When I am working as I do as a professional photographer photographing mainly events and weddings, there are occasions when I need to use a flashgun. I must admit I will try to avoid using flash whenever I can and with the ability to use acceptable high ISO levels on our Fuji’s, thankfully it has reduced to a minimum.
However there are times when one is required, even it is to use just a ‘splash of flash’ as I call it, to avoid ‘panda’ eyes on my subjects by adding a little fill in light.
In my Canon days I would use either the 430 or 550 Canon flashguns that have guide numbers of 43 and higher. So when looking for a flashgun for my Fuji’s I knew I would need a guide number of at least 40 for suit my purposes. This straight away for me ruled out a number of lesser-powered flashguns like the Meike or even Fuji’s own brand like the EF-20.
So after a bit of research the one that most people were talking about last year was the Nissin i40. So I went ahead and purchased it.
It ticked the right boxes for me in that it had a guide number of 40, an adjustable flash-head for bouncing the flash off ceilings etc. In addition I must say I was surprised at how small and light it was and it looked so right on the X-T1.
It came packed in it’s box together with a stand, a soft pouch case and even a light modifier. You just needed to insert 4 AA batteries and you were ready to go! The Nissin supports TTL with Fuji’s and also can be switched to manual with adjustable power. It also has a built in video light, handy if you want to shoot video on your Fuji and need some extra light. Also there is a well know ‘hack’ where you can force it into HSS mode (High speed sync), if you want to use it with a Fuji equipped with a leaf shutter for outdoor work.
In use I found it recycled very fast with good output. However when I do use a flash it’s often in dimly lit interiors and here the first problem arose. The two dials, which you use to select the mode and adjust the power with, are not illuminated. So although fast to adjust, I found that I had trouble seeing what they were set to. The second problem I had when using it, was that the dials are easily knocked off position. So much so that in the end, I had to use gaffer tape to stop they being moved. Whilst this definitely solved the problem, it certainly wasn’t an elegant solution.
It was these last two points that made me start to look elsewhere to see if there was another flashgun out there, which would better suit my purposes.
So thanks to my pal ‘Google’ I stumbled upon the Metz 44 AF-2 Flashgun. I saw they produce this flashgun in a version enabling TTL on Fuji’s. So I decided to purchase one of these online.
On opening the box on arrival I was disappointed in comparison to the Nissin to find just the Flashgun and a manual. No case or light modifier supplied here. I was also rather taken aback at the size of the flashgun; it was the same size as my old Canon 430 flashgun and heavy too!
However I must say I much prefer the controls on the back. Just a power off button surrounded by 4 buttons to easily and speedily select: TTL, Manual, Slave or LED (video light). More importantly these are illuminated when selected and show up really well in low light. (Although as I have subsequently found they do not show up as well in sunlight!)
Repeatedly pressing either the Manual or LED buttons changes the power output sequentially through 1/1, ½, 1/8 and 1/32 steps. Very simple and fast to change with LED’s confirming the power output selected.
4 batteries also power the Metz. Either: AA, NiCad rechargeable or Lithium.
Like the Nissin it too has a wide-angle lens diffuser that flips out and down and a white pull out reflector for bounce flash. (Although in practice this is fiddly to pull out)
So far it has performed admirably, again fast recycle times with great even output. My only criticism is why does it have to be so large? If Nissin can produce a smaller flashgun with the same output, then why not Metz?
Finally, of course if you do not require TTL and are happy to use your flashguns in manual mode then there are many more flashguns and cheaper ones out there that you can choose from. Also it will be interesting to see how the new Fuji EF-X500 flashgun performs, that I believe is being released later this year. However I suspect at a higher price than either the Nissin or the Metz, although admittedly it will boast more power and weather sealing.