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Old Nov 26, 2004, 5:36 PM   #1
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I finally broke down and bought a Sony P150. Much to love about this camera, but the flash is weak. It can accept a slave flash, but I am wondering how effective they are. Sony sells one (HVL-FSL1B) -- guide rated at 14 for $80 at J&R. Doesn't sound terribly powerful. Are there other brands that can be used? Does Sunpak make anything I can use?

I'm totally ignorant about slave flash use, so any input is appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Nov 28, 2004, 5:35 PM   #2
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II guess your camera always has a preflash , then you need to get a slave flash for digital camera, like those:
http://www.vivitar.com/Products/Flas...ash.html#DF200
http://www.srelectronics.com/
http://www.phoenixcorp.com/Flash/Dig...tal_flash.html
There are surely more on the market today

some discusions related to "digital" slave flash:
http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=53
http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...c.php?id=33353
you may find the recap document by Guisela inside that thread useful too:
http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/a...nt.php?id=4030

FYI: if a camera doesn'tuse preflash (Nikon cP950 for example) you just need a cheap slave cell to use any flash as "slave".; but this is probably not your case.

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Old Dec 8, 2004, 12:37 PM   #3
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To summarise my experience...

I appreciate KCan wants a substantial flashsetup but that wasn't what I wanted as I'm so appreciating the results from a very compact camera that is always to hand...I wanted the slaveflash size to be in keeping with the camera.

First I decided ona HVL-FSL1to go with my SonyP12 (which I bought knowing the flash on most compacts was too weak for my needs). Struggled to afford the £80-£100 asked in the UK for the FSL1Abut ordered one from a "grey" supplier for £49. The unit operatedOK but the mounting bracket was for the Japanese market and didn't fit all UK cameras. It was this reason I had to return it.

However in testing over a couple of days I was veryconcerned that the way Sony had set up the unit to be insensitive enough NOT to fire on the pre-flash or anti red-eye strobe meant that it often didn't fire when you wanted it to. Fill-in lighting outdoors and taking shots at night in brightly lit rooms were circumstances where it would often not fire at all.

A lovely lookingdesign of unit fitted to a P-Series camera where it fitted the casingcurve, less so with the W1/W12 square look.

So I looked elsewhere and came up with the Vivitar DF120 which I've owned for a while now and been very happy with.

You'll see from the image belowit is a very similar size and concept to the Sony slave. The brackets actuallylook like they were made in the same factory!

But the Viviatrhas several advantages.....

1: It can be swivelled on the bracket from side to side and more importantly tilted backwards for bounce flash, the Sony does neither.

2: It comes with a small rubber stand which is brilliant for placing the flash on a surface some way from the camera to getgood spread andlighting effects.

3: Most importantly you set the Viviar manually to whatever the number of pre-flashes your camera has. This means that it has a far higher sensitivity to firing and so far has gone off every time I've wanted it, even outdoors in otherwise strong light.

4: Price! I can buy 4 Vivitar DF120 units for the price of one Sony HVL-FSL1.

The DF120really proved itself while we were away on our summer hols. I never fitted it to the camera once but every time carried it in a pocket and placed it wherever was best to fill light into the subject in question.

Many times (like in an old church the camera flash alone could have never filled the shadows) I would just turn the slave on and hand it to my wife who would stand off to one side holding it above her head. I could freely move around to get the exact shots I wanted and the slave came up trumps every time.

I keep meaning to ordera second Vivitar slaveas there are situations where the light from the camera plus two slave units will really help get some previously impossible to capture images.

Below is an image of the DF120 on my P12.

By the way the DF120takes two AAA batteries. I bought Panasonic Pro+ Ni-MH rechargeables and one pair lasted all of our holiday despitefrequent use. Also the slave recycle time is faster than my Sony camera so it was always ready.

David

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Old Dec 8, 2004, 1:58 PM   #4
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David,

Very helpful info. Thanks! Quick follow-up question. I noticed that Vivitar no longer lists this flash on their website, though I found one available for $35 at B&H Photo in the US.

The mdoel they tout now is the Vivitar DF200, a larger (more powerful, presumably) flash unit. If you were to buy over again, would you go with the DF120 or the DF200?

Also, what kind of range do you get with the DF120? The guide numbers seem a bit confusing to me.

Thanks again for your input!

Brad
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Old Dec 8, 2004, 5:41 PM   #5
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Brad,

The Vivitar 200 is pretty large besides the Sony P12 or P100/150 cameras, I am so used to the extra photographic opportunities from these small cameras I didn't consider it once I saw it beside the camera!

It wasn't so much range I was looking for, more a broader fill of backgrounds. For example a group of 4people at about 12ft are fine with just the camera flash, but add the slave offset a bit and you can fill the slightly more distant background to avoid the grain or lack of clarity that arises when the light level is really too low.

To get best use from the slave you need to forget having it on the camera all the time...it doesn't need to be at all. Just hold or place it in theposition that will give the best fill and use it like that.

For example if taking a group of folks about 12ft away in a room with an end wall perhaps 20ft away you can put the slave the other side of the people and the wall will then come within its range...so both the main group and the background will be well lit.

Also the slave when used in the correct way will remove that heavy shadow cast with the Cybershots that have the sideways offset lens/flash arrangement.

Look into it but I have a feeling that the DF200 has an annoying issue that it has a learning mode with the way it ignores the pre-flash...but this resets every time you turn the flash off so the first flash image is messed up every time you get it out. I would hate that.

The DF120 has several alternative switched positions for this and once you know the right one you switch it onto that every time so it is up an firing properly from the begining.

Don't get me wrong, if you are looking to capture groups of a dozen folks, or large building interiors, you need a far bigger flash than the DF120...but then you probably wouldn't have chosen a small Cybershot digicameither!

Attached image is of the flash, bracket and stand.



David









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Old Dec 9, 2004, 3:34 AM   #6
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You sold me, David. I'm going to pick up the DF120 model for now. Down the road, I'll consider the DF200 if I need some extra fire power to use with my Sony P150 or Olympus C-4000. Thanks again for your insights.

Brad

PS - I'll try to post a follow-up review once I get this -- probably in late January or February.
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Old Dec 9, 2004, 5:34 AM   #7
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Brad,

Well I hope it suits you as well as it suited me, but it's not like getting the expensiveSony one home and finding that isn't what you want.

BTW a couple of things I don't think got mentioned. The Vivitar doesn't work with the Sony anti red-eye mode, it isn't able to ignore that many pre-flash pulses. No problem to me as I don't use the red-eye mode any more...don't like the delay and prefer to edit out the eyes if needed on the PC.

You can minimise the red-eye though by selecting the lowest flash output on the camera and holding the slave a bitaway from the camera for more lens-flash separation.

Also I don't think I said.... whatever you think of the range of the Vivitar trust me that in everyday situations it is effectivelythe same as the Sony slave.

Good luck and be great to hear what you think of it when you have time.

David


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Old Dec 19, 2004, 2:39 PM   #8
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I bought to Metz 28 cs-2 digital (http://www.metz.de/en/photo_electron...gital.225.html) the other day to go with my Powershot S60. Works very fine. Has learning mode (unlike others you only have to teach the Metz once what to do with you camera's pre-flashes and red-eye flashes) and besides manual modes an easy-mode with instant correction via + or - buttons on the back. It does unfortunatly not have the tilt option the Vivitar in this thread has. It's a rather new flash, but has gotten very good reviews in some magazines (mainly German magazines).
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