Flashes Reviews

Sunpak PZ42X TTL Flash


Considering a flash for your new digital SLR? Instead of getting the Nikon SB–600 or the Canon 430EX II, why not consider the Sunpak PZ42X flash?

The Sunpak PZ42X is a worthy alternative for SLR shooters looking for a dedicated flash. If you’re not after the techo–gizmo features found in more expensive models, this Sunpak might just do the job. I’ve personally tried one and it’s just as good as my Sigma EF–500 Super, but without the weight. I lose high–speed (focal plane) sync and multi–flash effects, but I rarely need them anyway.

For an everyday use flash, the Sunpak PZ42X gets the job done. It’s a lot cheaper than the Canon 430EX II and still a few dollars cheaper than the Nikon SB–600, just good enough for a budget–limited enthusiast.

List price for the three flashes mentioned:

  • Sunpak PZ42X: $149.95
  • Canon 430EX II: $279.99
  • Nikon SB–600: $172.95
Flashes Lighting

RadioPopper: Radio TTL Flash System

RadioPopper logo.

Have you heard about RadioPopper?

It is a unique radio trigger system for use with your slave flashes and triggers, strobist–style, but with the unique capability of light metering through TTL. Created by wedding and portrait photographer Kevin King, it is slated for release sometime next year according to their press release (pdf).

With the look of things, this kit should be significantly better than the Cactus Radio Triggers I just acquired, considering it will be priced close to the industry–standard Pocket Wizards. But can it steal some of the Pocket Wizard’s market?

Flashes Links Tips

Can you use your old flash with your DSLR?

A good number of first time DSLR buyers used to own film SLRs with a dedicated hotshoe flash. Most flash guns built during the film SLR days cannot take advantage of the various advancements in flash photography like Nikon’s CLS (Creative Lighting System) and Canon’s ETTL (Evaluative Through-The-Lens) and ETTL-II. However, a more important (and potentially dangerous) note is that most old flashes have extremely high trigger voltages. The electronics in digital SLRs like the Canon EOS 400D/Rebel XTi can be destroyed by old flash guns with these high trigger voltages. This article explains this issue quite well:

Why Are Newer Cameras in Danger, but not Old Ones?

Once upon a time, all camera shutters were triggered mechanically. The flash switches were mechanical switches, made of metal. Cameras from the 1950’s-70’s even have two different flash settings, each with minutely different timings: “X” for strobes, and “M” for flashbulbs (which needed an extra 1/250th of a second or so to ignite).

Modern electronically-controlled cameras use a thyristor capacitor, a solid-state device that switches according to voltage potentials. It switches on and off much more quickly than mechanical switches, making it excellent for electronic control, especially of short durations. But it’s also susceptible to problems that weren’t present in the previous generations of cameras.

So how do you prevent yourself from ruining your 800 dollar camera? This comprehensive listing of flash trigger voltages over at (from the same source as the previous link) will help you identify problem strobes and flashes. Just identify the flash you’re using and check its details in the table provided; it also contains specific notes from fellow users with first–hand experience with specific models of flashes.

This information can be very helpful for people experimenting with flash photography, especially now that it’s on the rise and greatly inspired by the strobist blog.