The Metz 50 AF-1 is the current mid-range flash in the Metz lineup and and available as a dedicated flash for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax or Four Thirds.
$ is still not quite cheap, especially when you compare with other third party flashes like a Nissin Di622-II ($) or the Yongnuo YN-565 ($), but the Metz 50 AF-1 comes with an extremely competitive feature set and has a level of digital TTL support that neither of the two others can fully compete with.
It’s an upgraded 48 AF-1, improved with a metal flash foot design, very slightly higher guide number at the 105mm setting (hence the ’50′ in the model name instead of the ’48′ that was used for the precursor flash) and better wide angle coverage down to 12mm – more evolution than a revolutionary new product.
Improvements over Metz 48 AF-1
The optical slave mode (with different functionality depending on the camera version, see further below) is a default feature now – but owners of the Metz 48 AF-1 can add the same functionality through a software update using the built-in USB port – a feature that’s also present on the new flash.
The ability to update the firmware gives peace of mind for future camera generations, especially when it comes to Canon camera bodies. If the flash should not be compatible anymore, you can count on Metz to provide a software update for their customer base. Here’s the link to the Metz flash firmware update page.
The 50 AF-1 is on par with the Canon and Nikon flashes with regards to digital TTL support: you find all the latest bells and whistles such as high speed sync (even in wireless mode), automatic sensor size detection, modeling light, a fully fledged wireless slave mode with free choice of channel and group.
Metz 50 AF-1 vs Canon
Just like a 430EX II or the 320EX the Metz can also be adjusted through the camera menu – which is a relevant factor for Canon users.
Both Canon and Metz are not the leading speedlites when it comes to their ease-of-use. Both units have relatively few and relatively small buttons. The Canon’s buttons are especially tiny, but the ones on the Metz are not huge either, and feel a bit too soft for my taste.
The layout with limited controls means the user is required to go deep into the on-screen menus and sub-menus for adjustments such as the activation of slave mode.
These limitations make flash adjustment through the camera menu system more appealing – you can set the 50 AF-1 faster, and with less cryptic info and symbols, by using the camera back panel screen.
The 50 AF-1 from Metz surpasses the Canon 430 mark II speedlite in terms of maximum power at tele zoom settings: it has guide number 50 (meters) at 105mm, whereas the Canon’s spec state only GN 43. The Canon – which is part of the Speedlights.net collection – however has been measured at GN 48.5 in the test, so don’t expect much difference in reality (assuming the Metz 50 AF-1 is close to its spec in testing, which was observed for the precursor Metz 48 AF-1).
Advantage Metz 50 AF-1 over Canon 430EX II
Other differentiators for the Metz 50 AF-1 include its optical slave mode (with pre-flash suppression in the Canon version of the flash), which the 430 is missing, and that the 50 AF-1 zoom had rotates 300 degrees – 30 deg more than what the Canon model allows. Smaller advantages are a 12mm wide angle coverage, a bounce card, -7 degree negative tilt, and minimum power down to 1/128.
On the other side, the Canon has faster full power recycling and a slightly higher standard wide angle guide number (31 at 35mm versus 29 as for the Metz).
The biggest advantage however is the dual-beam AF-LED that provides a better coverage of the camera’s AF sensors at the frame borders – the Metz 50 AF-1 has only a single-beam AF-assist (dual-beam is reserved to the pro model 58 AF-2), but it comes with a projected grid pattern which means the camera can find correct focus even when contrast is missing.
Metz 50 AF-1 vs Nikon
Here’s how the Metz 50 AF-1 compares to the SB-700, the current mid-range flash from Nikon (at around $ the Nikon is relatively high priced in comparison, and also considerably more expensive than its own precursor SB-600 that was phased out in 2010):
Advantage Metz 50 AF-1 over Nikon SB-700
The Metz 50 AF-1 has slightly more power at 35mm (GN 29 vs GN28) and clearly more bang at the tele position with GN 50 at 105mm for the Metz versus only GN 38 at 120mm for the speedlight from Nikon – but that’s about it with superior features unless you’re shooting analog film: the 50 AF-1 supports the film-based TTL mode whereas Nikon dropped all backwards compatibility with their latest model generation.
If that’s not important to you then the real appeal of this Metz flash is the pricing: the 50 AF-1 is $100 cheaper than the Nikon flash.
But on the other side there are a number of features where the Nikon looks stronger, listed here according to my personal ranking: (1) the Metz 50 AF-1 is not as easy to use with the very menu-heavy use concept; (2) it has only a single-LED AF assist light, and (3) the full power recycling time is slower.
There are more factors pro Nikon, e.g. complete standard accessories (soft bag, stand, diffuser, color filters), full 360 degree swivel flash head, or the better display.
The biggest difference between the 2 speedlites however is that the SB-700 can act as a wireless master in Nikon’s optical flash control system AWL as part of the creative lighting system (CLS). The Metz 50 AF-1, on the other side, works only as a wireless slave. The Metz is absolutely on class standard with this feature set – mid-range flashes don’t have a master mode usually; it’s only the SB-700 that was breaking the rule for the first time.
Go here for the Metz 50 AF-1 vs Nikon SB-700 feature comparison table.
In the $200 price range you find some other speedlites with the highly useful dedicated wireless slave mode: there’s the Nissin Di-622 II for example, and there’s the new YN-565 from Chinese Yongnuo, as well as the 44 AF-1, also from Metz. Another option is the Metz 48 AF-1, still available new at some places but not necessarily cheaper than the 50 AF-1.
Metz 50 AF-1 Highlights
- feature set on par with Canon and almost on par with Nikon flashes, including HSS, sensor size zoom, modeling light etc
- compatible with latest gen flash exposure protocols: E-TTL II, i-TTL BL
- as powerful as 430EX II, stronger than SB-700
- about $100 cheaper than Canon / Nikon competitors
- dedicated remote slave mode with wireless HSS
- good build quality, metal flash foot
50 AF-1: What it’s not
- no master mode – unlike Nikon SB-700
- simpler AF-assist – single-LED design (but with pattern)
- doesn’t come with any accessories, not even a bag or a stand
Compatible Camera Bodies
The Metz 50 AF-1 flash is available in dedicated versions for Canon, Nikon, Olympus/Panasonic/Leica, Pentax and Sony. The table gives an overview of camera compatibility for the Canon and Nikon models.
|Canon cameras||Nikon cameras|
For Canon, ETTL and ETTL (II) bodies can be used – this is the whole range of DSLR. The same holds true for the Nikon system: the 50 AF-1 is compatible with all current and recent Nikon bodies, from the professional series D3 down to the D3100.
It’s worth noting that I’m not aware of Metz flash incompatibilities at this point whereas some other 3rd party flashes do not work with all camera models (see e.g. the Yongnuo – Canon compatibility page). The USB port for firmware updates gives even more peace of mind.
Speedlights.net In-Depth Review of the 50 AF-1
In the meantime, check the Metz 48 AF-1 in-depth review; the 50 AF-1 is a slightly face-lifted successor and very similar in most aspects.
Metz 50 AF-1 Tech Specs Table
The tech specs table shows the performance data for the 50 AF-1.
$model = "'50 AF-1'";