|Metz mecablitz 54 MZ-4: for the hard to please. The flagship of the Metz compact flash series presents itself as simple to operate and loaded with special functions. The 54 MZ-4 successfully integrates High Speed Synchronization into a flash unit with many other special functions and provides the D-TTL mode as well as the 3D multi-sensor fill-in flash in D-TTL mode.This powerful flash unit distinguishes itself additionally with its simple, elegant operating concept: just 2 function keys and 1 adjustment wheel provide for complete controlA special feature of the 54 MZ-4 is that the displayed focal length of the lens being used can be adjusted to match the format (35 mm, APS, Medium Format). Thanks to the high-speed synchronization "HSS" the flash can be used - where supported by the camera - with exposure times even shorter than the camera sync speed. This is useful, especially to fill in the shadows in portrait photography outdoors and to make the subject stand out from an out-of-focus background.|
|Guide Number||131.23 ft/ISO 100|
|Supported Exposure Control||D-TTL, TTL|
|Compatible Brand||For Nikon|
|Vertical Rotation Angle||+90 / -7|
|Horizontal Rotation Angle||+180 / -90|
|Manual Power Control Levels||1/1, 1/128, 1/16, 1/2, 1/256, 1/32, 1/4, 1/64, 1/8|
|Additional Features||AF illuminator, Flash +/- compensation, Illuminated LCD display, Modeling flash capability|
|Required Battery||4 x battery - AA type|
Average review score based on 1 user reviews
I bought this flash with every expectation that Metz makes a fine product, and this doesn't disappoint.
I bought it to use with a 90s EOS Elan IIe film camera. This is the model that debuted Canon's E-TTL flash metering. I wanted bounce and swivel and support for E-TTL, and many manufacturers' current models are updated and only support the newer E-TTL II protocol. I also wanted serious power and reputable brand name.
While I shopped new flashes, I ended up buying this used Metz. I considered a first-party Canon model, but the Metz offered more power for less money than the comparable Canons, some of which were still expensive on the used market. I considered a new Vivitar, but I've read of their quality slipping in the last few years.
This Metz is designed as a multi-system flash, and can be set up to dedicate to many different brands of cameras with only a change of the foot and module. New ones are shipped with a universal thyristor module, but the users of cameras who want TTL metering will have to add the module specific to their camera. This adds functions like ready/proper exposure indicators and so on just like a first party flash. Further, the flash can still operate as a generic thyristor flash on other bodies as needed. That's a big plus.
The only serious drawback to this flash compared to others is that it's harder to use than most first-party flashes. The English manual isn't exactly well-written, and doesn't cover every function offered by the brand-specific modules. The separate manual for the module isn't great at making up the difference, as some functions on this particular flash are controlled by the flash instead of the switches located on the module (the module works on several models, most are much less sophisticated than this one). The module's switches are covered to avoid confusion, but the menus on the LCD aren't terribly user-friendly, but they'll become second nature to a frequent user. I've no doubt that someone using it for a month would not have trouble.
A smaller problem involves the small secondary flash on the front of the main body of the flash. When it's turned on, the E-TTL can no longer function, and the flash and camera revert to the more primitive TTL system from before E-TTL. This system probably isn't as accurate, but is probably ok, especially for print film. However, digital users might find this a problem as I don't think that many of Canon's E-TTL digital cameras can fall back on the older system. If that's the case, then there's no point to them for the secondary flash at all, and they would be throwing money away to pay extra for it.
It's also heavy. If it messes up my EOS film SLR, I can get another off eBay for $25 anytime. If it were to break the hot shoe off of a late model digital SLR, the owner would probably have to cry over what the repairs would cost. It's pushing the envelope of what can reasonably be leveraged atop a camera body. It would look comical mounted on a G11.
All that said, my test shots fulfilled everything I had hoped. The E-TTL worked seamlessly with the body, and all features I tested worked as they should. Exposure was perfect on the Ektar film, which is not very forgiving for a color print film. It's powerful enough to bounce most anywhere with a white ceiling. It's far more than most people would ever need, and that's why I know I'm going to like it.