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FIRST IMPRESSION: Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)
Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)


Originally Published: 24 November 2016
Updated: 13 September 2017



For my lighting needs, I have always relied on ambient light and constant light/umbrella set. Using flash was a foreign idea for me until recently, when I'm starting to have more interest in shooting portraiture. Having an external speedlight is more important to me now, because:

1) It's very portable and uses AA batteries.

2) Very useful as fill lighting for outdoor shots.

3) They have a more powerful guide number than the built-in flash of the camera. My Nikon D5200 has a GN of 12 (at ISO 100, in meters).

4) A speedlight can also be used as a slave flash. 

5) It's easier to set the flash power on the speedlight than dig through pages of menu in the camera. 

6) You can angle, tilt and swivel the flash head for different effects (eg. bounce flash), which your regular built-in camera flash can never do.

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Sigma EF-500 DG Super

"Designed to work with both AF 35mm SLR and Digital SLR cameras of popular manufacturers, for advanced flash photography. It has a maximum guide number of 165 in feet or 50 in meter at 105mm focal length (ISO 100). The projection angle of the flashlight is set automatically to match the lens’ focal length ranging from 28mm wide-angle to 105mm medium-telephoto. It also incorporates a built-in diffuser that expands the angle of illumination down to that of 17mm lens."

Sigma EF-50 DG Super

Year Introduced
circa 2005

Supports
TTL, Manual and Slave

Guide Number
50 meters in ISO 100, (at 105mm)

Power Source
4x AA batteries

Recycling time
6 seconds

Flash Zoom
28mm-105mm, 17mm wide panel

Made in Japan


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The Sigma EF-500 DG Super. I bought this second hand flash from a Korean seller in good, working, and beautifully mint condition that also came with its own pouch, flash stand and free batteries. Now that makes for an excellent deal! Not that I really need to use it, but it's more like for personal study.

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)
The model here is a Nikon F401s film SLR.



The battery compartment is one problem for me. Given that this was old and used when I bought it, it is one factor. It could probably also because of the battery heads. Sometimes they feel loose inside and don't align perfectly with the contacts. A simple movement like pressing any buttons, will make the power go out. BAD, you don't want this to happen in crucial situations. A simple fix was to add a paper fold to make the area inside tighter.

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)
You can see that insert I made to keep the batteries aligned.



It's a high-power and versatile lens that can be used with both electronic and fully manual lenses, plus these modes: TTL-BL (Bulb Mode), TTL Auto, Manual, Slave Mode, Multiple Flash. It also works with electronic film cameras. 

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)



I'm always using old vintage glass, so naturally, this flash is always in Manual Mode. Very easy to do -- just press 'Mode' until you see the M in the display, then press 'Sel' for the first time to set the flash power, press 'Sel' the second time to manually input the current aperture of the lens. Press 'Sel' for the third time to exit. The buttons are a bit mushy and I hate that. But we can forgive it since it's an old and used one that I bought (or maybe my fingers are just too fat!).




The zoom function can automatically adjust if you're using an electronic lens. For manual lenses, you have to manually set the focal range on the flash itself. Note: You need to apply the crop factor before dialing in the focal range. So if you're using a 70mm lens, on the flash, dial 105mm (70mm x 1.5x crop factor = 105mm).

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)
Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)



One of the reasons that people want to use a speedlight over the built-in flash is the ability to tilt, swivel, and angle the head for different effects. There is a release button which you have to press every time you swivel the head halfway. Having used it for several clients, I realized this is the cumbersome thing with this flash. It has been taken care of when I super glued that button, now I can swivel 180 degrees without pressing any release button halfway.

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)
Angle the head up and down.

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)
This is the annoying swivel release button I was telling you.
It's more of an annoyance than a benefit.

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)



This is a powerful flash with a Guide Number of 50 in meters (ISO 100). I should be able to light up subjects from a longer distance than my camera's built-in flash. I'm still stumbling around the settings, but really digging the Manual and Slave Modes. As of 2016, the successor to the model I have is the Sigma EF-610 DG Super.

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)



In summary, it is a great flash to have around, very powerful, very flexible. The only 2 things that kill me are the annoying swivel lock, the loose battery compartment, and the mushy buttons (given it is old and used). A little fix here and there, and I have something amazing to work with, amazing flash on a budget.


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SAMPLES

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)
This was shot with a Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 at f/5.6

Sigma EF-500 DG Super (for Nikon)
Shot with a Vivitar 75-205mm f/3.8 (Kiron) at f/11




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