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Third Party Flash Models

by Gisle Hannemyr

This page is part of a series of articles about using flash on digital cameras. The complete set of segments in this series is:

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Dedicated Third Party Models
  3. Generic Third Party Models
  4. Review Site Link farm

1. Introduction

This note lists some flash units that one can buy for use with a digital camera that are not made by the camera's manufacturer. Such units are known as third party or aftermarket units.

Professional reviews of flash units are few and far between. I've linked to those I've found, and also to some user reviews with substance.

Disclaimer: I have not tested all the units discussed in this note myself. The data have been copied from various sources, such as the manufacturer's web site, private communications, manuals, discussion forums, and other sources. I've included it here “as is”. The information is given in good faith, but may not be complete, or correct. Corrections are welcome.

For corrections, or if you want to share a review about one of these units, or just would like to comment, please user the blog (public) or the feedback form (private).

How to read the tables

If you are use GNs for doing comparisons, note that the guide number you'll find in most manufacturer's literature is for the zoom head at its maximum setting (e.g. f=105mm). This makes it difficult to make direct power comparisons with flash units from other manufacturers, who may list use another zoom setting as reference for GNs. I try to list the GN for three different settings of the zoom head (35mm, 50mm, and maximum), with a “centre weighted” light pattern.

The tabulated summaries only lists some of the features of each flash. If you want to know all the technical details and features, please see the manufacturers' specification sheets.

2. Dedicated Third Party Models

Bilora

Bilora was a German camera maker, founded in 1909. Production ceased in 1975 and Bilora is now a brand for various photographic acessories. Current Bilora flash units are made by various OEMs.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
D140 RF-N Macro---14--(1)
D40AF 28-85mm??34-- 

Notes:

  1. Appears to be the same unit as Bower SFDRL14 Macro.

Bower

Bower is a company located in Long Island City, NY, USA. It was founded in 1949. It markets photographic accessories under the Bower brand. As far as I know, Bower doesn't manufacture equipment, but relies on various OEMs as a source for Bower-branded products.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
SFDRL14 Macro - - - 14-USD 110(1)
SFD728 28-85mm 262838-USD 65 
SFD926 20, 24-85mm 262838-USD 108 
SFD35 28-85mm 293440-USD 70 
SFD680 28-85mm 293440-USD 100 

Notes:

  1. Appears to be the same unit as Bilora D140 RF-N Macro.

Review links:

Dörr

Dörr GmbH is a German company that markets various photographic acessories under its own brand. Their flash units are made by OEM Tumax.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
Dörr D-AF4220, 24-85mm? ? 42s-(1)

Notes:

  1. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DPT386AFZ.

Metz

Metz is a German consumer electronic manufacturer. The company was founded in 1938. One of its product lines is set of flash units branded Mecablitz.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
28 AF-3 24, 35, 85mm22- 28-USD 110 
44 MZ-2 28-105mm 263444-USD 249 
44 AF-428-105mm 263444-USD 249 
48 AF-1 18, 24-105mm293648-/rUSD 250 
54 AF-1 20, 24-105mm314054-USD 340(1)
54 MZ-4 20, 24-105mm314054-USD 340(1)
58 AF-1 18, 28-105mm324258m/rUSD 400(2)
45 CL-4 D28, 35mm 45 -45-USD 650 
76 MZ-5 20, 24-105mm465476-USD 1000 

Notes:

  1. The unit has a sub-flash that can be set to deliver about 15 % of the light straight forward when the flash is bounced.
  2. The 58 AF-1 has a sub-flash on the main body that can be set to fire a manual flash straight forward when the flash is bounced. It can be set to power ratios between 1/1 and 1/4, or turned off.

The flash guns with the AF designation are dedicated shoe mount flashes that are built to work with a single, dedicated flash system. The flash guns with the MZ. and CL designations are based upon Metz' SCA (Special Camera Adaption) system. SCA is modular, and let you tie a flash to a particular dedicated system with a suitable adapter (typical cost USD 80 per adapter). You may move a flash to a different system by buying the right adapter for that system.

Some Metz flash guns have a USB-interface to let users upgrade the firmware for newer camera models.

Metz flash guns has an excellent reputation for performance and build quality, but they also carry a high price tag.

Review links:

Nissin

Nissin is a Japanese manufacturer of flash units. The company was founded in 1959, and has produced professional flash units since 1967. In 2007, the company introduced Di622, its first dedicated flash aimed at the DSLR TTL-market.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
Nissin Di28 35mm 20- 20-USD 80 
Nissin Di466 24-105mm232533s USD 130(1)
Nissin Di622 16, 24-105mm263444s USD 150(1,2)
Nissin Di86618, 24-105mm34 [40]37 [46] 39 [60]m/r,sUSD 290(3,4)

Notes:

  1. Triggered via system-specific pins. Can not be fired from center contact of the hot shoe
  2. Slave will not trigger if there is no pre-flash. However, it will also trigger too early with the more complex pre-flash used by Canon and Nikon for E-TTL/AWL type remote control.
  3. Measured guide numbers. The numbers in square brackets are those listed in Nissin's sales literature.
  4. The Di866 has a sub-flash on the main body that can be set to fire a manual flash straight forward when the flash is bounced. It has a GN of 12 (ISO 100/m) and can be set to power ratios between 1/1 and 1/8, or turned off.

I have received the following comment from Alan Williams:

Nissin Di622 for Canon: This week I have received three of these from Warehouse Express who are providing really good after sales service. Unfortunately, I cannot get any of the three units to function satisfactorily. One fails to fire when in Slave mode. Another will not fire in Tv or Av. None will provide a vibrant exposure in E-TTL, always underexposing.

Below is a translated summary of what Řivind Stuan writes about it in a forum at Foto.no:

I've used [Nissin] Di622 [for Canon] in a couple of months now and am happy with the unit, given its pricetag.
Good:
- The E-TTL seems to work well.
- Optical slave works very well indoors with an E-TTL-flash as master.
- Comes with build-in bounce card and diffuser plate for wide angle use.
- Flash head can be rotated 180° right and 90° left, and tilted 0/45/60/75/90 degrees.
Less good:
- Not possible to set manual zoom (follows camera focal length or locked at 50 mm).
- Unsuitable for use with cheap radio triggers.
- Plain optical slave can only be triggered by a E-TTL flash, not a plain flash.
- Optical slave not reliable outdoors in bright light.
- Diffuser plate creates a faint, visible pattern when used with direct flash.

Review links:

Phoenix

Phoenix is a brand used for various photographic accessories, inclusing lenses and flash units, sourced from various OEMs. I haven't been able to locate the company, address or website for this brand.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
RF46 macro- --14-USD 130 
ZBIS-92 28-85mm??28-USD 35 
ZBIS-99 28-85mm??30-USD 54 
DZBIS-11228-85mm??34-USD 95 

Promaster

Promaster is the house brand of Photographic Research Organization, Inc. (PRO), a USA-based retail cooperative founded in 1958. It currently has 155 member firms and affiliates operating more than 400 stores throughout the USA. Promaster-branded products are mainly sold through members and affiliates. There is also a Promaster­Flash web site hosted by one of the members, Wolfe's Camera in Topeka.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
Macrolume - - -10-USD 300(1)
5250DX 28mm24-24-USD 70(1)
5550DX 28mm30-30-USD 90(1)
5750DX 28-105mm? ?40-USD 130(1)
7500DX 24-105mm? ?42-USD 140 
7200EDF 24, 28mm? ?30-USD 140 
7400EDF17, 24-105mm? ?36-USD 170 
7500EDF17, 24-105mm? ?42-USD 250 

Notes:

  1. Requires adapter.

The Promaster Macrolume, 5250DX, 5550DX, 5750DX uses Promaster's module system, where you tie a flash to a particular dedicated system with a suitable adapter (typical cost USD 50 per adapter). You may move a flash to a different system by buying the right adapter for that system.

Quantaray

Quantaray is the house brand of the Ritz Camera & Image. The company was etablished as a portrait studio in 1918, but now runs a number of web shops and photography retail chain stores all over USA that includes Ritz Camera & Electronics, Wolf Camera, Kit's Camera, Cameras West, and Camera Shop. All Quantaray-branded products are sourced from various OEMs.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
XLF-50 24, 35mm20-20-USD 100(1)
QB-6500A 28mm24-24-- (2)
QTB-7500A 28mm30-30-- (2)
QTB-9500A28-105mm? ?40-- (2)
QDC 900WA24-105mm? ?42-USD 100(3)

Notes:

  1. Appears to be a rebranded Sunpak RD2000
  2. Appears to be a rebranded Promaster 5x50DX unit. Requires adapter.
  3. Appears to be a rebranded Promaster 7500DX.

The Quantaray QB-6500A, QTB-7500A QTB-9500A uses a module system (identical to the one offered by Promaster), where you tie a flash to a particular dedicated system with a suitable adapter (typical cost USD 20 per adapter). You may move a flash to a different system by buying the right adapter for that system.

Quantum

Quantum Instruments Inc. is manufacturer of professional photographic equipment founded in 1975. It is located in Hauppauge, Long Island, NY, USA. Their main product is a very flexible (and expensive) modular flash system that include flash units, interchangable reflectors, external power packs, wireless controls and more.

ModelReflectorGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
Pilot QF9 - - - - m/-USD 437(1)
Qflash Triointerchangeable344868 m/rUSD 875(2)
Qflash 4d interchangeable486896 -USD 610(3)
Qflash T5dRinterchangeable486896 m/rUSD 673(4)
Qflash X5dRinterchangeable6896136m/rUSD 769(5)

Notes:

  1. Shoe mounted TTL FreeXWire radio sender.
  2. 80 w/s. Shoe mounted. (The other Qflash units are bracket mounted.)
  3. 150 w/s. Can we upgraded with a with FreeXWire receiver. Discontinued ca. 2007.
  4. 150 w/s.
  5. 200 or 400 w/s.

Quantum uses wattseconds (w/s) to indicate how powerful a flash unit is. As I use guide number (ISO 100/meter) throughout this series, I've computed guide numbers for the units to facilitate comparions with other brands. However, in a highly modular system such as Quantum's the guide numbers will change depending upon how you configure the unit (e.g. what reflector you fit, and what power pack you use), and where you use the unit (indoors vs. outdoors) The figures listed in the GN column should only be interpreted as a rough estimate for indoors use, giving a typical configuration.

The Qflash system requires that the flash units are powered by external power packs (not included in the basic kit). This solution is very well suited for rapid shooting because it gives very fast recycling times, and protects against overheating. However, it also adds bulk and cost to the system.

Qflash have their own system for wireless TTL control, called FreeXWire. It can't be mixed with a dedicated light based wireless signalling system, such has Nikon's AWL.

Like the Metz SCA-system the Qflash-system is modular. Quantum call their TTL-system QTTL, which is adapted to a particular dedicated power control system (such as i-TTL or E-TTL II) with a suitable adapter (typical cost USD 180 per adapter). You may move a flash to a different TTL system by buying the right adapter for that system.

Quantum Qflash units use a bare bulb and parabolic reflectors. Some believe that this delivers a better quality of light than the harsh light from the fresnel lens used by Nikon's Speedlights.

Rokinon

Rokinon is a brand used for various photographic equipment, inclusing, cameras, lenses and flash units, sourced from various OEMs. I haven't been able to locate the company, address or website for this brand.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
D20AF 35mm 18-18-USD 40(1)
D870AF35mm 26-26-USD 64(2)
D900AFZ28-85mm ? ?42-USD 80(3)
D980AFZ20, 24-85mm? ?45s USD 103(4)

Notes:

  1. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DSL286AF.
  2. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DSL876AF.
  3. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DSL983AFZ.
  4. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DPT383AFZ.

Sakar

Sakar International, Inc. is a consumer electronics manufacturer and marketer, founded around 1980. The company is based in Edison, New Jersey, USA. It owns the Vivitar brand and also markets a line of flashes under the Sakar Digital Concepts brand.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
528AF35mm 22-22-USD 40 
736AF35mm 26-26-USD 50 
952AF20, 24-85mm? ?42sUSD 99(1)

Notes:

  1. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DPT386AFZ.

Sigma

Sigma is a family owned manufacturer of photographic equipment founded in 1961 in Japan. The company's main business is to manufacture third party lenses. However, they also produce third party flash units, and even manufacture their own line of DSLR cameras and an enthusiast compact camera.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
EM-140 DG Macro - - - 14m/-USD 359 
EF-500 DG ST 17, 28-105mm293650-USD 150(1)
EF-500 DG Super 17, 28-105mm293650m/r,sUSD 219 
EF-530 DG ST 17, 24-105mm314053-USD 189(1)
EF-530 DG Super 17, 24-105mm314053m/r,sUSD 259 

Notes:

  1. Canon-version triggered via system-specific pins. Can not be fired from center contact of the hot shoe.

The EF-530 series is a direct replacement for the EF-500 series. It has slightly more power and the zoom head zooms out to 24mm, but as far as I know, nothing else has changed. There is also some variation within the EF-530 series, see notes on compatibility below.

The Sigma flashes gives slightly more bang for the buck than manufacturer's own flashes. However, the build is less solid, some users report erratic exposure control, and the user interface is less intuitive.

A “Super” model can be used as master or slave in Canon's or Nikon's wireless flash control system, as well as a plain optical slave. It also has more sophisticated manual control than the “ST”-model (8 steps vs. 2 steps). Other features of the “Super” lacking from the “ST” are on-flash FEC/FOLC, HSS/FP mode, strobe mode, an LCD panel, and the ability to be fired by a simple two-contact hot-shoe.

However, the Sigma DG EF-500/530 Super is really designed to be used in a wireless setup where an on-camera Sigma flash controls one or more remote Sigma flashes. To use them as remote units in another manufacturer's wireless system is possible, but you may need to jump through some hoops.

For example, here is how you set the Sigma DG EF-500/530 Super up as a remote unit on the Nikon D70. I think this or a similar procedure will work on other CLS-capable Nikon bodies. In the example setup we shall use group “1” and channel “C3”. You may of course use other values if your camera has this capability

  1. Use the camera's menu to set the built-in flash to Commander TTL mode. Keep it there throughout the setup and shooting process. Set the zoom control on the lens to the widest angle you plan to use in your photo session. It will remain there during setup and use. Ignore any ISO settings on the flash. They are irrelevant when the flash is set up as a remote unit. If the camera allows you to select groups and channels (the D70 don't), set group “1” and channel “C3”.
  2. Turn off the Sigma flash and mount in the camera's hot-shoe. Then turn it on again.
  3. Press the mode control on the flash until you are in the correct mode, pressing the shutter button half way down before each mode button press. When you're in the right mode, you'll see three lines of information on the LCD screen of the flash:
    • In the upper left of the top line, you'll see “TTL”. The rest of the top line is blank.
    • On the second line, on the left, you'll see a large lightning bolt joined to a smaller lightning bolt on its right with a dotted line, then on the same line “ZOOM xx mm”, where xx is the current zoom setting of the lens.
    • On the third and last line, you will see “1 C1 SL”. The “1” is the group setting, the “C1” is the channel setting, and “SL” indicates Slave.
  4. Press the Sel button until the “C1” starts blinking.
  5. Repeatedly press the + button to set the right channel. (In our example, the blinking “C1“ should become a blinking “C3“). The flash is now set up as a wireless remote unit in group “1”, channel “C3”.
  6. Press the Sel button until no characters on the flash screen are blinking. Do not attempt to set up any additional flash modes as you cycle through the rest of the options.
  7. When nothing is blinking, turn off the camera and the flash, separate them, transport the Sigma to the remote location where you want to use it, and turn both on again. The Sigma flash should now be set to operate as a wireless remote unit, using the built-in flash as wireless master in commander mode, in group “1” and channel “C3”. Make sure the built-in flash is popped up and set to operate in commander mode with the correct group and channel.

After you have done all this, don't press any more buttons on the Sigma flash (except Test, Light, or Off-On) or you'll have to re-attach it to the camera and re-program it.

If you need to change settings, you need to re-attach the flash to the camera.

While in wireless remote mode the red light on the front of the flash will blink continuously, and the flash will not enter standby, as it does when used in other modes.

The Sigma 500/530 DG Super must be set to C0 SL mode (that is the normal slave mode) to be fired from a simple two-contact hot-shoe that is featured on most optical and radio triggers. It will not fire at all in manual mode without a full i-TTL connection to the camera body. It can't be set to FP (high speed sync) or second curtain sync in C0 SL mode.

If you are buying a second-hand Sigma flash (or “old” new stock), note that there are some compatibility issues:

Soligor

Soligor GmbH is a German marketer of optics and other photographic equipment, including flash units. The company was founded in 1968. As far as I know, Soligor doesn't manufacture equipment, but relies on various OEMs as a source for Soligor-branded products.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
DG-28AF 28-85mm??32--(1)
DG-340DZ 28-85mm??34-- 
DG-34AF 28-85mm??40-- 
DG-42AF 28-85mm??42-- 
DG-420Z 20, 24-85mm??42s-(2)

Notes:

  1. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DPT886AFZ.
  2. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DPT386AFZ.

Sunpak

Sunpak is a Japanese company founded in 1963. Its sole business is manufacturing of aftermarket flash units.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
RD2000 24, 35mm20- 20-USD 80 
PF30X 28mm30- 30-USD 80(1)
PZ40X 24-80mm283040-USD 133 
PZ42X20, 24-105mm283042-USD 150(1)

Notes:

  1. Triggered via system-specific pins. Can not be fired from center contact of the hot shoe

Targus

Targus is company located in the USA that markets various photographic accessories under the Targus brand. As far as I know, Targus doesn't manufacture equipment, but relies on various OEMs as a source for Targus-branded products.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
DL20 28mm 18- 18-USD 45(1)
DL80 28-85mm ? ? 32-USD 75(2)
DL38 20, 24-85mm ? ? 45sUSD 130(3)

Notes:

  1. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DSL286AF.
  2. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DSL883AFZ.
  3. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DSL383AFZ.

Tumax

Tumax is a registered trademark of Icorp Enterprises Ltd.of Hong Kong. The company was founded in 1985 and manufactures a line of flash units and flash accessories that are traded under a number of other brand names (e.g. Cullmann, Dörr, Jessops, Rokinon, Sakar, Soligor, Targus, Vivitar).

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCost
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
Digital macro flash system
DMF880 macro controller28-85??32--
DMC87 macro controller - --- --
DMT macro twin - --12--
DMR macro ring - --12--
No zoom, tilt, no swivel
DSL283/6/8AF 35mm 18-18--
DSL873/6/8AF 35mm 26-26--
Manual zoom, tilt, swivel
DSL883/6/8AFZ 28-85mm ??32--
DSL983/6/8AFZ 28-85mm ??42--
Auto Zoom, tilt, swivel
DPT383/6/8AFZ20, 24-85mm ??42s-

You can get a fairly good impression of the capabilities of a Tumax by downloading and reading the manuals (PDF) from the download section of their website. Most Tumax manuals seems to only fill a single page.

For macro kits built around Tumax' macro controllers, see Xotopro.

Vivitar

Vivitar was the leading brand name of a manufacturer, distributor and marketer of photographic equipment founded in 1938 that operated out of Oxnard, California, USA. The Vivitar brand was introduced in the 1960ies, and became in the 1970ies associated with a series of high quality lenses labeled Vivitar Series 1, and a very successful line of auto thyristor flash units. After the death of the original owners, the company went into decline, and eventually bankruptcy. The Vivitar brand was aquired in 2008 by Sakar. Sakar has revived the Vivitar brand. However, the quality of the current crop of Vivitar-branded products seems not to on par with Vivitar's legacy.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
DF22 28mm 22- 22-USD 35 
DF183 35mm 24- 24-USD 60(1)
DF340Z 28-85mm 293440-USD 65 
DF283 28-85mm ? ? 42-USD 90(2)
DF400MZ 20, 24-85mm ? ? 42sUSD 100(3)
DF383 20, 24-85mm ? ? 42sUSD 130(4)

Notes:

  1. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DSL283AF.
  2. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DSL988AFZ.
  3. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DPT386AFZ.
  4. Appears to be a rebranded Tumax DPT388AFZ.

YongNuo

YongNuo is the brand name for a line of products sold by Hong Kong Yong Nuo Photographic Equipment Co. Ltd., which is the Hong Kong-based marketing subsidiary of ShenZhen YongNuo Photographic Equipment Co. Ltd., a Chinese company that designs and produces photographic electronic equipment.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
YN465 35mm 24- 24-USD 77(1)

Notes:

  1. Manufacturer claims GN to be 33m, but measured GN is only 24m. Quality reported to be highly variable.

3. Generic Flash Models

Generic flash units are are flash units are not compatible with the advanced flash control system used by dedicated flashes.

Instead these units will fire when there is a (short) circuit between the flash's center pin and edge.

As there is no dedicated control system for flash exposure control, the power output of generic units must be controlled by other means. Generic flash units fall in two broad categories, depending on what means of controlling exposure they offer. Units that primarily offer non-TTL auto exposure is called “auto” flashes (also “auto thyristor” flashes). Units that only offer a manual exposure mode is referred to as “manual” flash units.

There exists too many generic flash models, both new and used, for me to list them all here. However, Metz, Nikon, Sunpak produce flash units of good quality, (and Vivitar used to). Therefore, those are the brands to look for if you want an inexpensive used flash to use as lead flash for strobes, or manual or non-TTL auto work.

Generic flash models are hard to find brand new these days, as many models have been discontinued by their manufacturer. You may have to settle for a used unit if you want a generic flash model, so I've included some of the most popular discontinued models in the list below.

Auto Flashes

XThe flash units listed below will operate in non-TTL auto exposure mode with any DSLR. They can also be used in manual mode (with or without adjustable power ratio).

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
Nikon SB-30 17, 28mm 16- 16s- (1,2)
Metz 20-C2 35mm 20- 20-USD 50(2)
Sunpak PF20XD 24mm 20- 20sUSD 50(2)
Sunpak 322 35mm 24- 24-- 
Nikon SB-22 28, 35mm 25- 25-- (1,3)
Nikon SB-27 20, 24-85mm 303642-- (1,2,4)
Sunpak 333 35-135mm 30? ? -- (5)
Vivitar 285HV 28-105mm 313743-USD 90(6)
Cactus KF36 28-105mm 313743-USD 90(7)
Sunpak 383 35mm 35- 35-USD 80(8)
Nikon SB-24 24-85mm 364250-- (1)
Nikon SB-25 20, 24-85mm 364250-- (1)
Nikon SB-26 18, 24-85mm 364250s- (1)
Nikon SB-28 18, 24-85mm 364250-- (1)
Nikon SB-28DX18, 24-85mm 364250-- (1)
Vivitar 283 35mm 37- 37-- (9)
Nikon SB-80DX14, 24-105mm384456s- (1)
Sunpak 544 35mm 42- 42-- (10)
Sunpak 622 35mm 61? ?-USD 246(11)

Notes:

  1. These Nikon pre-CLS flashes are for all intents and purposes generic flash units when used on any DSLR. They are incompatible with CLS, but work fine in manual and non-TTL auto mode.
  2. No tilt. No swivel.
  3. No swivel.
  4. To work in non-TTL Auto mode on a modern DSLR, the SB-27 must be placed in Forced A mode. (To do this, switch the flash mode selector from “off” to “auto” while holding down the “zoom” button. The “A” indicator in the LCD panel will blink to indicate that the SB-27 is in Forced A mode. See p. 70 on the SB-27 user manual for an illustration.)
  5. Manual zoom.
  6. Son of Vivitar 285, a flash that was introduced in the late 1970ies as the slightly more sophisticared sibling of Vivitar 283. The Vivitar 285HV model was introduced in 2007. It looks identical to the original Vivitar 285, but quality is reported to have suffered, in particular for for units produced after 2008 (when Sakar aquired the Vivitar brand). Manual zoom. Detachable sensor that can be used with an extension cord (Vivitar SC-3 Sensor Cord) for off-camera flash. Detachable PC sync cord with a propritary plug on the flash end (Vivitar PC-1 Sync Cord). Tilt. No swivel.
  7. Straight clone, warts and all, of the Vivitar 285HV. Introduced in 2009 after the Hong Kong based company that makes Cactus brand flash triggers appearently bought the design from Sakar.
  8. I do not know when the Sunpak 383 was first introduced, but it was revived in 2006, to fill the gap left by the discontinued Vivitar 283 and 285. Well made. Discontinued in 2009.

  9. Legendary flash. One of the first to offer “auto thyristor” power control. Introdu­ced i 1972 and discontinued around 2002. As it was in production for around 30 years, trigger voltages vary a lot. Early units use more then 260 volts and may damage some modern cameras, later models use under 10 volts and should cause no harm. Built like a tank. You could also buy a set if fresnel filters as a substitute for zoom. Detachable sensor that can be used with an extension cord (Vivitar SC-3 Sensor Cord) for off-camera flash. Detachable PC sync cord with a propritary plug on the flash end (Vivitar PC-1 Sync Cord). Tilt. No swivel. Mine is from 1973 and will only work with alkalines (not with NiMH rechargables).
  10. Handle mount (hammerhead). Make sure the mounting bracket and PC sync cord is included if you buy one of these.
  11. Handle mount (hammerhead). The Sunpak 622 is a modular system and you can buy different heads (including bare bulb and infrared). There exists dedicated TTL hot-shoe connectors for a number of systems, but they are for film SLRs and do not work with DSLRs. For all intents and purposes this is a generic flash unit when used on a DSLR. For connecting to a DSLR, the best option is the Sunpak #1743 10" PC Cord (3-prong household to PC-male cord).

Review links:

Manual Flashes

The flash units listed below can only be operated in manual mode on a DSLR.

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
f=35mmf=50mmf=max
Nikon SB-23 35mm 20- 20-- (1,2)
Nikon SB-50DX 14, 24-50mm222525(s)- (1,3)
Sunpak SP240 35mm 24- 24-- (2)
YongNuo YN46035mm 24 [33]- 24 [33]sUSD 46 (4)
YongNuo YN46235mm 24 [33]- 24 [33]-USD 40 (4)
LumoPro LP120 28-85mm 384351sUSD 130(5)

Notes:

  1. These Nikon pre-CLS flashes are for all intents and purposes generic flash units when used on any modern DSLR. They are incompatible with CLS, but offer a limited manual mode (no power control).
  2. No tilt. No swivel.
  3. Wireless slave of limited use, as there is no manual power control. Slave responds to the pre-CLS SU-4 mode (i.e. the slave will fire as long as main flash fires).
  4. Manufacturer claims GN to be 33m, but measured GN is only 24m. Quality reported to be highly variable.
  5. Manual zoom.

Review links:

4. Review Site Link farm


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