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Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Gadget Bag: Light In The Field


Flash units and accessories can make a difference in your outdoor photography



Light In The Field  Electronic flash helps provide a photographer greater control over the lighting of a subject. It can supply just the right amount of fill light to illuminate the foreground of a landscape, and it can bring out the details and color of a flower photographed with a macro lens. Regardless of the subject, a flash provides the ability to control and shape light to suit your vision of the scene. Whether it's a dedicated TTL flash, ring light or wireless slave, these small portable "suns" that we stuff in our camera bags can make a world of difference.

The following models boast features that are extremely beneficial to photographers. The guide number, which is the measurement of a flash's power output, are given at ISO 100 in feet at a moderate zoom position.

Canon Speedlite 580EX
(800) OK-CANON • www.usa.canon.com
The latest flash from Canon is designed for its advanced E-TTL II flash metering system available in the newest generation of Canon digital SLRs. With a guide number of 118 (35mm), the flash is optimized to work with both compacts and SLRs. It automatically compensates for the size of the image sensor and matches the focal length conversion of attached lenses. With the Canon EOS 20D and EOS-1D Mark II, the flash and camera communicate, allowing color-balance adjustment based on battery charge levels and flash duration. Weighing 22 ounces, the flash offers wide-angle coverage of up to 14mm. List Price: $479.

Konica Minolta Maxxum 5600HS
(877) IMAGING • www.konicaminolta.us
Designed to work with Konica Minolta's diverse line of film and digital cameras, the Maxxum 5600HS delivers power and high-end features for superior flash control. With a guide number of 124 (35mm), it works in conjunction with the camera's ADI (Advanced Distance Integration) flash metering system for using subject-distance data supplied with Konica Minolta's new lenses. Accurate flash exposures for off-center subjects are aided by biasing the exposure for the AF sensors used to detect subject focus.

Weighing in at 13 ounces, the flash also features wireless remote capability, a high-speed sync mode and a fully adjustable pan-and-tilt head for controlling the direction of flash output. List Price: $522.

Metz 54 MZ-4

(201) 818-9500 • www.bogenimaging.us
The full-featured Metz 54 MZ-4 is available for Canon, Minolta, Nikon and Pentax cameras. It's compatible with most cameras' TTL flash metering systems and includes its own non-TTL Automatic and Manual modes. It has a guide number of 131 (50mm) along with high-end features, including high-speed sync and a secondary flash that serves as fill with the main flash head positioned for bounce. It also sports a brightly lit LCD display. Weighing 22.4 ounces, the flash provides wide-angle coverage up to 20mm and can be used as a wireless slave with an optional accessory. List Price: $472.

Nikon Speedlight SB-800

(800) NIKON-UX • www.nikonusa.com
The Nikon SB-800 delivers accurate flash exposures as a result of its i-TTL flash technology. The advanced metering system combines distance information from D- and G-series AF-Nikkor lenses with a camera's Matrix metering to provide precise exposures, even in scenes with extreme ranges of tonalities. Weighing only 9.2 ounces, the flash boasts a guide number of 125 (35mm) and wide-angle coverage up to 17mm.

It features a sophisticated wireless system for controlling an unlimited number of SB-800 or SB-600 Speedlights, whose outputs can be adjusted without stepping away from the camera. List Price: $420.


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