Good site(s) for flash reviews?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by John A., Jun 29, 2010.

  1. John A.

    John A. Guest

    I'd like to get a flash unit. I can't afford to spend much now, so I'm
    looking for good bang-for-the-buck, or at least something only
    moderately beyond my means that I can toss onto my wishlist.

    Where can I find good reviews of flashes?

    I've searched for 'dslr flash reviews' and found plenty sites that
    offers them. I guess what I'm looking for here is reviews of the
    review sites. :)

    Thanks in advance for any insight!
    JA
     
    John A., Jun 29, 2010
    #1
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  2. John A.

    Pete Guest

    My first thought is a Metz. They ain't cheap in the short term, but in
    my experience they don't need a review. I'm sure others will have
    different experiences and I'm just a random Usenet poster. That's my
    Starter for Ten.
     
    Pete, Jun 29, 2010
    #2
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  3. John A.

    Me Guest

    I'm a Nikon user. In the case of the Metz flash (say a 58 AF-1 - which
    has pretty impressive specs), how does this sync in with Nikon CLS?
    For example if it's being used off-camera, with either commander mode in
    cameras which have it, using the SU800, or another flash, can flash
    exposure compensation be dialled in independently for each flash (or
    group of flashes) wirelessly?
     
    Me, Jun 29, 2010
    #3
  4. John A.

    Pete Guest

    I wouldn't have them if they didn't have all the TTL modes. My 45 CT5
    (non digital) is over twenty years old so my CL version should last a
    while for digital. The interface module is upgradeable for years, which
    is not an option for Nikon or Canaon flashes.
     
    Pete, Jun 29, 2010
    #4
  5. Metz makes fine gear, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend one as
    someone's first flash.

    The only Metz CL-4 that's compatible with current Nikon and Canon
    digital TTL standards is the CL-4 Digital. Older CL-4's and other
    CL's are limited to non-TTL automatic and manual operation only.

    The CL-4 Digital does work with current Nikon and Canon dSLR's.
    While I primarily use mine with my Pentax 645, I've tested it
    successfully on my D200 (using a 3402-M6 SCA module) and my
    brother's Digital Rebel XTi (using a 3102-M4 SCA module).

    However, as far as I can tell, you can't use any Metz which
    accepts SCA modules as a remote iTTL flash in Nikon's creative
    lighting system (CLS). I believe the same limitations apply
    to Canon and Pentax as well.
     
    Michael Benveniste, Jun 29, 2010
    #5
  6. John A.

    Pete Guest

    I can't answer your specific questions so download manuals from the
    Metz website then telephone Metz, that's how I got my last flashgun.
    It's a successful company because many of the employees actually know
    quite a lot about cameras, flashguns and photography.

    Whatever you do, don't telephone Nikon and ask about Metz flashguns! I
    could explain why I said that, but I'd rather not :)
     
    Pete, Jun 29, 2010
    #6
  7. John A.

    John A. Guest

    It's a K20D. I'm mostly interested in something better than the
    built-in flash for family photos in dimly-lit interiors. A 1-year-old
    can be a bit of a moving target. :)

    If I had one I'd try cutting a translucent film canister to fit as a
    diffuser. But if I have to spend money I'd rather go with a proper
    flash.

    Anyway, beyond that particular necessity my inclination is toward
    natural light, so I'm not looking for anything fancy.
     
    John A., Jun 29, 2010
    #7
  8. John A.

    John A. Guest

  9. John A.

    Me Guest

    Thanks for that - interesting.
    I finally relented on my preference to use only natural light for some
    of the stuff I get invited to do (on-site semi-candid people shots for
    non-arty publication), so I now have an SB600 to learn a bit about CLS,
    my thought being to supplement it with a second flash (or more) in the
    future.
    It's good to know that there are options from Metz (and others?) which
    aren't potentially a dead-end street
     
    Me, Jun 29, 2010
    #9
  10. John A.

    John A. Guest

    Sweet. I checked online and our local-ish Ikea does carry the mats
    mentioned in the article. Someone commented on getting them at Lowes
    too, which would be even more local. I'll have to look for that next
    time we're there.
     
    John A., Jun 29, 2010
    #10
  11. John A.

    John A. Guest

    Looks like it costs a bit more at Lowes, but I think for me the gas
    for the 45 minute drive to Ikea would actually make Lowes cheaper. I
    guess once I get a flash I'll pick some up wherever I happen to find
    myself next.

    Home Depot is also handy, but they only list online a liner that's
    ribbed rather than bumpy. I'm guessing that would tend to diffuse
    along one axis.
     
    John A., Jun 29, 2010
    #11
  12. Using a remote flash triggger such as a Phottix or Yonguno both available on
    Amazon market place or eBay for relative peanuts - you can buy film flashguns
    again on eBay for peanuts relatively speaking. You can mount this on a flash
    arm - you'll need to do this anyway, as the transmitter sits on the hot shoe -
    again ebay, again peanuts and away you go.

    The only disadvantage of course is that you can only ever use the flash
    in manual mode which in any given situation means maybe experimenting for
    maybe five minutes beforehand. This is assuming that you only ever want to
    use the flash gun in a fairly limited range of situations, to start with.

    I've used both and have never met any problems. IMO the Phottix is better
    designed as the receiver is relatively flat rather than upright, with a
    hot shoe on top on both models. And so offers better stability for a heavy
    flashgun on a relatively thin bracket arm.


    michael adams

    ....

    * Some film flashguns are claimed to generate very high internal trigger
    voltages which can allegedly leak back down through the hot shoe and
    burn out the circuits in DSLR's. Unfortunately the measured voltages
    as reported on various models ,are often at variance, and there's no
    actual specific reported instance on the Web of this ever having actually
    happened. Only rumours. Again manufactures are either far from specific
    about the trigger voltages their cameras will tolerate or the stated
    margins as between manufacturers are so wide as to be almost
    meaningless. But as this ensures a steady supply of quite serviceable
    flashguns onto the market at good prices who wants to argue ?
     
    michael adams, Jun 29, 2010
    #12
  13. We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the
    drugs began to take hold. I remember "michael adams"
    There are plenty of flash units available from film days with a trigger
    voltage of under 6V.
    I'm happily using a thyristor gun which has a 4.5V trigger and hasn't
    fried my old Canon or newer Pentax.

    http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html
     
    Grimly Curmudgeon, Jul 1, 2010
    #13

  14. From memory, it was reading some posts linked to that site which was the
    source of my remark about different people getting different readings
    from identical models of flashguns using voltmeters.
    In any case on my understanding the "trigger voltage" in this instance
    is the internal trigger voltage inside the gun - completed by the camera
    either mechanically* or electrically through the hot shoe which causes the
    flash to er "flash".
    I can't see how you can satisfactorily measure this across the two hotshoe
    terminals at the bottom of the flash with a voltmeter, as you're supposed to do
    unless the flash is actually flashing. At no time when ever I've taken
    voltages off of flashguns - and I've got varying voltages from different
    models, have the flashes ever operated. Whereas in theory at least
    if the flash actually goes off then clearly the trigger circuit has
    closed and its this voltage which could leak back into the DLSR.
    This is possibly all baloney. But I wasn't going to risk melting the
    internals of a £500 DSLR in order to find out the hard way. And I'm simply too
    tight to fork out £300 for a dedicated flashgun.

    In any case in some situations off-camera flash - most situations in fact
    in my own case - offers far greater possibilities than one simply mounted
    in the hot shoe. So there's no need to take the chance.


    michael adams

    *In the old days anyway.
     
    michael adams, Jul 1, 2010
    #14
  15. John A.

    Ofnuts Guest

    You are confusing voltage and current... when the circuit is open (ie,
    flash ready to fire) you are indeed measuring whatever voltage would be
    applied to the circuit closure component inside the camera.

    I suspect very early flashguns would have the primary discharge current
    run directly across the camera contact (which, at the time, would have
    been a mere mechanical switch), submitting it to rather high voltages
    (60-100V), the next generation would have some transistor-based analog
    electronics, and thus apply voltage in the 6-12V range, and the recent
    ones use digital logic that runs from fairly low voltage (3-5V) that is
    equivalent to what the camera itself uses.
     
    Ofnuts, Jul 1, 2010
    #15
  16. Quite possibly
    Not understanding voltmeters maybe (make that definitely) I wrongly assumed
    at the time I measured a couple of old Vivitar flashguns, that because the
    flashguns didnt discharge despite being switched on, the circuit wasn't completed
    so the measurement was unreliable. But thinking about it, presumably the whole point
    of voltmeters and the like is the ability to measure voltages without actually
    completing the circuit. I think

    michael adams

    ....
     
    michael adams, Jul 1, 2010
    #16
  17. John A.

    Pete Guest

    Yes, any measuring device is useless if it affects the measurement in a
    non-deterministic manner. A voltmeter needs a flow of electrons
    (current) to make its reading, but it must be small enough such that it
    does not invalidate the essence of the measurement.

    I've lost the Nikon URL that shows its hot shoe flash trigger terminals
    are designed to withstand the industry standard +250 V; negative
    voltages may damage the electronics in the camera (IIRC). Hopefully,
    someone will be kind enough to post some manufacturers' URLs on this
    issue.
     
    Pete, Jul 2, 2010
    #17
  18. John A.

    Better Info Guest

    Not of the cameras, but if anyone wants to know their particular flash
    firing voltage when lacking the means to test it themselves:

    http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html
     
    Better Info, Jul 2, 2010
    #18
  19. Bouncing your flash off a white ceiling will often look just like natural light.

    If it's a flash with its own sensor which can control its output you
    can also use that mode, provided you know what you're doing. That can
    be a useful way of getting a lot more adjustableness from a flash
    which only has a few manual flash powers, for example.

    They don't "leak back". The guns were simply designed to be operated
    by mechanical switches which completed the flash firing circuit from
    the capacitor. So the camera contacts see the entire flash voltage when
    the gun is charged.

    Sometimes user error, sometimes the same model of flashgun got
    improved over time and later models have a different voltage, either a
    bit higher or a lot lower.

    No, the camera sees the voltage whenever the gun is charged and ready.
    I have a few guns which measure over 200V.
    Those are the ranges I see in my collection.
     
    Chris Malcolm, Jul 2, 2010
    #19
  20. If you're prepared to learn the necessary skills instead of buying
    modern flashes which do everything for you on magic auto modes, by far
    the cheapest way of acquiring a lot of flexible flash power is to go
    for discontinued second hand models which were classics of their day,
    and operate them in manual mode, using your camera as a flash meter,
    or acquiring a flash meter.

    Many people when making the transition to using numbers of remote
    flashguns shift to using completely manual flash operation anyway,
    since it gives you a lot more flexibility in equipment and power. And
    once you've shifted to manual flash operation all those expensive
    modern auto control facilities aren't needed.

    What I can't do, not having modern flashguns with full TTL control, is
    run around at an event taking instant opportunistic shots with a gun
    on-camera or held of the side at arm's length. But if the event is
    indoors I can easily set up enough remote flash power in advance to
    light the whole room, and then run round taking instant opportunistic
    shots using flash power which looks just like natural light. And the
    cost of the kit to do that, including light stands and radio triggers,
    is about the same as the cost of just one modern all singing and
    dancing on-camera flash gun.
     
    Chris Malcolm, Jul 3, 2010
    #20
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