Flashes Etc - Photo Jottings

Flashes Etc

The “Flashes etc” page contains links to reviews for all items related to flash photography, such as flash units, reflectors, snoots, umbrellas, grids, stands, off-camera triggers and more.


This is a quick review of the Minolta Program 5400HS flash unit that first came out in 1993.  It was Minolta’s top-line flash at the time, until about 2000 when it was replaced by the Minolta 5600HS.
This very inexpensive flash is great if you need raw power, and don’t require automated controls.
Check prices on eBay
The lumopro 180LP is highly touted by the ‘strobist‘ and works great if you don’t use a flash very much.  I have three, and two went bad after a few months.  Buyer beware.
More info;  amazon link
The Yongnuo YN560-II is a high output flash with plenty of power levels and very fast recharge rates.  Comes with a plug for an external battery pack, plus a PC port!  Unfortunately, as with all aftermarket flashes I’ve tested, this one suffers from multiple issues.
I tested the newer YN560-III, and it lasted about one week longer than the earlier model.
More info;  amazon link
The HVL-F60M is Sony’s top-line flash unit, replacing the HVL-F58AM in 2012.    This is a first rate flash, including build quality, output and power settings.  However, it would have been nice to see a stereo or PC connection for remote operation, (as opposed to the wireless system); I’m sure this is coming though, direct from Sony using Sony triggers.  Works with Radiopoppers™ flash triggers, although you still need a hotshoe adapter with an appropriate plug.
More info;  Sony HVL-F60M.
If you’ve ever found yourself looking to get more lighting power for interior spaces, or an inexpensive but reliable system for portraits on location, the Elinchrom D-4 Lite it kit may be your answer.  I purchased two of these for lighting interior spaces, and found they’re actually less expensive than buying camera flashes, and much more powerful too.
More info;  Elinchrom D-Lite 4 It kit no longer available, but this one is very similar: Elinchrome D-Lite RX 4.
The HVL-F58AM is Sony’s top-line flash unit.  It’s very similar to the less expensive HVL-F43AM model, but has plugs for an external battery and Sony off-camera cables, (studio use) and of course, the ability to act as a control flash for Sony’s wireless system.  Works with Radiopoppers™ flash triggers.
More info;  Sony HVL-F58AM, now discontinued and replaced by the Sony HVL-F60M.
Check out Sony’s best flash value, the HVL-F43AM.  This flash has a whopping 22 power levels, along with a fast recharge rate, modeling and multi-flash emission, plus, the ability to act as a control flash for Sony’s wireless system.  It does almost everything the more expensive HVL-F58AM does, but at a much lower price.  Works with Radiopoppers™ flash triggers.
More info;  Sony HVL-F43AM
The Sony HVL-F56AM is no longer available, it’s been replaced by the HVL-F58AM since 2008.  The HVL-F56AM is a feature-rich flash with plenty of custom functions, including modeling and multi-flash, a plug for an external battery pack, a cable socket for Sony off-camera flash control, and of course it works perfectly with Sony cameras, even though it was designed by Minolta in 2000.  It also work very well with Radiopoppers.
Visual Echoes makes a slick, but odd looking devise that extends the working range of your accessory flash unit via a “Fresnel screen” placed at a fixed distance from the flash head.  Although the “Fresnel screen” is made from flimsy plastic, it really does work, but there are some limitations you should know about.  Try the fresnel lens with a flash light instead of the camera flash, you can really see the difference as you point it around the room!


More info; Visual echos Better Beamer flash X-tender     Better beamer review

Rogue makes some pretty neat products, most of which are actually useful for the average photographer.  The Rogue 3 in 1 honeycomb grid is designed to fit over a standard camera accessory flash unit, and provides a way to control the coverage of light that falls on the subject.  Grids are better than snoots, although the difference is sometimes subtle.


More info; Rogue 3 in 1 Honeycomb grid

The Sony HVL-F42AM is no longer available new, which is too bad, because it’s feature-rich with plenty of custom functions, and of course works perfectly with Sony cameras.  It has a fast full power recycle time of about 3 seconds, and at half power is almost instant!  They’re commonly available on eBay, and if you can get a good copy for less than $150 it’s a steal.  They also work well with Radiopoppers™ although you have to go through a power-up procedure before using.   The HVL-F42AMwas the first Sony designed alpha flash unit, the other two (HVL-F36AM and HVL-F56AM) were rebadged Minoltas.
Check out a quick review of the Rogue Flashbender large reflector, and Gary Fong Lightsphere.  Both do an excellent job of diffusing external camera flash light, with the Flashbender doubling as a snoot.  Photo samples of both products in use and results comparison.


More info; Rogue Flashbender, large      Gary Fong lightsphere

The Sunpak PZ42X S is a poor choice for fully automatic flash use on newer Sony cameras.  The flash defaults to full power blasts in live-view mode, so you have to use an optical viewfinder camera to get proper exposures.  This model doesn’t seem to be compatible with Radiopoppers™ flash triggers.  Works well on older Sony and Konica Minolta digital SLR’s.


More info; Sunpak PZ42X S

The Vivitar DF-293 is a very economical flash for off-camera or manual use because of the adjustable zoom and power levels.  Works well with Radiopoppers™.  Not great for full auto use as you must remember to manually adjust the zoom feature when changing focal lengths.  I no longer recommend this flash as it seems to have reliability issues.


More info; Vivitar DF-293-SON

To learn how to use your flashes with radio controlled triggers, check out the Sony and Minolta off-camera flash page.  This page is mainly for people wanting information concerning Sony and Minolta AF flashes and radio controlled use with Radiopoppers™.  Also has info on using gels, stands and umbrellas, and how to mount your flashes to a stand.


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