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Old Dec 9, 2006, 7:32 AM   #1
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I would be ever so grateful if someone can suggest a really good external flash for the Fuji S-9000 for my somebody special? Thanks for your kind suggestions.

MT/Sarah
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Old Dec 9, 2006, 8:21 AM   #2
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This model uses a "dumb" shoe (no communication between the flash and camera other than for triggering the flash).

So, your best bet is one of the Auto Thryistor type strobes.

The Sunpak 383 Super and Vivitar 285HV are popular choices in non-dedicated strobes.

If you want something in a handle mount, look at the Sunpak 544 and use it via the PC Sync Port.

Metz also makes a number of strobes that you can get an ISO standard shoe for and use the same way. Their MZ Series strobes all have a built in sensor to measure light and they have an auto mode available when used with a camera that has a dumb shoe (you can get an ISO Standard show for the MZ Series Metz strobes)

These are "Auto" strobes, in the sense that they have a built in sensor that measure reflected light during the exposure.

You'll need to use Manual Exposure on the camera and set the flash and camera to match for one of the Auto Aperture Ranges. Then, the flash will control it's own output for the Auto Range Selected.

For example, one of the Auto Ranges may show 3 to 22 feet at ISO 200 and f/5.6. So, you set the camera to f/5.6, ISO 200, and use a shutter speed of around 1/100 second (shutter speed makes no difference on how much light from the strobe is seen by the camera, so it's only used to vary ambient light). Then, set your White Balance to Flash or Sunny if the strobe is providing most of the light and fire away.

Or, select a different combination of settings to suit your tastes and needs.

If you're like me, you probably don't change apertures a lot in most condtions you'd need to use a strobe in. So, it's really not *that* much trouble.

The strobe (at least one with a built in sensor with an auto feature that measures reflected light), is doing the rest of the exposure work for you (terminating it's own output when it sees enough reflected light for the auto range with the aperture/ISO speed combination selected).

It's not like you'd need to compute your distance to subject each time, too (like you would using a manual only strobe). The built in sensor in the strobe handles it for you, "throttling" it's own output within the Aperture Range selected.

Check out the used market, too. You can often find some pretty good deals.

For example, I paid a whopping $25 for a Sunpak 333 Auto in 10 (as new in box) condition from the used department at B&H. It's got 3 Auto Aperture Ranges, Tilt, Swivel, Manual Zoom head, GN of around 120 ft at ISO 100, depending on the zoom head position, manual power settings and more. :-)

Most new camera buyers are using dedicated strobes now (since most digital cameras with a hotshoe from major brands like Nikon and Canon have a "smart shoe" and use a dedicated strobe designed specifically for their cameras).

So, the used market is full of bargains on older non-dedicated Auto Thyristor type strobes.
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Old Dec 9, 2006, 9:22 AM   #3
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Thanks a lot, JimC-

I appreciate your very detailed answer. I just wanted to be sure there was no dedicated flash available that I wasn't aware of right now. Thanks!

MT/Sarah
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Old Dec 9, 2006, 9:36 AM   #4
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Nope... Fuji cameras use a dumb shoe. But, on the plus side, you don't have a metering preflash like you do with dedicated solutions from other manufacturers using an external flash.

Here are the specs for the Sunpak 383 Super at B&H (and this is a very popular strobe for cameras with a dumb shoe). For that matter, many people prefer an Auto Thryistor type solution, even when a dedicated strobe is available (since you don't have a preflash issue with a non-dedicated solution).

Sunpak 383 Super at B&H

Notice the 3 Auto Aperture Ranges for it. There will be a sliding scale on the strobe for ISO speed, showing you what Aperture you need to use on the camera for the ISO Speed and range selected (and a different switch lets you select from the 3 available ranges, showing you a distance scale on the strobe for the distances you can shoot in).

The middle range on this one is 4 to 30 feet at ISO 100 (that's how they rate them) and f/4.

So, all you'd need to use the strobe within that range is set the camera to ISO 100 and f/4 and pick a shutter speed that lets the amount of ambient light in desired (around 1/100 second is usually fine in most conditions). If you vary the ISO speed, the aperture you use will change. For example, if you change it to ISO 200, the strobe scale will show f/5.6 as the correct aperture to use versus f/4 for the middle range.

Or, if you're shooting at a further distance, pick the Auto Range that allows you to shoot from 8 to 60 feet instead. That range will show f/2 (not available on the Fuji) for ISO 100. But, if you move the ISO scale to ISO 200, you can get the same Auto Range at f/2.8; or if you move it to ISO 400, you can get the same Auto Range at f/4, etc.

The scales on the strobe are designed to make it easy to understand what settings you need on the camera to match the Auto Range.

So, as long as the person you're giving the gift to can comprehend using manual exposure and setting the camera to match the strobe, they shouldn't have too much trouble.

There is no fully dedicated flash option available for Fuji models (it's strictly a "dumb shoe"). So, manual exposure is going to be needed for better flash results with any solution, and an Auto Thryistor type strobe can control it's own output within the distances shown for one of the ranges, if you set the strobe and camera to match for Aperture and ISO speed.

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Old Dec 9, 2006, 12:20 PM   #5
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That is an excellent explanation, JimC, and I thank you very much-

I am going to pack your post with the Sunpak 383.

MT/Sarah
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Old Dec 9, 2006, 1:42 PM   #6
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Sarah,

Jim has covered all the bases already.

If you want a new unit Sunpak 383fits the bill perfectly. If you can find a Vivitar 283 or 285HV with an off-camera cable and a VP-1 module for 283 in good condition, you'll have a very versatile reliable and quite powerful flash for you S9000.

In case of 283 you will be better off with a later Korean made flash units (they have a triggering voltage of 6.5-8.0V, unlike older Japanese made units that went above 400V).

I'm very happy with my 12 years old Vivitar 283 and 14 years old 285 and can highly recommend them as good non-dedicated automatic flashguns that give you good exposure and working range (up to 15 meters).

regards,

Alex
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