Vivitar 285 HV Flashes

285 HV

  • Guide Number: 120 (ISO100/ft.)
  • Control flash distance range and depth of field with four auto f/stop settings
  • Vertical bounce
  • Built-in variable power for convenient fill flash and rapid sequence photography
  • Removable sensor

  • User Reviews (38)

    Showing 1-10 of 38  
    Brian Sotile   Intermediate [Mar 04, 2013]
    Strength:

    Solid, dependable speedlight work horse.

    Weakness:

    Battery Compartment

    Excellent, around flash, especially for use off camera with soft box.

    Customer Service

    Great

    Similar Products Used: Bower
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Aaron Michael Miller   Professional [Oct 23, 2012]
    Strength:

    High Power, Low Price, Reliability, Simplicity, Irreplaceablity.

    Weakness:

    Plastic foot eventually cracks under heavy duty use with light stands... but can be upgraded with after-market metal foot replacements.

    I'm excited to write a review because I love these things with a passion! They were designed 40+ years ago, and amazingly I can't find anything better on the market for anywhere near the price. I've been putting 283s and 285s on light stands for professional weddings for more than 7 years. The capability of the metered light output is priceless. Set the light stand in place as a main, fill, background, and/or hair light and let it do the rest. If the light isn't bright enough, turn it up a notch. Once it's set you can move it around your subject and it will adjust itself to repeatedly produce the same exposure so you don't have to think about it.
    Best of all, for the price, they're practically disposable. A light stand at a wedding has a rough job. Constantly being moved, bumped, knocked over by parentless children... I've seen my 285s smack the tile many times. Usually they're fine, but when they're not, no biggie! I'll make a face like I just lost an $800 stobe... and then go grab one of my 3 backups.

    Similar Products Used: Vivitar 283
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Zuazua   Intermediate [Aug 30, 2008]
    Strength:

    Price ($50 ebay), POWERFUL... MOD(able) (is that a word?)

    Weakness:

    No swivel, does recharge its self by the morning?

    I've read, and read, and read, and when I thought I was ready to buy I was outbid.. so I read and read, and bid and read, and FINALLY I got one.
    It arrived with some old velcro and that velcro leftover residue on it but a little HIGH CONCENTRATION cleaning wipes took it right off.
    Been using it around the house for some fun effects STROBIST Style:
    please visit: http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/
    I love it... hehehehe

    Customer Service

    Havent used, but Sigma responds to all me dumbass questions, its fun

    Similar Products Used: I've used the Sigma EF 500 DG ST and the Sigma EF-500 DG Super. The Super wins HANDS DOWN
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    standardtheme   Professional [Jul 10, 2008]
    Strength:

    Big bright bang for the buck and can be dialled back to 1/16.

    Weakness:

    Beware! the Vivitar shoe mount contacts on top/bottom of shoe, not side as with most other flashes. This means it will not work through the shoe of the cheap wireless triggers (PT04 ) available on ebay :-( It will sync using PC cable though and the PT04s have this :-)
    The shoes connect OK with those cheap optical triggers however.
    A small annoyance but soaked up time and happiness figuring it out.

    Powerful, controllable flash. I'm using several of these for real estate interiors. Power on full and scales back to 1/16, they have good zoom and come with a good wide diffuser lens.
    Pretty manual flash but that's how I use 'em anyway ;-)

    Customer Service

    n/a

    Similar Products Used: Misc other strobes battery and mains powered. Name brands and not.
    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Marc2B4   Professional [Mar 27, 2006]
    Strength:

    Simple straight forward design; I've used a 285 for over 25 years. It just keeps on working. It's a piece of equipment you can depend on time after time.

    Weakness:

    Top heavy when mounted on a camera body, the hot shoe will break if you're not careful. This baby will chew up AAs, so buy rechargable NiCads.

    The 285HV is a timeless classic. It just works

    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    beatsme   Intermediate [May 30, 2005]
    Strength:

    Lots of power With an extension cable for the sensor you can use it off camera Dirtcheap! Consistent exposure (better than some "name brand" products) Very economical on batteries The battery tray is rather nifty. Have a second one, and changing batteries goes on the fly duing a shooting.

    Weakness:

    Having the settings scale on the side of the flash bothers me a bit. I don't trust the plastic shoe much(cries "made in China" too loud), but can be replaced with a metal shoe.

    This flash offers a lot of bang for the buck. I use it on my three Nikon bodies, without any problem. For a close fill flash it is a bit too powerful, but a normal distance to your subject gives you a dead on exposure. The made in China, and some negative experiences with some other Vivitar products lately scared me off a bit, but I'm happy with that flash like a pig in the mud. If you miss TTL: Never mind, the auto settings of this flash are as good! I measured the triggervoltage to be 8 volts, so it only seems to harm Canons.

    Customer Service

    I guess, when that thing breaks I throw it away ... it has made its money already

    Similar Products Used: Sunpak AF 4000Z, Sunpak 622 Super, and smaller Nikon and Metz flashes
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Yau   Expert [Jun 24, 2004]
    Strength:

    Powerful output for size/price; Even coverage from 35mm onwards; Good range of accessories (but hard to locate); Use normal AA batteries (versus the Nikon SB-50DX's CR123 batt); Fast recycling, even with Alkaline batt; Consistent output; Accurate exposure (be it on analogue or digicam).

    Weakness:

    No swivel head; Dial is not lit/viewable in darkness; Possibly weak foot; Hard to locate accessories in Singapore (but can order online).

    Tonnes of postive reviews here, so I will just reaffrim that this is a fantastic flash. I bought a Stofen Omni Bounce to go with it, and the results are great. (Read on web about someone who used Rubbermaid juice container as STOFEN-like diffuser on a 285HV) I will just add here that the newer 285HV has a trigger voltage of 12V (as told by Vivitar on http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html), and the older 285 has a voltage of 350V. Some digicam makers (e.g. Canon) state that their digicams should only take 6V trigger, although my Panasonic FZ10 is officially cleared to accept 24V or less (as according to ISO 10330 spec). Giving it a 4 for the lack of a swivel head; otherwise a near-perfet flash.

    Similar Products Used: Nikon SB-50DX, Sigma EF-500 Super, Canon 420EX, Metz 45CL-1
    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    trevor_little   Expert [Apr 04, 2004]
    Strength:

    ~POWERFUL! ~versitile (gives you lots of control over aperature) ~really accurate sensor ~great price (can get them real cheap on the used market)

    Weakness:

    ~although i havent had any trouble, i could see myself breaking the shoe off this thing.

    When I blew up my first 285hv while trying to make a remote sensor cable (yeah its a funny story), i did not hesitate when buying a new one. If you are reading these reviews to decide between the 283 and the 285, I'd definatly invest the extra money and get the 285 (i own both)

    Customer Service

    none

    Similar Products Used: 2600, 283
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Bill   Casual [Aug 31, 2003]
    Strength:

    Sturdy. four auto-trysister settings. easy to change auto-settings. If you buy a recently made model, it is well worth the price

    Weakness:

    Older models have high voltage (see www.photo.net for discussions.)Cannot swivel, unlike newer competitor Sunpak 383

    Excellant flash for the money. One potential problem is the older models of this flash have very high voltage, enough to try an electronic camera like my ELAN II. I used it as a fill light or main light on a light stand. (triggered by a $20 optical slave.) Sturdy except for plastic shoe mount. Various companies make metal shoe mounts for this product (usually for $40 to $50.) One more auto-trysister setting than the Sunpak 383. I prefer the newer Sunpak 383.

    Customer Service

    Not needed

    Similar Products Used: Sunpak 383, Sunpak 422, Sunpak 544.
    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    4
    mindseyephoto   Professional [Feb 12, 2003]
    Strength:

    Versitility, sheer power, adjustability,

    Weakness:

    foot, no swivel for use on my 35mm

    Superb flash. One of the best I've ever used. Lights up a gym from one end to the other with little difficulty (with a wide enough aperature). Zoom-thyristor is great and built in meter is usually dead-on if used in full-auto (red) mode. While it is a tank, mine has taken a beating that other flashes would have died over (the Timex of flashes, takes a licking...oh, you know what I mean). I even use it on my auto everything 35mm (in manual mode of course) because I prefer how the pictures turn out and my auto-everything flash cannot be used in manual mode. But where it is especially impressive, is on my RB-67 shooting a wedding. The flash pictures can be enlarged to 16-20 without any noticable increase in grain do to low light. However, I'm certain the bride has a deeper tan by the time I am done shooing the event with that bad-boy. I just wish that I could give 7 out of 5 stars.

    Similar Products Used: Canon 277T, Canon 420EX, Quantaray QTB-9500
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Showing 1-10 of 38  

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