If you’re finding that the built-in flash on your compact camera has the illuminating power of a Woodbine in a gale force breeze, it might be worth investing in the Metz 28 CS-2 Digital slave flash.
Designed to supplement the flash output of compact digital cameras, the flash is triggered by the user’s camera, and can be attached to the camera via a fold out bracket, held in the hand or placed wherever necessary.
Fiddling about with slave flashes can be a notoriously fiddly job, but Metz has done a good job of simplifying the process with an ingenious EASY mode.
Because some digital cameras fire one or more ‘preflashes’ a fraction of a second before the main flash fires (these are to help the camera measure the distance of the object in front of it and to adjust output accordingly), slave flashes can go off at the wrong time.
To ensure that the Metz fires at the same time as the camera’s onboard flash, the unit can be put in a learning mode which calculates and stores the correct flash trigger.
Once set up, users can take shots with the slave flash, check out the result on the camera’s LCD screen and then adjust the output by bashing the + and – buttons on the back of the flash.
More advanced users can explore the Metz’s other modes which include slave modes with/without preflash suppression and auto/manual modes and partial light output options (from full to 1/4 power), while serious photographers can hook the CS-2 to a Metz multi-remote flash system.
Powered by regular AAA batteries, the unit also comes with two adapters which slip over the flash gun to provide optimised coverage for 24mm and 85mm focal ranges.
Testing the flash
We tried out the unit with our fave digital compact camera, the Ricoh GR Digital and were impressed with the results.
It took a matter of seconds to ‘train’ the Metz to fire at the same time as the Ricoh’s onboard flash and we had no problems getting it to respond to each and every subsequent shot.
Using the ‘-‘ button to reduce the output meant we were able to introduce controlled, handheld ‘fill in’ side lighting to our subject, and ramping it up to full gave us some much needed firepower at a live gig.
The flexibility of using a slave flash gun meant we were able to plonk the Metz on a speaker stack and supplement the flash output of the Ricoh at the gig, although you’ll get into trouble if there’s a paparazzi-pack swarming at the front as the CS-2 could be triggered by other flashguns.
We loved the added lighting options that the Metz Mecablitz 28 CS-2 offered, and its Easy mode lived up to its name, making it simple to get the flash working with our compact camera.
Although the combination of the Easy mode and the plus/minor power output buttons should be enough for most users, Metz has included enough advanced options to ensure that the flash can keep earning its place, even for high end users.
We liked the clever fold-out bracket, but thought it a shame that they couldn’t include a standard (non working) hotshoe too – being able to mount the slave on top of the camera would have been a nice touch.
Minor quibbles aside, this is a ‘must have’ accessory for photographers keen to make the most of their cameras. It’s compact, versatile, powerful and easy to use and well worth the £90 (approx) asking price.
Ease of use: 85%
Value for money: 80%
Metz Mecablitz 28 CS-2 specs
ISO 100/21° (85mm) 28
ISO 100/21° (35mm) 22
ISO 100/21° (24mm) 16
Metz Remote SL
Auto apertures: f1.4 – f16
Light sensitivity: ISO 50 – 3200
Alkaline mangan battery
Flash recovery time (in secs)
NiCd. min. 0.3
NiCd. max. 6
Alkaline mangan batteries min. 0.3
Alkaline mangan batteries max. 8
NiMH-rechargable max. 0.3
NiMH rechargable max. 6
Min. number of flashes @ full light output
NiCd rechargable 600 mAh 35
Alkaline Mangan battery 100
NiMH rechargable 1200 mAh 100
Weight without batteries:g 140
Dimensions 75.5 x 83 x 32.5