Vivitar DF-293-SON Flash Review - Photo Jottings

Vivitar DF-293-SON Flash Review

Box and contents
Back with zoom extended
LCD lit up, showing manual mode settings

Specifications and general information.

About $99
Tested on
Sony A580
In the box
Flash, nylon case, white bounce card, wide angle diffuser and instruction manual.  Nice picture on box, but it’s not being enhanced by using a flash.
Build quality
All plastic, cheap switches and buttons, but it has a decent fit and finish.
Hotshoe style
Sony proprietary type for this model, others available.
Guide number
42 (138′) @85mm zoom position
Guide number accuracy
Maximum output seems less, maybe 1/3 stop than other models with same rating.
LCD monitor
1.7″ X .55″ (42mm X 14mm).  No color.  Pushing the “light” button illuminates the screen in green for about 5 seconds.  Displayed items include; flash range indicator, zoom position, TTL/Manual , Power ratio setting, ISO (25, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800), and F/stop (1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0, 11) info.
Lights and switches
On-off slider, test button,  red “Ready” button, and green “OK” light that comes on for a second after the flash fires with the proper exposure, but comes on with almost all exposures.
Power source
4 AA, 1.5V
Recycle time
About 6-7 sec at 1/1, and almost instantaneous at lower levels in actual use.  Recycle times are longer when pushing the test button at all except 1/1.
Flash duration rating
Power saving function
Yes, after three minutes it goes into sleep mode, but will never turn off completely; wakes up after pressing any button on flash, or the camera’s shutter button, but wait for red charge light before using.
Adjustable power levels
Five full levels only; 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16.
Wide angle diffuser type
Plastic clip on, covers down to 20mm, (14mm APS-C) and shows on LCD when attached.
Bounce card or reflector plate
Yes, white thin plastic card, 82mm x 61mm (3.3″ x 2.4″) inserts in slot at flash top, but doesn’t lock.
Bounce positions
45°, 60°, 75°, and 90°.
Swivel positions
Left, 180°- right, 90°.
Zoom positions
28mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm.  The light pattern between 35-85mm is somewhat square.
Zoom type
External, manual “push-pull” operated.  You must remember to set this to the focal length in use, otherwise the flash may not cover the entire frame, or the middle will be overexposed etc.
Auto format zoom
No, manual only.
AF assist beam
Yes, red, works properly.
Custom functions
White balance info
Modeling flash
Multi-flash emission
High speed sync
No support.
Wireless ability
None with Sony.
Sony ADI support
Red eye reduction
No, only works with other brands, not supported by Sony.
3.1″W x 7.0H x 2.4D   79mm x 178mm x 62mm   Maximum length 8.0″ (203mm) including shoe mount.  Depth measured with flash flat.
10.4oz (295g) without batteries, 14.3oz (406g) with batteries.
Operating temp
Not listed.
LCD review and menu functions are sometimes cut short or cancelled when flash is mounted and turned on, must be the flash is powering discreet actions, similar to half pressing the shutter button and returning to the default screen.
Has adjustable power levels and zoom features which are rarely seen in this price range.
Good for
Great for off-camera radio controlled flash use in manual mode (Radiopoppers tested), plus it won’t shut off in the middle of a photo shoot after a short period of inactivity.  Could be a very economical choice for on-camera occasional flash use, just remember to adjust the zoom position.
Not good for
Fully automated operation, wireless optical use, or people wanting HSS.
No, quality control is awful, do not buy!


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