Persistently on my wish list is a small, portable, auto-mode flash. Non-TTL is a must, as I need to use it on a bunch of different equipment.

But the vast array of flashes out there is a bit bewildering; does anyone have some recommendations?

Intended use is wide/normal lenses, mostly as direct fill. I'll emphasize small; I can live without zoom, bounce, and many other things in preference of portability.

I've used:

  • Vivitar 283 & 285: Just too big, really. Otherwise OK, though maybe a little overpowered for what I typically use it for.
  • Canon 580EX: Also too big. Can dial down the power, but no auto mode, and GN calculations are getting to be a drag.

Edit: for context on 'small' both of these are similar in size to one of my usual cameras, the Zeiss ZI: 138 x 78 x 32 mm (5.4”x3.1”x1.3”). I'm willing to lose a lot of power to find a decent flash that isn't the size of my camera.

  • I know you discounted the Sunpak 383, but it seems to be one of the smaller ones... – John Cavan Aug 15 '10 at 18:32
  • Remember to check trigger voltages before using exotic flashes :-) – Petteri Hietavirta Aug 16 '10 at 12:57
  • So, did you pick something up? I'm curious. – John Cavan Aug 20 '10 at 1:51
  • @John - I'm going to check out the Metz's this weekend. Pretty safe to bet I'll come home with the 20. – ex-ms Aug 20 '10 at 20:34

Have you looked at the Sunpak lineup? Some are TTL, but I think they have non-TTL and you can often find them on Craigslist.

To add from my comment, a very popular one appears to be the Sunpak 383 Super which is non-TTL. It's discontinued, but appears to be available on places like EBay. Anyways, BH lists the dimensions as 4.4 X 3 X 2.8" (WxHxD).

Another, similar, would be the Metz 36 Series C-2. Dimensions for that is 2.80 x 4.3 x 3.4", so a little bigger on some dimensions. The Metz 20 C-2 is 2.55 x 3.85 x 2.12", so small.

By the way, I'm not finding much smaller without going to the LED ones. They are an option as well.

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  • you've basically just restated the problem. :-) There's tons of flashes around on the used market, many of which use auto, but I have no idea how to sort the wheat from the chaff without compiling an encyclopedia. – ex-ms Aug 15 '10 at 17:56
  • @Matt - I added the 383, which I know you discounted, but also added the Metz. – John Cavan Aug 15 '10 at 18:36
  • the Metz 20 looks promising. It and the 36 are both available locally, too, which makes them easy to try/handle. Thanks! – ex-ms Aug 16 '10 at 18:02
  • @Matt, no problem. I can say that the Metz gear seems to be pretty solid, I have their ring flash and I really like it. Anyways, good luck with it. – John Cavan Aug 16 '10 at 18:47

I have a SunPak 383, and it's a great flash, though I haven't had much luck in Auto mode since I switched to my DSLR.

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    Thanks; I appreciate the personal recommendation, but that one's about the same size as the Vivitar/Canon that I have. – ex-ms Aug 15 '10 at 18:16

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