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Vivitar DF-293-SON flash quick review

 

JUNE2011/viv293fin.jpg
Box and contents
JUNE2011/viv293bk3.jpg
Back with zoom extended
JUNE2011/viv293lcd.jpg
LCD lit up, showing manual mode settings

 

 

Specifications and general information.

 

Model

Price

About $99

Tested on

Sony A580

In the box

Flash, nylon case, white bounce card, wide angle diffuser and instruction manual.  Nice picture on box, but it's not being enhanced by using a flash.

Build quality

All plastic, cheap switches and buttons, but it has a decent fit and finish.

Hotshoe style

Sony proprietary type for this model, others available.

Guide number

42 (138') @85mm zoom position

Guide number accuracy

Maximum output seems less, maybe 1/3 stop than other models with same rating.

LCD monitor

1.7" X .55" (42mm X 14mm).  No color.  Pushing the "light" button illuminates the screen in green for about 5 seconds.  Displayed items include; flash range indicator, zoom position, TTL/Manual , Power ratio setting, ISO (25, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800), and F/stop (1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0, 11) info.

Lights and switches

On-off slider, test button,  red "Ready" button, and green "OK" light that comes on for a second after the flash fires with the proper exposure, but comes on with almost all exposures.

Power source

4 AA, 1.5V

Recycle time

About 6-7 sec at 1/1, and almost instantaneous at lower levels in actual use.  Recycle times are longer when pushing the test button at all except 1/1.

Flash duration rating

1/500-1/30,000sec

Power saving function

Yes, after three minutes it goes into sleep mode, but will never turn off completely; wakes up after pressing any button on flash, or the camera's shutter button, but wait for red charge light before using.

Adjustable power levels

Five full levels only; 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16.

Wide angle diffuser type

Plastic clip on, covers down to 20mm, (14mm APS-C) and shows on LCD when attached.

Bounce card or reflector plate

Yes, white thin plastic card, 82mm x 61mm (3.3" x 2.4") inserts in slot at flash top, but doesn't lock.

Bounce positions

45°, 60°, 75°, and 90°.

Swivel positions

Left, 180°- right, 90°.

Zoom positions

28mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm.  The light pattern between 35-85mm is somewhat square.

Zoom type

External, manual "push-pull" operated.  You must remember to set this to the focal length in use, otherwise the flash may not cover the entire frame, or the middle will be overexposed etc.

Auto format zoom

No, manual only.

AF assist beam

Yes, red, works properly.

Custom functions

None.

Connections

None.

White balance info

None.

Modeling flash

No.

Multi-flash emission

No.

High speed sync

No support.

Wireless ability

None with Sony.

Sony ADI support

Yes.

Red eye reduction

No, only works with other brands, not supported by Sony.

Dimensions

3.1"W x 7.0H x 2.4D   79mm x 178mm x 62mm   Maximum length 8.0" (203mm) including shoe mount.  Depth measured with flash flat.

Weight

10.4oz (295g) without batteries, 14.3oz (406g) with batteries.

Operating temp

Not listed.

Quirks

LCD review and menu functions are sometimes cut short or cancelled when flash is mounted and turned on, must be the flash is powering discreet actions, similar to half pressing the shutter button and returning to the default screen.

Notes

Has adjustable power levels and zoom features which are rarely seen in this price range. 

Good for

Great for off-camera radio controlled flash use in manual mode (Radiopoppers tested), plus it won't shut off in the middle of a photo shoot after a short period of inactivity.  Could be a very economical choice for on-camera occasional flash use, just remember to adjust the zoom position.

Not good for

Fully automated operation, wireless optical use, or people wanting HSS.

Recommended?

No, quality control is awful, do not buy!