Friday, November 12, 2010

My broken Einstein 640

Let me state for the record that I did not break this piece of equipment. 

It broke itself.

I am usually happy to admit when I break something - that just means it isn't tough enough for the job. This time, though, I didn't do it. Honest.

A little explanation: Paul C Buff inc knows they are having issues with the Einstein 640 unit. The first version didn't work with some outlets and didn't sync properly with PocketWizards. This is the second version, and the cam system (what holds light modifiers on the strobe) is weak. This issue comes in two flavors. One is common, while the other seems to be unique to me.



The common issue involves the spring in the lever (photo 2) which isn't strong enough to hold larger modifiers (like my 5' softbox). Paul C Buff inc is having new units worked on and will ship upgrades (for free) to every Einstein user in December or January.

The second issue involves the fingers (photo 1). One of them has managed to detach from its fellows, meaning that it no longer moves as instructed. Because of this, my 5' softbox fell on my model yesterday. Nobody was hurt, but it is the kind of incident I cannot have repeated. In addition to the potential for serious injury, it totally ruins the mood of the shoot.

I called headquarters in TN and was promptly directed to Joe in customer support. Joe is a tech who works on the units. After I explained my issue, he agreed to have a new unit shipped to me as soon as he could get his hands on one. I expect it late next week. They are also going to pay for the return shipping on my broken unit. No questions asked - just an apology for the issue and the assurance that they will make it right. THAT is how customers should be treated. The whole company is doing a great job in making sure that its customers are satisfied and that their product (the new flagship) works just like it should.

Because of the quality of service I received, I asked to be transferred to sales. I bought a 7" reflector and a 20 degree spot grid to show the company that I'm going to stick with them and that I have faith they're going to get it right. Plus, I need a reflector and a 20 degree grid.

Yesterday, I also made a very necessary modification to the Einstein unit.
The 5' softbox is so heavy that maneuvering the strobe with the softbox attached is nearly impossible. Going side to side is OK, but angling the head up and down takes a lot of muscle.

You'll notice both Elinchrom and Profoto have handles of some kind. The Einstein does not. With a cheap modification, however, I've discovered something that works.

Profoto - handle on bottom

Elinchrom - handle on top

Einstein - ghetto handle on top

I was at Home Depot buying supplies to hang a backdrop in my room/studio when I saw a set of Husky screwdrivers with pretty gnarly handles. It turns out, this particular set has a few members that fit right into the umbrella slot in the top of the flash. By tightening the screw and angling the tool/handle the right way, I can get much more leverage on the unit. Sure, it looks ridiculous, but I can't be blamed for Paul C Buff not putting a handle on the damn thing. Now I always have a screwdriver on set AND I can maneuver my strobe without excessive grunting.

I'm halfway through with the necessary modifications to my room/studio in order to hang a permanent backdrop. I'll post that solution when I finish with it. 

TGIF! Have a great weekend!