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Old May 18, 2012, 1:40 PM   #1
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Default A300 Flash Question

Looking to upgrade from my HVL-F20AM... to a much more robust flash.

I was looking at the HVL-F43AM. It mentions on the user manual that the shoe mount must be an "Auto Lock Accessory Shoe" ... Not sure if my A300 is an auto lock accessory shoe. Also not sure if that's the flash unit I should buy... 36AM, 56AM. I want to leave my self room to grow with the flash as I experiment more. I have decided to stay with SONY so this is an expensive purchase and I want to do my research upfront.

Any helpful hints, tips, or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Michael
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Old May 19, 2012, 10:19 AM   #2
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The Minolta/Sony hotshoe is physically different from the standard shoe on other cameras. The name must be something that Sony has given it. The camera and flash are a match, though.
As you go up in price, you gain features as well as flash power. I am not too familiar with this family of flashes, so am not sure what the exact specs are. Resale value on these units seems to stay pretty high, so if you need to upgrade in the future, you probably won't lose too much.

brian
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Old May 19, 2012, 1:19 PM   #3
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What's your budget?

There are lots of flash models that will work with your A300, including the HVL-F43AM that you're looking at.

Others you may want to consider, too:

Nissin Di622 Mark II (they released this model for Sony models a while back, and it's more powerful than most other models in it's price range):
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...I_Digital.html

Metz 44AF-1:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Flash_for.html

Metz 50AF-1:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._AF_1_TTL.html

Metz 58AF-2:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._AF_2_TTL.html

Those 3 Metz models have user upgradeable firmware via USB. That way, if Sony releases newer camera models, they can post a new firmware version to fix any compatibility issues (whereas with some third party flash models, you may find issues with new camera models and need to send a flash back to the manufacturer to upgrade the firmware, if it's even upgradable). You'll find newer firmware downloads on the Metz web site for them.

Of course, you can find some good deals on used flash models, too. For example, a used Sony HVL-F42AM would only run you around $200 at keh.com (a very reputable vendor of used gear).

http://www.keh.com/camera/Sony-Digit...991031330?r=FE

You may also want to consider whether or not you want to use the flash "off camera" (versus only in the hotshoe), so that you can trigger it using your A300's built in flash (as not all models have built in sensors allowing them to work as slave flashes that way). IOW, a higher end flash model may be a better bet if you want wireless ability.

BTW, I see that this is your first post here. So, Welcome to Steve's.
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Old May 19, 2012, 8:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
What's your budget?

There are lots of flash models that will work with your A300, including the HVL-F43AM that you're looking at.

Others you may want to consider, too:

Nissin Di622 Mark II (they released this model for Sony models a while back, and it's more powerful than most other models in it's price range):
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...I_Digital.html

Metz 44AF-1:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Flash_for.html

Metz 50AF-1:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._AF_1_TTL.html

Metz 58AF-2:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._AF_2_TTL.html

Those 3 Metz models have user upgradeable firmware via USB. That way, if Sony releases newer camera models, they can post a new firmware version to fix any compatibility issues (whereas with some third party flash models, you may find issues with new camera models and need to send a flash back to the manufacturer to upgrade the firmware, if it's even upgradable). You'll find newer firmware downloads on the Metz web site for them.

Of course, you can find some good deals on used flash models, too. For example, a used Sony HVL-F42AM would only run you around $200 at keh.com (a very reputable vendor of used gear).

http://www.keh.com/camera/Sony-Digit...991031330?r=FE

You may also want to consider whether or not you want to use the flash "off camera" (versus only in the hotshoe), so that you can trigger it using your A300's built in flash (as not all models have built in sensors allowing them to work as slave flashes that way). IOW, a higher end flash model may be a better bet if you want wireless ability.

BTW, I see that this is your first post here. So, Welcome to Steve's.
Thanks for all of the great advice. And thanks for the welcome. I am an old 35 mm film user. I have gotten back into photography in the last few years and am still getting comfortable with all of the digital components. I really appreciate all of your advice.
Michael
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Old May 19, 2012, 8:10 PM   #5
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There are lots of options around.

For example, if you're not that concerned about compatibility with future Sony models, the Minolta 3600HS, which is the same flash as the Sony HVL-36AM, where Sony just "rebranded" it after purchasing Konica-Minolta) would be a great budget choice for your A300 (as you can buy one for around $100 now, and it should work fine with your A300):

http://www.keh.com/camera/Minolta-Ma...990652490?r=FE

More about it here (discontinued now).

http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/sto...umber=HVLF36AM
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Old May 19, 2012, 8:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
There are lots of options around.

For example, if you're not that concerned about compatibility with future Sony models, the Minolta 3600HS, which is the same flash as the Sony HVL-36AM, where Sony just "rebranded" it after purchasing Konica-Minolta) would be a great budget choice for your A300 (as you can buy one for around $100 now, and it should work fine with your A300):

http://www.keh.com/camera/Minolta-Ma...990652490?r=FE

More about it here (discontinued now).

http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/sto...umber=HVLF36AM
You've given me a lot of choices. I'm looking at several of your recommendations and looking at options and customer reviews. So many features to consider. I don't need a Cadillac but I don't want to outgrow this flash in a year. Also considering the cost... not on a budget , but can't go crazy. Other than that I'd just get the Sony 56AM.

Thanks again for all of your help!

Last edited by mandm22; May 19, 2012 at 8:59 PM.
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Old May 19, 2012, 9:01 PM   #7
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To put things into perspective, your HVL-F20AM has a GN (Guide Number) of 20 feet at ISO 100.

To determine the flash range, just divide the GN by the aperture you're using.

For example, at f/5.6, you can expect a flash range of less than 4 feet at ISO 100 using a direct (versus bounced) flash with it if you want a properly exposed image:

GN of 20 / 5.6 = 3.57 feet

Then, each time you double the ISO speed, flash range increases by 1.5X. So, the higher the ISO speed, the greater the flash range for a given GN and aperture setting. But, of course, higher ISO speeds can degrade image quality.

A flash like a Minolta 3600HS (D) has a GN of 85 feet at ISO 100 (more than 4 times as powerful as your existing HVL-F20AM). So, despite it's low price on the used market, you'd be getting a dramatically more useful flash model.

Size and weight also comes into the equation. So, consider how the camera will "feel" with a larger and heavier flash model in it's hotshoe, too.

There's no one perfect choice, as you'll find pros and cons to any of them. But, any of the models we've mentioned so far would be a huge improvement over your HVL-F20AM for most purposes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mandm22 View Post
...Other than that I'd just get the Sony 56AM.
Or, get the newer HVL-F58AM instead so that you get the nicer head swivel feature like the new HVL-F43AM has, with internal feature upgrades that make it compatible with the newer wireless protocols that future Sony models may make better use of that the older HVL-F56AM doesn't understand. ;-)

The [now discontinued] HVL-F56AM is just a rebranded Minolta 5600HS (D).

So, you can often find the Minolta models for less on the used market. Just keep in mind that when looking at Minolta flash models that only the Minolta 3600HS (D), [which is the same flash as the Sony HVL-F36AM], and the Minolta 5600HS (D), [which is the same flash as the Sony HVL-F56AM], are going to be fully compatible with your camera (other Minolta flash models are going to fire at full power, regardless of camera settings, as they are *not* compatible with newer digital cameras like your A300.
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Old May 20, 2012, 7:12 PM   #8
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Thanks for the additional info. The info about the 56AM compared to the 58 AM... And specially the info regarding the Minolta models. I am always a little concerned when buying non Sony brands for my Sony products.
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Old May 20, 2012, 7:33 PM   #9
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Well... Keep in mind that Sony purchased Konica Minolta digital camera related assets so that they could get into the dSLR market.

Konica Minolta had two dSLR models out at the time of that purchase... the Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D, and the Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D

Basically, Sony took the 5D body, made some minor changes, plugged in a newer 10MP Sensor, renamed Antishake to SSS and added a few features to it and launched the Sony A100. It was mostly all Konica Minolta technology except for the Sony Sensor in it (and the Konica Minolta models also used Sony sensors). I've still got a KM 5D (as well as a newer Sony A700). Again, one of the reasons Sony bought Konica Minolta is because they already has a system that worked, including a lens mount, lenses, flash models, in body stabilization, etc.; and Sony wanted to get into the dSLR business. So, they just continued the evolution of the Konica Minolta dSLR line, and rebranded a lot of the old Minolta products (lenses, flash models, etc.) to start with (and some of the current Sony lenses are still the original Minolta design, just rebranded as Sony).

The only two shoe mounted flash models that were fully compatible with the KM 5D or 7D were the 5600HS (D) and 3600HS (D) anyway; and the new Sony lineup maintained compatibility with them (and that includes your A300); as Sony just rebranded them as the HVL-F56AM and HVL-36AM, with no changes in features or specs.

A bit of flash history... when digital cameras were introduced, the flash models had to be redesigned to use a metering preflash. That's because the reflective characteristics of imaging sensors (CCD or CMOS) in digital cameras really doesn't lend itself well to metering from them during the exposure (the way "off the film" flash metering worked with film cameras).

So, the 3600HS (D) and 5600HS (D) were designed to talk to digital cameras before they were launched, so they'd better understand the protocol a camera would need to use tell them to fire a metering preflash (so a digital camera could measure the results and determine the length of the main flash burst needed and fire the flash for the needed amount of time for correct exposure).

But, earlier Minolta flash models don't understand that new communications between the camera and flash (Minolta didn't build that in until the 3600HS and 5600HS models). So, even though a lot of the older Minolta flash models will fit into the hotshoe, they'll always fire at full power with a KM or Sony dSLR. So, you'll want to avoid the other Minolta Flash Models.
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Old May 20, 2012, 8:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
...The only two shoe mounted flash models that were fully compatible with the KM 5D or 7D were the 5600HS (D) and 3600HS (D) anyway; and the new Sony lineup maintained compatibility with them (and that includes your A300); as Sony just rebranded them as the HVL-F56AM and HVL-36AM, with no changes in features or specs.
Oops.. I forgot one. The Minolta 2500 (D) will also work. Sony just didn't continue it in the new lineup when it bought Konica Minolta's digital camera assets. But, it will still work with your A300. This one:

http://www.mhohner.de/sony-minolta/oneflash/pf2500d

That's a really good reference site for finding out more about Sony and Minolta camera bodies, flashes, lenses, accessories, etc. Here's the flash page (and you'll see menus on the left for other categories):

http://www.mhohner.de/sony-minolta/flashes.php

The 2500 (D) doesn't support wireless or High Speed Sync. It's also a weaker flash. So, it's probably a better idea to move up to Minolta 3600HS (D) on a tighter budget, as they're only about $100 in Excellent condition from reputable vendors of used gear like keh.com (you'll find them in the Minolta Maxxum section in the Flash Category), and it's a nicer flash model.
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