Hi I currently need the sound of some old camera flashes like the ones that used bulbs and have a very unique sound. Struggling to recreate or find anything relevant in FX libraries so any help or tips would be greatly appreciated.



  • I'd just love to have someone go find or buy the real hardware and record it; I'm dying to know if the sound we hear in films is really what those units sound like, or if it's a cliche or composite like gunfire. Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 15:51

6 Answers 6


Haven't tried this myself, but this should work; quick and low-budget suggestion that should at least work as a starting-point:

For powder bursts, flap a thin bed-sheet once, vigorously (this may need to be time-reduced or have the pitch adjusted). For a bulb flash/click; snip some scissors once for the higher 'click', and mix it with crushing a peanut shell with your hand. Again, some adjustment would probably be required.

Good luck!


You could try making your own flash powder and cover it with a wine glass (or other close-to-spheric piece of thin glass) to mimic the bulb's attenuation of the ignition...


A subtle crackle at the end of the "flash" might add to the old-school vibe. There are lots of things that crackle (candy wrappers, record players, rice krispies, etc) but I noticed the other day that hookah quick-light coals make for a great crackling sound. Pitch it down, EQ it, stretch it, whatever.

Also check the vinyl distortion plugin in Ableton for some more crackle/pop sounds.

Good luck!


I've been thinking about this lately too. What I've come up with is mostly conceptual, haven't really tried to cobble this together yet. But what I've been thinking is that the sound could be divided into distinct parts, such as a high pitched rising whine or tone, a click, then a burst/pop sound and perhaps another tonal sound that kind of drops after the burst/pop/click. Generate the sounds and then add them together in a DAW and you might have something close to the sound.


is there a high pitched whine on old cameras? the new ones have this as they charge the capacitor which stores the energy for the flash. if you're going to be igniting powder or burning oxygen, that won't require the same amount of energy?



Using a EQ and separating the channels with different settings and using some automation sometimes makes a phasey effect

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