Thanks to Simon and Schmidt Marketing I had the chance to review the newest Metz flash gun for a session.
First of all, being a casual shooter of mostly landscapes a flash is something I use indoors simply to get more light. That's it. I haven't done any portrait session, studio session or something similar with extensive flash setups. An umbrella is something my girlfriend uses when it rains Therefore some of you might ask how can I assess a flash of this type? Well, we are all users of equipment in the first place and it doesn't matter how extensive we use technology; as users we can form an opinion right away based on what we hold in our hands. And that's what I do here: telling you how it felt to have this piece of German engineering in my hands. For those who need an opinion about the last configuration option at the end of the menu I'm sure there are more detailed reviews out there who can help you with that.
Overview / Unpacking:
The first thing that I noticed is the big box it came with. (I remember the small carton of my 430EXII, barely bigger than the flash itself.) The size of the box is necessary to hold the manual. This is not a flimsy 10 page quick start guide, it is a serious manual in several languages explaining all details of the flash. If you think about having it at hand on your next photoshoot you better make some space in your bag.
The flash comes with a nice soft pouch and the small stand. There are no other accessories or parts in the box. The stand can be mounted on any tripod for positioning or using softbox or other diffusers.
The reviewed mecablitz 64 AF-1 is for Canon. Metz also produces models for Nikon, Sony, Olympus/Panasonic and Pentax cameras. The technical specs are impressive: a guide number of 64 (210 feet) at ISO 100 gives enough power for many situation. The rest of the technical features is state of the art with some features not available at the flagship flash models of the camera manufacturers:
- 24-200mm motorized zoom head, automatic adjustment for APS-C sensor size
- Large illuminated, graphic touch display in colour, with automatic rotating function (90°)
- Integrated flip out wide-angle diffuser for 12 mm illumination
- Flip out reflector card (bounce card)
- Vertical (–9/+90°) and horizontal (300°) swivel range
- Modeling light (permanent light)
- Integrated Flash Metering with multiple zones
- Acoustic status notification (beep)
- Automatic power off, manual key lock and wake up via camera
- Sync cable socket, power pack connection, USB port for firmware updates
- Rapid mode (fast recharging)
- Program memory (4 memory locations)
The list of operational modes is not shorter:
- TTL flash mode (digital only)
- Automatic flash mode with 12 f-stops
- Manual flash mode with 25 partial lighting levels
- Strobe flash mode
- Servo flash mode with learning function
- HSS – high speed synchronisation**
- 1st and 2nd shutter curtain synchronisation
- Manual flash exposure correction for TTL or automatic flash mode
- Automatic fill-in flash
- Flash bracketing
This model can be used as remote optical Slave (with Canon flash or Speedlite transmitter ST-2 as master) or as Master for other remote Slaves in a cascade. This model cannot act as master on the camera.
The flash can be powered by standard AA size batteries (alkaline, NiCd, NiMH) or via the external power pack connector (right picture, behind the small black cover near the base)
For this review I used my Imedion rechargeable batteries, 4x AA, 2300mAh. From what I read online, Metz flashes are known for being power hungry. This model with its display will not be an exception to that. I inserted 4 fresh branded alkaline batteries and the status display showed already a low battery level. So I strongly recommend having good batteries and spare batteries at hand when using this flash. Professional users might want to consider the external power pack.
The build quality is solid. It's made of plastic (except for the metal mount) but this is the same type of plastic used for lenses and camera bodies. The swivel head clicks well into any position and remains there. Nothing shaky, nothing flimsy here. The weight without batteries is fine, it's just above 400 grams and comparable to Tamron 17-50 non-VC. With 4x AA loaded the weight becomes quite noticeable and hgets close to 900g.
There is a reflector card (bounce card) integrated into the flash head as well as an additional light diffuser for wide angle lenses. Both are easily accessible. Similar to the Canon model: when the diffuser is pulled out the flash zoom is deactivated and remains at its widest position.
Remarkable here: the modeling light just above the AF assist beam. It gives a constant light which helps to discover shadows in the picture or can be used as additional fill light.