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SteveKosh Jan 18, 2010 3:24 PM

Mixing flash and camera brands question
Can I use the Sony HVL-F32X Flash that I just bought with another brand of camera? It's a great flash, but I want to upgrade to a DSLR and I don't want to buy another flash.


JimC Jan 18, 2010 4:01 PM

Short Answer. No.

It's designed specifically for Sony (non dSLR) models and uses a proprietary protocol for communication between the camera and the flash.

It will *not* work on Sony dSLR models either, as the flashes used by Sony dSLR systems are very different, and based on the flash system used by Konica Minolta digital camera models, and their shoe design is different, too.

You'll find the same type of problems with other manufacturer's dedicated flash units (they use a proprietary protocol for communication between the camera and flash).

You will also find that dedicated flash models designed for film cameras within a given brand may not work on a digital camera within a given brand. Some may have what's known as a "non TTL Auto" mode (where the flash has a built in sensor to measure reflected light during the exposure, terminating the flash output when the flash sees enough light for the aperture and ISO speed you have set). That type of arrangement lets you use manual exposure, setting the flash and camera to match for ISO speed and aperture, so that the flash is doing a lot of the exposure work. But, your flash doesn't appear have that feature (it's designed as a dedicated flash instead).

Longer Answer:

Your flash model is not going to work as a dedicated flash (i.e., allowing communication with the camera about camera settings being used) with any dSLR model, Sony or not. It's designed specifically for the Sony digital camera lineup, *excluding* their dSLR models.

But, it appears to have manual power settings. So, you could probably get it to trigger that way *if* the contacts in the foot did not short out on contacts in a camera's hotshoe, as it appears they're using an odd arrangement and the user guide on that model suggests using an included shoe adapter and using a sync cord to trigger it instead if you're not using an acc shoe type. With a Sony dSLR, you'd need an adapter to even mount it, much less trigger it. With other dSLR models, you may be able to mount it with shoe adapter (in an off camera bracket if you need to use a hotshoe to PC Sync port adapter to give you a sync port).

Because it has manual power settings, provided you can get it to trigger (and it probably would), you could probably use it as a manual flash (i.e. using a manual power setting with it), using manual exposure on the camera and tweaking the settings for correct exposure, based on distance to subject, etc. IOW, trial and error.

Bottom line, it would make a very poor flash solution for use with any current dSLR model, Sony or not.

I'd get a flash model that's fully compatible with the dSLR model you end up buying instead (or at least a non-dedicated flash with an Auto mode so you could use manual exposure and set the camera and flash to match if you're on an even tighter budget). You'll want to avoid dedicated flash units like that one, unless they're known to be fully compatible with the dSLR you plan to mount it on.

SteveKosh Jan 19, 2010 8:57 AM

Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough answer.
Buying any flash for any camera makes a good argument for walking into a brick and mortar camera store. It's confusing!
The Sony flash was supposed to be compatible for my slightly old Sony compact, but the only way it will work is with the sync cord. No biggie, but still...
I'm glad that I asked, and you answered this question before I purchased new equipment. Maybe I can save money by buying both camera and flash at the same time.
Thanks again.

JimC Jan 19, 2010 9:40 AM

Your best bet would probably be to decide on the camera you want first. Then, ask about flash models that are known to work well with it (which will vary by camera model, especially where third party flashes are concerned).

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