Budget Flashguns 2012

Budget TTL Flashguns 2012

A Flashgun can take your Photography to a whole new level- they are portable, can sometimes be used off-camera, and give that boost of extra light when ready light isn’t available. Five well known TTL budget models have been tested, which are budget models that will give you the creative edge without breaking the bank. When buying a flashgun, there are a number of things you need to know- how powerful is the flashgun, what features does it have, and how many flashes it can fire off on a full charge. The selected models are: Metz 36AF-5, Jessops 360AFD, Nissin SpeedliteDi466, Sunpak PZ42X and Sigma EF-610 DG ST.

Metz 36 AF-5 

$100/£65/28-85mm manual zoom/fast charge time.

The Metz 36 AF-5 is the cheapest flashgun in this group, and a quick glance will show you why – there are minimal controls, a definite size difference compared to the larger Sigma and Jessops models, and it only possesses a vertical-head option. that said, it is aimed at novices, has a zoom facility of 28-85mm, and on both alkaline and NiMH batteries the flash produces a high number of outputs (370 and 320 respectively), its simple creation is probably its bestselling point, and with the vertical tilting swivel head, manually adjustable zoom, and detachable wide-angle diffuser – suitable for the illumination of wide-angle focus lengths from 18mm – there is still scope for creativity with this product. In terms of recharges, the Metz posts an average of 1.5 seconds on NiMh batteries – by far the fastest. It records a figure of 2 seconds on alkaline batteries. Talking of batteries, their installation is quite fiddly on this model of flashgun. Running guides with in the battery compartment could make this a lot easier. Despite the small size product feels sturdy. The vertical tilt head does have a tendency to be a little loose though. There is an integrated autofocus flash metering facility too, but beyond that there are no manual controls. If you want a flash with a higher number of outputs, this may be for you.

  • Handling 3/5
  • Metering  4/5
  • Features   2/5
  • Value        3/5

Jessops 360AFD

$130/£80/24-85mm auto zoom/Optical slave & AF assist.

Weighing in at 270g, the Jessops 360AFD is the second heaviest flash in this group and brings to the table a vertical and sideways tilt swivel head, an on-flash wide-angle diffuser, a reflecting plate, an automatic and manual power zoom facility, slave function, and an LCD that illuminates when in use.In hand the model feels strong and capable of taking odd bump or two. The on-flash diffuser and reflecting plate are hardly when extended and appear unlikely to snap. the flash locks well onto the camera via its mounting foot, and the feature controls on the back, while appearing small,are responsive and easy to use. We were impressed by the minimalist approach to the layout, as it lacks the complicated and rather daunting operating features that can appear on higher end models of flash.One great feature is its slave function. By switching it to slave mode(S), the 360AFD will automatically switch to manual mode with a power ratio of 1/1. When the sensor detects an external flash fire the flash will synchronize and fire. The amount of light of light output can be crontrolled by selecting the power ratio from 1/1 to 1/16. The flash has power ratios of 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 though it dose overexpose a little tested. The recycle time records an average of 4.8 seconds on NiMH batteries and 5.2 seconds on alkaline batteries, and the flashgun clocks in a guide numbers of 32m.


  • Handling 4/5
  • metering   3/5
  • Features   4/5
  • Value        3/5

Nissin Sppedlite Di466

$130/£82/Wide-angle diffuser/Optical slave & AF assist.

The Nissin Speedlite Di466 is one of the lighter models and sports a strong clicking movement through the different vertical angles of the head. It does however lack the swivel movement of some of the other models.At the mid-price range of the flashguns here, and has a built-in reflector and diffuser. there’s no LCD though. All buttons are intuitive and you can switch between the various modes using a colour-coded lighting system – the button for this is situated top-left on the back of the flashgun. Manual mode is active when the light is red, slave option when green and TTL mode when the light is off, Flash power is selected via a plus and minus inscribed pad located to the bottom-left. There is an autofocus assist light, and the Di466 is only one of two models that comes with a hotshoe stand- a must for off-camera flash. There’s non-TTL wireless shooting using a camera’s pop-up flash as a master and the Di466 as a slave. It also comes with a handy protective sack. Despite the qualities this flashgun possesses, you may run into problems with some cameras like the Canon 60D as it simply isn’t compatible in manual mode, which is an issue with Speedlite Di466, so do check for compatibility before you part with your cash and buy this flashgun.(I went for the Sigma EF-610 DG ST in the end, but if the Nissin Speedlite had been compatible it would have been the one to get, hands down).

  • Handling 4/5
  • Metering  4/5
  • Features   4/5
  • Value        4/5

Sunpak PZ42X 

$150/£120/24-105mm auto zoom/AF assist.

Jumping up in price, we have the Sunpak PZ42X, a compact flashgun with a good set of features. Similar in dimension to the Metz flash, the PZ42X has the added advantage of tilt and swivel head, and a built-in diffuser. Despite its small size, it feels tough and has positive click to the bounce and swivel actions, and there aren’t any fiddly release buttons on the head, which makes changing the position quick and easy. As well as TTL you can control output via manual controls – from full power to 1/64 – 24-105mm. You can even set this range according to whether you are shooting full-frame or APS-C. Controls on the PZ42X are minimal with just two buttons to move through modes and then select the one you want. There is an LCD, and this coupled with the minimal controls, makes it a simple flash to use buttons where you have a reasonable amount of creative control too. Flash power is listed at a guide number of 42. Even at lower at 32 it is still impressive. however it will not operate when in manual mode on The Canon 60D ‘test camera’. With further investigation it becomes apparent that a software update is needed on the flash, but this would require sending it back to the manufacturer for fixing. Also lacking a reflecting plate and wireless capability.

  • Handling 4/5
  • Metering  4/5
  • Features   3/5
  • Value        2/5

Sigma EF-610 DG ST

$165/£130/24-105mm auto zoom/Optical slave & AF assist.

Sigma is better known for there range of lenses, but it also produces a decent lie in flashguns too, with the EF-610DG ST available for Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony systems. It’s the largest flashgun tipping the scale at 320g, and has the look and feel of a durable piece of kit. it has a bounce and swivel head, but two separate buttons operate these, which can be a little annoying. Thee built-on wide-angle diffuser and reflecting plate are great additions, and the minimal controls on the back makes this an intuitive model to use. Out of the box, you also get a hotshoe stand and a protective bag. As with all models here this flashgun has plastic feet, which isn’t a problem in terms of operation, but after putting on and removing your flashgun over long period of time these will wear and could cause issues. With both TTL and manual features, you have the ability, via your camera, to have more control over the flash output. There is a zoom range of 24-105mm, which automatically sets the optimum illumination angle in accordance with the lens’ focal length, and a manufacturer stated guide number of 61- the longest produced by Sigma to date. Clocking the guide number at 45, a good deal less than 61 but an indication nevertheless of the powerful output of the flashgun. A good flashgun for a wedding photographer.

  • Handling 4/5
  • Metering  3/5
  • Features   3/5
  • Value        3/5


Listed guide number
Listed recycle time
Flash per charge(Full Power)
Focal Length coverage
Wireless Optical slave
AF Assist beam
Fill-in reflector
Wide-angle diffuser panel
No-just a detachable diffuser
Power controls
1/1 – 1/16
1/1 – 1/32
1/1 – 1/64
1/1 or 1/16
Available to fit
Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Four Thirds, Sony
Canon, Nikon, Sony, Minolta
Canon, Nikon, Four Thirds
Canon, Nikon, Sony
Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax
Bounce angle (degrees)
0,45,60- 75,90 
0,60,75, 90 
Rotate angles (right)
90 degrees
0,60,75,90 degrees
Rotate angles (left)
0,30,60,90- 120 degrees
0,60,75,90 120,150,180


Budget Flashguns 2012 — 5 Comments

    • Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Jessops 360AFD Digital Flashgun for Canon:
      Camera Compatibility List :Canon

      Digital SLR Cameras
      5D, 10D, 20D, 30D, 300D, 350D, 400D, 40D, 450D

      Digital Cameras
      G1, G2, G3, G5 , G6, PRO1, G7, G9, S51S

      Film SLR Cameras
      EOS 3, EOS 30, EOS 30V, EOS 300, EOS 300V, EOS 3000V, EOS 33, EOS 66, EOS 50, IX

      Note : This model is NOT compatible with the EOS 50D

      “Taken straight from Jessops main site”
      These where the models stated at the time of the Jessops 360AFD release but I know people who have bought it for there Canon 1000D and 60D. If it works on the 5D it should work on the whole series of 5D’s

      Hope that is of some help Sincerely Brian

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