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Digital Camera Flash Reviews

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Choosing a Flash for your Digital SLR Camera

A good quality flash is one of the most common upgrades the average photographer will purchase after they have settled on their camera and lenses. Many digital SLR cameras come with a small flash built in, but for the most part these are relatively ineffective for most types of photography. More importantly they offer little, if any form of adjustment or controllability. On the other hand the average detachable flash allows you to adjust the brightness and angle of the flash to suit your needs and deliver the perfect shot time after time.

 

Why Not Simply Use the On-Camera Flash?

There are a number of very good reasons for you to avoid using the built-in flash that comes with your new camera. One is that the light produced by this type of flash is typically unfiltered, rendering it very harsh in nature. This can lead to problems such as red-eye that can ruin your photographs or require tedious work on the computer to remove.

Another reason to add a detachable flash is that the on-board flash is generally relatively weak. This means it has a very limited effective range or that it is only designed for close-up shots. Camera makers do this on purpose as a way to reduce the amount of drain the flash places on the battery. A detachable flash operates on its own batteries ensuring that it does not put any type of drain on your camera’s battery.

 

Flash Terminology

As with any technical equipment you buy, there are always terms specific to the device or technology. In the case of a digital flash, there are three very important terms which you need to be aware of:

Recycle Rate: This refers to how fast the flash recharges between uses and is ready to go again. Obviously if you are taking portraits or still shots, speed is not really an issue, but if you are taking action shots you need a flash with a much higher recycle rate.

Guide Number: This number refers to the physical size of the flash. When you are taking portraits a smaller unit is fine, but if you are taking large interior shots you need a larger flash that is capable of filling the area with plenty of light.

Flash Sync: This is actually a function of your camera that is vital to an external flash unit. If you buy a camera with a low flash sync speed, the external flash will end up limiting the camera’s shutter speed. Higher quality cameras have faster sync speeds allowing them to handle better flash units.

 

What to Look for in a Detachable Flash

The detachable flash unit is designed to fit on the “hot shoe” mounted on top of the DSLR camera. This small metal bracket has been designed to allow you to easily slide the flash in place and secure it in place. The hot shoe passes the signal from the camera to the flash letting it know when to fire. There are a number of features you should look for that will make your digital camera flash more useful:

  • Power
  • Recycle Rate
  • TTL (through the lens) metering
  • Autofocus
  • Tilt and Swivel
  • Auto Zoom
  • Price

Bear in mind that while price may play a part in your final decision, it should only play a small part.  There is little point in buying a cheap flash unit only to find that it lacks the power or features you really need, only to end up spending even more money buying the one you should have purchased in the first place.

 

Here are Five Top Rated Digital Flashes for You to Consider

The Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite is designed for use on a wide range of the most popular DSLR cameras. It offers a horizontal rotation of 0 to 270 degrees and a vertical rotation of 0 to 90 degrees for maximum adaptability. The TT560 has eight power settings: 1/128, 1/64, 1/32, 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and 1/1 to help you control overall output and battery consumption. Uses 4 AA batteries and is designed for both alkaline and rechargeable batteries. Flash duration is from 1/300s to 1200s with a color temperature of 5600K.


The Altura Photo (AP-UNV1) Speedlite Flash Kit is made to fit many of the most popular brands of DSLR camera bodies. It offers a 0 to 90 vertical rotation and a 0 to 270 degree horizontal rotation. Also includes a flip-down wide angle diffuser and a reflection panel. The kit also includes a tripod stand and a soft pouch. Not designed to work in TTL mode but can be used in manual, S1, and S2 modes. This powerful flash has a High Guide number of 38 meters or 125 feet.


The Altura Photo E-TTL is a professional grade flash that offers full TTL metering and can be used in fully automatic or manual modes. It offers a power range of 1/1 to 1/28 and a power zoom that has seven steps of 24, 28, 35, 50, 70, 80, and 105mm. It come with a tripod stand mount, hard flash diffuser, wireless remote, and a protective pouch. The E-TTL features a large easy to read LCD screen and has a power saving mode and built in memory. It is designed to run on four AA batteries.


The Canon Speedlite 270EX is a compact lightweight detachable flash that is perfect for use on the PowerShot and Canon EF series of cameras. It offers two steps of coverage, 20mm and 50mm for added coverage and has a built-in bounce feature to add more versatility. Powered by a pair of AA batteries, the 270EX uses your camera’s on board menu screen for easy set up and control. Recycling time vary between 0.1 and 3.9 seconds.


The Canon Speedlite 430EX II has a metal hot shoe foot for added durability and features a swiveling bounce head that is designed to automatically zoom from 24mm to 105mm. Built-in wireless E-TTL II lets the 430EX function as a slave unit and provide just the right amount of light when you need it. Designed to fit PowerShot G series cameras and the Canon EOS body. With a set of rechargeable batteries, the 430EX II is capable of averaging between 400 and 500 shots.

Flash Comparison Chart
Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite
Altura Photo (AP-UNV1) Speedlite Flash Kit
Altura Photo E-TTL Auto-Focus Dedicated Flash Kit (AP-C1001)
Canon Speedlite 270EX Flash
Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash
Customer Ratings
Power4xAA4xAA4xAA2xAA4xAA
Guide Number38m38m68m27m43m
Tilt and Swivel
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