Flashguns are often an accessory overlooked & under-estimated by most amateur-semi-amateur photographers. Sure, if not used properly they have a tendency to make your photos look amateurish but that doesn’t mean that one should not use them at all. Learning how to use flash, is an important step in becoming a better photographer. To start with, if you’ve a look around in the flashgun arena most of them do not come cheap. This leaves one disappointed but you shouldn’t as there are alternatives. Offcourse, the flashgun by your camera manufacturer will be the best match on your camera but if you’re learning, its better you start off with a cheaper alternative & then later on get your dream flashgun. One such option is the Simpex 522 Thinklite Speedlite. Let me take you through a review of this budget flashgun.
# Universal hotshoe flash(Will work with any camera having a standard hotshoe)
# Inbuilt wide angle diffuser & bounce card
# Guide Number : 33 at ISO 100
# Vertical Rotation Angle : 0~90 degrees
# Horizontal Rotation Angle : 0~270 degrees
# Recycle Time : 0.1~5 secs
# Light Control : In 1/8th stop increment from 1/1 – 1/128
# Flash Mode : Manual, Slave 1 & Slave 2
The flashgun despite being available only for INR Rs.2000($37.91) surprised me with the stuff it came packed with. To begin, the packaging box itself is sturdy & within I found another reinforced interior of cardboard along-with a packet of silica gel. Very neat. Apart from the flashgun, the box holds a user manual, a flash-stand & a sync cord. The icing on the cake being, the flashgun being secured safely under a velvety pouch. I’m impressed. Could not ask for more at this price point.
The flashgun feels solid in hand. I’m sure it can take some beatings & come out unscathed. The buttons on the back feel plasticky & the power switch feels feeble. However, the tilt & swivel mechanism provides good feedback & locks firmly at the desired angles. The hotshoe is metal & not plastic another plus for sure. My only serious gripe with the construction is the battery compartment door. It feels very flimsy. I have doubts whether it can stand the test of time. To sum up, the build quality is more than average. Off-course, it is not weather sealed but that was expected considering the price. At its price, it is one compact & solid built flashgun.
The Simpex Speedlight 522 is rated at GN 33 at ISO 100. Pretty decent as most users on today’s DSLR cameras won’t bother & simply raise the ISO. Begin a complete manual flashgun, it offers changing the power output in 1/8th increment from 1/1 – 1/128th increments. All this made available with a very idiot proof controls on the back of the flashgun.(Okay, the back design looks cheap with all those LED’s & label spelling mistakes but who cares at this price point).
As per my real life usage conditions, the flash performed as per its specifications. The finer control over the power allowed me to use it as fill even when standing in close quarter to my subject. At maximum power, it provides decent illumination but you might need to raise your ISO on camera on a regular basis if you need to work from a distance.
The flash offers, three modes – Manual, Slave 1 & Slave 2. In manual mode, the flash can be used on camera. The Slave 1 mode can be used in an environment with other manual flashguns. The Slave 2 should be used when you’re working with an environment having TTL flashguns. This mode prevents the flash from going off prematurely when the TTL flashgun fires its pre-flash. In my testing, the flash was not able to detect the TTL preflash & kept strobing in sync with the preflashes. So the Slave 2 mode is pointless. Further, the flash when in Slave 1 or Slave 2 mode cannot be triggered when mounted on camera. This takes a bit of getting used to.
The optical slave is accurate & it did not misfire once indoors. Outdoors under bright sun & even under shade, it simply refused to fire. This has been a known occurrence with the optical slave units in the flashguns so I cannot blame Simpex for this. This single(inbuilt optical slave unit) killer feature makes this flashgun a must have in my opinion.
The Simpex Speedlight 522 flashgun even comes with a pull out bounce card & a wide-angle diffuser. Both of them are quite useful however the bounce card has a tendency to creep into the flash head & it can get frustrating to pull it out. If it goes way in, you will need to open the flash-head with a screwdriver to pull it out, so use it with caution.
To add to its plethora of features, the flashgun even offers triggering via pc port which is very convenient than other non-universal ports. For power, one can even(apart from the standard 4 AA batteries) hook this with an AC adapter for faster recycle times. However, recycling times isn’t a issue as this flashgun is ready to go the moment you turn it on. Even on full power, the recycle time is just 3 seconds when used with Sanyo Eneloop 2400mah 1.2V Ni-Mh AA batteries. The recycling is completely silent & there are no beeps when the flash is charged at its desired capacity. In low power, one doesn’t even needs to wait & can keep on firing shots as the flashgun breaks no sweat at all. However, on full & half power, one cannot flash above 20 flashes as the internal flash temperature rises & in order to prevent damage the circuit is switched off. The flash will return to normal when cooled. The user manual describes the number of times one can use the flash at different settings. If you don’t use flash repeatedly at its full power then you need not bother about this.
The flashgun performed to my expectations however I noticed it had a tendency to throw cooler light at times. I did not encountered this behaviour all the times but it is indeed inconsistent when it comes to flash colour temperature.
The Simpex Speedlight 522 flashgun performance surprised me a bit. I did not expected a budget flashgun to provide more than average performance but this succeed in doing so. The features Simpex has managed to put into this flashgun are commendable & are not to be found in any other flashguns at this price point. Sure its not perfect however one can overlook the issue of the feeble build quality of buttons & battery compartments at this price-point. The flash colour temperature issue might not hold true for every unit, if it does then Simpex should have a look into it. Further, they need to work on the Slave 2 mode which as of now is useless. Overall, I have no hesitation to recommend this flash for users who are willing to take their first foray into Flash Photography. It is a tiny dynamite. For seasoned users, this can serve as a decent recruitment in their multi-flash setup or even function decently as a backup flash. In case it dies on you, it won’t hurt much considering its cost. Add this to your camera bag.
P.S : The same flashgun is marketed with different names by different brands viz. Proplus TT 900, Godox TT520 & more. They are all the same when it comes to looks & performance. However there is variation in price by a few hundred rupees across different brands & even when it comes to warranty. While some offer no warranty, some come with a period of six months.