Bowens Pulsar System

The Bowens Pulsar System

Article by
Steve Aves

Bowens Pulsar System

Bowens introduced the Pulsar to give photographers a cordless system of synchronisation. Sync leads and cables have always been the weakest link in any studio photography and using the Pulsar system gives the photographer both confidence and freedom of movement.

Bought in pairs and singles the Bowens Pulsar can be used just for cordless syncing or a complete remote control system operated from the camera.

The nice thing about Pulsar is the size, measuring 9cm. long 4.5cm wide and only 7cm high including the aerial, it really is small and doesn’t get in the way when attached to a camera via it’s hot shoe connection. Due to its size it uses the two of the smaller AAA 1.5v batteries which will last up to 200 hours.

When you buy a pair of Pulsars, they come in two separate boxes wrapped in an outer sleeve. Both units are identical and come with the same accessories, these include, two batteries, a sync cable with an adaptor, a small metal plate with self adhesive pads, and a length of elastic cable. Plus of course a pretty good instruction book with pictures and diagrams.

As I said Pulsar units are identical, so they are very simple to understand and operate. As you can see from the picture showing the side of the Pulsar, a switch can be moved from OFF to TX transmitter or RX receiver. This means that one Pulsar can be set as a transmitter and attached to the cameras hot shoe and the other Pulsar can be set as a receiver and plugged into a light. There is also a 3v DC input for external power and Sync in socket. On the rear of the Pulsar there is standard coax connection.

On the opposite side there is Camera / Flash sync output and five channel options A to F.

Selecting a channel option will isolate your own Pulsar system from other Pulsar sytems.

On top of the Pulsar is a test button and Channel switch showing All 1 2 3 4. If you buy a Pulsar for each of your lights, you can programme the receivers with various numbers from 1 to 4, then set the transmitter accordingly to activate ‘All’ or some of the lights, a very interesting possibility, especially if your lights are ceiling mounted, on a Hi Glide system.

Using the Bowens Pulsar System

So that’s the basic controls of the Pulsar, but how easy is it to use? Well the answer is very easy. Select one Pulsar as a transmitter and attach it to the cameras hot shoe connection. To attach the receiver to the light, stick the adhesive pads onto metal mounting plate and with a little help from the instructions, loop the elastic around the body of the light and secure the mounting plate. This will give you a strong ‘hot shoe’ fitting, so that the other Pulsar, the receiver can now be attached. Using the short sync and adaptor, this cable will connect from the coax at the rear of the Pulsar to the sync socket on the light.

With both Pulsars set, you can make sure that everything works by simply pressing the ‘Test’ button on the receiver, then firing the camera. It really is that simple.

I’ve used Pulsar many times and I’ve found them an invaluable accessory for serious studio work. When working outside for instance, with Esprit Gemini’s it really is the only way to achieve 100% triggering. The slave cells will operate fine in a studio, but outside in bright light they can fail and using long sync leads or extension leads is out of the question.

Two good examples of this are first my photographer chum Chris Reeve who shot some great shots for the Bowens Freedom brochure, if you look at one of the shots you can see Chris lying on a railway line shooting a model with a long lens, obviously this shot was triggered using a Pulsar system.

lighting set lighting effect photo

The other example is when I spent a day with Jason Sims a photographer who uses Gemini’s with travel paks on location and specializes in car photography. Like Chris he likes shooting from a distance with long lenses, so again using leads is not an option. Here is one lighting set up we used to photograph the front of the car, triggering the lights via the Pulsars.

Steve Aves

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