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Review posted 07/14/04

The Zenon MagneFlash 68Plus is a flat-panel electronic flash unit for use with digital or film cameras.   It's a self-contained, slave-activated flash unit with a 6 x 8 inch metal-backed optical panel that's only 1/8th of an inch thick. The MagneFlash can also be triggered directly via wired connection from the camera's PC sync port or flash hot shoe.

The MagneFlash 68Plus outputs a wide-angled spread of 5600°K light, the same color temperature as daylight, so it can be used as a fill source with mixed daylight illumination. It is ideal for illuminating objects photographed at close range, especially highly reflective objects. Two or more MagneFlash's can be used to provide softbox-quality light for studio portraits.

The light output is sufficient to use an F5.6 aperture @ 1.5m at ISO 200. You can produce professional looking product photography with one or two of these flash units and a seamless background. The sample photos (see below) were created using only one MagneFlash, two or more will give you even better results by totally eliminating all directional shadows.

The MagneFlash 68Plus is reasonably priced at 113.74, which at the time of this review translated to approx. $210 USD.

Last year we reviewed Zenon's smaller (5x7") MagneFlash 57, it provides F8 illumination @ 0.5m at ISO 200 and is about $100 USD less expensive than the MagneFlash 68Plus.

Let's turn these flashes sideways so you can see how thin they really are.

Direct, on-camera flash is harsh, reflective and wreaks havoc on the exposure system. The solution is to cover the camera's flash with one of the included infrared filters and use only the diffused light from the MagneFlash.

For cameras lacking a PC sync port or hot shoe, it's triggered by an infrared sensor when it "sees" the camera's flash fire. The builtin flash light is now invisible thanks to the IR filter. You can also leave the built-in flash uncovered and use both flash units when desired.

MagneFlash 68 Plus

If your camera is equipped with a PC flash sync port or flash hot shoe, the MagneFlash can be connected and triggered via wire like any other flash. Additional MagneFlash units will be wirelessly triggered by their IR sensors when the master flash fires.

MagneFlash 68 Plus

If you look at the back of the MagneFlash 68Plus you'll see that it is divided into three channels. Each of these channels can be set independantly for HI or LO power output to cope with lighting tricky subjects. At 1.5m (5 ft.) the area of coverage is over 3m (9 ft.) on HI power.

The MagneFlash 68 is powered by a built-in NiMH rechargeable battery, it's good for about 300 flashes per charge. The recycle time is ~5 seconds with a fully charged battery. The battery can be charged in ten hours or less with the included AC charger. The battery is internal and not removable.

MagneFlash 68 Plus kit

The MagneFlash 68 Kit1 includes: One MagneFlash68Plus, Mains Charger, IR Trigger Filters, Sync.lead with choice of PC Camera Plug or Hot-shoe Adaptor, Instructions, (UK, US or Euro Chargers available.)

Click here to order a MagneFlash 68 or to get more information

Steve's conclusion

I fell in love the MagneFlash 57 and only wished that it had greater range for portrait work. Apparently I was not the only one that wanted to see a BIGGER version of this incredibly versatile flash unit. The Zenon folks answered our request with the new MagneFlash 68 and its 6 x 8-inch illumination panel and three adjustable output light channels. Using two or more of these flashes it's now possible to produce studio-quality diffused lighting for portrait work at five or more feet away from the subject. And believe me, they're a lot easier to move around than big studio strobes and softbox frames.

If you're doing product photography, the MagneFlash will pay for itself in no time. You'll never want to go back to using a harsh, direct flash again. And once you start using it you'll find all sorts of other uses for it. It makes a great daylight fill flash to eliminate or soften up shadows on people and other close subjects. Just look at the sample photos below, they speak volumes for what this flash can really do.

The builtin infrared slave trigger only works with cameras that emit a single-pulse flash. The vast majority of the digicam flashes do but not all of them, some Olympus and Minolta cameras use a pre-flash pulse and these can't be used. Some of these cameras can be put into "fill" or "manual" flash mode and will trigger the MagneFlash 68 properly. If in doubt about your camera, be sure to ask before placing your order.

Give one of these unique flashes a go and it will soon become a lighting tool that you can't do without. If you're a really serious photographer I can guarantee that you'll quickly order a second or third MagneFlash unit, they're just too darn handy to have only one.

MagneFlash 68 Sample Photos

MagneFlash pictures on the left -- on the right is built-in flash only

All pictures taken with an Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom in Manual mode at F5.6 - F8 at ISO 100 and 200 with the built-in flash set to Auto, white balance on automatic and a shutter speed of 1/60 second. The product photos were taken at a range of about 2.5 feet, the portrait shot was taken at about 6 feet. We used the hot shoe adapter to trigger the MagneFlash from the C-8080's flash shoe.

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