Sony A380 Flash

The Sony A380 features a built-in, pop-up flash, which operates in either Auto, Fill-Flash, Slow-sync, Rear Sync, Wireless, and Flash-off modes. To release the flash from its compartment, press the button on the left side of the pentamirror housing. Close it again by pushing the flash head back down.

The Flash mode is changed from the Function screen. In Auto flash mode (available only in the camera's Auto or Scene Selection modes), the camera automatically determines when to fire the flash based on the existing lighting, and will pop-up the flash automatically. In Fill-Flash mode, the flash fires with every exposure, regardless of lighting conditions. Slow-sync mode fires the flash for foreground fill exposure, while allowing the background to burn in. The Rear Flash Sync mode fires the flash at the end of the shutter time, rather than the beginning. If you have moving objects in the scene with lights, as with a car, this will produce a sharp image of your subject, with a "motion trail" following behind it when shooting at slower shutter speeds. The flash is off when Flash Off mode is selected, or when the flash is down in non Auto exposure mode.

Flash exposure compensation can be set via the Camera 1 menu, measuring two stops lower or greater, in 1/3-stop increments.

The A380's built-in flash has a Guide Number (GN) of 10 meters or 32.8 feet at ISO 100. That's a bit below the average of about 12 meters for Consumer SLRs we've tested. Maximum sync speed is 1/160s. High Speed Sync (HSS) shooting with shutter speeds up to 1/4,000s is available with Sony HVL-F58AM and HVL-F42AM external flash units.

A Red-Eye Reduction option is available through the Custom 1 menu. When Red-Eye reduction is enabled, the camera will fire a few low-power flash pulses before it actually snaps the picture, to make the pupils of your subjects' eyes contract.

The A380 also has a top-mounted hot shoe for attaching an external flash unit. The shoe design and contact arrangement are set up for Sony's own dedicated flash units.

The Wireless mode lets the Sony A380 work with compatible remote flash units with wireless capability, specifically the Sony HVL-F58AM and HVL-F42AM. Four separate control channels are available for wireless operation, to allow multiple photographers to work wirelessly in the same area without interfering with each other. You're limited to a single external flash unit vs the 3 groups that you can control with Sony's higher-end models, but it still opens a lot of creative possibilities, when the flash doesn't have to be attached to your camera. The ability for the A380's internal flash to act as a controller for a single group of wireless flash units is an upgrade relative to last year's A200/300/350, and relatively rare among entry-level SLR models. Operating in Wireless mode with a compatible external flash unit, the Sony A380's flash exposure compensation adjustment can adjust the intensity of the external flash remotely, once the camera and flash unit have been initially synched to each other.

Flash Test Results

Coverage and Range
Inconsistent flash performance with uneven coverage at wide-angle. Our standard shot required average exposure compensation.

18mm 55mm
Normal Flash
Default
Slow-Sync Flash
Default

Coverage and Exposure. Flash coverage was uneven at wide-angle (18mm), but much more uniform at telephoto (55mm). The Indoor test was a bit underexposed at the default setting, but +0.3 EV was a bit too bright. (Most cameras we've tested required about +0.7 EV for this scene.) The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced bright, more even results without any compensation, though with a stronger pinkish-orange cast from the room lighting.


Flash Range: Wide Angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

1/60 sec
f3.5
ISO 100

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

ISO 100 Range. At wide-angle, flash shots at ISO 100 started out pretty bright at 6 feet, increased in brightness at 7 feet and then remained fairly bright out to a distance of 11 feet. At full telephoto and ISO 100, the target started out a bit dim at 6 feet, increased intensity at 7 feet, but lost intensity gradually from there.


Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide-angle Telephoto

9.4 feet
ISO 100

5.9 feet
ISO 100

Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. The Sony A380's built in flash is rated with a Guide Number of 10m at ISO 100. That works out to about 9.4 feet at f/3.5 and 5.9 feet at f/5.6, the maximum apertures of the kit zoom lens. In the shots above, the Alpha 380 performs as Sony says it will, producing a good exposure at the rated distance with its ISO set to 100 at wide angle, though results are a little dim at telephoto, as were our ISO 100 range shots at telephoto. Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.

 

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