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Old 05-19-2011   #1
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Default Photogenic Lighting Repair

Well for years I've known the company as "Photogenic Machine Corporation" I think they are just Photogenic now. In my humble opinion they build highly reliable flash systems that have a very long life expectancy. I'm most familiar with a couple of products, the AA01 power pack systems and a fill flash (quite zeltsman inspired) called a "Skylighter". I have a couple of their mono lights of the 600 WS variety.

I had a light go south on me (means it quit working) just before the end of my season last year. I put into service a spare and have been waiting to send the Power Light for repair. Last week the day finally came to box it up, ship it out and cross my fingers. I shipped it USPS Priority Shipping and expected a 3 day delivery. On day 5 I called to inquire if it had been received, it had not. I got concerned last night as I had not heard anything. I had a voice mail this morning from them.

The unit has been repaired and is ready to ship back. Turned out to be a "small" capacitor failure. Total for repair and return shipping, $118.50 and it ships in the morning. I let a sigh of relief. I think that's pretty good turnaround time. I don't know exactly when they received it but by my expectation it will be no more than 10 calendar days. Note also, this unit is no longer in production and has been discontinued for years. I'm also pleased with the price. You can't get much done to anything these days for $100.

On a related un-related note: I also had a PCB White Lightning Ultra 600 suddenly go belly-up. I shipped it to repair on the same day as the Photogenic. PCB sent me an email confirming it had arrived and was being evaluated. I coincidentally called them the day before and was told that while it was not officially received the person said she could see the box was indeed there. The only thing that could be wrong with it that they will not repair is, guess what? The capacitor. I'm awaiting the verdict on the evaluation and word on whether it will be repaired or taken in trade for something new.

If you use Photogenic or PCB products know this: at least one person has sent items in for repair and received very good treatment.

Steve

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Old 05-19-2011   #2
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Default Re: Photogenic Lighting Repair

Customer service for both Photogenic and PCBuff are outstanding! Good lights for studio use. The shortcomings for both units of that era was flash duration and consistent color temperature. Photogenic came out with the Solaire line, and addressed the color temp issue. PCBuff came out with the Einstein 640, which addresses all concerns, IMHO.
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Old 05-19-2011   #3
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Default Re: Photogenic Lighting Repair

I think all too often people don't take into consideration all the aspects of professional gear. I think part of what we pay for is the assurance of quick and courteous customer service along with fast turnaround of repairs. I have been pleased with the cost of repairs on my gear to date.
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Old 05-20-2011   #4
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Default Re: Photogenic Lighting Repair

I would have to concure as I also have had great expeiriences with Paul C. Buff (twice, one time my fault and they repaired at no charge) and Photogenic (cap several replacements) with quick reliable service. Quality and service brings me back, and sending other photographers to them time and time again! Keep up the great work guys
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Old 05-20-2011   #5
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Default Re: Photogenic Lighting Repair

Thanks for chiming in Dirk. Breakdown and damage are going to happen to us all. Knowing how it's going to be handled when it occurs should be a consideration. Before someone runs out and buys some inferior product because it's inexpensive they ought to consider what replacement is going to cost when their gear can't be fixed.

For what it's worth. PCB is interested in keeping their customers using their products. Because my unit's model was retired long ago, it may not be repairable. I can't guess it's age but educated guess is 12-15 years. Even if it's trashed they will offer me a trade-in value against the purchase of a new product, which will carry a new warranty. Now, how many companies will step up like that? So even if the unit has depreciated 100% of its value it still has some worth. That folks, is above and beyond.

Steve
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Old 05-20-2011   #6
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Default Re: Photogenic Lighting Repair

Good story, thanks for sharing. Total Cost of Ownership, something to keep in mind.
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Old 05-24-2011   #7
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Default Re: Photogenic Lighting Repair

Here's an update. Today we were plagued with bad weather and threats of tornadoes. Today was also the day UPS tracking said my Photogenic light would be delivered. At about 5:30 I checked the tracking, thinking surely the delivery truck had been forced to cut his day short. Normal delivery for UPS at my house is 3:30 - 4:00. Sure enough, 5:33 the big brown truck pulled into the driveway and delivered 8.2 pounds of happiness.

I opened the well taped box to discover form fitting foam encased in plastic completely cushioning the contents. The flash tube protective cover was removed and in a cardboard wrapper. I had included it in place to protect the modeling bulb socket when I shipped it out. There was a packing slip attached to the outside of the box which indicated that the shipment included the flash unit, a new 640 volt capacitor and a shipping box. The light unit itself was nicely wrapped in a clear plastic bag and along with it a note saying the light had been tested and was within working specs. I put the flash tube back in and powered it up. Works like new and smells like new. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Now, about the PCB concern. I got an email from them one week ago confirming they had received the unit and it was undergoing evaluation and in approx. 1 week they would contact me with the repair estimate and authorization. I've not heard from them yet. However, this is exactly one week, and not approximately a week. I'm hoping to get word in the next day or two.

Cheers
Steve
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Old 05-25-2011   #8
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Default Re: Photogenic Lighting Repair

Thanks for the insights Steve, as you may remember, I asked for advice on buying an older Photogenic kit ( which I did, following sound advice from you and others ) and just got anoth Powerlight 600, so now have a set of 3 matching and have picked some neat and interesting Strobe accessories for them.

I have to say, I'm surprised we don't hear more about this brand!! Excellent build quality, super accessories and solid service! Maybe their marketing dept. needs a jump start!!

Glad to hear it all worked out and hope the Bees work out as well.
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Old 05-27-2011   #9
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Default Re: Photogenic Lighting Repair

RIP Little Ultra 600

Today I got an email from PCB that pretty much spells out the demise of my mono light. I'm guessing that the capacitor failed and the unit cannot be repaired. I have been offered a generous discount on a replacement, 50% off any White Lightning or 25% off any AB unit.

PCB has a rather unusual way of communicating this. I received an email with an Xcel spreadsheet attachment. The email literally said, "Hey Steve take a look at the attachment for information about your repair". The explanation about the inability to repair the unit was not clearly stated but was in the spreadsheet along with the models and prices to me, including the discount. Pretty much the text in the spreadsheet says capacitor failure in the Ultra series, Zap 1000 and the WL 10,000 cannot be resolved due to inability to get the capacitors from their supplier.

I guess if you get a notice of this sort you have to assume yours is a capacitor failure problem. Nothing in the email or spreadsheet is directed specifically to my unit.

I don't' know why the folks at PCB use a spreadsheet as a text document. I can't criticize the company for their customer service or the trade-in policy those things are great. The delivery could be a bit smoother, clearer and a tad more personal.

As for the replacement: The jury is still out. I can't decide between the 800 and 1600. I am in the process of buying a used pair of 3200's for arena lighting. The Photogenics and WL 600s were intended for studio use. The WLs were intended for background and hair lights, so the power and size of the 600's was a good fit. However, I've found myself using the lights for arena lighting more than for studio set-up and the WL 600s were marginally under power for that task. While the 800 would be a slight step-up, biting the bullet for the 1600 could make more long run sense. I still have an operable Ultra 600 for background lighting.

And that's how all that turned out. Who'd have thought there would be two cap failures on two different models/brands in the same 6 month period. Sometimes the bug, sometimes the windshield.

Steve
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Last edited by Steven G Webb; 05-27-2011 at 04:48 PM.. Reason: fat finger
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Old 06-15-2011   #10
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Default Re: Photogenic Lighting Repair

Will they send you your old unit back to you maybe it can be repaired by someone else.


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