Air Gap Flash V1 Is A 16,000 Volts Flash “For The Masses”

One of our favorite makers, Maurice Ribble, who is the mind behind the wonderful CameraAxe high speed photography system just released what I think is the first in the world (or at least in the last 10 years) to-the-masses AirGap flash.

An AirGap strobe works differently than your typical hot shoe or monoblock. Your typical strobe ignites a Xenon bulb with about 300 volts of power. An AirGap strobe pours 16,000 volts into an air filled tube (yup, good old simple air).

So why would you want to use an AirGap flash? mostly because its light burst is super short. A regular strobe (at low power setting) will shoot a burst of light lasting about 1/25,000 of a second. This means that a bullet traveling at 1000 feet / second will be smeared over 1.4 inches. An AirGap flash pop will last 1/1,000,000 of a second practically freezing the bullet in mid air. Here is a comparison using a few different kinds of strobes trying to freeze a bullet mid air.

Air Gap Flash V1 Is A 16,000 Volts "For The Masses"

Or another shot comparing the crispness of glass breaking with two different strobes, a Xenon and an AirGap:

Air Gap Flash V1 Is A 16,000 Volts "For The Masses"

This video explains what the AirGap strobe is and gives a little intro on what it can do.

While Maurice has already built an AirGap strobe back in 2011 the design was not suitable for mass use.

Air Gap Flash V1 Is A 16,000 Volts "For The Masses"

The new design will be available to any dedicated shooter who can justify spending $2,000 on a low light output strobe. (you’d have to convince Maurice that you really, really want one). So this time around the strobe is well encased and protected.

Air Gap Flash V1 Is A 16,000 Volts "For The Masses"

Here are the internals, including one mean capacitor in the middle, not that you’d wanna open the box.

Air Gap Flash V1 Is A 16,000 Volts "For The Masses"

For full details head over to TechPhotoBlog.

  • Maurice

    The newer designs schematics and more technical details can be found in the manual for this flash at:

    I’d be happy to answer questions people have about this flash. Also feel free to request future images taken with this device. Now that it’s working reliably it’s time for me to take more photos!

    • Stefan

      i definitely need a few of them!

  • Juraj

    Actually arent you freezing the bullet with your shutter speed?

    • KTX

      If you have total or near total darkness your shutterspeed can be as low as you can get it, without amplifying the giving ambient light. This gives you a long exposure of darkness, which is more or less a totally black picture. If you light the scene with a flash you will capture the light from the flash as long as it lasts. Before and after the flash fires your camera will not count any photons (no light will be captured) so in fact you freeze the motion of the scene with the flash. You can try this at home and compare different power (falsh duration) of your flash or have someone turn the lights on and off while you take a picture of a moving subject (jumping friends or family).

      • Juraj

        Oh now I got it, thanks. So basically you can freeze also objects with higher than maximal shutter speed of your camera by freezing them with flash. Thats cool. I wasnt thinking much about high speed photography until now. I will definitely try the flash duration (different power settings).

  • joe_average

    wickedly cool!!!
    and i’ll just leave this here…

  • Roy D.

    The SPOT flash has been around and available for several years now – and is used by most contemporary ballistics photographers. Has a beautiful Fresnel lens that produces much more uniform illumination than the old EG&G Microflash.