Triopo discontinues TR120 bare-bulb flash; will improve design

Just months after its announcement, the Triopo TR120 (Polaroid PL-135) flashgun is no longer being produced.

Polaroid PL-135 Bare Bulb Flash

Just months after its announcement, the Triopo TR120 (Polaroid PL-135) flashgun is no longer being produced. According to an official source, the Chinese manufacturer has stopped making the flashgun “as a result of design improvement”. Sales of existing inventory will continue.

The TR120 Bare Bulb Flash looked to be the spiritual successor to the stalwart Sunpak 120J, an AA-powered flashgun with a bare, protruding flash tube. As well as manual control, the TR120 had TTL for Canon and Nikon and was a cheaper alternative to higher-end bare-bulb options such as the Quantum Qflash series or Godox Witstro, both of which require external battery packs to operate.

Triopo TR-120

The benefit of such a design over a traditional speedlight (whose flash tube sits behind a fresnel lens) is a wider, 360-degree spread of light, which can be beneficial for studio applications as it fills lighting modifiers such as beauty dishes and softboxes more smoothly and efficiently.

In the USA and UK the Triopo unit made a very brief appearance under the Polaroid brand, called the PL-135, for $100, however it is no longer in stock. The product received fairly mixed reviews from photographers and quality control appears to have been a prominent concern. It’s not clear if the sudden cancellation was in response to the negative customer feedback, however with the TR120 discontinued it seems unlikely that we will see the PL-135 on shelves again.

Polaroid PL-135 Bare Bulb Flash

Unfortunately the company would not go on the record about what the “design improvements” to the flash unit would entail, however they gave strong indications that a replacement product, possibly with added features, is in the works. We don’t know if it will have the same name.

Other notable recent products from Triopo — besides their usual bevy of camera tripods, for which they are better known — include the TR-850EX and TR-860EX, a pair of flashguns with radio remote control and (in the case of the latter variant) E-TTL and high-speed sync (HSS) support.

So perhaps we could see features such as built-in radio and/or HSS baked into a future bare-bulb Triopo flash? Hopefully they will also be replacing the internals to improve reliability and reduce the failure rate.

There is no word on when a replacement to the TR120 will be released, nor how much it will cost. Keep following Lighting Rumours for the latest updates.

David Selby
Based in the West Midlands, UK, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a statistics PhD student.
selbydavid.com
  • kwan

    I got 2 of the Polaroid pl135 (nikon version). They’re functioning and working fine, did a few quick test shoot on them so far no problem. The only down side is cheap build quality: unprecise dial, button has a cheap feel to it when pushing them, the round diffuser screen is low quality workmanship. If they beef up the build quality and workmanship, make them more rugged, maybe up the power just a little I think they have a good chance of making it.

  • sphoto

    they should have the same button layout as the yongnuo 560ii. also fix the green color. and the same battery layout and external power port as 560ii.

  • Jason E

    I tried a Nikon version and a Canon version. I think the chip that controls power was fried on the Nikon one and some power settings seemed impossible to find, like 1/2! The Canon one has worked fine. Recycle time is very quick. It’s not built like a new Canon/Nikon strobe, but it costs less than 1/3 and they don’t make a bare bulb flash. If I want a portable bare bulb flash my other choices are A Godox Witstro, a Quantum or a Jinbei MF100 and they all cost more than 3 times as much or I have to wait and hope a decent Sunpak 120J appears at a sensible price. They’re all better, but I don’t have that extra cash to spend. You can still find these on Amazon, get one, use it a lot for a month if it keeps working its probably a good one, if it doesn’t send it back.

  • alberto cabrera

    Cowboy studio is selling these flashes now. Are those the improved versions or overstock they just happen to acquire?