Metz 52 AF-1 strobe makes flash control a touch more modern


posted Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM EDT


Now that large, high-resolution screens are commonplace, camera interfaces have come along in leaps and bounds over the last few years. The same can't really be said for the interfaces on external flash strobes, though. Even on high-end strobes with an LCD panel, the interface typically features a few soft buttons whose function is indicated along the edge of the monitor, plus a healthy selection of buttons dedicated to one or more specific tasks. More affordable strobes often eschew an LCD altogether, in favor of a simple indicator light or two.

The new mecablitz 52 AF-1 digital strobe from Germany's Metz-Werke GmbH & Co KG aims to change all that. The company claims it to be the world's first compact flash with a touchscreen display, and there are precisely three physical controls. (Four, if you count the mechanical release button for the bounce head.) The touch screen is square, and rotates 90 degrees to match the camera orientation for portrait shooting. It's also backlit for night visibility.


With the exception of the controls, the overall body design is quite similar to that of the mecablitz 44 AF-1, but the functionality is closer to that of the earlier 50 AF-1 strobe. Features include a 24-105mm motorized zoom, 12mm diffuser, a built-in reflector card, AF illuminator, modeling light function, USB connectivity for firmware updates, and a metal hot shoe base. There are some important differences beyond the new touchscreen interface, though. Flash output has increased slightly, from a guide number of 50 to 52 meters (170 feet) at ISO 100, and with the zoom head at the 105mm position. Also, there are now a much finer-grained 22 levels for manual flash, where the 50 AF-1 had just eight levels. The bounce/swivel head has a more restrictive vertical range, however. It can still swivel 300 degrees and tilt upwards 90 degrees, but no longer offers a downward tilt. (The 50 AF-1 could tilt down by about seven degrees.)

As is usual for Metz's flash strobes, a variety of versions are available. These include Canon (E-TTL and E-TTL II), Nikon (i-TTL, D-TTL and 3D flash), Olympus / Panasonic / Leica (Micro Four Thirds TTL), Pentax (P-TTL), and Sony (ADI; no metal hot shoe base). Remote flash is supported for all except D-TTL and 3D flash metering.

No pricing or availability information had been provided at press time.