Alas, my only flash is no more.
My flash unit is—I should say "was"—an old, low-powered Sunpak monoblock. I bought it used for $150 at least 20 years ago, and have abused it heavily for many years. I carted it all over Washington, D.C., in and out of office buildings doing endless grip-and-grins and executive headshots, used it as my only light source for hundreds of tabletop shots and many hundreds of kiddie and graduate portraits, and pressed it into service for every conceivable sort of task. (I took a sort of perverse pride in using all sorts of trickery to get by with just the one, even for relatively complicated lighting jobs. It's amazing what you can do with one light, a motley collection of reflectors, mirrors, cunning, and tin foil.) It moved with me six times, and never got the least respect; I threw it in and out of car trunks, packed it up in boxes, stored it on the floor or in the basement, and I never even had a case or a cover for it. Most recently, I had it set up in the living room to do eBay pictures with, and from that service it morphed into...a floor-lamp. That's right...I was using its modeling lamp to read by.
Then one evening a few weeks ago I was in the kitchen and Zander yelled, "It's on FIRE! It's SMOKING! Your light is SMOKING!" Sure enough, foul-smelling smoke (think burning plastic) was pouring out of the old thing. It was too hot to touch and the modeling light was brown and twisted (it has never gotten a new bulb or flash tube in all the years I've had it). Something shorted, I suppose, and its innards fried.
I can't complain. It has had a big part in helping me earn many tens of thousands of dollars over the decades I had it, and it worked perfectly for far, far longer than I ever expected it to. Who would think a bargain $150 monoblock would last for 22 years of yeoman service? It was a surprisingly versatile unit, too—it seldom blew fuses but yielded a surprising amount of light. It had three power settings and a slave.
Seldom has photo equipment given so much for so little. The hardy little Sunpak is survived by a very battered old light stand, a white umbrella, an extra-long power cord, and about its fifth sync cord.
A great little light, that Sunpak. Couldn't ask for more. R.I.P.