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Reader Comment: Sony Flash System

Brian K writes:

I’ve been getting more into flash photography. My previous setup was kind of a PITA. Could do off-camera flash with the Sony, having a commander unit on the body and then several remotes. The problem was that even though the system was supposed to be able to be TTL and able to control the remotes through the commander, the reality was that it didn’t work. Worse the UI for everything in the system sucked. Had to shoot manual and tweak flash output on the remotes manually.

It sort of worked. The flashes always fired, but it was a royal pain to use.

Recently decided to try the Sony flash system since earlier this year they released radio capable flashes. Had to get the Sony commander unit and then two of the new radio flashes.

The system is pure awesome. The commander and the flashes are much smaller than my previous setup. Small enough that I can carry the commander, a flash, and a body with one lens in my usual bag.

More importantly, the system is really, really easy to use (in an Apple type of way where it “just works”). Once the remotes are paired to the commander unit they can be adjusted from the commander. The UI is awesome—easy and intuitive. Easy to switch from TTL to manual. Easy and intuitive to adjust the remote flashes (either focal length or flash compensation). In manual mode, easy to adjust flash output and easy to assign to groups with different flash output for each remote. The important thing here is easy and intuitive. It beats the crap out of any flash system I have used before

It’s also easy from the standpoint of HSS. Just set it to “on” and it automatically uses HSS if the shutter speed demands it. Switch to shutter priority on the camera or manual mode with a fast shutter speed and the flash system adjusts without having to mess around with any settings on the commander or the remotes.

TTL lens works remarkably well, though you occasionally get the dropped frame where the flash output is off (due to exposure error—it fires but misses the exposure). In manual mode I haven’t had any issues.

The remotes recycle fast, firing reliably in continuous shooting (something my previous setup didn’t do well).

It’s so compact and easy to use that all of my recent shots have been taken using off camera flash (mostly people pics). Haven’t tried it with landscapes yet.

I’ve had my share of purchases that in hindsight were duds. Switching to the new Sony flash system has been all positive. Much, much better than what I was using before and actually quite a bit better than my Nikon system (which is historically one of Nikon’s strengths). It performs well and is very easy to use.

This is the first flash system I’ve used that makes me want to use flash more (rather than dreading it on some level).

I also recently purchased the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2. Another purchase that goes in the “win” column. An amazing lens. More useful than I was expecting for landscapes. Very useful for tight shots of my kiddo. Just an amazing lens.

... On looking over it again, the HSS paragraph isn’t complete. It also switches to HSS in aperture priority mode if the shutter speed demands it—i.e. shooting wide open in decent light. Doesn’t only work in shutter priority or manual as I seemed to imply. You can balance ambient light with flash output by setting the ISO manually if using the flash in TTL mode and shooting in aperture priority or shutter priority modes. One thing I like about the Sony flash system is that you don’t have to change settings by digging into a menu on the body. Everything can be done through the commander unit (aside from global exposure compensation via the command dial on the body and aperture/shutter speed/ISO settings on the body).

DIGLLOYD: interesting info. What makes a system is more than the camera. Sounds like Sony is paying attention to details.

Brian is using the Sony HVL-F45RM Wireless Radio Flash and Sony FA-WRC1M Wireless Radio Commander.


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