Generic hot shoe adapters may work to fire a generic third-party (and 1/3d the price) flash, but may not connect to all the Sony hot shoe “fingers” to let it know that there’s a flash attached. NOTE: (I haven’t been able to try the adapter from Sony because it costs $150. If you have any experience with it, let me know and I’ll update this post accordingly)
So if you’re using a generic adapter and shooting in low light and want the exposure to come mainly from the flash, you’re not going to be able to see anything of significance in the viewfinder and you won’t be able to focus except manually. That’s because the flash synch speed is 1/160th second and your desired apterture will probably be something like f/8.0. You can “cheat” to some degree by using a slower shutter speed, but you’re likely to get blurred images from anything that’s moving quickly in the background.
The image below was shot at 1/10th second so that I could see what was going on in the viewfinder. It worked wonders for this shot because the background was blurred while the dancer was pretty well frozen by the flash. You could do that with any camera, though, and it’s far better to be able to preview what you’re going to shoot when you’re shooting it. Of course, you can do that if you’re willing to spend a few hundred bucks on a Sony flash unit. I’ve also heard that there’s a Sony-compatible third-party flash…but haven’t been able to get my hands on one.
If you have an SLR you can use as a second body, that will work just fine for doing your evening flash shot because you’re not forced to shoot in live view mode. If that second body is the just-announced Sony DSLR 580 (at very nearly the same price), you could use it in non-live view mode and the mirror would let you see the subject. Although it’s a bit larger and can only shoot 7 frames per second instead of 10, it also “cures” another minor problem that the SLT translucent mirrors can cause with the 16MP resolution (very high resolution for an APS-C size sensor): occasional and somewhat unpredictable traces of color fringing in the highlight areas (rare, but there sooner-or-later). The other “cool” thing about the DSLR 580 is that it has most all of the best SLT extra features: multiple frame noise correction, full HD movie making, swing panoramas, high ISO noise reduction by merging multiple frames in camera) HDR in-camera merging of bracketed frames (though why Sony limits their bracketing to +/- 2/3 stop is a total mystery to me and I pray (but don’t know) that could be fixed with a firmware update…or one from a third party. The HDR merges have to be shot as a sequence, so you can’t get the full 1-2 f-stop difference that usually works most effectively for HDRs when you’re shooting hand-held.
Another “downside” that I’ve learned the hard way, though, is that the automatic multi-frame merging used for HDR, noise reduction, and panoramas convert the file to JPG, and the sweep panoramas to 1080 MP high. If you merge single frames in Photoshop, they’re the same pixel height as your camera’s native resolution.
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE my SLT 55 and can’t wait to see the next generation. I’ve been hearing some fascinating rumors and am told that we should know by mid-Summer. But there are always trade-offs in this industry and I feel it’s very helpful to know what those are. That’s why I prefer having several brands of cameras to just one. But I’m also not saying that that’s what everyone needs to do.
In closing, I want to tell you that one of my big reasons for loving Sony’s camera’s is their use of in-body image stabilization because it’s there, no matter what lens you use. The shot below was taken hand-held (tripods attract too much attention in high crime areas) at 1/20th second using the Sony 50mm f/1.4 prime.
I really appreciate any feedback and comments on these blogs and don’t hesitate to link your friends to this site if they want to learn more about digital photography or to get a look at some of my latest images.
Speaking of my latest images, I’ve had lots of folks telling me lately that they can’t afford the $500-$3,000 price of the limited editions that has to be enforced once the image is shown in a gallery. So if you happen to come across an image in one of these blogs that you’d like to add to your own collection, I’ll make the first 5 sales at $200 each…not including the cost of printing and framing. That can be done at any website of your choice or here in Panama City at GammaPrint. Let me know where you want it done or ask me for advice. I’ll send the file to the printer ready to print at the resolution required for the size print you want. That printer will be given your address so that the image can be sent directly to you. Just send me an email with your name, address, and billing information (credit card or PayPal). Let me know if you want overnight shipping or ground.
You can do the above from any website that contains my images, as well as from any of these blogs. At the moment, none of the limited edition images are on these sites…but should they appear there, you’ll see them listed that way or they’ll be removed from the site.
I also send “newsletters” to my friends, associates, and fans that often include a slideshow that’s representative of something I’ve been shooting lately. The same deal as above applies to those newsletters.
Thanks for your visit. You’re much appreciated and I hope you’ve found it helpful.