Flash systems usually consist of three parts:
- Flash generator, a mostly electronic control unit with which photo flash systems are controlled. Flash generators can be separate devices to which the flash lamps are connected. But there are also devices with integrated flash lamps.
- Flash head or lamp head and
- Light shaper ;
In the lightning generator , the energy required for lightning is converted from the mains current in capacitors to a higher voltage (approx. 500 volts) and stored. When triggered, the control electronics deliver the desired amount to the flash head . There the electric current is converted into light by gas discharge. Most flash systems still have a permanent light (" modeling light" or "pilot light") available in order to be able to assess the light characteristics of the light former used.
The light shapers are attached to the lamp head in order to create different light characters. There are u. a. Normal reflectors , wide-angle reflectors , parabolic reflectors , Fresnel lens spotlights , light troughs with fabric diffuser, or plexiglass diffuser and fiber optic cable for illuminating the smallest objects. With "compact devices" the generator and lamp head are combined in one housing, with many light shapers the flash tubes are an integral part of the light shaper.
With modern flash systems, the amount of light , color temperature and burn-off time can be individually regulated. The electrical energy stored in the capacitors can be stored for several weeks. Opening flash generators and compact devices is therefore not without risk. With more modern studio flash systems, the capacitors are discharged via high-performance resistors after switching off. The same applies if the flash output is reduced.