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Old Dec 27, 2006, 9:58 PM   #1
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I have been reading on the boards and am looking for am external flash for my Rebel XT/350D. I would like to stay under $100. Is it possible to get a good flash for less than $100? I have seen some post about SunPaks but not sure which model would work. Whats a good starter flash to get?
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Old Dec 28, 2006, 9:00 AM   #2
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easy to use decent flash under 100 can be only used if you are lucky
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Old Dec 28, 2006, 10:00 AM   #3
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I agree that staying under $100 will be hard.
Many people here seem to like the higher end Sigma flash (the 500 SuperG, I think) but that will be too much money. They might make a lower power model that would work... and it would be cheaper.

In general Sunpak and Metz both have a good reputation. But are they cheap enough? I don't know.

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Old Dec 28, 2006, 10:36 AM   #4
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momof3b1g wrote:
I have seen some post about SunPaks but not sure which model would work.
In a non-dedicated external Flash, some of the Sunpaks are very popular, since they have a relatively low trigger voltage (some flashes have relatively high trigger voltages that can damage a digital camera's electronics)

A very popular non-dedicated flash is the Sunpak 383 Super ($79 at B&H). It's got 3 Auto Aperture Ranges, tilt, swivel, a GN of 120 Feet (37 meters) at ISO 100, as well as manual power settings (full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16).

Note that you'd need to use manual exposure on the camera for best results with a non-dedicated Auto Thryistor flash like this, setting the aperture and ISO speed to match the desired Auto Range on the flash.

Once you select a range (for example, the middle range will go from 4 to 30 feet at ISO 100 and f/4, just set the camera to match for ISO speed and aperture. Then, select a shutter speed that allows the amount of ambient light desired (typically around 1/100 second is fine at lower ISO speeds indoors, if you want the flash to contribute most of the light without worrying about motion bur from ambient light exposure).

This flash also has a sliding scale for ISO speed that you can use to see other combinations for the same aperture range. For example, you could use ISO 200 and f/5.6 instead of ISO 100 and f/4 for the same 4 to 30 feet Auto Range.

Then, as long as you stay within the distances shown for the selected Auto Range on the flash, the flash controls the exposure (it's got a built in sensor that measures reflected light and terminates the output when it sees enough for the selected Auto Range).

Using this type of Auto Thyristor Flash solution also has the benefit of eliminating a preflash (most Digital Camera Flash systems use a preflash to help judge the length of the main flash burst needed).

On the downside, a non-dedicated solution means that you'll need to take more time matching the flash to the camera if you plan on changing apertures often indoors (most people would be OK just setting it to around f/5.6 and leaving it there with flash, but some may want more creative control with flash and vary their aperture more often for depth of field purposes).

You'd lose AF assist (built into most dedicated strobes), and you'd lose high speed sync (FP) ability (so, you'd be limited to shutter speeds within the camera's sync speed limitation, which is 1/200 second on your Rebel XT). But, as long as you're using it indoors (versus outdoors for fill with a lens set to wider apertures), a non-dedicated solution can work fine if you don't mind using manual exposure.

BTW, since most new camera buyers go with a dedicated flash solution (where the flash is aware of the camera settings being used), Auto Thryistor Type flashes are dirt cheap on the used market.

There are a number of similar Sunpak models (same GN, features, auto ranges, etc.) in the used market, and you can usually pick up a decent flash for around $25 or less going used.

For example, I bought a Sunpak 333 Auto with 3 Auto Aperture Ranges, Tilt, Swivel, Manual Zoom Head, GN of 120 Feet at ISO 100, as well as multiple Manual Power Settings for $25 in 10 (as new in box) condition from the used department at B&H a while back. I don't think the manual had even been thumbed through. lol

I also bought a smaller Sunpak 222 Auto (tilt but no swivel, GN of around 70 feet. 2 Auto Ranges) for $7 from the used department at keh.com a while back (and they even threw in a nice coiled PC Sync Cord With it). lol

Make sure to check the trigger voltages of any used strobe you go with. I've got some older Vivitars that might just fry the electronics in some new cameras unless I used a Wein Safe Sync (which is one reason I bought some newer used Sunpaks a while back).

Here is a good site with user measurements from popular strobes:


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