I have been using a Calumet Travelite Digital 500 for the last six months and the tube has gone already. $140 for a new one. I am guessing that it had had about 1,000 flashes.
Is this normal or just bad luck ?
A flashtube will fail when it goes out and until it does, it won't. Flashtubes usually fail for a reason. If they get hit hard, often and are forced to overheat, that will cause failure. Impact will sometimes dislodge or misalign electrodes. Sometimes there will be a manufacturing failure and that will cause a failure. They actually don't wear out that easily. In most cases, if they go, something causes them to go or it is just bad luck.
Totally bad luck. Flash tubes can last 10,000+ pops or more without a problem. I know I've got more than that on each one of my calumet lights, some of which are better than 15yrs old at this point. The usual culprits for early failure are a manufacturing defect, physical tube damage, skin oils etching the tube, or in your case, just plain old bad luck.
Paris, Île-de-France, France
Bad luck I think. The tubes I have are all still going with up to 50000 or more. Sometimes they burn the contacts and discolor but they keep on going albeit less efficient than if they were clear. These are 3200w/s tubes BTW.
The odd thing is that I have 3 other Calumet/Bowens flashes that have all been used the same amount and in the same conditions. I am always super careful with my gear so I guess it must just be bad luck. Grrr...
It should be still under warranty? Flash tubes may be considered expendable, but I can't see that one wouldn't be covered by the OEM policy.
My Norman tubes are over 40 years old with constant use/abuse and never replace one - even though I have a spare. They get 100-500 flashes per session all the time. Of course, these are 2400 WS tubes and most of the time the units are on low power (250/500/750 ws).
ei Total Productions wrote: A flashtube will fail when it goes out and until it does, it won't. Flashtubes usually fail for a reason. If they get hit hard, often and are forced to overheat, that will cause failure. Impact will sometimes dislodge or misalign electrodes. Sometimes there will be a manufacturing failure and that will cause a failure. They actually don't wear out that easily. In most cases, if they go, something causes them to go or it is just bad luck.
This. Yup. I've never had one just "decide to quit". When mine have "gone", it's usually because somehow a light-stand fell over. (I lose more models that way :::sigh::.
Another common reason why they quit, is fingerprints. A fingerprint on the flash tube causes it to heat up and fry...actually causing a "bubble" in the glass, that bursts. This is especially true of brands where the flashtube is easily accessible like Alien Bees or White Lightning which don't have protective covers like Photogenics or Normans do. See images below.
Some flash tubes have Pyrex protective glass covers which make getting fingerprints on the tube difficult. The covers also prevent damage to models (I hate picking glass fragments out of models' skin), if the flashtube should burst....which does happen.
It's much easier to get a fingerprint on units with exposed flashtubes (see image below). If that happens, and the bulb explodes, glass goes flying, and the bulb will need to be replaced (maybe the model's face too). For photographers who use such equipment, I recommend wiping the flash tube down with alcohol (not Jack Daniels), occasionally. Or, at least use a softbox to contain flying glass.
There are 4 Bowens 500w monolights in my studio that are about 6 years old, and none of them has ever burned out a flash tube. I've replaced several modeling light bulbs, but never a main flash tube. I bought a spare bulb (about $250) years ago in case one burned out, and it's still sitting on a shelf collecting dust.
At this rate I figure I'll die before those bulbs do.