Vivitar 285HV Zoom Thyristor Flash

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by ksmattfish, Nov 25, 2003.

  1. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

    Aug 25, 2003
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    Lawrence, KS
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    I think that the MSRP on these is a around $110, but you can almost always find them new and used on EBAY for cheaper; I see them go for $70-$75 all the time. An electronic flash is one of the few pieces of camera equip that I'm a little wary of buying used. I looked for a good price, new or barely used, good feedback, and a return policy.

    It's a big flash, not particularly heavy, but larger than any other flash I own. I remember from my camera store days that we sent a few of these off for repair and had the plastic foot replaced with an aluminum one. I see these aluminum feet on EBAY for about $15; it's probably a wise upgrade.

    I've shot a dozen rolls using this flash now, and I really like it. I've got a number of flashes that I use with different cameras, but this is the first flash that seems like it would be easy to use with all of my cameras. I've used it with my 35mm AF SLR, P67II, and the Rolleiflex. It performed wonderfully on each one.

    The head has several bounce and zoom settings, but it doesn't swivel side to side. It uses four AA batteries, or a wide selection of other power accessories. It is rated guide number 120 (ISO 100 / feet). The effective range is 3' to 70' on auto.

    It has a sort of light meter module mounted on the front. This can actually be removed and used remotely with the right accessories. There are four auto settings and four manual settings. The four auto settings allow a choice of apertures and recycle times. The manual settings are full, 1/2, 1/4, and 1/16 power.

    There is an exposure calculator dial on the side of the flash. Set the ISO and the power setting, and it tells you proper aperture for the distance to subject or auto setting.

    It has a "sufficient light indicator" that operates while the camera is in one of the auto settings. This is a green light on the back that glows briefly after each flash indicating proper light output. Failure to glow indicates inadequet light output; you'll have to open up the aperture.

    I've used it on auto for fill flash outdoors in the daytime, indoors for family shots, and in a bar taking band pics. I'm very happy with the results. I used it on auto at the recommended settings except when I set the camera to overexpose 1 stop when I was bouncing the flash from the bar ceiling. It did a great job of providing the right amount of flash. The couple of bounce photos could have used another 1/2 stop or so; I should have paid attention to the "sufficient flash indicator"!!!

    It recycled just about as fast as my other flashes. The ready light glows red when it's at 1/2 power, green at 3/4 power, and blinks red and green when fully charged. I was using plain, old alkaline batteries. Performance would probably be better with other options.

    I give it a thumbs up. I'd like to get a few more.


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vivitar zoom thyristor 285 flash not powering up