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Thread: need help choosing a flash for a Sony a57

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    need help choosing a flash for a Sony a57

    I need an external flash for a Sony a57. In a month I will be taken pictures for 2 large family events inside and I need a flash. The problem is I am on a budget of about $225. Anybody have any suggestions to look at. Right now I am looking at the Metz 44 and the Sigma 610 super. Any information would be grateful.

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    Re: need help choosing a flash for a Sony a57

    I think you're on the right trail. The Nissin Di-622 might be another model to look at. The Metz and Nissin flashes allow for firmware upgrades, so they should have an edge in future compatibility (otoh, Sony's moving to an ISO-compliant hotshoe on their newer models, so maybe this doesn't matter so much for you).

    To me, if you're planning on doing event shooting with an on-camera flash with the a57, there are three main features you want to look for:

    1) That the flash uses the non-ISO Minolta/Sony foot, so it fits directly on your camera's hotshoe.

    2) TTL compatibility, so that the camera can automatically set the flash's output power based on metering (good for run'n'gun when you don't have time to adjust the power manually yourself).

    3) A tilt and swivel head. Ideally, 360 swivel, but 270 is more common, and probably fine. Being able to point the head in directions other than forward is what you need for effective bouncing and selection of the direction of your light.

    If you plan to shoot with the flash off-camera for more studio-like setups, two further features you'll want to look for are:

    4) full Manual control of the power level (cheap radio triggering systems don't allow for TTL control of the power)

    5) (optional) a sync port. This can come in handy if you want to make a sync connection through something other than the hotshoe. Again, the triggering system may be a limitation. Some connect directly to the flash hotshoe. Some don't.

    6) (optional) optical slave modes. These can come in two flavors: TTL where the full hotshoe protocol is communicated and you get all the goodies like TTL, high-speed sync, etc. and manual-only ("dumb") which simply sets off the flash when it sees another flash burst. It's nice to have these modes to experiment with first, without having to purchase a triggering system. And can be a good backup triggering system as well.

    Power-wise, the models you're looking at are mid-range. Decent, but not great. So, just be aware that the distance the light from the flash can travel will be a little more limited. Guide numbers are typically inflated by the manufacturer zooming the flash head to its narrowest spread (usually 105mm vs. the more reasonable "real world" 35mm). So don't expect to get the same distances in real world usage at wider spreads (guide number/ f-number => distance the light will travel, at iso 100).

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    Re: need help choosing a flash for a Sony a57

    If you normally 'survive' without a flash or only the on-board flash you could look at the YongNuo variety where you could get a pair for that budget which would give you lots of light and would work off the flash from the 'on-board' with their built-in optical triggers.
    There would be a danger in an event like this that there will be others firing off flashes in competition with you and firing your flashes before you press the trigger But if you can control the situation ....
    Whatever flash you buy you may need to learn how to use flash by the 'Guide Number' method as the camera may not calculate the correct exposure with flash units not made by its company ... it is not that hard really, perhaps one of the simplest ways to take a photo
    I have read of a person who uses a whole lot of 'old' flashes triggered by optical system and he wrote that the camera simply worked off what light it saw ... so it may not be as complicated as it seems at first and the GN system not required ... sorry I don't know as I have yet to try it.
    You can buy cheaper than YNs but likely you would have to budget in extra triggers.

    I see the A-57 has a wireless flash mode to be considered though all a bit hi-tech for me
    Last edited by jcuknz; 21st June 2013 at 12:26 AM.

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    Re: need help choosing a flash for a Sony a57

    Quote Originally Posted by jcuknz View Post
    If you normally 'survive' without a flash or only the on-board flash you could look at the YongNuo...
    The main problem I see here is that the only YN flash with the Minolta/Sony hotshoe is the YN-560. Great, as you say, for off-camera Strobist work; but not capable of TTL. Nikon and Canon users could go for the YN-565EX or YN-568EX for both on- and off-camera work, but Yongnuo doesn't make a Sony version of either model. Given that the OP specifically mentioned that this speedlight was for event shooting, I'd say Yongnuos might work better as 2nd or 3rd flashes for the OP.

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    Re: need help choosing a flash for a Sony a57

    Well thank you for the advise, since Sony has changed up their hot shoe design, I bumped up my budget to $300 and ordered the Metz 52 AF-1. The wife is not too happy, but I am making it up by remodeling the bathroom this weekend. I have ordered this flasher and a sony 35mm f1.8 lens. I also own Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 , and the kit lens 18-55mm. Everybody at the events know I am a beginner at this, and that I have owned this camera for only 6 months. I have warned everyone to bring their own cameras for back up. I am slowly learning how to set the camera up in different lighting. I need to start practicing indoors more, with poor lighting.

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    Re: need help choosing a flash for a Sony a57

    Congrats on the new gear! Have fun with it!

    The main site I'd recommend for learning about on-camera flash technique is Neil van Niekerk's Tangents website/blog. The "Flash Photography Techniques" section is a good place to start. There's also a dead-tree version of it.

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    Re: need help choosing a flash for a Sony a57

    If you use the onboard to trigger the external, and they are capable like YNs, it doesn't matter what the hot shoe is. I was envisaging flash guns on a bar attached to camera's tripod thread like I used to work .... whatever, the order is placed

    Hope SWMBO doesn't read this

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