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Old Dec 28, 2006, 5:53 PM   #1
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I don't see that much attention paid to this in reviews. Are the offerings from these vendors for their DSLRs all similar, or do some sytems have significant advantages or provide better value?

How do the following stack up, for instance?

Pentax AF 360
Olympus FL-36
Nikon SB600
Canon 430EX
Sony HVL-F36AM

Or maybe I should compare the better models like:

Canon 580EX
Nikon SB800
Olympus FL-50
Sony HVL-F56
Pentax ?

Does anyone have any info or experience to share? Are there anywebsites that have done head to head comparisons with any of these? Are comparbly priced models roughly similar from the different manufacturers or not?

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Old Dec 28, 2006, 6:32 PM   #2
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The manufacturers' brand flash units can only be used with the corresponding branded cameras so your choices are much more limited. Even third party flash units, such as Sigma, will have camera brand specific models.

The models you have indicated are the middle and high tier models. The high tier will have more power and features than the middle tier so will cost more of course!

I only have experience with the Nikon Creative Light System (CLS) so can't comment on the other offerings. CLS offers advanced integration with my D70s for adjusting the flash output based on the scene as well as wireless remote control of the flash by the camera. Canon has similar offerings and Sony may offer the Minolta system but I'm not sure about the others. There are other brands, such as Vivitar, which are not camera brand specific, but will have reduced functionality.
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Old Dec 28, 2006, 11:03 PM   #3
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kenbalbari wrote:
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Does anyone have any info or experience to share? Are there anywebsites that have done head to head comparisons with any of these? Are comparbly priced models roughly similar from the different manufacturers or not?
Except for the Nikon's weird numbering system most flashes nomenclature are pretty indicative of their power output which are rated by their Guide Nunber (in meter) usually @ ISO of 100 - For example:
Pentax AF-360 - the GN is 36(m)
Olympus FL-36 - the GN is 36(m)
Canon 430EX - the GN is 43(m)
Canon 420EX - the GN is 42(m)
Sony HVL-F36AM - the GN is 36(m)

or:
Canon 580EX - the GN is 58(m)
Canon 550EX - the GN is 50(m)
Olympus FL-50 - the GN is 50(m)
Sony HVL-F56AM - the GN is 56(m)
Sigma EF500DG - the GN is 50(m)
Metz 54MZ - the GN is 54(m)

With the higher-end models especially from the brands that have the wireless mode (i.e. Canon, Nikon, and Sony/Minolta) theses top models can also be used as the Master/Controller unit whereas the lower end units can only act as slaves...

Also higher GN is only 1 indication as too how far the flash can cast (which can be accentuated by their internal zoom), the other unmentioned feature is how wide can the flash cover which is quite critical for WA lenses (14mm for example on the 580EX) which is usually not listed!
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Old Dec 29, 2006, 9:42 AM   #4
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NHL wrote:
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Metz 54MZ - the GN is 54(m)
If I were going to invest much money in a flash system, I'd probably go with a Metz MZ series flash like NHL mentioned.

If you buy a Metz MZ series strobe (like the 54MZ3, 54MZ4 or 54MZ4i), you can get a dedicated foot that lets the strobe communicate with the camera (so that it knows what camera settings are being used and can adjust it's output accordingly).

Metz makes dedicated modules (the foot is interchangeable) for popular Camera mounts like Nikon, Canon, Konica-Minolta/Sony, and Pentax.

So, you could use the same flash on more than one camera system by changing the foot.

The Metz MZ series strobes also have a built in sensor to measure reflected light during a flash exposure (just like an older Auto Thryistor type flash) using their "Auto" versus TTL modes. This has the benefit of eliminating the metering preflash used by most dedicated flash systems, since some people will always blink when they see a preflash.

Unlike most non-dedicated Auto Thryistor solutions, the Metz MZ Series strobes don't require you to use Manual Exposure on the camera with the correct foot (since the foot communicates with the camera and lets the strobe know what camera settings are being used).

You can also go with a much lower cost solution if you don't mind using manual exposure (except you'd lose features like Wireless and High Speed Sync) simply by buying an older Auto Thyristor type flash.

For example, I got a Sunpak 333 Auto with 3 Auto Aperture Ranges, Manual Power Settings (Full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16) with Tilt, Swivel, Zoom Head, GN of around 120 Feet for only $25 in 10 (as new in box) condition from the used department at B&H a while back.

I just set the aperture and ISO speed on the camera to match the desired Auto Range on the flash, selecting a shutter speed that lets in the amount of ambient light desired, and shoot away (letting the flash control the exposure since it measures reflected light and terminates the output when it sees enough for the selected Auto Range).

Auto Thyristor flashes are dirt cheap on the used market, since most new camera owners buy the camera manufacturer's dedicated systems for flash. This kind of low cost solution works fine for my limited needs (and also eliminates a preflash). In a new non-dedicated flash, the Sunpak 383 Super and Vivitar 285HV are popular choices and sell for under $100 new.

But, if I were going to buy a better flash system that was aware of my camera settings (versus a non-dedicated solution), I'd likely go with a Metz MZ series flash with the correct SCA foot to match the camera system being used.

The camera manufacturer's strobes can offer some unique benefits in some areas (for example, Wireless may be better supported by the camera manufacturer versus Metz in some cases). But, overall, the Metz MZ series strobes seem to be a very well liked solution, even from users that have both the camera manufacturer's strobes and a Metz.

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Old Dec 29, 2006, 3:50 PM   #5
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JimC wrote:
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... But, overall, the Metz MZ series strobes seem to be a very well liked solution, even from users that have both the camera manufacturer's strobes and a Metz.
-> I'm one of those users:
http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=53


... and not satisfied with just 1 Metz: :lol: :-) :G

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