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Peter Walker

Flash SF64 on SL - quick review

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Today I finally got around to testing the SF-64 that I purchased 3 weeks ago.

 

In summary: it's great!  Seems to deal with every test I tried.  A tad large.

 

Caveat: I did not test every possible combination of settings and usage.  I only tested the scenarios that I am likely to use:

  • Fill-flash just to pop an almost indiscernible amount of light into shadows on a face - must not look like a flash has been used
  • Indoor shots when there's not enough ambient light to hand-hold safely and there's something to bounce the light from (white ceiling or wall, reflector, umbrella)

The SL and this SF64 (and FW 2.0) lets me do these two things easily.

 

I mainly tested Aperture priority but I did test some Manual and Program.  Mainly, I was playing with the Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC) to get the right balance of ambient and flash.

 

The SF64 is big but not out of place on the SL / 24-90mm combination.  The handling balance is still comfortable.

 

The controls on the back of the SF64 are mainly touch-screen but nice and easy to see and press.  It's great that it displays the camera's aperture setting and also the distance range (min to max) that the flash can cover in the current setting.

 

A nice feature is the ability to adjust the FEC on either the flash or in the SL menu.  With the FEC now assignable to the favourites menu and a button shortcut, it's easy to change the FEC on either device.  If you change it on one, it updates on the other.  If you have saved an FEC in your profiles, that becomes the starting point for the FEC whenever you switch the flash on.

 

This Hacienda photo has just a tiny bit of fill flash (FEC = -2).  Similar images shot with the flash turned off are somewhat darker inside the funnel of the flower.  Sunny afternoon but the flower is mainly lit from behind.

 

 

90mm 1/90s f4.0 ISO100

 

I did a quick comparison with the SF40.  While the SF40 functions well for some settings, it tends to over-expose shots where the main subject is close to the flash.  And, the FEC range of +2 to -2 is a bit limited for fill-flash.

 

As others have noted, one thing that's not quite working as expected is using Flash with Auto-ISO.  As soon as the flash is turned on, the ISO locks in to the lowest number in the Auto-ISO range, in my case ISO100.  I guess that the complexity of having the ISO change is too much for the flash TTL algorithm to handle.  Others are concerned about this but I prefer setting the ISO to a fixed number for most images, especially when flash is involved as my brain struggles to calculate the probable results of too many changing variables...

 

Regards

Peter

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Peter, thanks for posting this. I see that the SF64 is now finally available more broadly.  I have the SF40 (use, rarely, on my M and also on an S).

 

Have you had more time to form additional thoughts about the SF64 vs the SF40?

 

Thanks.

 

(By the way, the SF40 does the same thing with auto-ISO on the Leica S -- it drives me crazy as I often forget this and my first few shots often end up underexposed before I realize).

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Hi Peter, thanks for posting this. I see that the SF64 is now finally available more broadly.  I have the SF40 (use, rarely, on my M and also on an S).

 

Have you had more time to form additional thoughts about the SF64 vs the SF40?

 

Thanks.

 

(By the way, the SF40 does the same thing with auto-ISO on the Leica S -- it drives me crazy as I often forget this and my first few shots often end up underexposed before I realize).

 

Peter passed away recently so he won't be able to reply.

 

Gordon

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SL with SF64 and SF 40 flash.

Does anyone have experience with using two flashes, master and slave.
In SF 64 manual states that where it is slave, you must first activate "Learning Curve" on the flash, and then release the shutter on SL.
What does this function do?
When FEC is adjusted on SL, is that both master and slave, which will be adjusted?
I am experienced with the Nikon, where all adjustments are done in the camera menu seperat for each unit, but can not figure out how it is working with Leica.
Hope for some advice.
Thank you

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f have yet to receive my SF64 but I know the SF40 doesn't support wireless TTL. So you'll need to use manual and set the slave manually. The slave on the SF 40 is just a simple optical trigger. I don't believe the SF64 supports wireless TTL either but will confirm when my flash arrives. I am 90% sure it doesn't.

 

Gordon

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Gordon, I'm very anxious to read your always practical comments about your new SF 64. I've the old SF 58 updated in  Leica and I'm using it with my also updated SL camera. The pics are very satisfactory but the new amount of software  and/or possibilities of SF 64 are tempting  my pocket. Does it worth to change my SF 58? I also have the small SF 40.

Could you some day explain what hell is and how does it work   the "learning curve"? Which type of flashes we need? To teach them...

I'm enthusiast follower  of your flash knowledge.

 

Francisco

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 Oh my God, my  best blessings for Peter, wherever you are traveling ...

Francisco.

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Francesco did you updated the FW of the SF58 our did Leica did it? I am also anxious to understand the difference between these 2 flashs

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 Hello Kikouyou ,

 

Both. The firmware (V 2) of the flash SF 58 was to get better results with the first flash software problems of the SL, before were solved with Firrmware 2.0

 

I had to send my flash to Wetzlar (money wasted) and, of course I installed by my own the firmware of the camera. Afterwards all became very well.

 

Francisco.

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Thank you Francesco


it is really a pain to have to send the flashes to Weztlar for FW updates... I sent back my new SF26 when I first got it as it was a FW1.0

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I have a 1.1 SF58 and another at 2. Honestly I don't see much difference between them, even on the SL. I have no significant issues with the SF 58 except for the horribly clunky interface. That's why I'm upgrading.

 

I hope to have my SF delivered this week and will give it a thorough run through. Mostly though I just want a quick way to adjust FEC, which the SF64 does allow. I'll certainly rest any off camera functionality but I'm more likely to use either a Godox 360 or Quadra when using off camera flash as TTL doesn't do much for me off camera that I can't do with manual and twice as fast. My Godox 360's are by far my most used flash on the SL.

 

Gordon

 

p.s. Leica made a silent upgrade to the flash functionality in 2.1 on the camera. The live exposure preview now works in P, A and T modes on the camera with the SF58 (I've only tested with my flash that has fw 2 on it). This was really important for my work so it's a great update for me. I'm hoping this functionality also works with the SF64, which it should.

Edited by FlashGordonPhotography

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Sure, FW 1.1 versus 2,  I haven't been able to detect any difference. For me, as an amateur I want a flash to play in several circunstances and SF 64 would bring me the opportunity to save some different profiles according the field I were stepping. I think it is polifacetic.

It's a pity I "only" have M lenses and can't squeeze the best of my Leica SL so  only can use M and A modes. Empty pockets.

 

Francisco.

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My SF64 arrived yesterday. It works well in my limited testing. What Peter said in the OP applies to me as well.

 

- Exposures are great. Fill flash works remarkably well for backlit subjects at mid shooting distances.

- FEC is easy to access. I have it set to LR button on the camera. I can change it without taking my eye from the viewfinder. This is the no1 reason I bought it.

- It doesn't feel like a thousand dollars. It's not badly made but it's like all recent Metz made flashes. I have no issues that it'll work fine and be robust but my Godox flashes feel more "premium".

- Metal hotshoe. This is a big deal for me. Pleased. Slips onto the SL perfectly and easily. Screw down instead of the better system Canon and Nikon use, which is a shame.

- Wireless is manual optical slave only, as I expected. No off camera wireless TTL. For off camera TTL you'll still need to use a Nikon cable (same pin placement).

- It's larger than the SF58. Nearly an inch taller.

- Touch screen works better than I expected. No real difference to physical buttons in responsiveness.

- Doesn't seem to sleep when camera is powered down, which would be nice.

- Dead simple to use. You don't need the manual which weighs almost as much as the flash itself.

- Slide out bounce card and diffuser are good quality and a decent size. They don't look flimsy which I like.

- Live exposure preview works in P,A and T modes but is disabled (except for the butt stupid front button double press thing) in M mode. But this is the same with all TTL flashes. Auto ISO defaults to the lowest set value.

 

Was it worth the upgrade?

 

For me yes. I really value speed of operation so the fact I can change FEC on the fly from the camera is really important to me. Exposures are a bit more consistent than the SF58. Power difference is minimal with the same lens but the SF64 has a longer zoom. I'll have the SF64 on the SL, SF40 on the M and a 58 on my S2. I know I spent a grand to save a couple of seconds but that matters with the way I work.

 

If you're an occasional user or don't care about the button pressing for FEC then the SF58 does pretty much the same job in a smaller package. Occasional users are probably better off with an SF40 anyway for price and size reasons. M users don't get any benefit over an SF58. They're better off with the SF40 for sure.

 

If you have an SL and no flash, I think the SF64 is the best flash for that camera right now.

 

Gordon

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Thank you, Gordon. As usual, short and the target. I've FEC set to Video release button on my SL camera waiting for the due flash.

 

If I found a buyer for my SF 58 may be .....

 

Francisco.

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Hi Leicaholics,

 

I just bought a used SF40 mainly to fill-light/backlid/HSS and it works pretty good.  However it does over exposure when getting closer and closer.  Although using flash at close up is not something conventional but does SF64 able to overcome that?  I am very curious...

 

Question 2, does SF64 support +-3 EV instead of +-2 on SF40?

 

In addition, if you don't mind please teach me how to check the firmware version on SF40, much obliged! 

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Is there any good tutorial about using SF64? I tested it out, but it didn't look great. I never used flash before, so it's kinda new player in the game, and one has to really understand all these setting. I checked the manual, but it really doesn't explain the purpose, just the navigation, how to change settings and overall usage for someone who's already familiar with the flashes.

 

Would it help if I find a book or a video that talks about flashes in general? Or it's kinda specific for Leica's flashes?

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