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Thread: HVL-F20AM flash

  1. #1
    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    HVL-F20AM flash

    I have been asked by a friend/singer to photograph his last stage performance since he's retiring in 2 weeks. This will involve stage shooting in a famous night club, and snapshots with friends and fans. Since I know the place is quite dark and the lighting might not be very flattering, I bought today this small flash to light the snapshots, stage photos would be naturally shot with available light.

    I spent several hours playing with it on the A900 and have reached the following frustrating conclusions:

    1. Slow synchronization is only possible when the AE lock button is pushed in Aperture priority mode (or in manual evidently). This means one has to keep on pushing this button for every different change in framing. If not, the flash will automatically set a speed of 1/60 or higher.
    2. When on auto-iso, 1600 will always be selected.
    3. On P mode, the camera will select a fixed aperture that does not vary with the luminosity of the scene.

    Anyhow this is a tiny inexpensive flash and the above bugs seem to be related to the camera design more than the flash itself. Any similar bugs with other Sony flashes?
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    You have that all correct Edward, unfortunately that is how Sony (or rather Minolta) designed it.
    David Anderson

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Edward I should have added that other flashes on the Sony act the same way, it is the body.
    David Anderson

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Thank you David for the confirmation. I think this is one of the shortcomings of the Sony/Minolta system. Even my 20 years old film cameras had a smarter flash system that allowed slow synchronization in a straightforward way. I'm no flash person anyway, and I wouldn't have found out about it if I wasn't asked to do this job. I wonder if there are any ways or tricks to circumvent this.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Yes Edward, it is puzzling that Minolta who were first with their wireless TTL flash system and many other innovations, seem to have now been left behind. What I cannot understand is why 'bugs' or short-comings that photographers have pointed out since Minolta days are still in the Sony this far down the line, have they lost the Minolta source code and are scared to change anything in their firmware?

    There does not appear to be any workaround to the slow sync locking the exposure, you just have to remember to release and repress the AEL button.

    Auto ISO - it will choose a lower ISO if there is more ambient light. I need to check but you could change the AUTO ISO range to say 400-800 and avoid ISO 1600 being chosen when using the flash. You will probably need high ISO if you intend to bounce the 20AM in a dark big place.
    David Anderson

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Thanks again David for the advice.

    I will post a few pics from that event next week and let you know how the F20 behaved
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Interesting -- so the manual is wrong? It says that slow-sync is only NOT available in Manual or Shutter priority.
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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    The manual is correct Dave, I'm not sure where we said that.
    David Anderson

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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Ed's Item #1 -- Reading it again, it still seems contrary to what's in the manual. Not that the manual is especially well-written...
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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    I believe what the manual means is that slow synchronization button only works with aperture priority or program. It does not work with manual or shutter priority. However, I can achieve slow synchronization on M mode by selecting a slow shutter speed manually. I did not try it on shutter priority though.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Ed, isn't that the way we did it before thee bells & whistles came along?

    So the AE Hold/Toggle menu setting is no help to you? I would think that since it is metering the background that would do the trick for minor adjustments in framing -- unless you re-frame such that you end up with a very different background EV.
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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_Anderson View Post
    Ed, isn't that the way we did it before thee bells & whistles came along?
    Yes Sir, and that's the way I prefer to do it

    So the AE Hold/Toggle menu setting is no help to you? I would think that since it is metering the background that would do the trick for minor adjustments in framing -- unless you re-frame such that you end up with a very different background EV.
    Actually it does work, but I will have to remember to lock/unlock quite often, which is not very obvious, especially that I don't like pushing too many buttons

    I just find it induces user error more easily but quite usable when one gets used to it.

    Anyway it is going to be probably a one time thing, using on camera flash, I don't like it and don't do it, but this time I have to please my friend
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Edward, so do you have AEL button set to toggle rather than hold? - I decided to leave mine on hold so that I don't accidentally hit it and not realise that I have left it locked.

    Confusingly hold means that you hold it, rather than the camera holds it!
    David Anderson

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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Yes, I find that there are a lot of things that can be overlooked, especially compared to my 2nd-gen AF film cameras. I have to keep kicking myself to remember to check WB, ISO, and so on.

    For example, I had the AF/MF button set to toggle when I was manually bracketing a landscape of the Lockheed fire here in Ca., then later when at an event shooting lots of people I kept bumping that button and ending up in MF when that's not what I wanted. I also had to toss a few frames where I used ISO 100 indoors and didn't get enough flash, and I have a few ISO 800 shots in harsh daylight -- at least those don't require extra measures to be usable.

    I had to remember to look for the "MF" icon in the VF display, just like you'll have to remember to look for the "*" AE Lock icon. Getting acquainted with new gear always seems to involve a step or two backward before we begin to move forward again...

    I still have not set my "Memory Settings" but I hope that will help... OTOH that overrides the hard switches like AF and metering modes, so I'll have to get used to checking the LCD for the actual settings instead of looking at the switches. Fun times, especially in harsh sunlight where it's hard to read the LCD.
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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    All agreed Dave, it is so easy to get caught out! Sunlight has not been much of a problem here of late
    David Anderson

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: HVL-F20AM flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    Edward, so do you have AEL button set to toggle rather than hold? - I decided to leave mine on hold so that I don't accidentally hit it and not realise that I have left it locked.

    Confusingly hold means that you hold it, rather than the camera holds it!
    Yes exactly, I always keep it on "toggle". I found the "hold" setting to be a nuisance, because I would usually take a spot reading and lock the exposure for an entire set of photos, an old habit since Contax days. Putting the setting on "hold" means I should either keep my thumb on the button all the time, which is next to impossible, or keep on taking new readings for every shot, not so practical either.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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