Query re Flashguns in the UK

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by Michael J Davis, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. I made more use of my flashgun (a simple tilt head gun costing £25 about
    five years ago) at a conference over the past weekend than I have over
    the past couple of years. It made me wonder if a 'better' gun would be
    worth the effort. So I did a web search for 'recommended' guns.

    Apart from TTL guns for my gear (especially Metz), two that were highly
    commended were:

    Vivitar 285HV (on sale in the USA at $89)
    Sunpak 383

    However, a Google search indicates that neither appear to be on sale in
    the UK.

    I quite like the Vivitar as it has a (manual) zoom.

    Although I'm not immediately looking for one, I am baffled at the
    absence of two well known brands in the UK. Has anyone any explanations?

    [The reply-to address is valid for 30 days from this posting]
    Michael J Davis
    Some newsgroup contributors appear to have confused
    the meaning of "discussion" with "digression".
    Michael J Davis, Apr 17, 2008
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  2. Michael J Davis

    Trev Guest

    I have Not Looked recently but the Vivitar is an old gun. Vivitar no longer
    make equipment but just add there name to some (not so good Cameras).
    I am Proud to say I am a user of a pair of Vivitar 283 's But Not all
    Digital cameras can handle the High Voltage Trigger voltage. Thanks Minolta.
    SunPack I think are imported by Interphoto http://www.intro2020.co.uk/
    there rang may not be the same as In the US
    The Jessops Flash guns are also worth a look
    Trev, Apr 17, 2008
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  3. Michael J Davis

    Tony Polson Guest

    Probably the fact that almost all new cameras, both compact and DSLR,
    have built-in flashguns. Plus the fact that high-tech dedicated flash
    guns are (arguably) needed to get the best results from digital.
    Vivitar and Sunpak are low end brands that don't offer dedication to
    the latest DSLR auto flash systems.

    You will find that the camera brand flashguns plus Metz dedicated
    flashguns now cover most of the market.

    Having said that, I still shoot weddings with a Canon EOS 5D plus a
    Metz 45CL4 set to non-TTL non-dedicated "Auto". The results are
    consistent and predictable, whereas a Canon flashgun and/or a Metz
    flashgun dedicated to the Canon E-TTL system give some wayward
    results. So I stick to what I know.

    If you feel that the Vivitar and Sunpak flashguns are right for you,
    why not order from one of the reputable US camera stores such as:


    or even:


    Tony Polson, Apr 17, 2008
  4. Michael J Davis

    Woody Guest

    Er, I have a Sunpak that is dedicated to my Nikon D70s - and it works
    perfectly well.

    The OP should take care as most dSLRs will only handle 6V or so on the
    hot shoe contact whereas most flashguns not specifically designed to
    work with a dSLR can have in excess of 200V on its hot shoe. Also, many
    dSLRs will not trigger a single contact flash as the camera does not
    'know' that it is there - it uses one of the auxilliary contacts to
    detect it, often by a data handshake.
    Woody, Apr 17, 2008
  5. Michael J Davis

    Tony Polson Guest

    I found one in a Google search. So yes, they exist. But they are
    very difficult to find in the UK.

    Old wives' tales, I'm sorry to say. It is many years since any newly
    manufactured flashgun had a trigger voltage greater than 6V. At least
    20 years, I should think.
    Tony Polson, Apr 17, 2008
  6. Michael J Davis

    Trev Guest

    Yes but The Vivitar 283 and 285 date back to the 70's Some batches where
    over 600 v Luckily my Minolta 7hi could handle 400 v on its PS socket. My
    Fuji does not say what it can Handel just that its suitable for studio flash
    units. It was Quiet a flash gun in its days
    Trev, Apr 17, 2008
  7. Michael J Davis

    A.Lee Guest

    If you are after a new flashgun, then this one looks promising at a
    thrid of the price of a 'genuine' flashgun:

    They do them for other than Canon too.
    A.Lee, Apr 17, 2008
  8. Thanks - it looks similar to the Vivitar in spec. However, my interest
    was why aren't popular models available in the US on sale here? (Even
    under a different name.)


    [The reply-to address is valid for 30 days from this posting]
    Michael J Davis
    Some newsgroup contributors appear to have confused
    the meaning of "discussion" with "digression".
    Michael J Davis, Apr 17, 2008
  9. Michael J Davis

    Tony Polson Guest

    The OP is talking about buying new, not buying a 30 year old used
    model. And in any case, the trigger voltage of the 283 and 285 was
    lowered to 6V many years ago - at least 20 years ago. If I was to
    guess a year it would be 1979 or 1980.

    So as I said, these are old wives' tales.
    Tony Polson, Apr 17, 2008
  10. Michael J Davis

    OG Guest

    Ummm, not exactly
    He's writing about the inability to buy new - and if he see's old he may buy
    old and then regret it.
    OG, Apr 18, 2008
  11. Michael J Davis

    Mark Dunn Guest

    I bought my first auto gun in 1982 and still use it. So 30 years isn't so
    Mark Dunn, Apr 18, 2008
  12. Michael J Davis

    Tony Polson Guest

    I blame Jessops. Through sheer market dominance, they have reduced
    consumer choice to the point where buying photo equipment on the high
    street is no longer an option. Unless, of course, you are fortunate
    enough to live near one of the few remaining independent photo shops
    that still offer good customer service.

    Jessops have so much of the market that it is no longer economic to
    import most of the brands that Jessops don't stock.
    Tony Polson, Apr 18, 2008
  13. I am fully aware of the risks in old equipment, thanks!

    I was just wondering *why* two well known and liked products weren't
    available in the UK.

    I'm not rushing to buy right now; I *hate* on-camera flash, but wondered
    what equipment was available. That's all!


    [The reply-to address is valid for 30 days from this posting]
    Michael J Davis
    Some newsgroup contributors appear to have confused
    the meaning of "discussion" with "digression".
    Michael J Davis, Apr 18, 2008
  14. I'm not actually after one[1], but that looks interesting. I wasn't
    aware of that brand.

    [1] Mainly because people ask me what they should get, and I
    don't have sufficient flash experience to comment knowledgeably.

    Thanks for the comment.


    [The reply-to address is valid for 30 days from this posting]
    Michael J Davis

    Photography takes an instant out of time,
    altering life by holding it still. - Dorothea Lange
    Michael J Davis, Apr 18, 2008
  15. I still have a Vivitar 283 which I bought in the 1990s and have measured the
    voltage at 8.5V which drops momentarily when the flash is triggered. I've
    been using it with digital SLRs for 4 years without problems.

    Roger Blackwell, Apr 18, 2008
  16. Thanks for the link, I have bookmarked the page. I often find battery
    flashguns useful to diffuse and use on slaves for a casual studio setup but
    this would be useful on camera as a trigger as well.

    Roger Blackwell, Apr 18, 2008
  17. Actually the flashgun I use with my Digital equipment is a £25 'Cobra'
    from the local photo shop. It is fine with tilt head and two auto

    I also have a 20 year old Sunpak (very cheap fixed everything) which
    also works fine with the digital equipment. I think I'll get a slave
    trigger for each of them.

    But Jessop's own brand doesn't offer the in-between options of the two
    guns I mentioned. There two very basic (like my Sunpak) and then it
    moves into TTL units. There are no manual zoom units like the Vivitar.
    Oh well!

    [The reply-to address is valid for 30 days from this posting]
    Michael J Davis
    Some newsgroup contributors appear to have confused
    the meaning of "discussion" with "digression".
    Michael J Davis, Apr 18, 2008
  18. Michael J Davis

    Tony Polson Guest

    Nothing wrong with that.

    Nothing wrong with that. Most of us above "a certain age" have
    probably owned at least one Sunpak or Cobra flash. I think I've owned
    several of each, and they all worked very well.

    That's Jessops for you. There was a time (30+ years ago) when they
    were a good mail order outlet with an excellent range and competitive
    prices, but their domination of the high street and the subsequent
    dumbing down to low paid, ignorant staff has been a disaster for
    photography in the UK. They make the woeful Dixons look like a bunch
    of professionals. The sad thing is that they have taken over many
    excellent family-run businesses and closed them or converted them to
    the deadly dull Jessops format, with the inevitable deadly dull staff.

    I have run the gamut of flash systems from the simplest (basic manual
    flash with bulbs!) through the excellent TTL systems of Minolta and
    Nikon film SLRs to the most complex (Canon E-TTL). In the end I have
    settled for a relatively simple Metz flash used in auto mode.

    The results are consistent and highly predictable, much more so than
    with the highly sophisticated Canon E-TTL, and experience tells me
    when I need to make exposure corrections. So I don't expect that I
    will ever use a TTL system again except when working with my old film
    SLRs and rangefinders.

    The new TTL systems for DSLRs are either too flaky or too complex, or
    both. Why this should be the case, I have no idea.

    I would encourage you to look at eBay USA to get the brand and
    features you want. Flashguns are pretty robust things. They very
    rarely go wrong, so getting one from across the pond does not
    represent a high risk. Whatever you do, good luck and ENJOY!
    Tony Polson, Apr 18, 2008
  19. Thanks Tony. But, as I said, I'm not looking to buy at present.

    Just wondering why certain brands/units are not available in the UK.

    Michael J Davis, Apr 18, 2008
  20. Michael J Davis

    Trev Guest

    The Vivitar has been made by Various companies over the years since the 283
    and later the 285 based on it but with the zoom head since its Intro in
    1972. but as I Understand Its finally come to its end, Last year, and No
    more are to be made. The Sunpack you mentioned May also be discontinued
    Trev, Apr 19, 2008
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