Bowens 200J monoblocs: institutionally weak slave cells?

Started Jan 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Bowens 200J monoblocs: institutionally weak slave cells?
Jan 19, 2013

Hi All,

. recently set up a simple 3-light studio for a client, and advised the purchase of 3 Bowens 200J Gemini monoblocs (not the very new ones, rather the last versions, which are still on sale 
monoblocs: one 500J Gemini R, and a first-generation 200J Gemini. The plan was to use the pop-up flash on their Nikon D3100 (in manual at its lowest power) to trigger the lights' slaves. My two lights (at the back of the studio, out of line of sight behind v-flats, lighting up the white background) fired flawlessly, while the new 200J light, at the front and only 5 feet from the camera, was intermittent. I determined that that particular slave was quite insensitive by testing it using a speedlight I had brought along: I needed to pop at full power, from camera position, pointed right at the slave, to get the light to fire every time. Confirmed: low sensitivity.myTwo of them took a bit longer to arrive, so I loaned the client two of
 I told the client to be prepared to return it.No worries, I just figured that this one light was faulty (remember, my two older lights were firing every time from the camera's tiny little pop-up set at lowest power). So
Well, the two new 200J lights arrived and, while they are more sensitive than the first new 200J light, they are far less sensitive than my older lights. I had to increase the power of the pop-up flash on the camera to 50% to get them to fire 3 out of 5 times (incidentally, and unfortunately, the pop-up was now contributing to the exposure).
Not happy about this, I contacted the retailer who spoke to his distributer. The answer I got back was that, after 9/11, companies were asked to make infrared slaves much weaker, so they couldn't be used to trigger things that go boom from very far away.
Anybody give credence to this explanation? I can't see all three new monoblocs all having the same manufacturing fault (Occam's Razor), but of what use is a weak slave cell on a studio light, in a small, closed studio, which, incidentally, has all white walls? (absolutely ideal conditions for slave cell use).
Any considered comments or insights?
Nikon D3100
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