Polaroid bare-bulb flash appears, offering TTL for Canon and Nikon

The Polaroid PL-135 is an affordable AA-powered speedlight with a bare flash tube, available in the USA and UK.

Polaroid PL-135 Bare Bulb Flash

A flashgun has appeared called the Polaroid PL-135, a sub-$100 bare-bulb speedlight suitable for enthusiast photographers, available in the USA and UK.

It has the specifications of a typical aftermarket flash, but the flash tube protrudes from the head instead of sitting inside. This configuration allows for a “bare-bulb” effect, where the light is free to travel in all directions to fill a space, be it a room, a studio backdrop or a light-shaping tool such as a softbox. Think of it like the difference between a Maglite and a bare light bulb.

This new Polaroid PL-135 — a rebranded Triopo TR120 — is much cheaper than professional-grade bare-bulb equipment such as the Cheetah Light CL-180 or Quantum Qflash and, unlike those systems, runs on common AA batteries without needing a high voltage battery pack to operate. In fact, it is in some ways similar to the Sunpak 120J, a long-discontinued flashgun that still fetches high prices second-hand.

Two different models will be available — one for Canon and one for Nikon — supporting E-TTL and i-TTL automatic exposure control, respectively. There is also a manual power adjustment mode and a stroboscopic multi-flash feature. No high-speed sync (HSS), though.

Polaroid PL-135 Bare Bulb Flash

In the flash body is an autofocus-assist lamp and an optical slave sensor. The head can swivel horizontally 360° and tilt vertically 90°. An optional external power source may be connected for longer battery life and faster flash recycle times. There is a Prontor-Compur (PC) port and a metal hotshoe foot for synchronisation.

The PL-135 purportedly comes with a reflector and diffusion panel but it is not clear whether other light-shaping accessories will be available. Click the following listings for further information.

At the time of writing we haven’t seen any reference to the Polaroid PL-135 anywhere else, so caveat emptor. However, the UK listings are Fulfilled by Amazon so everything appears to be above board. We have contacted Polaroid for official confirmation and will update this article when they respond.

What do you think? Would you buy one?

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