I just noticed that Sony has sliced $100 off the list price of the HVL-F36AM flash unit over at Sony Style. The F36AM has carried a list price of $299, ever since Sony acquired Minolta’s assets and re-badged the Minolta 3600HS(D) as the Alpha HLV F36AM.
Today, the Sony Style page has a line through the $299 price and a $199 price tag appears next to it. Sony has not said this is a permanent price reduction, but it look like it might be. Considering the recently introduced HLV-42AM is equal or better than the F36AM in almost every category, and that the F42AM also carries a $299 price tag, Sony couldn’t have been selling many F36AM units. Who would buy the F36AM when they could buy the F42AM for the same price?
Besides the difference in guide numbers, (36 of the old flash, 42 for the new) the F42AM has a greater zoom range, swivels 180 degrees and offers white balance assist. Even more importantly, the F42AM offers manual control, while the F36AM can only be controlled by the camera. With all the extras the F42AM offers, the F36AM was really starting to look over priced. Knocking A hundred bucks off makes it start to look much more attractive.
Naturally, I would prefer the extra swivel and the manual control of the F42AM, especially if it was my primary flash unit. But the lower price of the F36AM is good news for any Alpha dSLR shooter.
The F36AM is compatible with the F42AM and F56AM wireless flash units, so if you are trying to assemble a multiple wireless flash set up, the cost of entry just got less expensive. You could pair a couple of F36AM with a F42Am or F56AM main units and have a very nice wireless setup. Neither the F36AM or the F42AM can be used to control a wireless setup, so you would need to either use the camera’s built in flash or use a F56AM as a master.
The lower price of the F36AM is also a bonus to Alpha shooters who want an external flash but just couldn’t justify laying out $300 for the privilege. All of a sudden, it is possible to buy a Sony brand flash for less than $200.
I would want the manual and swivel features that come with the F42AM. Still, for those just starting out, the F36AM does provide many good features. The head doesn’t swivel, but is does pivot so you can use bounce flash. It features ADI, so a Sony Alpha dSLR can control it from the hot shoe. It also has autofocus assist lamp, enhancing focusing in dim light. And if you purchase the FA-CS1AM flash shoe from Sony, you can add a cable socket to the F36AM, giving you off camera flash capability.
This fills a big hole in the Sony flash lineup, especially for those just starting out. You either had to spend a princely sum on a Sony branded flash, or try to cobble up something off ebay that you hoped would work with the Sony/Minolta hot shoe.
If Sony extend the price cuts to dealers, many of which discount equipment below the suggested list price, you may be able to pick up a Sony brand ADI flash for well under $200.
I like it.