Balcar CONCEPT studio flash system

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Balcar CONCEPT studio flash system

Postby Klyment » Aug Wed 25, 2004 2:21 am

Hello DigitalDingus-ites,

Over a week of research for about 4 hours a day (!!!), I found a rather interesting, highly capable, relatively cost effective and very expandable studio lighting system. It's a hybrid between a pack/head and monolight system. The controls are in a pack on the ground and all of the heads have their own capacitors and plug into this pack so there's no loss in cables, even if they are 100' long or longer. Here's the pack:


It's 4 x 1600W/s all digitally controlled over a 4 stop range, charges up to 1000W/s per second (three recharge speeds), gives independent control over each head, flash duration as fast as 1/1800s, has flash sequencer, lots of modelling light modes, and even has a connection for Apple Localtalk so you can network it in. I found some used at for $600US each. I only picked up one, I think there may be two left. Calumet looks like they are consolidating their systems because the concept line used heads different from Balcar's other heads.

The pack may be a great deal but what about the heads? Cheapest new heads are the CZ 2's from They are about $600 off right now, so $300US each. 800W/s and you can't use them to focus the reflectors but with all of the other options available for light modifiers I was ready to settle for them. However, I discovered that the CONCEPT P4 also accepts the Balcar PSU and PSZ heads. I found an old non-Concept P4 pack packaged with four 1600W/s used heads with current reflectors (RX60's or something like that . . . faceted, 60degree) and offered $600 for it and got it at that price. I threw in an extra $50 for the Balcar umbrellas with diffusers. The set also came with some gigantic solid softbox . . . the Galaxy 4 x 4 or something. Shipping was going to be $200 for the softbox along and I wasn't going to use it so I just had the heads shipped.

Anyway, the old heads actually give you a larger range of output power because some of them can be stopped down as many as two stops because the original non-CONCEPT P4 powerpack didn't do asymmetric output adjustment. Only the CZ 4 ($1200US new) can stop down one and the CZ 2 can't be stopped down at the head at all. And they are compatible with all Balcar light modifiers. So $1200 plus shipping (about $100US total) and I have two powerpacks (the older as a spare), four heads, two umbrellas with diffusers, bunch of extra flash tubes. And the CONCEPT B3 pack is also compatible with the heads. the B3 is actually a battery-powered 4800W/s pack. Anyway, four heads and the older P4 power pack usually go for about $600US on eBay. And CONCEPT P4 power packs used at Calumet for $600US. I'm tempted to pick up another of these packs and finding some more heads . . . if I end up not needing them, a local photographer and good friend I mentioned this to has already offered to buy the setup for $2000CDN inclusive of shipping (about $1500-1600US).

The only drawback to this system is that the heads are about 7-9lbs instead of about 3-5lbs for most pack/head systems so you'll need bigger booms. But I think Balcar nailed this one . . . I was really happy to find that the old heads work on the new pack. The new pack makes the old heads just as good as the new heads for most purposes. And Balcar's one company which I believe has the widest selection of dedicated light modifiers that are also digital friendly (hot spot resistant, usually focusable).

Heheh, I hope this long rant helps someone. Have a great day. =)

- K
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Postby TonyK » Aug Wed 25, 2004 5:34 pm

I don't know. I like my AB units and they seem flexible enough. You can even by remote controllers for AB units.

I looked at the Balcar website but it was broken. I mean to see NB HTML codes on the page itself. That is just sloppy in my opinion.
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Postby Watchin » Aug Thu 26, 2004 10:34 am

I agree with Tony. Either the AB or the white lightning units are more flexable and a lot cheaper.

Here's an example from thier web site
White Lightning Remote Studio kit

For a remote controlled studio setup, we offer The Remote Studio Setup Package, ideal for a studio with a great need for flexibility.

* 2 X-Series X1600 flash units
* 2 X-Series X800 flash units
* 3 TS13AC 13-foot Air Cushioned Stands
* 1 LS1100 Backlight Stand
* 2 U48TWB 48? Reversible Shoot-Thru Umbrellas
* 1 UBR Background Reflector
* 1 GS1 18? Grid Spot Attachment
* 1 SB2436 Medium Softbox
* 1 LG4X Wired Remote Control
* 4 WL Carrying Bags (FREE with X800/X1600)

For info on building your own custom package, click here.
Price: $2276.00

And I think that is thier highest priced "package" ....
Greg aka Watchin..."just watchin the world go bye, trying to understand the picture."
"Life is a grand adventure! Not a guided tour." oWo
Nikon D-700, Nikon lenses, Alien B flashes and lots of junk...
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