Review Metz mecablitz 64 AF-1 digital flash


Octarine

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Jan 3, 2008
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#1
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.
 

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Octarine

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#2

Power On:


Eye catching: the large display and only three buttons: the power button on the right side and the settings and test button on the left of the display. Let's power on. The large screen comes alive, indicating the firmware version and after a beep the flash is ready.

The display is impressive: This is no longer a small display indicating some settings, it is the command center of the flash. The multitude of different modes and settings would be difficult to handle without having such a display. It is a touch screen, allowing the quick access to all the different modes and settings. But it is not the type of touch screen that we know from our mobile phones, here the touch needs to be firm. There is no swiping with the finger to scroll up and down. If there is something to scroll then two big arrows are shown at the bottom of the display. Press them to scroll up and down, then press the option / setting you want to select. It feels a bit unusual in the beginning, but then it's fine.


In addition: the screen flips when the flash is held horizontally (both ways, left or right). No more neck pain when adjusting the flash in horizontal orientation.

Using the flash:
There is no difference here from the Canon flash models: mounting works similarly. Once camera and flash found their connection it's a matter of the camera model whether all flash settings or only certain settings can be adjusted via camera. But if I compare the small camera displays (especially using older Canon models) and this flash display then the choice is clear where to make the adjustments.
The touch screen is responsive once I got used to really press it and not doing some light touches. (On the other hand, it felt strange using my mobile phone in between.) I have used the flash on camera as well as off camera, using a pair pf Phottix Strato II Multi trigger / receiver. The flash does what it should do, no issues here, nothing unusual.
Since I don't have any ST-2 or Canon flash acting as Master I could not test the remote Slave function.

Now, one of the questions most people ask is whether the flash gives the same light as a Canon flash. I have done a test using my camera (50D) in Manual mode (shooting RAW) to capture the same scene using both flashes. (My cat Rikka was patient enough to let me use her as model here.) After importing in Lightroom I adjusted the settings for colour temperature and tint to exactly the same values. Here is the result: Left picture is using Canon 430EXII, right picture is using the Metz 64.


To me, the Metz flash gives a wee bit warmer light than the (>6 years old) Canon flash. Shooting RAW this simply does not matter at all to me.
For cases where higher accuracy is required a grey card / white card and some test shots will do the trick.

What's left to say: This flash is impressive in its functionality. To my knowledge, Metz is still the only manufacturer having a touch screen on its flash. The flash power is impressive. For instance, to achieve the same flash exposure on the cat's pictures I had to dial down the flash power by 2 stops compared to the 430EXII. This should be sufficient to light up dim ballrooms or entire HDB units when bounced into a corner of the room. The only concern will be to have enough batteries at hand to feed this 'beast'.
 

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Octarine

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#3

Some more pictures about the display when entering the device settings menu:








 

kandinsky

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Apr 26, 2008
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#4
Curious, how's the response of the touchscreen? Read that it's a resistive touchscreen.

B&H states something about 895g, not mentioning whether with or without batteries.
Going by the figure from the Metz data sheet, sounds like the B&H figure includes batteries :)

 

Octarine

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#5
Curious, how's the response of the touchscreen? Read that it's a resistive touchscreen.
You have to properly press the finger tip on the icon / square, not just a slight touch as what we do on mobile phone. But then it's responsive. I found that a short sharp tap works better than slowly rolling the entire thumb over it :)
The Fuji Xerox printers in our office have the same display.
Going by the figure from the Metz data sheet, sounds like the B&H figure includes batteries :)
That's about right. Without batteries it feels as heavy as my Tamron 17-50 (non-VC), according paper it's about 430g.
 

kandinsky

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#6
You have to properly press the finger tip on the icon / square, not just a slight touch as what we do on mobile phone. But then it's responsive. I found that a short sharp tap works better than slowly rolling the entire thumb over it :)
The Fuji Xerox printers in our office have the same display.

That's about right. Without batteries it feels as heavy as my Tamron 17-50 (non-VC), according paper it's about 430g.
Ah thanks! That's a useful comparison. My old office had a Canon printer with one of those touchscreens too. Had forgotten what it was like to use this type of touchscreen.
 

Zeisser

Senior Member
Jul 12, 2008
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#7
Quite an impressive review Octarine. Will be considering the new Metz to replace
my old existing 60CT4 flash as am still using it since the film days. Do agree
that Metz light is a bit warm though.

Thanks :)
 

Anson

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Jul 31, 2006
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#9
Would like to ask the following:

1) Is "Modeling light" a LED light? If yes, can the intensity be adjust?
2) Can it do Optical Slave?
 

Octarine

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#10
Would like to ask the following:
1) Is "Modeling light" a LED light? If yes, can the intensity be adjust?
2) Can it do Optical Slave?
1) I don't know (since I didn't test this part). I couldn't find any option to change the intensity, only "on/off".
2) Yes, Optical Slave works. According Metz DE website it can work with preflash or without.
 

Anson

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Jul 31, 2006
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ansonchew.com
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#11
1) I don't know (since I didn't test this part). I couldn't find any option to change the intensity, only "on/off".
2) Yes, Optical Slave works. According Metz DE website it can work with preflash or without.

Thanks.. Maybe Schmidt http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/member.php?u=211691 can share some light to the LED query?
 

Schmidt

New Member
Jun 19, 2014
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#12
Dear All,

the modeling light is not an LED light. Is basically a very high quick burst of constant light from the main reflector. the intensity for modelling light cannot be adjusted.
 

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