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Impressed with the Sigma EF-500 DG Super NA-iTTL for $119

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Stephen Hopkins, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. My kit is fairly fluid... a long time ago I had a Sigma EF-500 DG ST that I sold when I needed some money. About 6 months ago I traded a Sigma 50mm f/2.8 Macro for an SB-600 because I wasn't using it. I traded the SB-600 for a 55-200mm VR because I was going on vacation and wanted a compact telephoto. I sold the 55-200mm VR after the vacation because I wasn't using it. I just bought a Sigma EF-500 DG Super NA-iTTL because I also picked up a Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG DF whose size and extension at 24mm makes the on board flash nearly useless.

    I say all of this because I've had 3 flashes at different times over the past 2 years. The first, an EF-500 DG ST iTTL was very basic but got the job done. The SB-600 was nice and compact along with having wireless abilities. The EF-500 DG Super iTTL is an awesome value an, based on my prior flash experience, the best value going at $119 from 47th Street Camera. It seems to have all of the features of the SB-600, more power than the SB-800, and the price of the SB-400. It supports 3-channel wireless (so up to 3 flashes controlled by on-board commander), a wider zoom range than the SB-600 (same zoom range as SB-800), higher guide-number than the SB-800, and the same built in wide-angle flash diffuser as the SB-600 and SB-800. The only major feater I see it lacking it the 5th battery holder.

    Also of major importance is that it has MUCH more consistent exposure than my older lower-end "ST" version... this have to do with newer firmware (it's 100% compatible with my D80 out of the box). Also, wireless setup is much easier than many reviews (and the confusing manual) make it out to be. All-in-all, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a lower-price iTTL option, or anyone needing an inexpensive multiple wireless flash setup (you can get 2 EF-500 Supers, 2 umbrella mounts, and 2 umbrellas for the price of 1 SB-800!).
  2. cotdt


    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    wow, thanks for letting us know
  3. Do you have a URL to their product page? I searched on their site and didn't find the same exact model and both others were discontinued and $140 and $205.

    B&H lists it for $220.
  4. It was $119 from 47th Street through Amazon as well as through a shopping.google.com link... ordered it Monday and received it yesterday... now both are gone. Though it's not showing up in either search, the direct link I ordered from is below. It's 47th Street's Channel Advisor storefront (specifically for advertising through shopping search engines). It's also available for $129 from Cameta through Amazon.

  5. Hi, Steve! Have you used the 500DG off camera? I was reading through the specs listed on the 47th St. site, and came across this curious comment:

    High-speed sync & wireless I-TTL features are supported when used with applicable cameras (wireless flash only supported by film cameras)
  6. I have used it off camera and full iTTL was supported in conjunction with my D80 in commander mode. It supports all 3 channels, compensation, ect. I only have one to test, but it looks like you could use up to 3 of these with the D80 (more with other bodies?), all with full compensation control. Also, contrary to the way the manual reads, it's extremely easy to put in Wireless iTTL mode... just select wireless iTTL mode, the channel you want to use, and you're good to go... it's actually easier than the SB-600 because Wireless iTTL is a mode you cycle through just like all the other modes, where with the SB-600 you have a button-press combination required to get into Wireless iTTL mode.

    Also, remember, it's only the DG Super that has wireless functionality. The DG ST is a VERY stripped down flash that has only iTTL, half, full, and manual modes (and no rear LCD).
  7. Schnauzermom


    Apr 13, 2007
    Thanks! This might make a great 3rd light in my current setup.
  8. Thanks for sharing the hands-on information on this flash. Two more questions if you don't mind:

    1) Does it have a PC Jack?

    2) How many power levels does it have? E.g. if you put it into manual mode, does it go from 1/1 to 1/32, or to 1/64 or 1/128? (While those power levels are shown in manual, the flash fires at one of those levels even when at TTL.)

  9. Lisa, just consider that a used sb600 is only $125-150, and it's a sure thing that it will work with your other two strobes in wireless ittl mode.
  10. 1) No PC Jack

    2) It goes as low as 1/64 w/ -0.3 and -0.7 in between steps.

    I've not seen a used SB-600 here for less than $150. If you're looking for something to interact with multiple other Nikon flashes, the SB-600 or SB-800 is probably a better choice, but for anyone looking for a single flash or multiples starting fresh then this one looks to offer near SB-800 performance at an SB-400 price.
  11. I wouldn't pay $150 for a used sb600 when I can buy a brand new one for $175 from Beach Camera. Asking prices may ber $150, but negotiated prices are usually lower. I picked up my third flash last year, a LNIB sb600, for $125, shipping included, and I found the identical deal this year, when I was buying a flash as a gift for my son.
  12. I tried for a few weeks to pick up an SB-600 for $125 without any luck... this is the main reason I went with the EF-500 DG Super. I like the compactness of the SB-600 compared to the size of the Sigma. That said, for a brand new flash that seems to have SB-800 performance, I'm very impressed. It wouldn't be my first choice for pairing with other Nikon flashes, but for a single flash or someone looking to invest in multiples without owning any already, it seems to be a great choice for the price.
  13. jhpate


    Jul 14, 2007
    texarkana, texas
    So hows the flash working out for ya?
  14. I'm enjoying it. It exposes consistently, is quite powerful (had little problem reaching midfield from lower bleachers at a football game), and does everything it should. I haven't had a chance to play with the wireless features too much in a creative manner, though I have verified they work properly (see above).

    One thing I'm not liking at all is the max 1/200 flash sync of the D80... VERY limiting compared to the 1/500 I had with my old D50. It makes it VERY tough to shoot action with the flash as I found out shooting the cheerleading squad my wife coaches at last Friday night's football game. I haven't looked at it too in-depth, but what is the D90s max flash sync speed?
  15. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    According to the Nikon website it is 1/200.

    The D50 (and the D40) have a hybrid shutter mode: fully mechanical at lower shutter speed and electronic ("turning off" the sensor) at higher speeds. There are some disadvantages in doing that (blooming) which I guess is why high end models do not support it.

    Actually, if you tape off the extra pin that Nikon flashes use you could sync (the D50) up all the way to 1/8000 if you wanted to.
  16. I no longer have the D50... is there any advantage to taping the pin on the D80?

    Thanks :) 
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