“The photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts." ~ Walker Evans

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Final f/Stop?: Part I - Flash Woes

I'm very close to jumping ship.

After attending the New England Camera Club Conference this past weekend, the one demonstration that really hit home was the versatility of wireless strobe use. Specifically, renowned photographer, Vincent Laforet, demonstrated his use of Canon flashes along with diffusers and reflectors. Never before have I been so intrigued by artificial light!

Having piqued my curiosity, I investigated the wireless flash options available on the Minolta/Sony A-Mount. Here's a gist of what I found (credit goes to photojournalist David Kilpatrick for the well-written article):


The Minolta 5600HS/Sony HVL-F56AM - this puppy gives inconsistent exposures! While using the e-TTL mode, there is a "preflash" that can cause subjects to blink and/or produce the lazy-eye look. Not to mention, it has a pretty poor flash recycling speeds (around 6 seconds).

The Metz 54 MZ-4 - this thing seems to be the best bang for the buck (even though it is the most expensive as it retails for almost $400). There is none of that preflash crap when using the unique thyristor auto mode. However, it overexposes the image!

The Sigma EF-500 DG Super - this guy is the cheapest of the bunch. However, it has no hookups for remote cables or battery packs. This limits the purchase of a wireless remote or a power pack that allows for fast flash recycling. My take is that saving the extra $100 will actually come back to haunt the user once he/she wants to get a little bit more advanced.

I admit it - I'm a newbie with flash usage. But that's why I'm trying to learn and from reading actual photographers' testimonials, the Sony flash system is equally as weak as my knowledge of it! I don't know much about the Canon lineup but what I saw was impressive, to say the least.

Granted, any of the flash systems are (supposedly - again, no personal experience) very powerful once the knob is turned to Manual Mode. If/when I get a little studio up and running, it becomes significantly easier to make an educated guess at the proper f/stop and shutter speeds for accurate exposures.

My main concern lies in TTL mode; when I'm on the field, I can't sit there and fiddle with settings (at least not where I am in my photography skill-set). Perhaps Sony will fix the crappy flash system in its much-anticipated line of semi-pro dSLR bodies that are soon to be released.

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