Paul C Buff – Passed Away at 78



Studio lighting industry legend Paul C Buff has passed away on March 14th 2015, at the age of 78 years.

From the Paul C Buff Company Website:

“With great sadness we announce that our founder, Paul C. Buff, passed away this week at the age of 78. He has been living with his beloved wife of 16 years, Deborah, and their extended family in their secondary home in Mobile, Alabama for over a year and passed away in this home with his family around him. Those of us who have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Paul have lost an invaluable mentor, an inspiring leader, and a treasured friend. The world has lost one of its most creative and adventurous pioneers.

In the coming weeks, we will celebrate Paul’s unique and extraordinary life, giving customers, employees, and friends the opportunity to share their tributes and memories. But first, we must take time to pause and grieve the loss of a man who had such a great impact on us all. If you wish to offer condolences in the mean time, we invite you to email them to”




Paul founded the Paul C Buff Lighting Company in 1980. With innovative products, great value for money, and above all exceptional customer service, the company has held a majority or market share in North America for a good part of 30 years.

An engineer, inventor, artist, philosopher and musician, Paul brought the compact monolight concept to the USA in the 1980’s when all that were previously available were large heavy pack and head systems. In the 1990’s the lights went portable for location use with the addition of the Vagabond, and recent Vabond Mini Lithium (VML), battery packs.

Although introduced a few years ago now, the fast flash duration and color accurate Einstein E640 mono lights and VML battery packs are still a combination hard to match, in terms of specs, or value for money for customers based in North America where the company deals direct to the public.


The future direction of the company has not been detailed except to say:

“For years, it has been our mission to advance Paul C. Buff, Inc. in the spirit of innovation and originality upon which it was founded. With gratitude for everything that Paul has taught us, we honor his memory by continuing to serve our customers with the outstanding products, support, and Golden Rule standards that he initiated”


There is a 2014 audio interview with Paul C Buff himself here telling his story, and a rare look into the PCB company here.

Paul’s obituary, written by his wife Deborah, can be viewed here.


Paul C Buff – Website.



  1. mmmfotografie 5 years ago

    I liked to have owned some product by designed him. Sadly it was impossible to buy from Europe and when it was possible it was priced more than double compared to the pricing in the USA.

  2. Ian Cheung 5 years ago

    Yes, I also considered buying Paul Buff equipment a number of times. There was a period when he did sell directly to International markets but as I remember warranty policies made it unattractive.

    It’s strange Paul Buff (the company) had so many failures in setting up distributors overseas, falling out with a number of them and leaving customers of those distributors in the lurch regarding warranties.

    • pwp 5 years ago

      Ian this is hardly the forum to pick up criticisms. Take that elsewhere if you must. This is a place to acknowledge a man who lived by his own rules and was a great friend of the photographic industry.

      Read up a little about him, it was a life lived for the expansion of others, not just himself. If more businesses ran with the depth of integrity that PCB has, the world would be a far happier place.

      • Ian Cheung 5 years ago


        I definitely don’t agree with “al to” below, and while I agree with your sentiments about Paul Buff, I don’t see anywhere in the post that said “This is a place to acknowledge a man who …”

        To be clear, I wasn’t critical of Paul Buff the man. I *have* read up on him and do acknowledge his contributions to the lighting community. As a wanted to be customer but couldn’t really be (like mmmfotografie), I was just commenting with a sense of pity that his company’s products weren’t really available to a global audience. Hearing testimonials of the great service and integrity only adds to this.

        If I was critical of the company, it was with their failures with their distributors and follow-up. And even then I was just recounting the events that happened.

        • the extra one 5 years ago

          ignore pwp. I too was in the same position as yourself. I later bought flashpoint monolights from adorama and still have them. sadly I dont do much studio photography. pity indeed they didnt put effort to get their gear sold out of the US. today there are so many excellent options though. I dont think theres anything wrong with these comments. AL TO…meh

  3. alberto 5 years ago

    He created a brand with integrity. You can send your lights in or drop them off for a week. They would clean, repair and update anything that needed to be done to make it up to par. Regardless if it was sent in for something minor. I hope they continue that tradition.

    The problem with pricing overseas is that they would buy at retail…then mark it up 400%. Theres no lower wholesale price for retailers. That is why they are sold through PCB directly.

  4. Charles Farrah 5 years ago

    Paul Buffs company is one of the best that Ive ever dealt with. He really was the consumers friend. Like Alberto said, I hope the company continues in his quest to create the best products at reasonable prices.

  5. Ricardo 5 years ago

    Unfortunate. My condolences for his family and friends.

    The industry lost one of the greats. The man was a maverick. I can’t tell you how many colleagues have spoken highly of his products. The quality, features and incredible value.

    I had no idea he was 78… He looked great for his age!

  6. al to 5 years ago

    Why is this information here? This is NOT an obituary section. Many photographers die every day in the line of duty and you seldom post or publish anything. I do not want to be rude, but this is neither relevant nor helpful for product reviews. It is also unfair. Thank you.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 5 years ago

      Hi al to,

      Ok I’ll bite 🙂 … how is it unfair?

      Paul was not a photographer to start with, he was a designer and manufacturer who for better or worse has probably had more influence on the direction of the industry than anyone else I could name.

      He also had very strong opinions on how things should be done, and now that he is no longer with us it will be very interesting to see the direction the company takes.

      If they do continue on to innovate etc they will no doubt have quite an impact and influence on what is available for you to purchase, from themselves and others. So I think its highly relevant.

  7. george 5 years ago

    it is a relative post. Paul had flash havoc all of his life 🙂

  8. Charles farrah 5 years ago

    Its incredibly relevant. Paul single handedly brought studio lighting to the every man, who didnt have thousands to spend. he changed the face of studio photography and opened the door to many!

  9. Stas Medvedev 5 years ago

    Paul wonderful and very interesting person. Two years ago I read a report about him and his company. I was very inspired by acquiring Einstein 640. A great product. I regret that he is not with us ..

  10. Earle 5 years ago

    This is most certainly relevant for all the reasons Elvis mentioned. And the company does bear watching for the future. Who knows what his heirs/corporate successors will want. Remember, Steve Jobs never planned an iPad Mini.

  11. Arnel 5 years ago

    Thank you Paul Buff for your contributions to photography. Your White Lighting and Einsteins are my primary strobe equipment. They have and continue to serve me well. Though I never met you personally, I feel how good a man you are with my interactions with your staff. They are kind, caring and I feel like I am treated like family every time I call.

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