The wait is almost over for the Sunpak 120J II, the long-overdue successor to a bare-bulb flashgun which has become a cult classic.
Bare-bulb flashes are favoured by off-camera flash photographers for their ability to spread light in all directions, making them better at filling large umbrellas or softboxes — in effect acting like a portable studio light. The original Sunpak 120J has long been discontinued but still fetches decent money second-hand on eBay. For many years there has been no clear replacement, though new offerings from Jinbei and Godox help serve the gap in the market.
Sunpak’s official US distributor displayed a leaflet (reproduced below) at WPPI 2014 advertising the Sunpak 120J II, billed to be “coming soon”. The 120J II will have a speedlight form factor but with a large open flash tube, protected by transparent glass. Features include full manual control, Canon E-TTL and optical wireless E-TTL, controlled from an LCD control panel on the rear. The guide number is 54.
Powered by four AA batteries, an external high-voltage battery pack will also be included in the 120J II Flash Kit, extending your runtime and speeding up recycle times (which are initially specified to be 3 seconds at full power). Auto-focus assist is listed as “TBA” and all other functions are “subject to change without notice”.
The whole product is almost certainly made by Triopo and based, at least in part, on the TR120 (Polaroid PL-135), a flashgun discontinued last year so the manufacturer could improve the design. With no updated TR120 in sight it looks like the replacement is to be carried by Sunpak and may not appear under the OEM brand.
What do you think? Have you been waiting for the 120J’s replacement? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
(Can’t wait? Enter our March photography competition for the chance to win a Jinbei MF-100!)