New Gear For 2007: PMA Report; Dedicated, Hot Shoe Flash & Flash Diffusion Devices

Photographers know that extra light is often needed to produce a top-quality picture. They also know that the camera's built-in flash will only illuminate subjects within 10 or so feet from the camera and the light it throws is harsh and frequently results in the distracting redeye effect. That's when a hot shoe or bracket mount flash comes into play.

A hot shoe flash simply slides onto the camera's hot shoe and electronically couples with the camera for precisely determining the proper exposure, depending upon the camera-to-subject distance determined by the camera and the focal length of the lens. When the correct amount of light is emitted, it squelches any excess and stops. If your camera does not have a hot shoe, you can use a slave flash that will automatically synchronize and fire when the camera's flash goes off to provide additional light for more distant subjects. The slave typically comes with a bracket that attaches to the camera's tripod socket and holds the flash unit beside the camera's body. There were a number of new models of both types of flashes introduced at this year's PMA, plus some new brackets and flash diffusion systems.

At the large BKA (Brandess-Kalt-Aetna Group) booth I saw several new models of SUNBLITZ flashes, including the Ai829 TW Auto Digital Twin Flash with Bracket. It can operate with any digital camera since it has a slave that fires along with your camera's built-in flash. It fits onto a camera shoe or an included universal mounting bracket, useful when using the hot shoe precludes popping up the built-in. Multiple function adjustments let you control one or both flashes and set for various types of pre-flash modes. It has both tilt and swivel and a GN of 84. The MSRP is $80.

Sunblitz Ai829 TW Auto Digital Twin Flash

Also from BKA come two models of similar LED macro ringlights, which provide constant 3000K output and have a built-in, long life rechargeable lithium polymer battery. No cable is needed and the consistent light can be used for both composition and image capture. The SUNBLITZ RL1200 works on lenses up to 62mm and the RL716 is for lenses up to 82mm. The respective MSRPs are $150 and $220.

The SUNBLITZ BK 1900 iRe is a small digital slave flash with bracket that can be used with any camera having a built-in flash. It automatically synchronizes with various pre-flash and multi-flash redeye reduction systems. It also has a foldable bracket and GN of 54. The MSRP is $40. The SUNBLITZ BK 400 Speedlight Digital PRO Bracket is a flash bracket having a built-in sensor to detect the camera flash and then will fire in synchronization any hot shoe flash attached to it. The MSRP is $47.

New at Canon is the Speedlite 580EX II flash, an improved version of the 580EX with features such as a metal hot shoe containing an improved locking mechanism and better contact interface, an external metering sensor when used as a non-TTL automatic flash, and a PC socket. This unit is compatible with all Canon EOS SLR cameras and it is gasketed with rubber covers on the auxiliary terminals for moisture and dust resistance when working in harsher weather situations. It has both tilt and swivel, built-in white bounce card, and an ultra-wide angle diffusion screen. It can be used as a wireless radio slave and there is a new more compact external battery pack available. The MSRP is $479.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II

DigiPower displayed three models of their new line of flash units. The DP-F386 is a TTL-dedicated flash for Canon, Nikon, and Sony digital cameras. It has a 24-85mm power zoom head that tilts with built-in reflector plate and diffuser, AF assist beam, LCD display, a GN of 72, and an MSRP of $200. The DP-F880 is an AF TTL model for the same cameras with a 28-85mm power zoom head that tilts, a GN of 72, and an MSRP of $149. Smaller and lighter is the DP-F20 with a tilting reflector that carries an MSRP of $99.

DigiPower DP-F386

Metz (Bogen Imaging Inc.) introduced the world's first USB upgradeable wireless flash, the Mecablitz 58 AF-1, which is offered in models for use with Canon's E-TTL and Nikon's i-TTL remote flash systems. It can be used as either a commander or slave unit and is a fully dedicated digital flash for these advanced cameras. It offers a maximum GN of 190 at ISO 100 (at 105mm) and has a built-in foldaway white reflector card plus a wide angle diffuser for focal lengths down to 18mm. Other features include a power zoom head for 24-105mm, both swivel and tilt capability, a secondary smaller straightforward flash head for fill light, a large easy to use LCD, and multi-zone AF metering. When improvements in flash technology come, updates can be downloaded from your PC using the USB interface. It sells for $350.

Metz Mecablitz 58 AF-1

The Nissin brand of portable flash units is now distributed by Dot Line Corp., and they showed several new digital models. Nissin's Digital Speedlite Di622 is a shoe mount unit with both bounce and swivel head, compatible with digital Canon and Nikon TTL sync. It has a 24-105mm power zoom, wireless slave sync capability, and a very simplified control panel. An ultra-wide angle diffuser and white catchlight reflector are built-in and the GN is 144. It carries an MSRP of $220. The quite small and lightweight Nissin Speedlite DS-1 is a digital slave flash that either attaches to a camera shoe or to a supplied bracket. The programmed sensor and computer circuit automatically adjusts for pre-flash camera flash; there is a diffuser and the MSRP is $70.

Nissin Digital Speedlite Di622

At the OmegaSatter booth we saw the new Phoenix DPZBIS-125CII digital power zoom flash for the Canon E-TTL I/II digital and analog SLR cameras. Features include 24-85mm power zoom coverage, bounce and swivel, infrared focus assist, second curtain sync, multi-flash for special effects, a GN of 125, and power level adjustments. An informative lighted LCD on the back has push buttons to make adjustments. The MSRP is $180. A larger version of the DRLLED "L" LED ringlight for macro photography with digital or film cameras works with lenses up to 82mm in diameter. It has 16 LEDs, 45 minutes constant operating time on one charge, battery meter to check charge level, and can be plugged into AC to operate continuously.

Phoenix DPZBIS-125CII