Best mini optical slave flash: Quantaray MS-1

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    If anyone is looking for a small, cheap remote flash that they can use either with the flash built into the camera, or a larger flash still on the camera, I have a suggestion with 2 options:

    My experience with optical slaves are that they either work very well, or horribly, and price doesn’t have a whole lot to do with that. Here are 2 optical slave flashes that I like. They are the same except for the flash detection circuits, with the more expensive one able to ignore a specific number of pre-flashes. Almost all digital camera use pre-flashes to get the exposure, so if you don’t have a larger flash you can put on the camera, you will have to get the version that can ignore pre-flashes.

    For less than $100 each for an optical slave flash, these are the only ones that I have found to work reliably:
    The non-preflash compatable slaves are the:
    $20 Quantaray MS-1

    And the version that can skip the pre-flashes are the:
    $40 Quantaray QMS-D1

    (I have 2 of each.)

    The main issues with these is that they use 2*AAA so they are a bit slow to charge (about 5-10 seconds), and only have a full power setting with a GN of 35, so they are a bit weak, but they are cheap enough that you can use 2 or 3.

    One problem with some other kinds of optical slave flashes that I have used is that the flash detector is a tiny hole on the front, which makes placing the flash behind something annoying, because they don’t like to go off very easily. These have a white dome on the top that is the detector, so they see anything going on in front, behind, or on the ceiling, which makes them very nice to use.

    If you want to get a more powerful flash, like the 285HV with an optical slave attachment, that is going to be a ton bigger, and then you only have one of those for the price of 2 or 4 of these little flashes, so you can’t spread the light around as easily unless you use a reflector.

    Here is an example of me using three of the Quantarays put at my sides, and a Vivitar 285HV on the camera going straight up into the ceiling:

    Flickr page

    Here is what they look like, with a Vivitar 285HV and Pentax K100D for a size comparison. (They are smaller, which is good if you want to hide them)
    flickr page

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