Just thought I'd see if there is an interest in a thread on off-brand flash stuff. As a user of the N70 I have a fairly powerful Nikon Speedlight but since I also use an F I had to add an external flash and didn't need to concern myself with TTL if I didn't care too.
The Vivitar 283 popped up in a excursion thru a thrift store in Chicago and with some net'searchin' I was impressed by its GN and model durability. Since acquiring this flash I have found it to be an acquired skill to use this 'auto' style flash
but the power is startling and I have been having a blast playing with images lit by slave tripping of the 283 from my N70.
I know some folk are Metz fanatics due to their state of the art abilities but the retro-geeks like myself gush with the praises of the old work horses like the old Vivitars and others that "just do it" and have been for ...decades, an attribute a Nikon owner should respect.
Like I said just seeing if I could find a FLASHpoint amongst NIKONians.
#1. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 0Mon 25-Sep-00 11:42 AM
I used to have high-praises for Vivitar. Before I bought my SB-28, I bought a Vivitar 285HV. Those are basically supposed to be a high-voltage version of the 283 with a built-in power-fractioning system (where with the 283 you have to buy a seperate "dongle").
What a lemon it was - I went through 4. The first fell apart (started with the trip peeling off), the second wouldn't build up a full charge, and the third wouldn't keep it's charge - it would charge up and then pop at full power. The fourth locked down on the hotshoe and had to be "surgically removed" from the camera to prevent it from taking the hot-shoe with it.
I went back to the camera store and pulled every 285 off the shelf with the guy. Every one of them was bad in one way or another. In addition, Vivitar "support" did NOT want to hear from either of us - at all.
I gave up and got credit on it... I used Vivitar all through high-school and they were ok (they were 283's) so I'm really surprised at the poor quality of the 285...
Then a friend of mine bought a Vivitar "semi-dedicated" thyristor flash unit for modern cameras (it basically had the extra detection pins) for his Kwanon AE-1... Hehehe... It broke after two pictures - so he ran over to my house and borrowed my SB-28 and Stroboframe and used a sync cord to hook it all up. He used the SB-28 on "Auto" all night.
I think he actually ended up buying an SB-28 and is in the process of modernizing his rig going all Nikon too!
#2. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 1Tue 26-Sep-00 10:39 AM
My highest praise in the flash business has to go to the German Metz company. My first was a 45CT-1, bought in 1980 when my No-Name flash unit's parachute failed jumping off a car roof. (Put my gadget bag on the car roof, forgot about it, and drove away. Went round the first corner only to watch the bag flying through the air towards a heavy landing...) It was expensive, but worth every penny, and I still use it today.
I now own four Metz units: 2 45CT-1s, a 60CT1 with an external battery pack (at a pinch, you could use it to jump start a truck...), and a little BCT30. The potato-masher 45 and 60 are as unbreakable as a plastic product can possible get. They sit on a stable bracket, firmly attached to your camera, and damaging them can only involve brute force. With a guide number of 60 in meters, the 60CT-1 has enough power that you have to be careful not to set fire to the curtains... With the internal NiCads, you have about 80 full-power manual flashes, several hundred on automatic at a moderate f-stop. Using the huge external NiCad gives you easily 200 full power shots.
(Remember Clint Eastwood? "This is a Metz sixty CT one, the most powerful flash gun in the world, and it can blow your head right off your shoulders. Feeling lucky...?")
I get nervous watching photographers toting SLRs with huge, hot-shoe mounted flash units. You don't need an engineering degree to figure out how little leverage will break either the shoe or the mount off!
The Metzes have proved dependable, powerful, and flexible. Metz has a service department that can still supply parts even for their elderly units - I used them recently and found them inexpensive and prompt. Various gadgets and accessories are available, like slave units and telephoto attachments. I even converted one of my 45s to a studio flash - drilled a hole in the bracket to hold an umbrella - that I can use outside on location. I've depended on the Metz units for medical and forensic photography, and can't praise them enough. Not cheap, but then neither is the Nikon...
#3. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 2Tue 26-Sep-00 11:43 AM
Great to hear such high-praise for Metz. I got to use one a couple of times. They're just too darn heavy. I agree with the bracket or shoe idea though - I remember Vivitar touting that their Flash units were designed so that if you dinged it, it would break AT the foot, so the prism/shoe wouldn't get yanked off with it... I thought that was funny...
How about TTL Metz's here? All I've ever used were the Auto/Manual ones and the battery pack I had tended to overcharge (damaged 3 Metz units in 3 weeks - warranty replacement)...
They've got a nice new compact model now, but I wouldn't swear by the potato masher I bought used and has never worked properly.
#4. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 3Tue 26-Sep-00 12:17 PM
You're right about the weight. I'm firmly convinced I'd have a good claim for workman's compensation for all the years I've lugged a 45CT-1 around on an F3 with a motor - the old lower back syndrome! (Isn't this a new Olympic discipline - Lifting The Metz?) Builds muscle, though. Schwarzenegger regularly calls me for advice when he needs to lift something heavy...
Not sure how good the service back-up works in the US and Canada, but if you have a problem I'd be happy to give the German office a call for you. I've found them genuinely helpful, (most manufacturers hate to admit bouncing their products off the production line...) and you may just need a new sensor or other part. I can get it for you and send it on, no problem. Just let me know.
As for overcharging, four hours is the limit. We had a case years ago of a particularly gifted soldier who put one on charge before going on leave for a week - you needed asbestos gloves and a heat shield to handle it!
#5. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 3Marvin Basic MemberFri 06-Oct-00 07:40 PM
Hallo Jeff, Frankie and Mike,
On advatage of the Metz system that may be not that obvious or important if you are a Nikon only user is the adapter system.
The the Metz's SCA adapters make it possible to use your flash system on virtually every SLR camera.
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#7. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 6Arturo Basic MemberWed 06-Dec-00 09:25 PM
Ok, I got the idea about Metz.(the SCA system allows the Metz to work TTL like ?? is that right ??)
Is there any other choice available ?? What about the Sunpak with their 4000 and 5000 series ?? Are they really alternatives ??
Posting from Chile
Planets edge ;)
#8. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 7Thu 07-Dec-00 02:08 AM
Well, I'd be willing to bet some money that the new Sunpaks are built WAY better than the new Vivitars... And the tech-support/warranty support is excellent - Vivitar couldn't care less..
#9. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 7watchcow Basic MemberTue 01-May-01 10:15 PM
If you don't need the FP mode then there are reasonable alternatives to the Nikon SB series. Sigma's EF-430 super is actually a good unit. it is not as powerful as an sb-28, but i know several people that have used them for more than a year and are happy with the results. I only know one person with a sunpak PZ-5000 he has mixed emotions. it took forever to get one of them, then he paid too much for it. and now he looks at it and starts to feel ill. considering even mail order they are over $200, it makes little sense to spend that much and not spend an extra $50 to get the sb-28. at $175 the Sigma seems to be a less offensive compromise. if you don't need so much power and don't use a lot of bells and whistles, the sunpak PZ-4000 and the sigma ef-430st are good units. the only vivtar i still use is a 283 and it scares me to use that on my autofocus cameras. i still use it on my nikkormat though.
if my sb-24 was stolen and i had to get back on the road, i think i would get the sigma ef-430 super. in a few months we should see it's bigger brother, the ef-500 super. this will be the first unit other than possibly metz, that has most of the useable power and features of the sb-28.
#10. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 9gewe21 Basic MemberTue 01-May-01 11:11 PM
Hi there guys,
I want to join the discussion, especially about Metz, because an uncle of mine is a Metz fanatic. He kept on saying that Metz makes the best flashes in the world.
Well, I kind'a curious for the Metz 54-MZ3 (hot shoe mount, too bad ), especially because it has higher GN compared to SB28. Also, it has two flash (one main and one kicker) so you can bounce the main flash, and still have some "frontal" kicker light. Also, I remember reading somewhere that this unit enables FP (flash pulse) for SLR's with slow X-sync. Also, it has built in slave flash capability (sort of like SB26). Whoa, so many also's.
Anyway, are those true ? Merlin, you seem like a Metz fanatic too. Can you confirm this for me ? Comments / replies from others are welcome also. If it is really that good, then I want to start saving to get one. I'm sure my brother won't mind getting my SB-28
Mechanical Engineering, senior year
"Dude, you're getting a Nikkor !!!"
#11. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 10Wed 02-May-01 05:36 AM
I heartily agree with your uncle! But I can't answer for that 54-MZ3, simply because I've never used one. My only hot-shoe Metz is the now discontinued 30-BCT, which has been a really super little flash.
Metz has a well organized web site (http://www.metz.de/1_metz_2000/m_pages_english/index_2_e.html) and it looks like the 54-MZ3 can handle high-speed sync. But please bear in mind my earlier warning about heavy flash units and feeble hot shoes - one wrong move, and your new flash will be history!
It's not cheap, but if I was buying a new high-end flash, I'd be inclined to go for something like the 50 MZ-5. With a GN of between 50 and 70 depending on lens, this prfessional bracket mounted unit looks like a worthy successor to the elderly 60 CT series, with all the "features" anyone could ask for.
I still stand by my recommendation for the Metz company, particularly regarding their friendly service and the fact that I can still get parts for my - now over 20 years old - 60 CT-1. In all those years, not once have I ever said to myself, "I wish I'd bought a different flash!".
#13. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 12jrp Charter MemberSat 17-Nov-01 04:08 PM
LAST EDITED ON Nov-17-01 AT 05:11 PM (GMT)
Metz, producer of the Mecablitz speedlights has its home at Zirndorf, west of Nuremberg in Germany. They advertise their products as:
"Made in Germany.
Many renowned industrial partners use the reliability of a local manufacturing facility with all of its individual system solutions. An extremely reliable quality control management makes certain, that all of the manufacturing processes are performed perfectly."
In these day and age it is possible they too have been forced to find more competitive production facilities elsewhere, like Korea, Malasya, China or elsewhere.
Tell us what you have found out.
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#14. "RE: Flash Systems" | In response to Reply # 13odie Basic MemberMon 19-Nov-01 01:31 PM
This is just a question. The newer AF Metz just has a lot of features in common with another flash on the market. I was just asking to see if anyone knew anything. I know older Metz' are German, but what about new ones?