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I'm in the market for a flash for my Sony A57. The two I'm focused on are the Sony HVL-F43AM for around $350 or the Sigma EF610 for around $250. They both seem very similar from a feature perspective, but the Sigma has a higher GN. The reviews for both are strong.

My question is, am I losing anything from a compatability or feature perspective by not going with a Sony brand flash? For example, if I want to wirelessly fire the flash with TTL, will they both be able to do it out of the box, or will neither of them, or just the Sony?

Also, are there other flash models that I should consider with similar price point and features?

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At least glance at the used Minolta 3600 HSD and 5600 HSD.
These have got much cheaper of late for no really good reason and a good used one can be an excellent bargain. The HSD designation (or HS(D) or ?) indicates that they have high speed multiple flash sync - useful on occasion.

Note that the ONLY Minolta flashes that work with the Minolta / Konica Minolta / Sony A Mount DSLRs are the 2500/3600/5600. There are numerous other Minolta Program Flashes that will not work fully with the dSLRs. There is an enthusiast add in microcontroller mod for the 5400 which makes it more or less compatible with some but not all of the DSLRs - but you are reasonably unlikely to encounter a flash with that mod.

The 5600 was Minolta's top flash and initially continued to be made by Sony after the takeover and then replaced with their current top offering. The 2500/3600/5600 will work on all Minolta and Sony DSLRs starting with the Konica Minolta 7D and up to at least the A77. From what I read about the A99 it may not be hot shoe compatible, but I'd guess that it is liable to talk the same talk.

The 5600 head pivots vertically and horizontally. The 3600 head only vertically - a triumph of marketing over 50 cents of engineering.

I'm not acquainted with the Sigma EF610 but note that numerous after market Minolta/Sony compatible flashes aren't or are not totally. To be fully compatible it would need high speed sync, TTL and ADI compatibility (the latter conspicuously absent on some wannabees) and full wireless compatibility.


While you are picking up A57 bargains look for a Minolta 500mm f8 reflex lens (aka mirror lens). AFAIK this is the only AF mirror lens ever made. I bought one some years ago for $US200 and when Sony finally decided to stop making them they were about $US1200.

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Thx for the input; very helpful, although I must admit that some of it is over my head. I am pretty budget conscious since photography is turning out to be a very expensive hobby. :-) Do you think I'd be able to find the Minolta 3600 / 5600 for a comparable price to the current market offerings? Also, let's say the Sigma is not fully compatible. What would that means from a practical perspective? What would I not be able to do without those features?; –  RationalGeek Nov 16 '12 at 13:40
    
Normally I'd go and research the Sigma but I'm rushing towards a fly-across-the-world deadline ... 27 hours ,... agh .. so ... . Hhigh speed sync triggers the flash repeatedly as the focal plane shutter traverses the image so you can get flash synch at say 1/1000s. This means you can freeze high speed action in daylight without having to use slow shutter speds. It has limitaions for technical reasons but is super useful when usable. | ADI capability should be listed in manual etc if availalable. It's a superior form of exposure control during flash operation. –  Russell McMahon Nov 17 '12 at 7:45
    
I'm in NZ. In the last few months I've seen the 3600 for not much over $US100 equiv and the 5600 at well below what it used to sell for. I bought a 5600 for AFAIR $NZ250 = $US200 about a year ago. Never that cheap long ago. New flash MAY have more features but eg www.dyxum.com should advise. Forums and more there. Good site for an A-mount camera user to know of. –  Russell McMahon Nov 17 '12 at 7:49
    
I know offhand that the Sigma flash (in its "Super" version, not "ST") does offer HSS (which they call "FP") and wireless TTL and a number of other advanced features. I don't know if it works with ADI, however, so a Sony-specific answer would be useful. –  mattdm Nov 17 '12 at 16:01
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