Steve's Digicams
Hardware Reviews

SR Electronics DSF-1s

Add-On Slave Flash for Digicams

DSF1 on D600L

It isn't long after you buy your digicam before you realize that the builtin flash unit is just not powerful enough for most real-world lighting situations. It's fine for the usual snapshots but if you try to shoot anything beyond 8 feet, forget about it! Digicam manufacturers have to keep the flash units small because the camera is small to begin with and there is a very limited amount of battery power to run both the camera and the flash unit.

The solution is to add an auxilliary flash unit but most digicams do not have the necessary flash sync connector or a hot shoe flash bracket as you find on film cameras. What you need is a cordless slave flash that uses the digicam's flash unit to trigger the outboard flash. You can find slave flash units at the local camera store but they won't work with 90% of the digicams out there. Why? The average digicam uses a double-flash instead of a single flash pulse and this will cause the slave flash to go off at the wrong time.

SR Electronics has built a line of slave flash units and triggers that have special circuitry in them to count the number of flash pulses and trigger the slave flash on the right pulse. The DSF-1s has a switch on the back that lets you set it to be triggered by 1 or 2 flashes. It also has a bounce flash head that is tiltable for more professional looking pictures. It is much preferred to bounce the flash instead of hitting your subject directly with the flash, it produces a more natural looking finished photo.

DSF-1 DigiSlave Flash

The DSF-1 can be used with any digicam by using a simple "L" bracket to hold the unit to the camera. You can get as fancy (and expensive) as you want with the bracket it doesn't really matter. Shown above is my DSF-1s mounted to the Nikon Coolpix 900 using a $10 bracket I found at a local camera store. Besides positioning the flash unit above the lens it also serves as a really stable grip for small digicams.

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This is a before and after shot using the DSF-1s in my living room.

The DSF-1s easily puts out enough light to take pictures in the total darkness at distances of up to 15 to 20 feet from the camera.

Click to download the BIG picture!

Here's a plant out on my back patio taken at about 10pm at night. The same picture taken without the DSF-1s was almost completely black. This was a zoom shoot with a distance to the subject of 14 feet, that white wall in the background was almost twenty-two feet away!

See the full line of
SR Electronics Slave Flashes

Steve's Digi-Rating

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I give the DSF-1s DigiSlave Flash a rating of 5 digicams, it really fills the gap left by the whimpy builtin flash units on most of today's digicams. It can be used with any digicam by setting the switch for 1 or 2 flashes. Off-camera flash units yield a better looking picture without making your subject(s) look flat. The bounce flash capability allows you to evenly fill a room with "balanced" light. The only negative is that it is not controlled by the camera's exposure system so closeups can easily be overexposed.

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Content copyright © 1998 Steve's Digicam Online, Inc.
Thanks to John Cowley for loaning me the left side digicam graphic!