Trying to figure out universal flash


TPF Noob!
Jul 30, 2013
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Hey all. I have a Bower SFD290 universal flash for my camera. However, even though I got it quite a while ago, I still am unsure exactly how to use it. I took a picture of the back of it that may provide guidance but if anyone might know what any of it means, I'd appreciate it. There's three possible settings, the M, the blue or the red. If anyone knows what ANY of it means (I know the ISO is the left side obviously and the numbers in the middle do seem to be aperture values, but I'm not really sure what the DIN, the PT, etc mean.

Somewhere is a switch with a BLUE setting, and another RED setting. Looks like it's right there with Off M for manual, the the color-coded positions.

With the ISO of the film or sensor set to 200, the BLUE setting's auto f/stop is f/8. With 200 speed film or sensor, the RED setting's auto-f/stop is f/4.

A small sensor on the front of ther flash reads the lighting feedback, and when enough light has been received it "squelches" the flash.

DIN is the old Deutsche Industrie National (something like that) ASA_era system....400 ASA was 27 DIN, as I recall.

Across the top, the FT is the maximum AUTO-flash distance for various f/stops, M is in Metres.
Ok. So am I paying attention to the 2.7? Is that 2.7 meters or does the meters refer to for example 18 meters is max you can be if you're using any of the blue? Or the 5.4 meters for the blue. And are all the numbers in the black areas telling me what aperture my camera can be on based on the ISO and the distance I'm from the subject?
You''ve got the idea. The on/off switch has 4 positions, OFF; M(annual) Blue, and Red. Lets say you are shooting @ 200 ISO. If you set the flash to the blue setting, and your aperture to F8, you will get a properly exposed picture as long as your subject is 18ft or less.

Set it to RED, and your aperture to F4, and your subject can be as far as 36' away.

And yes, using it in full manual mode, you match the distance with the corresponding f-stop and ISO on the chart.

Ahhh......the good ol' days.......
Using the BLUE auto f/stop mode, the maximum distance is 18 feet, or 5.4 metres.

With 100 ISO film or sensor, set the lens to f/5.6; with 200 f/8; with 400 set the lens to f/11. The maximum distance for reliable BLUE-mode automatic flash control is 18 feet.

RED-mode uses wide f/stops that let in more light, so the maximum distance for good exposures with reliable control is 36 feet, or 11 metres.

This type of flash control was commonly called AUTO-flash, or AUTO-Thyristor controlled flash. It actually works pretty well when the flash is located at the camera or on a bracket on the camera. It's surprisingly easy to work with, and has a few advantages over more modern TTL systems.

Since YOU control the f/stop the lens is set to, if the pictures in BLUE mode look, say too dim, when using 200 ISO/ASA, you can open the lens up a bit wider than the suggested f/8, to say f/7.1 or f/6.3, or even to f/5.6, and in that way, create MORE exposure. If your images look too bright, you could close the lens down from the suggested f/8, and use f/9.5 or f/10 or f/11.
Okie doke. Did I make an okay choice for the flash. I just felt going with any of the Canon speedlights would see in most cases $150 or more. I know I've stated it a lot, but being a student it's difficult to buy all this equipment. :(
It is a simple,affordable flash unit that uses old-school technology. AUTO-Thyristor flash regulation has been around now for well over 35 years, and the technology is simple to work in practice. If you have a digital SLR, you can take a photo, evaluate the flash's effect, and re-shoot, within seconds. For roughly $40, this seems like an okay new flash unit. It's probably not built to last a long time, but if you avoid dropping it, it might last, well, who knows how long. Power is listed as Guide Number of 99 in Feet at ISO 100. It's not all that powerful, but it's not super-weak either. Since modern cameras shoot well at ISO 200,250,320,and 400, you'll probably have ample power for most things. For FILL-flash, this flash ought to be fine even in bright sunlight. Again, for $40, this is an okay flash. Just be careful with it.

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