Sunpak 444D vs. Vivitar 285(HV?)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by wmmk, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. wmmk macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    #1
    EDIT: I now understand that the SunBlitz thing isn't great, but I've done some more research and narrowed my choices down to the sunpak 444D and vivitar 285. I also don't know if it'd be worth it to pay extra for the HV model of the 285.


    http://www.adorama.com/FACSB829.html

    I know it's not a name brand, but light is light, and it seems to offer manual control and come with optical slaves. If I'm correct in assuming that this comes with 2 flash heads, that's $39 a unit. that wouldn't be much to fret over for most folks, but I'm really pinching pennies at the moment. if this is not worth the money, I can save up for something else.

    Thanks.
     
  2. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #2
    You'd probably be better off grabbing a few used manual flashes and some cheap ebay radio transmitters. That said, I have never heard of the flashes you linked.

    Try this for cheap lighting info:

    http://strobist.blogspot.com
     
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #3
    $39 per unit? you can hardly buy slaves for that price.

    One thing about optical slave flashes. You are going to want another unit to mount on the camera. Yes the camera has a built in flash but you will most certainly want to aim it at the ceiling or back wall so that it will not hit the subject. Built-in flashes can't be aimed backwards. Good news is that you can use a even cheaper flash for that purpose if you could find one.

    The only other trouble with optical slaves is if other people are shooting in the same location, they will trigger youe strobes and out doors where there is not ceiling to bouce off of. you will have to bounce your main light off the subject (or rig a fiber optic cable

    You really will need some reflaectors or some kind of material to defuse the light. Can be home made. While card borad, aluminum foil, thin while nylon,...! galon milk jugs....
     
  4. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    #4
    a few things:
    1. I've looked at Strobist a lot. That's the reason I'm getting new flashes.
    2. I already have an auto sunpak flash, but it's designed for 35mm SLRs, which can handle more voltage than DSLRs
    3. I'd definitely rather use radio transmitters than optical slaves
    4. Manual is necessary to me, if it wasn't, I wouldn't be replacing my current flash
    5. My current budget is around $150, but as I said, can be adjusted if it absolutely must be
    that's about all my criteria/comments that I can think of at the moment.
    thanks so much for the replies!
     
  5. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #5
    If you've looked at strobist in the last day or two, he has a post up about the vivitar 285hv flash. Keh.com has them for $65 in Bargain condition. I have a lot of experience with them. I haven't had the need to buy anything in better than bargain, but if you don't like the condition, they have a full refund for 14days.

    The problem with strobist is now the equipment he recommends is getting harder to get and more expensive. The nikon flashes he recommends come in around $100 a piece on feebay.

    To stay under your $150, you could get the two flashes and the cheap ebay radio slaves.
     
  6. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I should do more research next time. The sb-24's he recommends are $53 in bargain at keh.com and they're more powerful.
     
  7. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    #7
    I see. How exactly do I get a list of all flashes at keh? Their site is hard to navigate.

    Anyways, thank you SO much for all the info, jlcharles.
     
  8. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #8
    I agree, the site is harder to navigate as you really need to know what you are looking for. Still, this is better than the old site. Basically, if you want a canon flash, you look under canon auto focus in the 35mm section. same for nikon. They would also list canon dedicated flashes there. There's also a section called accessories that has flashes of other makes like quantum, vivitar, metz.

    And I'll reiterate. Buy in Bargain from them. They rate extremely conservatively. And unless the item specifically says inoperable, it will work. And they have a great return policy.
     
  9. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    #9
    ok. let's see, the vivitar 285 is $53 bargain. I'm probably going to have to bite. Is that a good flash for off camera work? does it have good manual settings?

    oh, and by the way, where can I find some cheap radio transmitters, optical slaves, or really long TTL cables?
     
  10. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I'm a canon guy, but if I had my choice, I'd go for the nikons personally. after looking at the vivitar, I'm not digging the adjustments. It looks a bit more difficult to change up the settings than the sb-24. Plus the nikon is a more powerful flash.

    The sb-24 would be my personal choice, and probably will be soon.

    As for the transmitters, you can get them on ebay by searching under wireless flash or something.

    Maybe something like this:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Digital-Radio-S...8QQihZ004QQcategoryZ30086QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
     
  11. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    as to ease of use, I'm not too concerned. I'm used to using vintage photo gear that isn't all that intuitive. How much more powerful is the sb-24 than the 285?

    Another thing that I'm wondering is whether I actually need 2 flashes or if I can get away with just one. What criteria should I use to decide this?
     
  12. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #12
    You can use one, but you'll have a lot more control with two.

    The guide number of the nikon is 138 while the vivtar is 110. It's got 25% more power I guess.
     
  13. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    #13
    hmmm...
    I recently got advice from someone who seems to be very knowledgeable about this to start with one flash, then get an identical one when I've mastered using the first. would you agree with this?
     
  14. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Can't comment. For the most part, I do available light. My plans are to go with two, but that's just me.
     
  15. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    interesting. anyway, I've narrowed my choices down to the sunpak 444D and vivitar 285 (not sure about HV or non-HV yet).
     
  16. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I don't think you'll be able to directly connect the non-HV model to your camera via the hotshoe or the pc cord.
     
  17. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    right. I currently plan to shoot off camera only, so that shouldn't present a problem. if I ever do need on camera, I'll just get a Wein safe sync.
     
  18. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #18
    I've got a couple of Vivitars. They are about as simple and basic as it gets. Reliable and cheap. I used then on stands until I bought a power pack setup and also used them with my Nikon F2. They are about as pwerfull as the Nikon SB25 or maybe a new SB800, If you don't need automatic TTL they are actually easier to use then the Nikons because they don't use those damn LCD displays, Very easy to use in the dark

    One neat accessory you can get is an AC power, battery eliminator for studio use. and they make an external belt-clip battery for utral-fast re-cycle time
     
  19. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #19
    I used a Vivitar 285 HV for years with my Olympus OM-1N and it was a great flash for a manual exposure camera.

    Save your money until you can afford a flash unit that works automatically with your camera.
     
  20. rlandrigan macrumors newbie

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    #20
    The Vivi 285 is a great, reliable flash - but if you are looking at a manual flash, and can get a SB-24 for similar money, get the nikon. I used both 285's, 283's, and a Nikon SB-24 along with a canon speedlight, and only the SB-24 never broke. The vivitar's feet break, but are easy to replace.

    But don't buy a new manual flash - there's just too many available at KEH, etc. to make that make sense.
     
  21. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #21
    I've got both SB24 and Vivitars. Pros and cons of each. But the broken foot problem on the vivitar is actually a designed-in feature (no kidding) the idea was that the weal link would be inside the mounting foot so that it something broke it would not be the hot shoe getting riped off the top of the camera. So they designed a weak and easy to replace foot on the stobe.

    What to get depends on your use of the strobe. On a stand or on an F2 or F1 the vivitar works fine but on any kind of Nilon auto body the SB-XX is best.
     
  22. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    #22
    Let's see, I intend to use this all manually, and I shoot exclusively in manual on my K100D. This will also just about always be on a stand or in my left hand if I'm out and about with a light lens. For this purpose, will the 285 non-HV model and the cheap ebay transmitter/reciever set be good?
     

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