With no press release and seemingly out of nowhere, a $99 bare-bulb flash has appeared on Amazon: the Polaroid PL-135. This is a good $300 less than even the cheapest bare-bulb flash and $700 less than the most basic Quantum Qflash kit. But what do you get for $99? Essentially, you get a generic AA powered speedlight with a guide number of 52 that has been turned into a bare-bulb flash. You do get basic Canon or Nikon TTL, or so it is claimed. There is a “power receptacle for an available external power pack,” but no details are given about what kind of a connection it uses or what power pack they may be referring to. A reflector and diffuser are included, as are a bag to carry the whole kit in. You won’t find the Polaroid PL-135 on Polaroid’s website, so don’t even look. These days, Polaroid is a shell of its former self. The Polaroid PL-135 is just the brainchild of one of their licensees, very likely designed and built without Polaroid having anything to do with it.
Does it work? Initial reports from around the web seem to say “Yes.” The quality of light is said to be nice, just like you expect from a bare-bulb flash. But you will have to deal with the slow recycling time and low power of a speedlight and the mediocre quality of a $99 off-brand product.
So will working pros rush to fill a void in their toolkit with the Polaroid PL-135? Doubtful. But at such a low price, it might just work for a one-off production piece for a particular job.
Price: $99 (as of this writing)
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