Always a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for taking your time in making everyone you deal with & talk too feel important. In today's society it seams that end users, clients get less and less important. You do go the extra mile and I thank you. I cannot wait for the new black box to come home. I'll look forward to your email shortly with the hardware you are selling as well.


Creative Photographer / Owner  Dragan Jichici

FROM:  Creative Director, Eclipse Photography & Design  (Email) Thanks to:  James "Spice" Williams, 

We know about nightmare shooting on the beach here, James, I live two miles from the recently renamed "Gulf of Halliburton". You are faced with strong ambient light amplified by the sand and water especially in the Pensacola area where the sand is literally 92 grade white. That is if they survive the oil. We'll try several ideas putting our minds together.  


The problem is to get the flash to retain its power closer to the individual, away from the camera and guess what, the transmitter method even with Pocket wizards will not function under high sync mode. The Wizards and others don't or do not carry the signals for the Hi-Sync.  The SC-17 cable is not capable of that signal either, perhaps using an SC-27, cut and splice could carry it. It requires a manual connection.

Has a I-ttl late version Nikon aftermarket cable with fairly good metal findings (end modules)  in a 24 foot cable that saved the day and made this a simple project. ALS ANSWER:  

Reply to Al Jacobs,
I just wanted to say thank you.  I emailed you because I had a problem with high speed sync on the beach. Thanks for trouble shooting the situation and hooking me up with I had a couple of SC17 cords and tried them out but to no avail.  I thought you should know before you make these cords for someone and they don't work at that distance.  When you increase your shutter speed in the high sync mode it reduces your flash output to the point of USELESS.  What a manufacture rip off.  I have found two options to shoot on the beach on a sunny f/16 day.

James "Spice" Williams



Hi Alan:

Wanted to shoot you a quick note, I received my black box at the end of May and started using it June 1st.  I have shot with it every single day since then. It performs flawlessly "just as you said it would".
Thank you again for producing a solid dependable product. 

Best Regards

Rob Latour

(THIS ONE FLOORED ME, I was honored)

I want you to know that I have been a fan for a few years, though I haven't purchased anything from you. I quit on-camera flash when I bailed out from wedding work after I was sued for being late for a wedding. (My mother died). The SOBs took me to small claims court for two claims: emotional damages for being late and for "ruining" their reception because everyone was bummed out. 

I didn't have to say a word in court. The judge told the bride that "It was a wedding, not a moon landing."
I enjoy your humor, especially your unexpected language (e.g., reinventing the tuna sandwich). 
I started the POTN wedding threads, then got kicked off the forum a few years ago. Your anecdotes on your website are funny and undoubtedly true.
Keep writing! You have a fan in the People's Republic of China! (I'm a teacher).
Bloo Dog



Just wanted to say THANK YOU once again for the black boxes you made for me and my photo booths.
They are working flawlessly.  I am getting ready to place another order with you for a couple more in the next month or so.  You just popped into my mind tonight, and I thought I should share that I am grateful for the product you created.  

Also worth mentioning, you are a lot of fun to talk to & I appreciate your vault of information and opinions. You are invaluable resource and I am so glad to know you.

Big hugs from your friend in the Northwest!

Marilee Kimball
321 FOTO | photo booth rentals



Received the cords, and as usual, they are perfect and will serve me very well I am sure.Is it a real pain in the ass to build the ones for the SB600? I have one of those still laying around that I could use a cord for.



I rec'd my order late afternoon yesterday (so quickly!). After an arduous day of shooting, was too tired to open my package. Today I opened the box you sent me. What beautiful boxes! Built like tanks at a great price! I LOVE their simplicity. No bells and whistles..just simple batteries ready to go to work and do what they're designed to do.  

Everything was SO easy to set up with well specified directions. Even a very green auxilliary battery owner like me set up in minutes. Batteries are charging now. In fact, they were mostly charged when I rec'd them. You have just made my life so much easier. The moment I tethered them to my flashes, I felt liberated...and teary eyed to know someone cared enough to produce a product that will make my life easier.  

Thank you for such a superb product. I promise to take good care of them.

Dolores Neilson

Bethany, CT


Hi Al,

Just wanted to say Thank You, again, for creating such a wonderful product.  Since you supplied me the Black Box and two Vivitar’s, I have not looked back.  I use them everyday and never had a single problem. I use them both in the  Studio, and on location and can not understand why anyone would need anything else. In fact, I have only used my Bowens Studio flash twice since I bought the Black Box, and on both occasions it was to provide supplementary light to the Vivitars.

I just wanted to know about the potential fall off in current if I bought an extension cable and how it would effect performance. 

The reason I ask is that I want to use the Vivitars to light some large group photos, I have measured the room and I think I will need at least 25ft of extra cable, so two 16ft cables would prove useful. Could you give me a rough price for two 16ft cables, or a single 32ft cable, plus shipping to the UK? 


ANS:  The cable we use can support up to 300 volts and is 18 gauge so there is little or no falloff.  It is SXT, RoHs, rated and impervious to most acids, detergents, solvents etc. ribbed so it doesn't move around and is white. Does not come in black.  I can make you the extra long 32 feet for 35.00 with the appropriate ends, thats ten dollars more than the 16 footer  all in one nice piece. Less connections that way. Luckily if I stuff it right the freight is 15.00.

Freight to the UK:  15.00 Priority Mail Estimated.


I first wanted to start by saying thank you for the write up about the reality of  wedding photography! It was painfully illuminating, and inspirational at the same time.

I was thinking about it wrong in so many ways. As you said in your write up most people think its easy, and In fact I thought of it as a simple but necessary evil in starting a photography career, and something I would have to do in the beginning as a newb photographer before I could move on In my profession. Never as a career choice. Honestly after reading your article I am more interested in exactly that. Wedding photography as a big part of my photography career. I have not shot a wedding yet, as I am a over preparer, and don't feel I am ready to offer a quality service. I'm hoping to shoot my first in February of 2011. 

My background has a lot of time spent taking the plans someone has laid out for an event (concerts, parties, birthdays, and weddings) and adding my part as seemingly as possible, and on so many occasions I end up helping in the planing and with getting the event moving along or putting out fires. I am a generator and air conditioning service technician in the temporary rental industry. We specialize in event work like outdoor tent weddings and events, and the events success is based off of my equipment staying running. The stress is high, but the emotional payoff of success is bigger

I spent most of my high school years with a camera (or two) around my neck. Stopped shooting after all of my equipment was stolen out of storage room when I was deployed in the army. A lower enlisted with two kids at the time can't afford to replace years worth of collected darkroom and camera gear. Needless to say I was heart broken. 

About a year ago I started replacing my gear, and have not Stopped shooting since! I am now thinking much more seriously about restarting my career goal as a professional photographer. Because of the need to feed now six children I took a mechanical route as far as career choices. Now I'm trying to re find my direction. I read, listen to pod casts, and watch everyone and everything I can to try and absorb as much as I can almost continuously in an effort to retrain my eye, and learn learn learn. Most importantly I want to be a professional and not a hack! Do things the right way, and do right by the industry. Never to practice!

I guess I wanted to tell you all this to say thanks for the honest no BS articles about wedding photography. All your articles for that matter, and to say I was glad to find your site. It changed how I was thinking in so many ways. Now on top of, Joe McNally's blog, and to just name a few your web site is checked daily for more bits of enlightenment! That you again. 


I recently purchased the Black Box and the Tuxedo from Al Jacobs.  At this point in time the Tuxedo exceeds my needs but there will be times when I will need the double output of the Black Box.  I've played with it and it also exceeds what I expected.  The build quality of both are excellent.  The din connectors are better than anything else if have seen out there.  From the design they seem like they will last for a very long time.  To Al, thanks for such wonderful products.  From my experience I have used other batteries and these are the best.  They do what they are supposed to do and do it very well.
Steve C.

Just a quick note to congratulate you on your website.  It has been a year or so since I ordered my black boxes and recently had a chance to refer a friend to your site.  Your new site is so much more informative, organized and visually appealing that I just had to give you a thumbs up!

Also, I was reading your article about Elinchroms and the 580EXII's .  I had run into a problem immediately after I started using them.  They just wouldn't fire the flash consistently.  Well, it turns out that when the flash goes to "sleep" the Elinchroms would not wake them up.  After all the technical work-arounds the best answer I found was to simply "turn off" the sleep command in the flash itself!  Now, no problem at all, works every time.

By the way, my black boxes work PERFECT, everytime!   They are constantly on charge and ready for my other Vivitars,  no fuss, no mess.  Thanks for a great product.

Brian Teddy

My unit 'broke' after a year . . . I called him, sent it off Tuesday by USPS Priority Mail and he fixed it and I had it back on Saturday . . . he paid for the return postage and no charge to modify and fix.The 'broken' thing was a wire in the cord near the plug that goes into the unit. (Quantum)  He has since added extra plastic around the cord near the plug so it doesn't flex as much . . . remember, I shoot a lot of pictures and used the flash unit 3-4 times a week x 52 weeks . . . . amazing.  


I have the Tuxedo and plan to buy a second as back-up for the few times I shoot more than 250 flash images without a break . . . At one event, I used the unit for about 150 images non stop shooting, put in on the charger, used batteries for the next hour, about 70 pics and then got the unit off the charger to shoot the very important Awards ceremony, 80 images in less than 20 minutes . . . What a great piece of equipment.  Be sure you have him install the DIN connector to your cord from the flash to his power pack . . . call me after you have exhausted the review of his site if you are confused re the above comment . . . Hope you are shooting well . . .


In a message dated 10/13/2008 11:38:57 A.M. Central Daylight Time, I read about you on the Miranda Forum. Could you tell me more about this product? How do you support it after purchase, and how can you afford to sell it for so cheap? It looks like an elegant solution, and I am very interested.

Thank you, those are the kindest words I have received to date. Unfortunately no one will believe someone wrote it. They'll think I paid someone to send it in.  BUT here goes, for the record:
I am a one man company, I believe in no waste, was retired, keeps me busy, prevents boredom, and I have contacts in the electronics fields that allow me to purchase quantity and quality. I eliminate all "drag", no corporate meetings, no stocks, no options, no employees, no headaches. I build limited numbers, no advertising, all is word of mouth and people like what I make so they tell their friends. No middle man , no distributors, no retail stores. No sales teams, rallies, parties; or win a trip for sales excellence. No nothing!  And no secrets...... ...... basically you are dealing direct, no markups, and from a fellow photographer who kind of learned from shooting what works and what's ridiculous.  Hope this answers your questions. I keep it simple, very simple. 

I got the flash battery and it's great!  I like the chunky and substantial battery charger and its nicely done terminals. Thanks again for the quantum plug adapter as I was able to test it out immediately. It's great knowing that the next time I have an indoor shoot, I won't need to think about battery power. I appreciate the extra din cable and fake batteries too. Those suckers are DOBA (dead on balls accurate) size wise! Great quality equipment makes photography much more enjoyable and satisfying! 
Talk to you soon.   
Jeff Benedict (your Atlanta buddy).

First, I finally got to try your batteries out on my SB800 since the Quantum cable came in from B&H. Very nice! Recycle speed, although maybe a second slower than my Turbo is adequate for my work. I think I’m going to really like the batteries. I now have two batteries to use instead of just the one Turbo and I hope it’s going to be safer to run this one than the Turbo. My SB800 kept shutting off after a while on the Turbo and the Vivitar's just never worked at all on the Turbo. I had to shut off the battery and then turn it back on again to get the Vivitar's to work with it.

What is the status of the 283's I sent you?
They were received Friday at 6 pm. we have a late UPS guy. Worked on them Friday night. Going out this weekend.  Your 69 dollar (B&H) 283’s were just at three seconds when I tested them, one cord has a blue band on it and the other red, you can see just for identification. (3 seconds = perfect) and that’s just at full power dumps and with the blinking ready light which is full power. Solid only being 83%. That split second is the fifth of a stop, but with my system and the cord the jump from 83% to full is imperceptible.  That’s the difference. LOW RESISTANCE CORDS. BIG CONNECTORS. GOOD CONTACT. The capacitor thinks the batteries are right there, not from a pack they have to go thorough with electronics, then they have to burn out from the thin wire and travel six feet. Then I ran some tests on his Turbo cords. Remember many may hate my straight cords, but 16 gauge of pure copper that can be replaced and updated for 6.00 dollars including the plug and runs ZERO resistance and brings a SB-800 or a Vivitar 283.285 to within a second of the 400 dollar toy isn’t so bad. Tests with a continuity tester tell you nothing, just that you have continuity.  Run a load through the wire and you'll see a real difference.

Hi Al:Yes, it's 3:50 AM as I'm sending this message! I'm working way too late tonight Photoshoping my wedding images.  Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I received the two 283's in the mail today. Thanks so much for working on them so quickly. I actually like the straight cable more than the coiled!  The flashes do recycle very quickly with your batteries! I can't wait to try them at next Saturday's wedding. I don't think I'll miss that Turbo battery at all. The guy who bought it just received it yesterday. Took a long time compared to all the things we've done in the past several days!   :) I received two shipments from you and I shipped to you once in the time period it took for my Turbo to get to them.
Thanks again.Russ

GADGETMEISTER'S Note: People wonder why I ship United States Postal Service. Simple, we have our own postage, depot and great packaging supplied by the Postal Service.  This allows us fast turnarounds, usually measured in hours not days. USPS does a better job than UPS waiting for them for a pickup.   Saturday deliveries help a lot. Money laying on a bench means nothing to my customers.  Packages shipped and received does.  We  have a small place and getting stuff shipped and out the door allows us more room. 


Hi Al:
just wanted to let you know that I used one of your batteries at my last wedding yesterday.  It worked great!

I used only one battery the whole wedding.  Shot probably 500 or 550 flash shots during the reception (wedding was outside and didn’t use fill flash).  It worked just perfectly.  Recycle time was fast enough for me.  I don’t miss the Turbo battery one bit and the 283 had NO problems at all with the batteries.
I tried the Nikon SB-800 on it and had all sorts of problems with that flash though.  Ever since I got it, sometimes I get great exposures and other times it is so horribly underexposed no matter what settings I use on it.  Maybe I just don’t know how to use that flash, but it just is not reliable for me.  And, to top it off, the locking connector on the Quantum cable got stuck so tight on the RCA plug that I had to pull it hard to get it off.  It just would not screw on or off any more so the only solution was to pull straight up to get it out.  No hard done and now that it’s off, I can loosen that locking barrel.  I’ll never lock that thing again… too risky!  Your DIN connectors are far superior to RCA’s!

Just thought you’d like to know that I really like your batteries.
Russ Lowe

JUST ANOTHER Nikonville... I got an email asking me why I don't build accelerated packs.
First Headache:
I get a couple of SB-800’s brought in from one of the stringers for a paper south of here. Both SB-800’s had an odor, combo of heat and electrical. He is abusive on his gear and  was using the five battery setup and an accelerated pack.  

I know that problem, he over shoots the strobes, heat builds, Florida ambient temperatures, probably put five Lithium’s or Kodak Oxy Digitals and had the Turbo going. Not totally the Turbo's problem, these things are perfect storms. When combined with over juiced AA cells at almost 1.75 or 1.8 volts,totaling NINE (9) volts.  They will smoke. You will torch the Nikon. TURBOS were designed fine with regular four ALKALINE TYPES for the LCD and you merely have a tropical depression. This was the perfect storm.  The AA cells were getting red hot and this kid had a meltdown. We lost the second one, it was DOA. Toast, burnt toast.  Guaranteed 140.00 for the repair. Wrong... that was two years ago, now Class C repairs average about $180.00 with freight.

Second Headache:
Then Billy Smith, my friend who does my color printing for 20x30’s, drops in. He bails my arse out a few times with big trade show stuff.  Normally a METZ potato masher user his SB-28 is his backup. Billy does Wedding and Cultural Event Work.

The SB-80DX Nikon just sat there on camera and on a flash bracket with my shortened Sc-17’s and went off by itself. I shorten SC-17's, even do them for one guy on the web who resells them. The cord was perfect.   NOTE: I have seen this on the 28’s before, a defective foot shorts on the 28’s.  On the SB80, two of the Alkaline had leaked left in strobe, Florida heat.  Off to Nikon. Less than the space of two hours… I was shipping three strobes back to Nikon.  Update Week Later:  Estimate Back from Nikon $169.00 per strobe for Billy's pair.  I spoke with friends at Nikon.  They were adamant about accelerated packs and the fact they spend a lot of money tweaking those strobes. Not in warrantee, you are cooked. You will pay. Leave batteries in and they leak, you pay regardless.  Don't take care of your gear, it won't take care of you.


At one time Rob Galbraith spoke highly of XXX Battery Company, till they blew a lot of the Canon 580's (old series) with their super powered NiMH accelerated packs.  The owner admitted the fly back transformer was set at 340 volts, just too much.  What he didn't know was Canon also really had a weak link in the 580EX old series and we had another perfect storm. Like hiring a heavy smoker in a fireworks factory.  Twice a year a plant goes to smithereens in North Carolina or China.  Like basic training, the troops looked good. It worked in the lab, but died in the field.  

Not wanting to destroy any more Canons he admits he tuned his down so the Canon will restrict to 2.3 seconds on full, throughout the power curve.  Note: Go to Galbraith's website, the article are long gone BUT still in his archives, and read the archives. Someone forgot to burn the evidence.

Here's why I’ll take a second more and not burn up my gear. I think both Nikon and Canon have pushed the capacitor and its ability to absorb juice when they came with the five battery setup. It’s apparent they were under some kind of strong pressure to speed up things since the use of NiMH with higher delivery rates also delivers them at lower voltages. They were at the SPEED LIMIT.  Add the killer...

We all know that NiMH batteries dump faster to the capacitor, so we know that XXX pack was all NiMH cells. The capacitor in the Turbo stepping the 330 volts direct I feel is going to ruin a few of the Nikons. It killed the Canons first. Bad. 

1-  DCB is no longer in business from all indications, just a dead site and many folks were looking for him.  Possibly with nasty intentions as some paid almost 800 dollars for one of those super packs. Their shop is gone, phone numbers useless and many, many, many 580 owners gave Canon a lot of money for the repairs.

2-  Rob Galbraith, one of the most respected names in the shooting business got out of the forum management  business and retains his info site.  He was doing what everyone else does, endorsements pay either in dollars or free donuts. In this case the donuts were stale and not very tasty.  Thats his forte, good writing, great shooter.  

3-  Paramount Cable - who made those capacitor cables for DCB got caught in the middle.  The super capacitor that was horribly over powered was according to specks by DCB and DCB supplied them. Only DCB denied it and blames the cable company for using the wrong capacitor.  Who do you believe?  Neither, as both companies never really earned industry respect after the incident and in my communications with Paramount, they left me with a bad taste and forced me to go to China as they made more sense then Paramount and more willing to work together.

However, do to a lack of business, or interest in their business and not being cooperative. Paramount was sold and is now owned by another company who unfortunately inherited some of the traits of the previous crew.  Too bad.


Used on a CANON
I got the new battery pack ("Black Box") I ordered from here Al Jacobs. I've tested it and I'm very impressed with it. My Quantum adapter fits the RCA plug jack on the new pack as is. I took several test shots using my Metz 54-4 in auto mode +1 and +2 FEC, and in ettl mode +1 and +2 FEC and the flash refreshed almost immediately. This is much faster than it does with my Quantum 1 pack.  It comes with a smart charger which goes to a trickle mode once the battery is fully charged. 
That is more sensible than the charger I have for the Quantum. I've not tested it with a full field test, both shooting and charging, so can't give you any report on that yet. The Quantum weighs 1 lb 11 oz and the Black Box weighs 2 lb 8 oz.
Reply: BIGGER BATTERY, Three almost three times more shots, more power to ya and you won't be sending the unit back year after year.

Also shown in the shot is the Metz 54-4 and the cable coming from the adapter. I would have liked to have shown you the adapter, but the battery compartment door fits so tightly on the Metz that I cannot easily open it, so the install is permanent. The adapter used is the Quantum MKZ3 which is available at B&H The same adapter fits the Canon 550/580ex flash units.  The black box has a second port on it, which takes a 4 pin DIN plug. The unit ships with a dummy DIN plug that those in the know could wire to fit whatever fake battery cable they are now using. Or you can send the plug to the seller with your cable and for no charge (except shipping) he will wire the plug for you. I'm thinking particularly of the Vivitar 283/285 flash units and possibly some Sunpak units. This pack is really a nice unit and is very competitively priced. I'm so glad now that I missed the auctions on Ebay for a bigger Quantum unit as I think I got a unit here that is just as useful and much less expensive. 
Bruce Ward


Fred Miranda's Website: Al Jacobs Black Box - Sweet! Hello, everyone!
I just wanted to give some quick praise to Al Jacobs and his black box. My partner and I just ordered a pair a week ago and needed them for a wedding the following week. We ordered them late Friday night on the west coast and Al had them in the mail the next day... on a Saturday! He called me personally (as he does with each order) to talk about the boxes and just to get to know me. What customer service! 
The black boxes arrived by Thursday giving us plenty of time to get accustomed to them. And they worked exactly as well as advertised. We shot all day without having to worry about switching batteries all the time.
The whole experience was great and I wanted to give Al some praise because it's rare to find a great product and equally as great customer service. (He even called again to make sure everything went well for the wedding we shot.) 
Storyteller Photography


Mr. Jacobs
I've read over your photographers guide I found at the Fred Miranda website.  I thought I would take this opportunity to thank you for the free, accurate and most entertaining journal.  If I didn't know you were from Florida, I'd have guessed you lived in my neck of the woods since the same goes on here in Canada.
It was a pleasure.
Once again Thanks.
Vince Gircys


Hello Al,
A little over a year ago I built one of your battery pack hookups for my Vivitar 285HV flash, with some good help from you via email. Last week I purchased a Canon 20D camera, and I would like to use the modified Vivitar flash with it. I have read that the maximum flash sync voltage the camera can withstand is 250 volts. So I would like to know whether I can use my Vivitar flash, mounted to the hot shoe of the Canon 20D, without damaging the camera. If I recall correctly, the output voltage of the modified flash is only 12v, but I read somewhere that I also need to be concerned about "deep discharge," whatever that might mean.  Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Speaking of advice, thanks for writing your excellent BRIDEZILLA essay. It certainly provides more of a "real world" perspective than I have seen in any of the other wedding photography books I've read.

Alan Henriksen


Q-How can you tell how old my 285HV is? 

If your Vivitar is Chinese made you most likely are quite safe. It is printed in myopic text into the plastic near the base. Then most likely it is low voltage and will work. If it says "JAPAN".  Japan most likely is high voltage. Caution with the HIGH VOLTAGE model. The real answer is to test the shunting. Now if it says nothing it is one of the newer  units from Shen-Feng-Shui, China. If you look on the bottom you will see the area where the stamp was is missing.
The original Vivitar provider is missing too.  The most recent importers, SAKAR, and others dumped it also. Now it is known as the Cactus flash under a vendor Gadget Infinity/ eBay and though the quality is dubious (as with many Chinese products) they are low voltage and guaranteed self sacrificing. 


Q-What is a Deep Discharge Battery? 
Ones they used in the movie "DEEP THROAT".  Actually a specific type of battery designed to recoup when a battery is so far down it might forget to come back up. It also denotes the most common types of batteries used for trolling motors or kids toy cars or golf carts where typically they are run to exhaustion.  Very expensive. Sometimes we use resistors in series for example (10 ohms at 10 watts)  to drag a battery down to a point and then recharge it to rid it of sulphating. Our newer chargers prevent this from happening.


Hi Al,
Have now received everything. Battery unit and charger, cable and also the Fuji S3 battery tray with cable has arrived. All look and perform flawlessly. I'll probably be ordering another battery unit before long to power some remote units. Thanks for the great service and speedy shipping! It's hard....if not find quality, service, reliability, fair pricing and reputation in one place for anything. Heck it's hard to find even two of those qualities anyplace. I'll keep in touch.
Thanks again,
Steven G. Michener,


Just wanted to say that I got the Black box.  Wow.. I'm impressed with the build!.  Still waiting for the cable to come from B&H (should be this week).  Two things:  The ground plug on the charger was a little bent.  It moves a little freely.  I can still plug it in fine (it doesn't fall off).  I just want to know if that's ok.
Also, when I plugged the box in to the charger for the first time, the light was green.  I assume that's because you charged it before sending it, but just want to make sure


REPLY: Yes the ground pin on the charger is a dummy made to satisfy polarity outlets but the polarity is electronic. It might work if you took a direct Lightning Hit other than that it is for show. Also we do charge and check every unit before it is shipped.


I received the two power cords today. Everything works fine. Thank you again for converting them. You are a true gentleman. I will sing your praises whenever I can.


Hi Al:
Thanks for sending me the bounce card.  Boy, that brings back memories!  I haven’t done a bounce card in YEARS!  Companies like Lumiquist have made a lot of money making the Pocket Bouncer and that’s just the same thing only packaged more commercially with Velcro.  I’ve been using the Pro Max system (80-20) for a while before switching over to Gary Fong’s Light sphere II.  I’m expecting the new Light sphere Photojournalist version any day now.  With so many light modifiers out there, this bounce card just brings me back to the basics… and it works too!  J


I just got your Black Box and I am very pleased I can't imagine why I wouldn't want 3 Black Boxes's vs. 1 Quantum. Great value, excellent build quality and comic relief; what more could you ask for?  
Thanks Again

Matt Mullen


I wanted to thank you for making such a great product. I received the 2 Black Boxes and the reworked Quantum cable a few days ago and simply could not be happier with the product or your service. I will be doing a complete, detailed review of the product and posting it on my website after a shoot this Saturday and I can assure you that it will be very favorable.

One suggestion for a possible enhancement. It would be nice to have a female 1/4" 20 mount (or 2) similar to what is found on the Pocket Wizard Plus receiver/transmitters. This would be a simple way to expand the possible mounting solutions that whacko like me often desire. In fact. Maybe the existing Clipit mount could be attached to one of them, for example. Just a thought. Thanks again for a truly great product.


I received the Black Box a couple of days ago and I finally got to check it out.  Works great!! Thanks for all your help.  I'll be bragging about it to my photog friends.  Let's see how envious they will be.


Hi Al,
Thank you so much for sending the batteries so promptly and including the belts at no charge. That was very kind of you and I really appreciate it! We'll be using them this weekend so I'll let you know how it goes. Also, thanks for taking the time and having my bracket fixed, it works so much better. 


Thanks, Leslie 

Hi AL:
I have a shoot in 5 hours, and I forgot to charge the batteries. How long do they need to charge?

If you had green lights they were charged. I always bench check before sending and the capacity will grow as they are used and left on the charger.


Thanks so much for charging them, you are a life saver



I want to say thanks for your PDF article on wedding photography and let you know how much I appreciate the information. I've had a C330 for over a year now, working with it while I build up some kit including a spare body and getting the whole lot CLA'd. I'm not stupid and so have been approaching my first foray into wedding photography and the photography business with some degree of trepidation. It's what I want to do however, so finding your article was great. I both laughed and cried, and you confirmed everything I've been expecting, as well as a few things I wasn't including the fact that there are professionals out there willing to help newcomers.

Since the article seems to be a work in progress you've got an avid reader here. I'll be back looking for more so please don't stop. My first photo course was a Cert IV Photo course 24 years ago, and they never told us any of this. Might have saved me 24 years if they had.

Chris Robinson
Brisbane, Australia.


You're the very, very, very best.
I have to say, I am quite impressed with the longevity of my Black Boxes. They outshoot my Quantum 2x2s twofold, and the difference in size and weight is nothing I've ever worried about. I'm really excited to try out my Tuxedos, and your customer service is FANTASTIC.
This has been a hectic week, and I want to make sure you know how much I appreciate you jumping through all those hoops to take care of me. I'd be pleased to continue recommending your battery packs to other pro shooters.
Al, I hope you're doing well and doing lots of shooting!


Thanks Alan, you made my day.  I’ll refer you to anyone that asks about an external battery.
Have a great weekend.
Mark Chang


Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I have mastered that black box technology! I sure thank you for developing a product that does what it should and isn't saddled down with a bunch of gages or instrument panels and the like. My S3 is so much more fun to use with that box.
Thanks again.


I received the black box and charger today and it looks awesome! If it works half as good as it looks and feels (sturdy), it'll be one heck of a piece of gear.  I called and left a message about the Metz cable not being included in the box, but when I got home and read all the packaging I read that it is probably coming separately. Sorry about that. You know how it is when we get new gear...can't wait to take it out and give it a test drive.  I'll drop you another email when the cable gets here. Thanks very much; it's been a pleasure doing business with you. If you ever need an endorsement or feedback of any kind, anywhere, just let me know and I'll be glad to help.

Best regards,

Scott Sewell


Bob Swanson Photography
Al Jacobson

I've just had my first opportunity to use Al Jacobson's batteries at a wedding. I can't relate the confidence that Al's batteries gave me during my 6 hour event. Al just bends over backwards to guarantee that his product is the best common sense products for the photographer.
His battery system will allow me to wean my systems away from the Quantum's of which have been a question mark for a few years now.
His pricing is extremely fair and his service is unbelievable.
Thanks Al
Bob Swanson 
Fuji S-1, S-2, Nikon D-70
usual studio lighting and location gear.


Re: Al Jacobson 
Ditto on that. I used the Black Box for an event on Saturday night and it worked flawlessly.

Paul Friedman
Canon bodies, Canon lenses, Mac and Alien Bees


Re: Al Jacobson 
I've used his Black Box for the past several months and have to agree with the above. I also just purchased the smaller Tuxedo unit that is nice too. The recycle time for both are faster than the AA batteries I use and both units easily last all day regardless of the volume of shooting.

Cordell Willis


Re: Al Jacobson 
I've never tried Al's battery but I must say I have observed him on a number of forums over the years. He's always very nice and willing to answer any questions and help whenever he can. Seems like a class act.
Best regards,
Rick Rosen
Newport Beach, CA


I received both in great working order.  Thank you very much for your service and your courtesy.
We hope Ernesto is kind to you.
Best Wishes,
Ron Vandermyde


Mr. Jacobson,
My package arrived this morning and everything is fine. Thank you again and I am sure we will be doing business again.


I just wanted to let you know that the package arrived at my office this morning.  Many thanks for the prompt service (I'll have to wait to use the battery since the cable from B&H hasn't arrived yet).  As discussed, in a couple of weeks I will send the Quantum cable to you for a retrofit. In the meantime, please accept my thanks for:

  • The battery
  • The charger
  • The belt clip
  • A few sections of the St. Petersburg Times
  • More interesting and humorous reading material authored by you.

BTW, your secret is safe with me: I won't tell anyone you shipped the package on the Holiday.



box on Saturday (Shabbos!)


I received an email showing you have already shipped the 283 and cord back to me.  Wow, you are fast.  Thank you.  Now, how much do I owe you?  And don't tell me it is free.  I'm looking forward to using your batteries with the 283.  By the way, used the black box for the first time at a wedding last Saturday.  It worked flawlessly.  So nice to not have to worry about if my flash (580EX) is going to recharge or not.  Several times in fact I shot frames in quick succession (maybe 2-3 fps) and the black box kept up with the camera just fine.  I probably shot 400-500 shots with the black box powering the flash and it showed no signs of slowing down just like you said.  It is an awesome product.  In fact the power output is so smooth and consistent, towards the end of the night when I was getting accustomed to it's recharging cycle, I could actually hear (on the dance floor at the reception of all places) the flash capacitors chirp when they were recharged and it was the same short amount of time each recharge cycle.  So fast, powerful and consistent.  Awesome.  Tough too. 

Thank you,  you are awesome.  I has been a true pleasure doing business with someone who values the customer and quality above all else.  I know all about the battle between cost reduction and quality.  

You see during the day, I work in a factory for a company you have probably heard off,  XXXXX XXXXXX  The company focuses on cost reduction of the products.  They choose the suppliers with the cheapest bid and pressure them every year to make the bid even lower.  They have reduced the inventory levels in the factory to extremely low levels to get assets off the books.  Then we pay all kinds of money to expedite parts in here when we run short, and wonder why our supplier of the year can't produce parts in time or to our quality levels.  By reducing the assets and quality, they think they are saving all kinds of money.  

But in reality they are spending money to cover the suppliers mess-ups, they higher more internal people to handle the defective parts and logistically coordinate the expedited shipments and low inventories.  Overall the rest of the factory runs at much less efficiency because we are always a scramble mode for parts or a firefighting mode for quality defects.  Planning for the future always comes last.

Name and company withheld, I call this Wal-Mart Theology. It's nice to know the workers care, it's the management.


I just received the battery.  Thanks for being so quick. Your shipment went priority mail, so I’ll bet you beat me to it!
Hey, I like the new racing stripe you put on the battery too!  J  Flames!  Does that mean the battery will go up in flames if I don’t treat it right?  lol It will help me identify the newest pack over the other two I have.  By the way, I’ll be using the prototype Tuxedo battery you sent me during my 30th year High School reunion this Saturday.  It’s smaller, slimmer and easier to deal with.  Thanks again for that too!Russ

I wanted to write and tell you how much I'm enjoying the battery pack you supplied. Your service was excellent and your product is top-notch. I also enjoyed reading about another kid from Brooklyn who is also a pilot. You do good work!
Dick Capuozzo


Hello Al,

I have just used my black box for the first time. I LOVE it! What a great product. I'm shooting with a Vivitar 258HV with a Quantum cord and I have a full power recycle time of approx 5 seconds. Woo Hoo! Thank you for making this awesome product! I will recommend you to everyone.
Erica Letchworth


Hi Al...

Just wanted to let you know that the two black boxes I ordered arrived safe and sound in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.
Nice looking product, nice looking and practical case. The belt clips truly are ingenious. Thanks as well for sending them out airmail. I've got several lacrosse teams to photograph outdoors with fill flash this coming Wednesday so plan on putting them to the test then.
Much appreciated! Thanks again. 

Cliff Kelly
Scarecrow Photography
403 851-5555


Just dropping you a line to thank-you again for the Hughes soft light reflector!! I like it very much-it seems to do what I want it to.  I also wanted to commend you on your black boxes-my partner and I love them!!

Thanks again,

Connie Kessel
PS-I will link to you once we get our web site up. When we do, I will send you the link too.  :)


Dwain Cox

Many Thanks,

The Black boxes are the best. Built tuff and last forever with my 550.  I'm not sure why I bought a second one because I've never run the first one empty.  I'm Just a "buy 2" kinda person I guess.  Thanks for a great product at a fair price.

Jamaica Wedding


What a great read!  I hope that I don't come across as the "village idiot"!  Yes, I am a "newbie" to the wedding arena, but on the other hand, I have been turning them down for more than a year now trying to decide if I was ready to do this as well as having the desire to challenge myself, or rather expose myself to that kind of pressure… 



I did 2 weddings, both of which were for friends and family, and I would consider them both to be somewhere in between shotgun weddings and/or casual Sunday weddings... Both were dressed in jeans and a golf shirt, located on the back patio of a nice house!!!  They were tickled with everything, and I have tried to talk myself out of it, but for some crazy reason, I have the desire to be a wedding photographer, not just your average Joe Schmoe wedding photographer, a photographer that has people to call from out of state, and says, hey, we HAVE to have you at our wedding... 

I am self taught, and have a lot to learn, but your guide is by far the most informative read I have found on the subject,and a great start in reaching my goal... I only wish that we had another photographer like yourself, in our area that was willing to truly teach the trade. 

I look forward to reading the other 3 parts. 

By the way, If I do decide to "take the plunge" could I get your permission to use your contract and lists as a guide for my own version of a presentation folder for future clients?


Wes Odle, aka All Sports (
Crazy Doe Sports Photography / Odle Studio

565 Crazy Doe Rd
Lexington, TN 38351


I used the Black Box battery last Saturday night for a wedding where I shot 2nd camera. I took easily 600 flash photos and felt that towards the end the battery was still giving me a good recycle time.  This weekend I have a much smaller gig, and will try the Tuxedo.  I will send my D-Flash 40 to you soon.     
Best regards,
Steve (from Brooklyn)



Got my black box in the mail last night and used it right out of the box to shoot a night high school football game.  Fantastic.  None of the flash over-heating I observed with the Quantum I rented.  Excellent build quality and the clip is an especially good choice.  Makes me look like a pro and getting near-pro results.  A professional photographer came over and admired the battery....nice when the pro's are jealous of us high-end amateurs. Consider me one very happy customer. 

Will be purchasing several more for a truly portable portrait set-up with 3-550ex flashes. Hope you are still in the business in 7 years when it comes time to re-fresh the battery. 

Terry W. Davis


Good morning Al,
Just received the bounce cards .... thanks! I was almost sure you forgot! Brings me back to my newspaper days and how much I depended on my Vivitar flash units and Sommer/Domke Bounce card and only once got too creative and ended up with raccoon eyes inside! Many times I used the card in front of the flash, so a little would hit the card and bounce forward, while most of the flash was hitting the ceiling and moving toward the subject. It works quite well and gives you wonderful, soft light, but you lose tons of light, most of which is going behind me! I tried to find a suitable material, but no one at my local Ace could recommend anything. Finally got a chance to use the Black Box while shooting a quick interior. Of course, it was overkill in terms of capacity, but it was nice to not have to worry about battery power. I am still thinking of getting a pair of your Tuxedos, but it will most likely have to wait until next month. I still owe you too, I won't forget!

Thanks again 


Hi Alan,

Thank you very much for this manual, as well as sharing your web site with me. Very informative.

Enjoyed it very much, and well soon be looking to purchase a Black Box. I received the USPS tracking info but unable to track. Did it ship? I am taking a black a white photo class at the local CC and am very

excited about learning how to use this camera.

Thanks again for both the camera, extras, and your brilliant web site.

Tom Crawford


Hey AL;
Thanks for a great product!  Can't live without it.
T Shane Gilman
www - 916.726.0889 

AL'S REPLY: To think I've been shooting News and Politicians too long, what a beautiful lady, ....Rock on.....



I just wanted to inform you that the setup arrived today, and greatly appreciate your willingness to help me out.  The flash is perfect and the battery couldn't be better.  I know I'll be in style know with the nice sticker on the box :) 

I'll show you some photos of my setup now.  The bracket is a great tool to setup for my softbox, or an umbrella mount.  This flash is much more powerful than I had imaged, definitely.  I'm not selling this thing even after I'm dead.  Thanks again, and tell me when you have another setup to sell me as well!  I'm wanting to get 2 of them now! 


Hello Al. 
I received my Black Box today and everything was just as advertised. It was charged.  I connected it to my Canon 580ex and it fired away. Initial quick test seemed to recycle the flash much quicker than AA batteries.
I will provide feedback on your website shortly.  
Thank you.
Jose Alonzo
Pixel Image Photography.


Hello Al.
I just wanted to write you a quick thank you note for the Black Box Experience. 
Everything was true to the letter of your statements posted on 
The transaction was completely painless. 
Now the real killer - functionality. 
I secured the Quantum MB-5 cable to my 580EX and started shooting. 
I fired off about 900 shots on a single charge.  These were fairly rapid shots for a teen/pre-teen fashion show. 
The recycle time was excellent (as compared to using AA batteries). 
Great product, excellent service.

Thank you,
Jose Alonzo   Pixel Image Photography



Thanks for getting my new Black Box to me in record time. 
Please accept my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I've been wrapped up in post-production work from my Kansas City shoot. I couldn't use your power pack because the new bare bulb head that B&H sent me was defective. In addition, the instructions were in Chinese, not that I really needed them. Glad I took that language class in high school. Grin.

B&H won't take the defective head back (nothing back after 14 days), so I'm having to deal with SunPak who, apparently, have no humanoids working at their new TOCAD office in NJ. They may come through but I'm not a happy camper as I write. Not like I was just told I have cancer or AIDS, but it's not good when you have gear that doesn't work. Anyway, the shoot went fine, client is happy, and as they say, 'the check is in the mail.'

Take good care.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday,
Phillip Anthony Briles


Good Morning Al, 

I used your BB to shoot the wedding over the weekend... I am pretty happy with the result.  Thanks for the invention, I don't have to switch/replace AA batteries anymore.  I now have more time to concentrate on the shot.   
Per our discussion before I will be sending you the MB5 cable today for modification.  You should have it in a few days.   
Again, thanks for the invention.  I love it. 

Best Regards, 
Nghiep Nguyen


Hi Al,
Thanks for the prompt shipment of the black box, tuxedo the chargers, the extra flash card, and this Monday the modified Quantum cable. I have tested everything over the last two days. The stuff is super simple and easy to use, provides great capacity and works just as promised. In simple words - I just love it.
Thanks for your service. I can highly recommend your business and everything that has to do with it.
From the Big Apple, Best regards and Airborne all the way
Norbert Pauli


Dear Alan,
Just a quick note to let you know I received my Black Boxes last Friday and I am very impressed. I tested them on Saturday and was extremely pleased.  Great construction, very solid build, all in all a perfect product.
Congratulations and thank you very much.
Best regards from Brazil,


Hi Alan,

Yep, the Tuxedoes arrived two days ago--we picked them up last night. Get this: Canada Customs did not open the box!!! This is the first time  ever (and we import a good number of items yearly). The box: we have never received anything so well packaged for postal shipment--GREAT ATTENTION TO DETAIL! The unit assemblies: again, first class components put together with care. The white reflector material: makes an ideal SB800 battery compartment slide-in cover tab. Explanation: the battery replacement "dummy" insert does not allow the existing Nikon hatch cover to close. ( SB-600) So, I simply cut a tab from the white card material in a width that allows it to slide under  the channel guides normally used by the Nikon hatch cover. Voila! Extra security against "dummy" battery ejection and no jury-rigged look my modified strobe heads.
Would I recommend your Tuxedoes to others? You bet! Thanks again Alan, for this extraordinary value. Gotta run...late for day job and it's 35 below out there...jeesuz, I'm getting' too old for this! 

Garry and Karri Fraser          


I had a chance to use my Tuxedo this past week end on a job doing a 50 year anniversary. The set up was as follows; Nikon D200 with rotating bracket, a Vivitar 283 mounted with the white card you sent me as bounce light. I shot the whole event table to table, also a group of Mariachis 9 in the group and it covered the whole group with minimum light fall off. I used a background set up to shoot small group shots wit my Fuji S3 , 2 light set up. every thing went fine except my batteries for the Fuji pro Camera didn't hold up as I expected, changed twice over a 5 hr period. The Tuxedo kept on going. After a while I took off my coat (got hot) and I put the Tuxedo in my pants pocket (no problem) I can really see the need for the battery pack hooked to my Fuji S3.

Any way thanks for the help I really can see how it will work for my Portable set up out side with the black box doing a back yard or park type wedding.
Thanks again 
Curt Brown

Note: we can convert the Fuji PRO to a battery pack instead of the four AA batteries. We hook it to a Tuxedo.


Hi Al,
The Black Box and modified 285s have arrived and work great!  The workmanship is superb!  Thanks for providing this reasonably-priced alternative.  I look forward to using my strobist setup, now powered with your products and modifications. The Gizmos provide a great way to organize the battery pack. 
Rick Holmes

••••••Apr 22, 2009 8:46 AM

© copyright aljacobs Stardate 2011.05

Hi Alan,

I just received info for the cord i sent you and that you have edited and sent it out to me. Thank you so much.
I love the black box. I use for all forms of ettl photography.  from red carpet and outdoor shooting. I was actually at a red carpet event on monday night and a guy from getty and the globe was asking about me about it. He said he was going to contact you so be on the lookout for him.
 Again thanks so much.


Josh Tousey

“Capturing Personality, Not Poses”


Rick Olivier

To: Al Jacobs

New sealed wine acid battery spotted in New Orleans.

AL:  Looks like I missed one hell of a party and we have to give credit  for producing such a delectable product.  


Hey Al…

I shot a couple of races at Disney over the weekend. Every shot using a Blackbox. The numbers were incredible. 

On Saturday I did about 375 with a Canon 580 on ETTL then 8,200 with a Vivitar on 1/16 power for fill.  

As below. 
Sunday was 457 shots with the 580 and just over 9,000 with the Vivitar on 1/16 and at times 1/4, as below. 

The battery was still going both days (recharge in between) when I packed up. 

Ken Shelton

Dear Mr. Jacobson,

I want you to know how pleased I am with the combo black box  and modified modules I recently purchasedfrom you. One black box worked flawlessly when I photographed an event last week end. My flashes thank youas well. No more "frying" of flashes.
Thank you for your ingenuity and excellent product.

Aurora Santiago
Aurora Santiago Photography



Hi Al,
I thought I'd share with you my recent experience with your Black Box.   Firstly, I have used it on two weddings, a five day corporate conference in Las Vegas, another corporate awards event, and a red carpet event and it worked flawlessly each and every time.  I didn't even come close to wearing this thing down to needing a recharge on each occasion, and it was great to not have the unreliable Quantum feeling (starting to choke and die at the worst possible time.)

I took my camera, the black box and the Canon 580 EXII to the Huntington Beach Pier with the intent to shoot some candids at sunset around the boardwalk, on the sand, etc.  I was wearing a Newswear vest with pockets for lenses, camera bodies, etc. and I neglected to secure the velcro flap over the Blackbox that was in one of the vest pockets.   I was doing some long exposure shots under the pier as the sun was setting, and the tide was coming in.   I was squatting down to set the camera timer for the exposure when the Box slipped out, dangling with the cord attached to the speedlight which was in my other vest pocket.  A wave came in and completely submerged the Box.   Inside I was screaming "NOOOOOOOO!" and fished it out of the water swirling around my feet.  I didn't risk using the flash at that point and stowed it away under the flap until I got home. 

I know I'm not supposed to open the unit, but I removed the screws to see if the thing had filled with water; it was perfectly dry inside!  There is no way a quantum would have survived this dunking in seawater.  

I highly recommend the Black Box if you want a reliable, durable and practically idiot-proof solution for volume photography.   I am going to get around to sending you that old worn out Quantum pack one of these days.

Again, love the product and appreciate your customer service too.

Best for 2014,



Vin Weathermon

14252 Culver Drive, STE A776

Irvine, California, USA  92604

1-949-422-8371  • •@weathermon •