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Leica SF60 flash and SFC1 flash commander on M10: initial thoughts

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I tested the SF60 and SFC1 on my M10.  Some quick thoughts:

 

1) The color displays on both units are very nice.

 

2) Build quality is, well, like Nissin, because that's who makes these units (reconfigured Nissin i60).  Nicely finished, solid plastic, for the most part.

 

3) The really good news is the SF60 and SFC1 allow simple wireless HSS flash photography on the M10 (and I assume other recent Leica bodies) at speeds as fast as 1/4000, which is pretty cool.  You simply set the SF60 to automatic or TTL mode, and when the shutter speed crosses about 1/250 a HSS indicator appears on the screen of both the SFC1 and the SF60, and you can fire away with no odd black banding (curtain issues) in the resulting photos.

 

4) The SFC1 and SF60 were pretty easy to pair (tip: by "yellow LED on the SF60", the manual really means "green LED"), and allowed remote flash triggering reliably.  I did not intentionally push the range, but at "studio distances" it worked just fine.  You can control four groups of flashes, assigned to A/B/C/D, with the SFC1.

 

5) In an odd design "feature" (?), the SF60 makes a repetitive sound not unlike a starving puppy.  Instead of the usual flash whine of a capacitor charging up (low to high pitch, which then fades away and disappears), the SF60 softly whines high-to-low, every 4.05 seconds, over and over, even when idle, like it's constantly leaking charge and replenishing.  At first I thought my batteries weren't charged enough, or that I had a unit with a bad capacitor, but changing batteries (including both Eneloop Pros and regular alkaline) and changing SF60 units did not change this behavior.  So it's just part of the design.  In any case, the repetitive starving-puppy whine is very odd, and can be distracting, to me at least, even though it's not as loud as my SF40 charging up (but the SF40 doesn't keep whining over and over...)

 

6) Perhaps I didn't conduct this experiment correctly, but at least in my hands, the SF60 did not demonstrate higher flash power than my SF40.  I gradually closed the aperture, lowered the ISO, and/or increased shutter speed on the M10 until the flash in Auto or TTL mode was not able to generate enough light to reach normal exposure on a given test subject.  I repeated the test with different subjects, and with the SF60 vs. SF40.  Histogram analysis reveals that in all the tests, the SF60 was no better, and actually maybe 1/4 stop worse, than my SF40, either when using the flash for diffused light generation, or when pointing the flash directly at the subject.  Of course the guide number of the SF60 at 100 ISO is 60 meters, versus 40 for the SF40, so I'm not sure what's going on here.  Of course the SF40 doesn't have built-in remote triggering capability.  I also repeated the comparison with two new SF60 units, and they both behave identically with respect to light output.

 

7) The SF60 is maybe 30% larger than the SF40, and smaller (judging from pictures) than the SF64.

 

Hope these comments are helpful.

Edited by onasj

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The Leica flash appears to be a rebranded Nissin, but $200 more!

 

I don't shoot a lot with flash (hardly ever actually), but I have a very small Fuji X20 flash that I can use on manual mode.

 

If I find the need for a more powerful flash, I will check out the Nissin models to see if they are compatible with my M10s.

 

Regards,

Bud James
 
Please check out my fine art and travel photography at www.budjames.photography or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/budjamesphoto.

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My understanding is if you want TTL with your M10 (and probably other Leica bodies) then a Leica flash is needed. Some other flashes will fire but only in manual mode (my Nikon speedlights indeed behave this way on my M10).

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The Leica flash appears to be a rebranded Nissin, but $200 more!

 

I don't shoot a lot with flash (hardly ever actually), but I have a very small Fuji X20 flash that I can use on manual mode.

 

If I find the need for a more powerful flash, I will check out the Nissin models to see if they are compatible with my M10s.

 

Regards,

Bud James

 

Please check out my fine art and travel photography at www.budjames.photography or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/budjamesphoto.

The SF60 & SF C1 are slightly different at the dial without the HSS setting and position is replaced as a locking function as compared to Nissan version. So not directly a rebadged item. Plus Leica did radiation type approval testing separately from Nissin models.

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Some further information from Nissin. The new Nissin MG10 hammerhead flash arrives with the new/latest software pre-installed and you would need to have older Air-10 commanders updated to work with it. However, Nissin think that the SFC-1 may also be running the older version of the NAS communication software and it would therefore, need updating before it will communicate properly with the MG10 but they are not sure. To date all European sellers seem to be selling the MG10 as a kit with the Air-10 commander (currently available in Canon and Nikon versions), unless anyone can advise me differently. What I think I am going to do is to buy an SFC-1 in October and then go to Nissin UK in Reading to see if the SFC-1 and MG10 talk to each other. If they don't, I will buy an SF60. Makes me really glad I didn't buy an SF64 a couple of years ago, which I was thinking of doing. 

 

I suspect one might have to wait a long time for a software update for the SFC-1. 

 

Wilson

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For a pretty unobtrusive off camera solution with the SF-40 - or any other flash, this is an option which I use - No HSS though.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1163226-STUD/vello_fw_ms_freewave_mini_stand_flash_trigger.html

 

I use the SF-40 as well as a normal I40 (sony) - they are essentially the same thing but Leica version has metal foot and TTL.

 

It's really surprising the SF-60 doesn't register as more powerful, guess I won't worry about adding that to the stable.

 

I really wish they would add a very compact flash like the Contax G series had - the TLA-200, or like Fuji has modeled their X20 off of (but the Fuji flash can be frustratingly slow). 

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I've been trying out my two new SF60s with SF C1 with Magmod modifiers.

i've been getting pretty good results. I've tried to illuminate my subject some 2meters away with modifier to lite full body length in daylight environment up to 1/3200sec. Going further up on shutter speeds showed the single SF60s have limited power to bring the shutter speeds to 1/8000s.

 

Therefore I am exploring the higher power MG10 as an option to give me more flexibility shooting off camera HSS.

 

I suspect the MG10 should pair and work with the SF C1. I am waiting for the Nissin Singapore distributor to bring in the first batch of MG10s. I've committed to two units of MG10 with the local distributor on condition it will work on my SL & M10 via SF C1.

Below is the reply I've received from Nissin USA: "Nissin Flashes USA Although we are the USA distributor for Nissin and do not sell the Leica SF C1, which is sold only through Leica, it would appear that the MG10 will work in this combination. The MG10 is a non-dedicated flash which requires a Commander to operate it. Therefore, it would a[[ear that this combination will work but until actually tested, we cannot say absolutely."

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The SF40 is fine (in fact excellent) for indoors and "patio" usage but isn't really powerful enough for outdoors event/festival/parade etc use. My personal feeling is that the 40 and 60 are a bit too close together in power. If Nissin could have put a 70 or say 75 flash number head on the SF60 body, it would have been a more attractive proposition. Fingers crossed for the MG10 and SF-C1, with full TTL coupling. I suspect the MG10 may have a faster cycle time than the SF60, which for things like weddings is a serious consideration. 

 

Wilson

Edited by wlaidlaw

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The SF40 is fine (in fact excellent) for indoors and "patio" usage but isn't really powerful enough for outdoors event/festival/parade etc use. My personal feeling is that the 40 and 60 are a bit too close together in power. If Nissin could have put a 70 or say 75 flash number head on the SF60 body, it would have been a more attractive proposition. Fingers crossed for the MG10 and SF-C1, with full TTL coupling. I suspect the MG10 may have a faster cycle time than the SF60, which for things like weddings is a serious consideration.

 

Wilson

It does. There is a internal lithium battery pack option.

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From my experiments today see here https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/280740-m7-and-sf40-flash-compatibility-good-news/?p=3560158 it looks as if the SF40 only does HSS with the SL and CL. I don't have an M10 so cannot test on that. Disappointing. 

 

Wilson

 

The SF does HSS with the M10, M, CL, SL, S, TL. I no longer have an M9.

 

My SF40 has significantly higher out put than my SF 40. The difference in HSS is small because most of the power in HSS is wasted.

 

Gordon

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Gordon, 

 

I was getting odd results with the M(240) and HSS. With the flash set to TTL, it should automatically switch to HSS mode, when the shutter speed is increased above 1/180 sec. I was trying with the shutter set to 1/1000. Only the bottom third of each image was illuminated, which showed the flash was being triggered at the wrong point of the vertical shutter travel. My suspicion from the foregoing was that either HSS was not available for the M240 on the SF40 or that the shutter speed was not being communicated. I was using fixed ISO. On the M9, as soon as you varied the speed up from the 1/160 flash sync speed, the flash did not fire at all. I did not try speeds below 1/160 as I could see little benefit from this. On my SL and CL, HSS worked perfectly with the SF40 and TTL exposures were correct. 

 

Wilson

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Hopefully as the MG10 is now, as of today, officially on sale worldwide, it won't be too long before Silbeers will be able to tell us the state of play with the SF-C1 and the MG10 talking to each other at the Nissin dealers in Singapore. I see the MG10 uses 26650 lithium ion batteries, which are compatible with my I4 Smart Charger, that I use for the 18650 lithium ion batteries in my Nitecore 8000 lumen torch. 

 

Wilson

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A few notes on SF 60 with SF C1 and by itself:

- The pairing process is indeed quite straightforward.

- What the Quick Start Guide for the SF C1 doesn't say is you need to choose 'A'. 'B', or 'C' on the SF 60's left-hand mode select dial to control it from the SF C1. Unless you do, the SF C1 won't talk to the SF 60 - they'll be paired, but nothing works. 

- The SF 60's TTL mode can give heavy overexposure in dim light, even with the most negative -2.0 EV compensation selected, regardless of the SL camera's setting. Discovered this shooting a jam session outdoors around sunset. The quick solution was to switch the SF 60 to manual and dial in 1/128 power after some experimentation. 

- In reasonable light indoors or outdoors, the SF 60's exposure-compensated TTL mode works fairly well. It's especially good for outdoor fill flash in deep shadows but otherwise bright daylight. 

 

My use has been primarily on the SL, but I've done some testing on the M10. 

 

Edited by lecycliste

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As a followup - It's very easy to moved the SF 60's mode dial away from one of the A, B or C group selections, so double check it before each shot. 

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I've got a few Godox speedlites/bare bulb flash set up with remote commander and it all works well with my M10.

 

N.B It doesn't matter if your speedlite is for a different brands TTL as long as it has a manual mode, ie my two Sony TTL Godox speedlites work fine with the leica in manual mode

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vor 8 Stunden schrieb lecycliste:

The SF 60's TTL mode can give heavy overexposure in dim light

Auto-Iso can be the reason for this. Try to use a fixed ISO value.

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9 hours ago, lecycliste said:

As a followup - It's very easy to moved the SF 60's mode dial away from one of the A, B or C group selections, so double check it before each shot. 

This appears to be a regular Nissin failing. The detents on the main dial of my SF40 are also very weak. I have ended up before now fixing the dial  in one position with medical tape, which is then a pain when you want to alter flash power. It will be interesting to see if this still applies on the MG10 I am about to buy to use with the SF-C1.

Wilson

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On 8/1/2018 at 12:37 AM, wlaidlaw said:

Hopefully as the MG10 is now, as of today, officially on sale worldwide, it won't be too long before Silbeers will be able to tell us the state of play with the SF-C1 and the MG10 talking to each other at the Nissin dealers in Singapore. I see the MG10 uses 26650 lithium ion batteries, which are compatible with my I4 Smart Charger, that I use for the 18650 lithium ion batteries in my Nitecore 8000 lumen torch. 

 

Wilson

Hi Wilson,

The Nissin MG10 loaded with firmware v5 does make it compatible with Leics SF C1 Commander. I tried my unit and it works well together with my 2 units of SF60 operating in different groups so I can vary each flash intensity individually and make swapping change to all lights in one go through the Commander.

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