many cases, no sales tax, and free drop shipping to me.  Also check eBay for some good steals if you know the quality of what you are bidding on. The only problem is several we did get from other vendors were used, sold as new,  abused beyond repair and many thirty year old stock. Just not worth it.

With free shipping from NAPP, magazine devoted to Photoshop, you should join. They have a great magazine, tips and great benefits. I save an average of ten dollars for fast shipping from B&H per order and I place about thirty-five  to fifty orders or more a year. By drop shipping to me, it saves time and money. It saves my customers money and time. My customers like that.  I also make custom cables for some projects. Thats a Quantum on one end and my box on the other.

-  The most common question I get is what flash unit to buy. And because I am not aligned with any manufacturer, I rep for no one, nor take bribes, freebies, or gifts, to endorse things, I have a reputation for telling you the things you won’t hear from others. 

-  Maybe you don't want to hear it, thats life… this alone tends to sometimes cause folks to have sissy-fits, because the guy on the blog or the salesman at the store told him different. But I tell it like it is and it’s your risk as to who to believe. I have nothing to gain.

-  I’m going to talk about PRO vs. Consumer (AKA PROSUMER) strobe units both made (labeled) by the big Camera companies and those independents like METZ, YONG-NUO, and others.  This doesn’t require pie charts and extensive statistics so many of you like to throw out.  Holy Sh*t,  a white paper on a 46.00 dollar strobe written like it's a Harvard Doctorate thing, not worthy of a Pulitzer though.  It either does what it is supposed to do or it doesn't.   More Teddy bears have endorsed flash units than any real working wedding pros.  When their kid won't sit still for test pictures they bring out the kids Teddy Bear instead of a MacBeth Color Chart, a KODAK grey scale or Gradient TestPro’s Color Wheel.  

-  And they have no clue as to real readings with a flash meter and enclosure analysis. These commentaries are boring, not real world, no value and mostly written by those who think they got something for nothing or are so very proud of their own personal decision and mediocre accomplishments.  They turned it on. Congratulations, you just graduated the first grade.

-  I love Teddy Bears, these are from my Military collection which we give to those children who have lost a mommy or daddy during our conflicts overseas.  These are singing Teddy bears with the appropriate song for the branch and serve well. I am a Board member of the CENTCOM Military Memorial  Organization, located at MacDill AFB Tampa. 

-  PRO'S tend to endorse when they get paid for the endorsement. Hey, it’s a common thing in all business, the manufacturer makes it up and someone swears to it.  It is called branding.  I know one really big name, Initials GF, really big, who endorsed a brand of cameras, large FUJI DSLR's which they gave him several for doing a commercial for them, and two weeks later they were on eBay being dumped. My buddy won one of them.  
Loyalty my a**, follow the money.  And for those whose parents who signed up for the reverse mortgage deals on TV with Henry Winkler, Fred Thompson and Robert Wagner, three burnt out actors who should be having their testes removed for selling out senior citizens, get a lawyer and get them out.

-  Manufacturers are there to make money so they make their strobes (and lenses) in levels matching their camera product lines. Basically three levels, entry level, advanced amateur called prosumer, and professional.

-  Few buyers of entry level cameras ($499-599) will jump at a full blown GITZO tripod for 800 dollars.  But the 119.00 SLIK or MANFROTTO will work for them and it is in their space. And, It’s more apparent in lenses, they remind me of the Sears Roebuck product marketing.  Something was Good, Better, or Best and it reflected the pricing and speed ranges which in some  cases were huge. You can get 300 mm lenses for 280 dollars to 6000 dollars. No different with flashes.

 -  Example: Nikon strobes, the  models 800, 900, 910 are their pro-level made in Japan high end product.  They are strobes with all the features such as full camera integration and communication, heavier duty construction, stronger boards, protective diodes and so forth as long as you have the current model or willing to lose some features on legacy models.

Their 400, 600 (disc) and 700 series are the Chinese sub units made for the prosumer, and amateurs. Those cameras and lenses, the causal shooter uses, were not really made for the HD pro use.  When you cross the line and go to Weddings and Sports Events on a heavy routine basis, its time to step up.


-  Know what you really got. Check the guide numbers of the flash with a meter like the excellent Sekonic 358 series. Against the distance you will be using it at.  What you are concerned with,  "is what F stop you need to shoot at for depth of field, the width of the beam in relation to the subjects (wide wedding group) or what is the field of coverage and drop off".  And you will find "their guide number"  is not what you got.  Guide numbers usually represented the f-stop at ten feet with an ISO of 100.  And you divided the distance by the f-stop.   If your strobe was f11 at ten feet , it would be  about half or 5.6 at twenty feet and so forth.

-  Place the meter exactly ten feet from the flash set for an ISO of 100.  Simple… trigger the flash. It will wind up somewhere between F8 and F11.  That’s your guide number.  Forget all the other dribble.  Let’s say you get 10.5.  With an ISO set 100, F11 at 125th should give you a decent picture.  Too dark, drop it to F8 or F9.2 or whatever.  Adjust the shutter speed for the background within the sync range for brightness.  This is not rocket science.  You are going to find in reality most manufacturers lie or cheat on their numbers. 

-  They shoot in a white tunnel in a white room and that will exaggerate and focus the beam so the reflections will give you higher numbers. Thats if they even do it.  This results in a twenty percent increase in what they say but it's not real world.  Another factor is the width the beam projects. Many devices like the Vivitar 283/285s are hotter in the center with severe edge fall off.  Thus you get the bride and groom blasted and the bridal party looks like an Al Jolson concert.  


-  About once a week I get asked do I support the Quantum Flash series like the T2, T4, T4D, T5D's and Trios.  And the second question is, do I rebuild the Turbo 2+2 packs. The answer is NO and NO. Then I get asked, why?  Simple...my battery packs will not work on them, thats reason enough. They made their products totally reliant to function on their own ancillary products through the use of specialized cables, lots and lots of electronic components, secret assemblies, no schematics, whiz bang technology, blinking lights and turn signals and very few outside repair facilities. 

They, like the famous cine batteries by Anton Bauer and Norman keep a close hand on things. When you have the same thing out there for twenty to thirty years, the repair profits can be enormous.   To power these units you'll need to get a Quantum Turbo, about $600 to 679.00 new and about the same used if you get a bad used one you thought you stole on eBay that needs repairs.  Thats the hidden costs of those things. One will not work without the other and now you have two expensive parts and if pack A gets used up during a wedding, you'll need a spare.  A Trio and two packs is about $2000.

•  Cables are commonly available for the following:   (Blue most popular and linked)

Achiever     Canon,      Fuji     Hanimex     Kalimar     LumoPro Yong-Nuo     Metz     Nikon     Nissin     Olympus
Pentax     Polaroid     Promaster     Sigma     Sony     Sunpak     Vivitar   and great news some new projects on  Yong-Nuo.



-  There are as many cables in photography as stars in the sky. Most driven by proprietary interests which means making more money with selected accessories for the manufacturer.  The first cables were mainly made for synch connections, not power supplies. The oldest, the household style, the PC style and the locking PC are still around added to the modern designs on transceivers like the 1/4 and 1/8 inch audio jacks (monaural), and the useless barrel connector which pulls out.  There was power for flash, power for camera, power for static lights, printers , monitors, transceivers, and this is basically why wireless became so popular.  But, wireless has faults and when it fails, you wish you had cables.  I use both for redundancy. These are the cables you will need, one per strobe.


-  This is the kind that looks like four batteries on one end and an RCA male on the other. This is the kind we use. The MB-A MB5, MB2 and the MKZ3 are the most popular styles and models. This list is ever changing, but these have been the most popular down through the years.  If you do not see your brand on our chart, we have access to over one hundred other models and some may be modified. Email me for the correct fit. 

The MKZ3 shown on the left is the most popular and we call it an inline. Four fake batteries in line like a single file formation. as shown on the right.  Two other layouts are possible to which four batteries may be arranged in.  Most common layouts are either inline, square, trapezoidal or "drunk rectangle.

The inline (MKZ3) fits quite a large percentage of Nikon, METZ and Olympus, flashes. It also fits a lot of compact tape recorders.  These next two are very common on the Canons.  The four-square is the MB2 used on the 600RT, 580EX II, 430 EX and 430 EX II and the trapezoidal is used on the older first born 580-EX older series.  The MB2 works on the METZ 50 but must be contoured and reversed by me to make it function.

Cables may look the same but the Vivitar uses a cable called the MA2.  It looks like an MB2 but they are not the same.  The difference is the location of the hot (+) and cold (-) contacts. They are not interchangeable, but may be taken apart and reassembled correctly. The reason is contact placement. I do this all the time.


The contacts are in different locations. In other words there are three battery arrangements and 8 possible combinations of locations multiplied by 2 since plus's and minus's may be substituted. Trust me... I do this all day long and it's exciting when you do it wrong. The first indication is smell and it's not nice.

Not finished yet.  At the other end of the coiled Quantum cables you will see an RCA jack to contend with and that involves making it better by replacing the RCA jack with a heavier jack called a DIN plug.

We do not like RCA Jacks because they have problems. We upgrade them FREE, you are allowed two per Black Box purchase. I am a realist, I understand new areas of the photo game are enough to confuse anyone. 



My packs come standard with two identical usable ports on top, both called DIN ports or plugs. As you can see from the photo on the left this is a very robust piece of metal.  They were selected for their highest reliability. The cables we use unfortunately come with RCA ends that  are only used today to make stuff like Video cables with locking ends for the MONSTER CABLE CREW.

We sell the take-offs if you wish to make your own MONSTER CABLES, I did and they are great.   6 for tenth dollars or twelve for thirty dollars.  As an engineer, I detest them as power carrier and love them for audio and video.  Once you tighten them on audio, they never move or corrode.


The second port on the black box allows two flashes to be used at the same time if they are of equal value in output and performance.  It is called a matching DIN. The DIN is internal, stronger, more reliable, and more secure. It's wires (both positive and negative) are internal and the only thing the outside does is to connect stronger through a threaded collar that does not stress the cable itself or the relief strain.   

For the best performance and bang for your buck, we use male and female DIN plugs from Taiwan, or Japan. Not the pot-metal cheapies from the China mainland. 


TECHNICAL:  Why We Upgrade
If you look at the collet-type plug that comes on the M cable: Unscrewing (1) the outside collet all the way exposes the hidden screw and the black or negative solder point (3). If this is screwed in too far it can cause a short and burn the cable.  Notice the screw (4) is over the red or positive wire to the 
tip ( 2) we have received burnt cables if the wire is stretched beyond certain limits, the screw penetrated the red making a short to the outside.  

In other words, the screw has a flat shaped tip and can puncture the red wire on a pull. This completes the circuitry. The blades (5) will lose their spring after a while so it is well to not keep the collet screwed on too tight.  They snap off if bent. Thus for audio or Video work they are great. In a high stress Wedding venue, dropped packs, and di I mention Bridezilla, not my first choice.