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Old Aug 27, 2006, 12:02 PM   #1
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Can anyone add to the information I've typed below? I have three macro lenses (Minolta 50mm & Tamron 90mm f/2.8s for my Maxxum 7xi/RD-175/7D, Minolta 50mm f/3.5 for my Vectis RD3000) and I want to buy one or more macro flashes to suit my needs.

As far as I know, Minolta macro flashes began with the 1200AF ring-flash introduced just after the original 7000. When they changed the hot shoe design for later series cameras (such as for my 7xi and onward), the flash got a new mount and was called the 1200AF(N). For those unfamiliar, this flash attaches to the filter thread of the lens (either 49mm or 55mm with supplied adapters) to surround the lens with four selectable flash tubes for a variety of shadow effects and four focus-illumination lights, and connects by a cable to a controller body on the hot shoe. When all older flashes were virtually obsoleted by new ADI technology (my Dimage 5 and Maxxum 7D, for example), Minolta went to an entirely new controller (MFC-1000) which was sold separately from the actual ring-flash. This way, owners of older units could upgrade to just the new controller. But the ring-flash was also available, and they also introduced a twin-flash: a ring which held two tiny flashes on extendable arms. I assume that this flash would be more suited to distances of 1-3 feet, rather than the working distance of as little as a few inches for the ring-flash. Anyway, it seems that some people bought the three-piece set (controller, ring-flash, twin-flash) when it was available.

I recently acquired the latest Sony Alpha brochure, and it seems to show an interesting evolution in the Minolta-based macro flashes. The twin-flash is carried on as the HVL-MT24AM, but in the tiny drawing it looks like each flash head connects to the controller by a separate cable. Since I was under the impression that the MFC-1000 had only one connector, perhaps this is a totally new design from Sony. In addition, the ring-flash seems to have been dropped and replaced with a "ring light," a constant-on illuminator which still surrounds the lens but behaves like a camcorder light. This idea seems to have some advantages. First, the constant illumination would give a clear indication of the lighting in the final shot, without any surprise reflections or shadows. Second, it shouldn't need to be mounted to the hot shoe, as the "controller" appears to be nothing more than a battery pack with a pair of sliders for left/right intensity and therefore could be clipped to the camera strap. This would mean that for anyone doing a full portrait sitting with a true macro lens, both the ring-light and a standard flash (I have the Sony HVL-F56AM) could be attached to the camera at the same time, and the shooter could immediately select the ring-light for a close-up.

The ring-light idea seems like such a simple concept that I'd be willing to try building my own (sorry, Sony). But I need some advice on how to decide which macro flash(es) I should buy. I have a chance to buy a mint 1200AF(N) for $250, and the MFC-1000 controller sometimes hits eBay for around $400. Is there a cheaper solution? Am I right that the twin-flash is for slightly greater distances than the ring-flash -- meaning that I should have both? Does anyone know if Sony actually plans to continue the ring-flash, and was it simply omitted from the brochure? Did the MFC-1000 really have only one connector, and therefore is the new HVL-MT24AM a truly new beastie?

Also of interest in the brochure, the selection of lenses which are compatible with the Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 (listed under the "Lens Used" category of the specifications chart) is given as "Sony @ lenses" (I know "@" isn't the symbol for alpha, but it's the closest thing on the keyboard!). However, there is a blank line underneath that phrase, something which no other specification box has. It appears that Sony was undecided about whether to admit that DOZENS of fine older Maxxum lenses would work with their "new" baby, and chose at the last moment to leave this information out. The brochure went to print with a blank space instead of that info.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 7:51 PM   #2
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I can't answer your questions except to advise you that I bought the import model of the 1200 for $185 shipped from B&H last month, and it's still available for that price. if you insist on a USA warranty, it will run you about $205 shipped. These are NIB flash units, and BTW, they come with the FS-1100 which zealots are buying on eBay for $40 and up every day.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 8:27 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info on the B&H source. The price seems good, though the $250 I quoted was in Canadian dollars, so the difference isn't as huge. I would rather hear that Sony will be continuing an ADI-compatible ring-flash for less money than piecing together an old ring-flash ($185, B&H pricing) with a new controller ($400+, recent MFC-1000 eBay pricing). I'd be ecstatic if they'd continue to offer a three-piece outfit like the Minolta package (including the twin-flash). Speak up, Sony!
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Old Sep 15, 2006, 8:06 PM   #4
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Cope I just read your post re: the Minolta ring light. I'm assuming the flash that you bought is the 1200AF set-N. How is that working for you? I'm in the market and am trying to make sense of all the different components, now complicated by Sony. i have been told that the set-N is manual only on the 5D, and only fires at full strength. Any info you could give me would be appreciated.
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Old Mar 2, 2007, 6:12 AM   #5
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Hi Dr Lamonti.. As far as your 7D is concerned the 1200af(N) is not really compatible. I could only get it to work on manual mode on my 7D and then only on darker subjects. Lighter subjects were washed out and could not be compensated for except perhaps by using a ND (neutral density) filter to block the highlights and bring them within the shutter/aperture range. I haven't tried this. B&H Photo Video, New York have just started advertising the Sony macro flash [which by the way is identical to the Minolta MFC 1000 ] at US499. They are not able to supply the controller separately. I think the controller is more than a battery pack as it automates the exposure on the Sony Alpha and KM 7D unlike the 1200af(n). I think the latter should work quite well with your film camera.
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Old Mar 2, 2007, 6:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Since I was under the impression that the MFC-1000 had only one connector, perhaps this is a totally new design from Sony.
There are two versions of that Minolta controller. You need the newer version with multiple connections to work properly with DSLR models.

Here's an old thread dicussing it:

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=84

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Old Mar 3, 2007, 3:09 AM   #7
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Hi..Yes there are definately two connectors one for each of the flash units. However the KM version also had a third socket for attaching the 1200af ringflash. I've since learnt that this socket has been blanked out on the Sony badged controller so using the ringflash is not an option with their controller. B&H were selling the Km version controller only last year I'd wished I'd bought one then as it could have been bought separately. The flash units by themselves are being auctioned on E Bay right now [Item 120090444269] but he hasn't got a controller!!
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Old Mar 3, 2007, 1:46 PM   #8
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I tried to incorporate as much data as possible in my first post to eliminate duplication, but I suppose it was inevitable. (i.e., I KNOW the 1200AF(N) won't work on my 7D -- that's the reason for my inquiry! And I never claimed that the controller for the flash was simply a battery pack; I said that the new ring LIGHT -- not flash -- from Sony was probably nothing more than a battery/switch unit cabled to the LED component.)

So is this a correct chronology for those who are searching for compatible Minolta/Sony macro flash equipment?

1200AF -- macro ring-flash introduced for AF cameras;

1200AF(n) -- improved for new series' hot shoe;

MFC-1000 -- flash controller introduced to modernize old ring flashes for ADI cameras;

2400 -- twin flash introduced for different (longer-distance?) macro capabilities, and supplied with "new" version of MFC-1000 with three sockets (1 for 1200AF, 2 for 2400's dual flash-heads);

HVL-MT24AM -- Sony's continuation of the twin-flash WITHOUT capability to support ring-flash;

Ring-Light -- Sony's quasi-replacement for the ring-flash: a bank of LED lights for constant illumination like a camcorder lamp (similar designs also available from other manufacturers, since it has absolutely no dependance upon camera settings and should be 100% universal)

Correct-ish?

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