Frustration! The factory warranty on my Paul C. Buff 64″ soft-silver umbrella ran out exactly 52 days ago — less than two full months ago. Last night my PLM completely disintegrated. The (what looks to me to be a rather flimsy, thin and fragile) wire ring, which the umbrella ribs attach to at the top point of the umbrella, snapped upon opening it. The umbrella is no longer usable. It’s entirely FUBAR.
What’s really frustrating is that it was hardly used! I mean REALLY, hardly used. I bought it the summer before last and used it on only two shoots that summer — it got opened perhaps four or five times, and closed perhaps four or five times that year. It was used for one shoot in 2014 — again, opened once or twice and closed once or twice. It wasn’t used again until a shoot this past August, where it was opened and closed once more. The rest of that time it has remained folded up in storage and untouched. And now, last night, I open it and it just all falls apart on me — just from opening it normally. Insane!
When I purchased it I had originally planned on using it much more than it ended up being used. But, it just so happened that I’ve been doing a lot of in-studio work and not much outdoor work over that time period, and the 64″ PLM isn’t practical in my studio environment. However, I’ve got a shoot coming up in four days which for which I was planning on using it — I guess I’m going to have to go to my 7′ Westcott for that one. But, of course, the 64″ PLM diffuser sock doesn’t fit over my 7′ Westcott. And, I really wanted that big soft-lighter quality to the light. Damn! Damn! Damn!
Man! I can’t believe I only got four shoots out of the damned thing before it went belly up! I know Paul Buff stuff isn’t exactly built like Profoto, or anything, but four shoots? And, never experiencing any kind of fall, or rough handling, or unusual wear and tear? C’mon! That’s a little crazy. No?
Now I’m really hesitant to buy any more Paul Buff modifiers. I’ve been giving serious thought recently to acquiring a Paul Buff Octabox, but now? I just don’t know. I love my Paul Buff Einsteins and have never had any problems with them. But, electronics and light modifiers are two entirely different kinds of animals. I DO NOT want to drop the cash on an octabox just to get four or five shoots out of the thing before the speed-ring rips off of it, or something, and it becomes unusable.
It’s a damned shame. The PLM gave nice light. It really did. Now it’s just junk. I’m not too happy with Paul C. Buff stuff right about now, I can tell you. Argh! Four shoots! If it had to break, why couldn’t it have broken two months ago while the thing was at least still under warranty?
So, anyway… here’s an interesting thing about it all. Today, I browse on over to the Paul Buff website as I’m trying to decide whether or not to buy a replacement (Who knows, right? Maybe the PLM I got was just a flukey lemon that was built with a fault? I have actually looked around the internet and was unable to find anyone else complaining of the same problem. And, there’s got to be a lot more people out there who have a PLM and have used it A LOT more than I have, no?) and I see that all of the Paul C. Buff PLMs with on-axis speedring mount attachment are on sale, with a ‘final sale’ notice beside each one. Why? Apparently they’re being discontinued. Paul Buff is moving to standard umbrella mounts only for their PLM umbrellas and will no longer be manufacturing the PLMs with speedring attachments. They’re claiming it’s because there’s too many options available which is making it confusing and they want to simplify the line. But, who knows? Maybe there’s a common problem with the speedring mount PLMs? Maybe there actually is a lot of people experiencing the same problem mine experienced and Paul Buff has actually decided the design is faulty and it’s better just to trash it?
Whatever the case, I no longer have a Paul Buff 64″ PLM umbrella. I wish I did, but I don’t. I do, however, still have a 64″ inch Paul Buff PLM diffuser sock which appears to be no damned good for anything now. So, there’s that.