A flash like Vivitar 285HV but more powerful?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by toni_nikkanen, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. I use a Vivitar 285HV flash with the automatic exposure feature on various
    old-ish cameras with hot shoe brackets and like it a lot. However sometimes I
    would need even more power, and the ability to tilt the flash head sideways (for
    roof-bounce flash in portrait orientation). Is there another flash unit with the
    same kind of automatic capabilities but with more power and a more flexible
    flash head? It seems the Sunpak 383 model would be more flexible, but not more
    powerful. What else should I consider?
  2. The old metz 402 have double the power, I have two that have worked great for about 30 years now.
  3. The Sunpak 622 Super Pro has a GN of 200 (ISO 100/50mm), 4 times more power and options of various head attachments as ring light, bare bulb or diffuised head.
    A lighter option would be the Sunpak 120j with a GN of 150 that I prefer when used with an umbrella.
    A reliable and well made strobe is the Metz 45cl-4 wich I also have (GN 148).
    I built my own battery packs for each of the strobes so I can repace them at my local Radio Shack or Walmart for cheap.
  4. An advantage of the Sunpak 120 (series) is that it can be equipped with an EOS module which allows through the lens exposure control. It can also be equipped with other modules allowing through the lens exposure control with other brands of cameras.

    Other advantages, IMO:

    The reflector of the 120J can be removed and the unit used in bare-bulb configuration which gives a very nice lighting effect. You can also use a softbox such as the Lumiquest. The combination of no reflector and softbox also gives a very nice effect.

    The 120J is relatively light but, I always used it on a bracket rather than on the hotshoe of my camera. This gave better lighting and also protected the hotshoe from damage.

    The 120J can be powered with AA batteries or a rechargeable Sunpak battery pack. The battery pack allows very fast recycle times....

    IMO the Sunpak 120 (series) is a stellar professional unit.
  5. All of the above are good choices. The Metz 60CT-4 is also a good choice. For a shoemount alternative, a Metz 54MZ-4i or older, top of the line shoemount--40MZ, or the latest 58MZ. These have more power than the 285, and have auto thyristor with the advantage of having many auto apertures, rather than just 3. Plus, it could work with the latest digitals. How much more powerful do you want it?
  6. Thank you for all the good suggestions. I'll start checking "the usual sources" for what is available right now and for what price :)

    How much more powerful do I need? well, that depends on practicability and price. I don't want to carry huge battery packs (would rather use AA batteries) and would like the flash to sit on the hot shoe. I understand I can't get the most powerful flash in the world that way, but I think I can get more power and flexibility than I currently have. One thing I don't have too much need for, is fast recycle times. If I can get rid of large battery packs by sacrificing fast recycling, it's all right.
  7. Comparing flash power seems tricky. Guide numbers are thrown around with little concern for uniformity. Sometimes you get a guide number for 35mm field of view, sometimes 50, sometimes 105...

    Are these numbers correct so far? ISO 100, 50mm field of view, feet:
    Vivitar 285HV 120
    Sunpak 120J 150
    Metz 54 mz-4i 131
    Metz 58MZ 137

    None of these appear to be all THAT more powerful than the Vivitar. Maybe I really ought to consider the even larger units.
  8. Talk to these guys - maybe they can build you something: http://www.khbphotografix.com/
    From their website:
    Custom modifications can assist you with greater versatility in equipment usage and meet your creative needs as a photographer:
    -Heads converted for use on a different pack brand or vice versa
    -Adapter cables to enable heads to work on multiple brands of packs
    -Extension cables
    -Custom sync cords and plug conversions
    -Fresnel spot lamps converted to flash
    -Bare bulb conversions to portable flash
    -Battery cells rebuilt or upgraded to the latest technology
    -Battery performance testing
  9. jtk


    Consider using two 285HV on one bracket or stand, or into one umbrella.
  10. Your guide numbers are about right. The Vivitar I would rate at 110. The Sunpak might be difficult to use in the hotshoe. Guide numbers of about 130 or so (ISO 100, 50mm angle of view) are about as powerful as you're going to get out of a shoemount. The advantages of the Metz units (even the 40MZ series) are, you have a tilt/swivel head and many auto apertures. What are you photographing?

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