Metz 58 AF-2 Flash
I purchased the Metz 58 AF-2 flashes because of the short duration of flash, to be able to freeze the wing movement of small birds. Such short durations of 1/20,000 sec or less and the Metz 58 AF-2 flash duration goes down to approximately 1/33,000 sec, however the C.R.O measures a more likely duration of 1/30,000 sec, unless the Thyristor is able to be fooled into reducing the duration that fraction further.
Although here in Australia we don’t have Hummingbirds, I use very similar techniques to hummingbird photography to photograph the very small and fast birds that are native to Australia. These birds dont hover in one place but are fast moving and almost never sit stationary for more than a second or two. These bird in flight the wings are just a blur, and unless High speed video taken to play back in slow motion, the wings are not able to be seen clearly. The Metz 58 AF-2 is quite a powerful flash and because of it’s short flash durations and it easily gives consistent bursts and the results are excellent. Having done technical testing of the flash duration using a cathode ray oscilloscope (C.R.O), the durations published in the Metz user manual is close to what was measured in the scope.
I personally don’t use wireless flash, purely because of the additional delay of the flash signal and possible pre-flash, so I prefer to use the flashes wired. Unfortunately Metz held back with the design of these flash by not including a pcsync port, and to get around this design, I needed to use hotshoe adapters to work using wired connections.
The build quality of the Metz 58 AF-2 feels a little plasticy and is not as heavy as the Sony HVL-F58AM and it also does not have the swivel head that the Sony flash has, however the performance of the Metz 58 AF-2 is superior to the Sony HVL-F58AM flash, I’m sorry to say for those who want to only use the Sony flash. The Metz 58 AF-2 can be set as the wireless controller and the Sony flash can be used as slaves. (I did this as a test to prove if it would work or not, seeing some misinformation on the internet regarding this function).
As I use flash in Manual mode 99% of the time, the Metz 58 AF-2 has quite a few functions that enable the photographer to take full control of the output and duration and the results speak for themselves. The Metz 58 AF-2 is not as expensive as the Sony 58, and has far more control features. Although if Sony ever bothers to advise how to use the key functions to add more power settings into the control unit (workshop manual identifies some key inputs for calibration but not how to add extra power settings to reduce flash durations), then the Sony 58 would be equally as good as the Metz 58.
- Manual Mode / HSS
- Auto Mode
- TTL / HSS
- Auto Zoom / Manual Zoom
- Power 1:1 / 1:256 in 1/3rd increments
- Power in wireless 1:1 / 1:128 no increments
- Wireless Control / Wireless Slave
- Diffuser / Bounce inbuilt
- Modelling Light / On – Off
- Normal Sync / Second Curtain Sync / Slow Sync / HSS / Preflash
- Power save / Standby / On – Off
- Beep Confirm / On – Off
- Confirmation to camera / Fstop / ISO
- Imperial / Metric
- Flash Bracketing / EV -1/3rds
- Remote Groups
- Comprehensive User Manual
- Flash Base / Threaded
- PC Sync Port / NO – Adapter required to work with PCSync or Manufacturer Off Camera Cables
- Upgradeable Firmware
The user manual is very comprehensive with detailed images and processes, and can be somewhat overcomplicated for someone who have not seen the flash prior to reading the manual and my recommendation would be play with the flash first before delving too deep in the manual, and then refer to the manual for a particular function that you are wanting to get working. The menu is well thought out in the flash and fairly self explanatory and for a first time user of this flash, I was able to have it working correctly as desired in as little as 15 minutes and getting good exposures and durations fully manually operated. I also tested the flash in wireless mode as a slave and controller to the Sony 58 flash in manual mode and TTL.
The first thing I did with the Metz 58 AF-2 when I opened the packaging was to update the flash firmware to the latest firmware version to match the firmware of the existing Metz 58 that I already have and possible compatibility with other cameras that may be used, such as those with the A77 and soon to be released A99 (new Firmware should come available for the A99).
I could have purchased full manual flashes that do have a means of fooling the flash to cut the output by fooling the thyristor to achieve a shorter duration at a much cheaper price, however the option of having TTL mode may have it’s advantages down the track.
The Metz 58 AF-2 duration at 1/64 – 1/128 power is short enough to freeze the wings of small birds, though I have also found that I often need to bring the power up to 1/32 -2/3rd power for sufficient light output. However if you still require shorter duration you could reduce the power down to 1/128 – 1/256 or in 1/3 increments and try get the flash in closer or use a flash extender at a further distance.
If you are looking for a Sony flash that has a duration equal or faster than the Metz 58 AF-2 and is slightly cheaper than the Metz 58, then you might like the Sony HVL-43AM as it has a shorter duration, however it only has power settings that go down to 1/128 power in 1/3rd increments.
The Metz 58 AF-2 user control is well laid out and is easy to understand, and without even looking at the user manual I was able to set the flash how I wanted it in a few minutes when I purchased my first Metz 58 AF-2. If you are unsure about purchasing the Metz 58 AF-2, then try one for yourself, I pretty sure you will be happy with it, unless you do require a pcsync port in the flash without additional adaptors etc.
Having used both the Sony HVL-58AM flashes and the Metz 58 AF-2 Flashes, the results that I am getting from the Metz flash, I was unable to get these types of shots using the Sony 58’s (unfortunately). There was far too much wing movement using the Sony flashes, although there are a couple of photographers who are getting acceptable results photographing Hummingbirds using the Sony 58’s. The Metz 58’s are also a couple hundred dollars cheaper than the Sony flashes, however, the Sony HVL-43AM flash has an even shorter duration than the Metz 58 flash and is even cheaper again then the Metz 58, so more flashes are required to achieve the same light output at the shorter durations.
I hope this this review has been helpful.
Metz, Please build into the flash a pcsync port.
Yes, I would recommend this to a friend, and I have many times, in fact I intend to purchase more to complete the setup that I need for the macro bird photography that I regularly do.