Metz 58 AF-2 Speedlite Flash

The 58 AF-2 is the latest = current model in the professional series of flash units from German manufacturer Metz. It was announced in August 2010 and replaces the ’58 AF-1 digital’ introduced back in 2006.

Metz mecablitz flash 58 AF-2 for CanonThe list of upgrades is not too long and the new flash is clearly an evolution step rather than a revolutionary new model, but that’s just proof for a strong pedigree.

Improvements over the precursor “AF-1″ include a metal flash foot with quick lock mechanism instead of the traditional plastic locking wheel and plastic flash foot, an extended wide angle coverage down to 12mm and a non-TTL optical slave mode.


Improvements over 58 AF-1

  • metal flash foot
  • quick lock mechanism
  • 12mm coverage with wide panel
  • optimized slave sensor location (located on the left side)
  • improved construction (according to Metz)
    •  

Metz also claims an improved construction and flash tube design but some actual users (see here for example) still tend to call the Metz “a bit delicate” and I would agree that the construction is maybe a tad behind the Canon or Nikon pro-level standards (i.e. the Canon 580 / Nikon SB-900).

But with a high guide number, wireless master mode and external power socket the 58 AF-2 is undoubtedly a professional tool, and that is also reflected in the purchase price of $400 (as of October 2011; check amazon, eBay or adorama).

That’s certainly not cheap but still around $50-$100 less than what you pay for the Canon 580EX II or Nikon SB-900 respectively. Another factor is that both SB-900 as well as the 580EX II not only have strengths but also their weak spots – e.g. thermal cutoff for the former or the ease-of-use in the Canon case. Can the 58 AF-2 compete on the feature front against the camera manufacturers’ speedlites?

Metz 58 AF-2 with Canon 580EX II and Nikon SB-900

Let’s start with some features unique to the Metz – neither Canon nor Nikon have this:

    • The Metz features a 2nd flash tube on the front side of the body. This feature is useful for indirect flash, e.g. bouncing the main flash off the ceiling. This technique of ‘bouncing’ softens the illumination to avoid the ‘flat’ look but tends to produce dark eyes (raccoon eyes) due to the high angle – the light simply can’t fully reach into the eye sockets. The 2nd direct flash lets you open these shadows and gives a nice catch light.
    • The battery warning indicator shows up when power starts running low, and not only after power ran out as for the Nikon and Canon flashes. This gives you a chance to put in new batteries before you run dry.
    • Manual mode down to 1/256 while both Canon and Nikon have 1/128 as the minimum step. Can be interesting for macro photography.
    • Finally there’s the additional ‘extended zoom’ mode where the flash keeps a wider beam than in regular zoom to help against light falloff in the corners. Less light loss means less vignetting effect in the picture (extended zoom is not to be confused with “sensor size zoom’ which is also available on the Metz).

     

    Metz 58 AF-2 vs Canon

    In terms of power there’s no real real difference between Canon and Metz: They both come with GN 36 / 35 at 35mm wide angle and 58 / 58 at the tele end. The Metz 58 AF-2 is also fully integrated into the Canon E-TTL II flash exposure protocol and can be controlled from the camera menu system.

    58 AF-2 vs 580EX IIIt has all high-end TTL features such as modeling light, sensor size zoom and so forth, although it must be noted that its wireless master mode does not support HSS as I verified with my own unit – The Canon 580 doesn’t know that limitation (neither does the Nissin Di866 in the new Mark II version).

    But there are also some differences between the 2 units. For some strange reason there is no PC sync socket installed on the Metz. It also lacks the weather sealed foot (a controversial feature of the 580 as it tends to cause contact problems with the accessory shoe).

    The third Canon advantage is a 360 degree swivel flash head whereas the Metz has a range from -180 to +120 degrees so it can’t do the full circle. Overall, the Canon appears also more sturdy and rugged compared to the Metz. Finally, the ‘quick ratio’ wireless feature of the Canon is also not present at Metz (you can achieve the same results by manually adjusting flash exposure compensation or manual output, but it’s not as convenient).

    Advantage 58 AF-2 vs 580EX II

    • 2nd reflector
    • optical slave mode
    • recycling “beep”
    • 1/256 minimum power in manual mode
    • multi-step battery warning
    • ‘extended zoom’ mode
      •  

    One of the Metz 58 advantages is an additional optical slave sensor mode (in addition to the E-TTL II wireless mode) allowing to trigger the Metz with another light source. It’s a so-called “digital slave” or “pre-flash suppression” slave mode in the ETTL version of the 58 AF-2. It’s therefore not working with simple, non-digital studio flash or a manual flash – you wonder a bit where the point is; a simple optical slave mode would be more useful.

    Apart from the other factors mentioned above such as 1/256 min power, extended zoom mode, 2nd reflector etc. the last noteworthy treat is the optional acoustic recycling signal or “beep” which is missing at Canon. I learned to appreciate the acoustic signal on Nikon’s and later also Yongnuo flashes and like them a lot as an additional check.
     

    58 AF-2 compared with Nikon

    Let’s have a look now at the specs of the big speedlight from Nikon. Again, both SB-900 and 58 AF-2 are powerful units with a comparable guide number of 34 / 35 at the 35mm wide angle setting and 56 / 58 at maximum zoom – the Metz is even a tad stronger as can be seen from the data, although that’s not by a lot.

    Metz vs Nikon 58 AF-2 vs SB-900They do also both function as master flash (not 100% sure about the master functionality (or lack thereof) in HSS mode for the Nikon version, I have the Canon version here only). Both can be used as wireless slave in Nikon’s advanced wireless system AWL also.

    The light sensor of the SB-900 has shown exceptional range in the Speedlights.net tests (with a maximum range of 46 meters) and it’s yet to be proven that Metz can compete – but maybe it does (Metz has installed the sensor in a better location than on the precursor “AF-1″); I just have not tested it yet.

    Advantage 58 AF-2 vs SB-900

    • 2nd reflector
    • 1/256 minimum power in manual mode
    • backwards compatible with analog TTL and D-TTL
    • multi-step battery warning
    • ‘extended zoom’ mode
      •  

    2nd reflector and 1/256 speak for the 58 AF-2; but that’s about it when it comes to advantages for the Metz – apart from the non-issue with thermal cutoff or “fat flash foot” grievances with early SB-900′s.

    Things are a bit different when you shoot analog film; in that case the SB-900 won’t work with your cam (except F6); only Metz flashes are backwards compatible with old Nikon bodies from before 2004 (first gen digital SLR models and all analog camera bodies except the aforementioned Nikon F6).

    But for the users of modern cameras the SB-900 has a pretty long list of arguments on its side: faster recycling, triple beam AF assist, wider zoom range, more direct keys e.g. for wireless mode, PC sync, adjustable illumination patterns, automatic color filter detection, full 360 degree swivel, and more standard accessories (including a higher quality soft case).

    Metz 58 AF-2 Alternatives

    Alternatives to the 58 AF-2 include the SB-900 and SB-800 from Nikon, or the 580EX and 580EX II from Canon, depending on which camp you’re in. Due to the fact that the face-lift was minor you might also find the Metz 58 AF-1 a good choice at a lower price point.

    Nikon flash with Metz Nissin Sigma Canon speedlite

    You find even more pro flash alternatives at Sigma (EF-610 DG Super or the precursor EF-530 DG Super) and Nissin (Di866 Mark II or the precursor Di866 which can be seen in the center of the above picture).

    Check the “flash for Canon” and “flash for Nikon” recommendation lists for a complete overview of current digital TTL accessory flash units.

    58 AF-2 Highlights

    • feature set very close to camera manufacturers’ flagship models
    • master mode, dedicated slave mode, built-in optical slave
    • high guide number
    • unique 2nd flash reflector for fill flash

     

    What it’s not

    • no PC sync
    • not the fastest recycling flash on the market
    • wireless master mode does not work in HSS / FP Sync mode

     

    Compatible Camera Bodies

    The following table gives an overview of camera compatibility in the Canon and Nikon systems. If in doubt visit the flash compatibility page at Metz.de.

     Canon compatibility  Nikon compatibility
    The 58 AF-2 can be used with all digital SLR cameras from Canon in ETTL mode for first gen camera bodies and ETTL(II) with the current models. Depending on your camera you might need to update the firmware of the flash (T3i users had to do this, for example). Thanks to the built-in USB port it’s something you can easily do at home so no need to send it in or go to a store.

    The wireless E-TTL slave feature requires an EOS body with built-in commander flash such as the Canon 600D or the Canon 7D, an external speedlite commander Canon ST-E2 or the Yongnuo ST-E2 clone, or another digital TTL speedlite with master mode.

    When it comes to Nikon camera bodies the Metz, with the 3 TTL modes film-base TTL, D-TTL, and the current i-TTL and i-TTL BL, can be used with any DSLR ever made and even film-based camera bodies.

    The wireless i-TTL slave feature requires a Nikon “D” body with built-in commander flash such as the D70 / D80 / D90 / D7000 (among others), the external commander SU-800 or another digital TTL speedlite with master mode.

    Speedlights.net In-Depth Review

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    Metz mecablitz 58 AF-2 Tech Specs Table

    The tech specs table shows the performance data for the 58 AF-2.
     

    Model Information
    Brand Metz
    Model 58 AF-2 digital
    First introduction 2010
    Successor none yet
    Output Specs
    Guide number spec
    (35mm, ISO 100, in meters)
    35
    Guide number test result ?
    Manual power settings 1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64 – 1/128 – 1/256
    Flash duration (full power) 1/125
    Recycle time spec
    (at full power)
    5 sec alkaline, 5 sec NiMH
    Recycle time test result ?
    Triggering
    Flash foot material, type metal, standard ISO
    PC Sync Port no
    Optical Slave yes
    Other Trigger wireless TTL slave sensor
    Trigger Voltage safe (not tested)
    Standby Mode 10 min, but can be deactivated
    Flash Head Features
    Swivel -180 to +120 degrees
    Tilt -7 to +90 degrees
    Manual Zoom Head (12) 24 – 105
    Auto Zoom (12) 24 – 105
    Bounce card / 2nd reflector yes / yes
    LCD Display yes (dot matrix)
    Power Supply
    Batteries Used 4 x AA
    External Power Source Power Pack P76
    Nikon TTL
    D-TTL yes (Nikon version)
    i-TTL yes (Nikon version)
    CLS Wireless Slave yes (Nikon version)
    CLS Wireless Master yes (Nikon version)
    Canon TTL
    E-TTL(II) yes (Canon version)
    E-TTL(II) wireless slave yes (Canon version)
    E-TTL(II) wireless master yes (Canon version)
    Other Flash Modes
    Stroboscopic Mode yes
    Auto Mode yes
    TTL Features
    AF Assist Light yes (dual beam)
    Exposure Compensation in TTL Mode on the Flash unit -3 to +3 EV
    Rear Curtain Synchronization yes
    High Speed Synchronization yes
    Sensor Size Detection (DX, FX, etc) yes
    Modeling Light yes

    Where to buy the 58 AF-2 flash from Metz

    Get your new Metz speedlite from amazon or adorama. It helps maintaining and expanding this website if you buy through these links. Thank you.

    Check also the prices on eBay where you don’t only find the current 58 AF-2 but also the previous model 58 AF-1 and other flashes.
     
    58 AF II back display Metz

7 Responses to Metz 58 AF-2 Speedlite Flash

  1. Sukh Sagar Pathak says:

    good product

  2. Ort says:

    Compared to Panasonics own flashes for the MFT system this flash seem to be a great bargain, both cost wise and spec wise.

  3. Great flash :-) , running it on the d90.
    For a reasonable price compared to Nikon (€349 vs €419). All features that I discovered work, and remote is big fun! Second flash, more range and difference in price were the most important reasons for me….

  4. David Butcher says:

    I bought my Metz 58 AF-1 N about 1 year ago. Initially, it used to take about 35 flashes on a set of 2600 mAh rechargeable batteries, but this has regularly dropped to the current state of 3 or 4 flashes on a set of 3600 mAH rechargeables (it shows that the batteries are flat even immediately after a freshly fully charged set are inserted – and I have tried with over 12 different sets of rechargeable batteries, all of which work perfectly in my other flashguns !!). The dealer has checked the Metz and tried to assure me that it is not faulty !! Very disappointed, I am about the throw away my Metz 58 and replace it with the Nikon SB900 that I iwsh I had bought last yar instead.

  5. Ruben Parker Jr says:

    It’s interesting to read about a few things about the 58AF2 but I would like to see a FULL review of the flash.
    rubenpjr40

  6. C Hall says:

    Switched from Canon 580ex to 58AF2 for two main reasons. First was the secondary twinkle flash and second the biggest reason was that the 58AF2 did NOT require a set of AA batteries to operate the external Quantum Battery. The Canon requires a good set of AA batteries for the Quantum battery to operate, which is a bad design. Love the Metz exceed for the build quality is less than the Canon, especially the head unit (rotation and angle setting). Maybe the 58AF3 will address its shortcomings.

  7. Joseph Maas says:

    Almost all flash guns does not work properly with independent company rechargeable batteries! I have Metz 45 CL and can only confirm this phenomena, my fiends from C and N says me the same story. I have solved the problem buying original Metz rechargeable battery pack – pretty expensive but it works perfectly!!! I can only recommend it!
    - David – if you wont to throw your Metz please let me know – I can take it with pleasure!

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