Old-school consumer flash photography was awesome

I wonder if it’s possible to get them to sync with a modern camera :thinking:


I put that video on when I did half an hour on the excersise bike. Very enjoyable — the video, that is; not the excersise! :face_exhaling:

I’ve seen the bulbs pop up a few times at auction. If I remember correctly, some of the polaroid cameras used to use flash cubes in some sort of rack; hang on… here we go:


I only mention Polaroids as I happen to own a few; none that take these things, though — maybe I’ll get me one; I’d really love one of the Land cameras. :thinking:

I haven’t found anyone brave enough to try just yet, but the search continues. :male_detective:


I don’t think I ever had a camera that used flash cubes (was that Kodak-Instamatic specific?) But I certainly exploded quite a few individual bulbs in my youth. And dreamed of having a new, expensive, Electronic Flash unit :smiley:

By the way, it was also fun touching wire wool with a 9v battery, but I guess that’s off forum topic :rofl:


There were several variations on the flashcube including a linear flashbar, flipflash and some other form factors, as I recall.

The original ones required a battery, but later ones called Magicubes were made with (per Wikipedia) “…a primer tube at the base of the bulb, which contained a fulminate, which in turn ignited shredded zirconium foil in the flash.” There was a small but stiff coil spring with longer straight ends (like a V with a coil at the apex) which was “cocked” under tension in the plastic base of the flashcube. The camera had a small plunger of sorts that would push one leg of the spring out from behind a “stop” in the base so that it would slam against the primer and fire the flash. Actually a fairly ingenious design.

There was also an even smaller Instamatic that used 110 cartridges. Some of the cameras, IIRC, used a squeeze / telescoping winding mechanism somewhat similar to the old miniature Minox “spy” cameras.

1 Like

Gosh, fascinating stuff. I’m 1952 vintage, and I should probably remember more of the things you mention than I do. Ahhh… the old brain cells…

Thank you for the aside mentioning the Minox. I wanted it! Never got one.

1959 here, but I’ve always had a talent for remembering things that don’t matter – and the inverse is true as well.

1 Like

I do remember my dad burning his fingers when taking family shots. It was also customary to lick the bulb’s wires to insure proper contact when inserted in the unit.

1 Like

In the video you can see it up-close in slow motion.

…if I had watched the video before replying, I probably wouldn’t have replied. LOL

1 Like

How far we’ve come. I bought a torch (flashlight), yesterday, for around £10 GBP; it has a single LED and runs off a single rechargeable battery, yet it’s bright enough to keep ships at bay.

By the way; I watched this, yesterday, and found the whole thing fascinating (I knew about the science bit already, but didn’t have a clue about the history and story behind it):

I bought a torch (flashlight), yesterday, for around £10 GBP; it has a single LED and runs off a single rechargeable battery,

I hadd a small Maglite flashlite (the meta alloy things, that are very bright but eat a box of batteries for breakfast)) blowing its last bulb some years ago. While looking for a new bulb I found “conversion kits” to make them run with a LED instead. Got one. I don’t remember changing the batteries since.

1 Like