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Sony HVL-F58AM flash review

 

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Contents of box, including stand, case, manual and flash unit.
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LCD lit up, showing some available settings
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Plugs for external battery pack and off-camera cable
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LCD panel index
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LCD panel index

 

 

Specifications and general information.

 

Model

Sony HVL-F58AM  announced in June, 2008, discontinued in 2012, and replaced with HVL-F60M, review here.

Owner's manual

Sony eSupport HVL-F58AM page    Go here and click 'manuals, specs & warranty' tab.

Price

Original Sony MSRP; $499.99

Tested on

Sony A580, Sony A900.

In the box

Flash, stand, vinyl pouch and instructions.

Build quality

Very good all around.

Weather sealing?

No.

Hotshoe style

Sony proprietary type 

Guide number

58 meters, 190'. (ISO 100, @105mm zoom position), and 42 meters, 138' (ISO 100, @50mm zoom).  Specs are for full frame sensors and 35mm film.

Guide number accuracy

Maximum output seems similar to other models with same rating.

Stated color temperature

Not stated.

LCD monitor

LCD.  1.7" x 1.1" (43mm x 28mm).  Has low battery indicator, overheat, zoom length with wide panel down indicator, power levels, HSS, quick shift bounce, wireless channels, and many other items, see images above.

Lights and switches

Test/Flash charge light, display light, TTL/M, zoom, function button inside four way controller, and the on-off switch. 

Power source

4 AA, 1.5V

Recycle time

About 3 sec at 1/1.  Half-power (1/2) is instantaneous for about 2-3 pops, then it slows down.  Quarter (1/4) power is instantaneous.  Rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries used. 
 
Sony claims about 5 seconds for full power recharge, probably using standard throw-away AA batteries.

Flash duration rating

No info.

Power saving function

Yes, none, 30sec, 3min, and 30min.  Wireless flash mode power save can be set to 60min or none.

Adjustable power levels

Six full levels; Auto, 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, no half or third stops.

Wide angle diffuser type

Built-in, pulls out and down, covers 16mm, (11mm APS-C) and shows on display when pulled out (Wide).

Bounce card or reflector plate

White bounce card built in over diffuser, pulls out.

Bounce positions

150°, 120°, 90°, 75°, 60°, 45°, 0° and -10° (down).

Swivel positions

Right, 0°, 30°, 45°, 60°, 90°, - Left, 0°, 30°, 45°, 60°, 90°.

Zoom positions

Auto, wide (16mm), 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 105mm.

Zoom type

Internal, and fully automatic in auto mode.

Auto format zoom

Yes, the flash knows what focal length the lens is at, either full frame or APS-C format, except on the Sony A100.

AF assist beam

Yes, red, works properly.

Custom functions

The following settings may be customized.  (Wireless CH1-4).  (HSS, on or off). (Wireless controller mode setting, 1 or 2).  (Time to power save-30sec, 3min, 30min, none).  (Time to power save when using wireless flash; 60min/none).  (Recording modes in which manual flash or multiple flash may be set, M mode only or all modes).  (Feet or meters on LCD).  (Test flash setting, once, 3 times, 4 seconds).

Connections

Sony off-camera cable and Sony external battery adapter connector.

White balance info

Yes.

Modeling flash

Yes.

Multi-flash emission

Yes, highly customizable.

High speed sync

Yes, to the cameras highest shutter speed.

Wireless ability

Yes, and can be used as a wireless control flash for up to three groups.

Sony ADI support

Yes.

Red eye reduction

Not supported by Sony.

Dimensions

3.0"W x 7.1H x 3.0D   77mm x 195mm x 78mm   Maximum length 7.1" (195mm) including shoe mount.  Length and depth measured with flash flat.

Weight

15.6oz (440g) without batteries.

Operating temp

0°-40°C,  32°-104°F

Quirks

Modeling flash option uses a custom 'test' button setting, so you have to change back and forth unless you want the modeling flash to go off every time you test fire the flash.

Flash will fire even if it isn't charged sufficiently, so check the charge indicator before shooting, otherwise you may wind up with the wrong exposure.  It does this so you won't miss a shot waiting for the flash to fully charge.
 
Bounce indicator shows only on downward bounce (10°), but not in any 'up' position.  It will show when the flash is swiveled.

Notes

Can be custom set for full manual use in all recording modes, even "auto."  Flash is automatically turned off when camera power is turned off, then back on if flash is still switched on.
 
Fully compatible out of the box with Radiopoppers™ triggers.

Good for

Almost everything.  Suited well for studio use because of the ability to use an external battery pack, and off-camera cables for connecting other flashes, although real studio strobes are less expensive and recycle much faster.

Not good for

Good for everything, but most people will probably be better served with the HVL-F43AM, which is much less expensive.

Recommended?

Discontinued, replaced with Sony HVL-F60M