As I have written a few reviews on various Sony DSLR`s I have received a few messages asking which flashguns can be used with the Sony DSLR range out with the expensive Sony ones, unfortunately the answer is not many and the reason for this is that Sony use a different hot shoe than al the other manufacturers.
There is one thing you can look into though and that is the fact that the old Minolta flashes do fit the Sony hot shoe and although they will not work TTL (through the lens) you can use them in manual mode, for knowledgeable photographers this should not pose a problem but for the less knowledgeable it may take a bit of getting used to.
The Minolta 5400HS used to be a very popular flash with Minolta users and now that Sony have taken over the Minolta branding it can as I say be used on Sony`s. The TTL I mentioned means that when using a Sony flash it will calculate everything automatically for you such as aperture and shutter speed needed to get the correct exposure but with the Minolta you need to set these things for yourself.
The cheapest Sony flash unit will set you back nearly £200 with the most expensive one coming in around the £400 mark. This older Minolta flash can be purchased new for about £70 if you can find one but there is the second hand option, I have seen several for sale lately around the £40 mark and they are a very good flash to have at that price and even though it will take a bit of practice to get your exposures correct, you will get there in the end and you will have learned a new photographic skill along the way.
WHY DO YOU NEED A FLASH GUN?
No matter how good the camera or the photographer using it, if the light is poor then you will get poor images. On camera flashes or built in flashes as they are commonly known offer a solution to low light situations but in truth they are as good as useless, the reason for this is that the straight on light that they offer is harsh, it takes colour out the skin and casts really dark shadows which offers very poor final images.
So now you know why a flash gun is needed it is up to you to decide how much you need it and how much you are willing to spend on one. The Minolta flash gun is very basic compared to today's flash guns but at the afore mentioned prices I am sure you can see why it would be a good choice for many people.
If you are just learning photography then it is a good way to get used to using flash before splashing out on the expensive ones that are around and although the expensive ones will do pretty much everything for you it is very good knowledge to have to be able to set everything manually for certain effects.
One thing you do not have to worry about with the Minolta 5400HS is its build quality, these flashes are very well made and extremely durable, the other things in its favour is that it supports high speed synch which means it will synch with the camera at any shutter speed which a lot of today's modern flashes will not. Another very useful feature is the large well lit LCD display, this makes it very easy to see even in bright sunlight, now non photographers might be wondering why you would use a flash in sunlight but photographers will know that if you have a bright sun as a backlight you need flash to open up the shadows on the persons face.
This flash is fairly powerful and has a range of 77 feet, you might find that when using it close up this will mean you need to use your exposure compensation settings to get the correct exposure but that again is all useful learning and makes photography more fun and more rewarding.
There are weaknesses as well as strengths and those are that it does have a wireless option but it will not work with the Sony DSLR`s, the recycle time is about 3 seconds which is very slow compared to today's Sony flashes which will recycle almost instantly and it uses up batteries and spits them out in the blink of an eye. If you attempt to use ordinary AA batteries you will be lucky to get 20 photos from them and the recycle time will be nearer 5 seconds, what you need is rechargeable batteries with at least 2000 amp hour power although I recommend 2700, these will allow you to take up to 100 photos between charging and keep a regular recycle time of just below 3 seconds.
So it is left to the individual to decide whether the good outweighs the bad with this flash or if it is worth having simply for its price alone. Obviously being a professional I use the top of the range Sony flashes with my Sony A-700 but I have used this flash a lot on an old Minolta film SLR when I was learning my trade and I loved it and even with its limitations on the new Sony units I would still suggest it is a flash worth having.
It is also worth mentioning that this flash does allow you to point the flash upwards so it can be bounced off of white ceilings to allow softer light and it also does have a pop on diffuser available for it again to give softer light so pretty much all that you could ask for is taken care of as long as you are willing to do a bit of work and set up the apertures and shutter speeds for yourself then this flash will no doubt serve you well.
**Please note that Dooyoo`s quick ratings are not correct for this product so I have just given everything that does not relate to the product 5 stars**
Thanks for reading