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Sony HVL-F60M flash review

 

Sony replaces the HVL-F58AM in 2012 with a similar, but updated HVL-F60M, which has a neat, but limited use video light, and a new standard ISO hotshoe with nine extra connections at the front for additional communication.  Also, there are two memory settings for things like mode, power level, zoom, wireless control, and LED level etc.  There are many more power levels on this new model than anything before, going from 1/1 to 1/256 in 1/3 or 1/2 stops, that's plenty of light control, believe me!

 

Power-wise, this flash is similar to the HVL-F58AM or HVL-F56AM; I don't notice much gain in light power, although the image periphery seems a little brighter with this new model at wider zoom settings.  The video light has enough fill light power at the highest setting to adequately light something about 6' (2m) away at a high ISO, that's not really much, but I suppose it's better than nothing.  If you want to slide down the video light diffuser (see pictures below), or add the 3200k orange filter (included), it'll cut the light in half.  I do notice the orange filter has a greenish cast at the periphery, so make sure you fully, (or over-cover) your subject to avoid that tint.  The 3200k temp comes at the highest setting.

 

Build quality is excellent, with a very firm feel, and defined notches when moving the flash head and swivel mechanism to different angles.

 

Check out the product shots and additional info below.

 

summer2013/hvlf60mbox.jpg
Contents of box.
summer2013/hvl-f60mbk.jpg
LCD lit up, showing some available settings
summer2013/hvl-f60mplugs.jpg
Plugs for external battery pack and off-camera cable
summer2013/hvl-f60mdiff.jpg
Wide angle diffuser and bounce card.
summer2013/hvl-f60mvid.jpg
Video light combinations.

 

 

Specifications and general information.

 

Model

Sony HVL-F60M  announced in September, 2012.

Owner's manual

Sony eSupport HVL-F60M page    Go here and click 'manuals, specs & warranty' tab.

Price

Original Sony MSRP; $549.99

Tested on

Sony A77.

In the box

Flash with pouch, hotshoe stand, hotshoe adapter with cloth pouch, bounce adapter with pouch,  orange filter for Video light, and printed instruction manual.

Build quality

Very good all around.

Weather sealing?

Claim of dust and moisture resistant.

Hotshoe style

ISO standard with multi interface foot.  This is a new hotshoe design from Sony, so if you have an older Sony camera, you'll need an adapter, which is included with the flash.

Guide number

60 meters, 197'. (ISO 100, @105mm zoom position), and 42.4 meters, 139' at 1/2.  Specs are for full frame sensors.

Guide number accuracy

Maximum output seems similar to models with guide numbers of 56 or 58.  I do notice slightly more illumination at the periphery of the image at wide angle settings, such as 24mm, 28mm etc than what you get with the HVL-F56AM.

Stated color temperature

Not stated.

LCD monitor

LCD.  1.8" x 1.1" (45mm 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.

Lights and switches

Test/Flash charge light, display light, function, mode, control wheel, and the on-off switch.  On the bottom is a sliding lock for the hotshoe, and a dedicated button in front for the LED video lights.

Power source

4 AA, 1.5V

Recycle time

Sony claims between 2.6 and 3.5 seconds at full power depending on battery type; however, I was never able to get those numbers with similar batteries.  My observations: about 5 sec at 1/1.  Half-power (1/2) takes less than 1 second for about 2-3 pops, then it slows down.  Quarter (1/4) power is instantaneous for the first few pops.  Rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries used. 

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

Nine full levels; Auto, 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64, 1/128, adjustable in half or third stops.  1/256 is availble with HSS turned off.

Wide angle diffuser type

Built-in, pulls out and down, covers 15mm, (10mm 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°, 30°, 0° and -10° (down).

Swivel positions

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

Zoom positions

Auto, wide (15mm), 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

My measurements; 3.1"W x 7.75H x 2.75D   79mm x 197mm x 70mm   Maximum length 7.75" (197mm) including shoe mount.  Length and depth measured with flash flat.

Weight

15.9oz (450g) 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.

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.
 
Compatible out of the box with Radiopoppers™ triggers in manual mode, but as with all Sony flashes, you'll need a hotshoe adapter with an appropriate plug.
 
Emits a beep signal when flash has fully recharged in wireless mode. 

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?

Highly recommended for budget conscious* wedding photographers, or people wanting a high output factory flash unit with a convenient video fill light.  *Get some studio strobes and/or Quantums for serious use.