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When looking for a flash, one of the first things to consider is the type of flash, mainly if it’s full feature (FF) or manual (M). Each of these flash types have their pros and their cons, however the primary reason for getting one over the other is budget. If money was no issue, full feature flashes would be the way to go. However, full feature flashes are much more costly than manual flashes especially if you plan on purchasing 3 or 4 in a studio setup. Let’s explore some of the differences for each.

full-feature-vs-manual-flashes-01

FULL FEATURE FLASH:

We are going to use the Phottix Mitros+ as our example of a FF flash because it’s probably one of the most impressive 3rd party FF flash to date.

full-feature-vs-manual-flashes-02

To start things off, the Mitros+ has focus assistance by way of infrared to help focus in dark situations. TTL or (Through-The-Lens) exposure fires a pre-flash before your actual flash to automatically measure how much light to put onto the subject. HSS or (High Speed Sync) can allow you to flash with a shutter speed above 1/200. RCS (Rear Curtain Sync) allows the flash to fire just as the rear curtain is closing. The exposure still captures every movement that is being lit with ambient light before the flash is fired and freezes the action when it is fired. This translates to a subject’s motion blur attached to a subject’s “frozen” flash image.

full-feature-vs-manual-flashes-05

The Mitros+ also features pulse modes (or hertz modes) which makes the flash fire multiple times within a shutter duration. Infrared triggering allows the control of other off-camera flashes that have infrared. These are the things that most if not all full feature flashes can do. Some, like our Mitros+, take a step further with more advanced options like radio triggering and radio control. These functions enable us to control other flashes much further than you could with infrared. Off-camera TTL enables the same TTL functionality as previously mentioned just off-camera.

Here is the short list of what a full feature flash (like the Phottix Mitros+) can do:

  • Focus Assistance
  • TTL and Manual control
  • HSS or (High Speed Sync)
  • RCS (Rear Curtain Sync)
  • Pulse Modes
  • Infrared Triggering<
  • Radio Triggering (some)
  • Radio Control (some)
  • Off-Camera TTL (some)

As you can see, FF flashes offer a ton of features and overall control. This might be a con for some people (being more complex than a simple manual flash) but this complexity comes at a price. A few of our favorites include the FF Canon 600EX-RT costs around $500 and a FF Nikon SB910 around $550. We prefer our workhorse FF Phottix Mitros+ because at a reasonable $400 it’s a value in comparison to the others and has always performed flawlessly.

MANUAL FLASH:

There is a certain beauty to the simplicity of manual flashes. It has none of the features that its full featured cousin has. It is just a flash. All you need to worry about is your zoom and your power setting. It’s simplicity is translated into it’s price.

full-feature-vs-manual-flashes-04

Our favorite manual flash is the Lumopro LP180 averaging around $200. If you are on a budget, our other favorites include the Neewer TT850 at around $100 and the YongNuo 560 III at around $75.

In conclusion, if you have the dough, you know where to go. Full feature flashes will give you that professional edge for a much wider range of control. However, if you are on a budget, manual flashes are a viable option especially if you need 3 or 4 of these guys. We suggest making your own list and seeing what features you really need as a photographer while also figuring out if full feature is in the budget.

Comment

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  1. Alex Lopez

    hi there,
    I would like to buy a flash and i found on ebay . could you please tell me about this flash. here’s the link. http://www.ebay.ca/itm/272190258022?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

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Lighting 101