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One item that I missed sorely when moving from the Nikon D50 to the Sony NEX-5 was my SB600 flash. Low light performance on the D50 was seriously lacking. The SB600 nicely filled in for that lackluster performance. Low light performance on the NEX-5 is pretty amazing. I much prefer the look of natural light, so I was excited to move to a camera where a flash wasn't really needed. I shortly found that I missed my old flash. Using bounce flash techniques had spoiled me. I missed the ability to fill a scene with somewhat natural light and reduce shadows.
The NEX-5 comes with a small flash. This flash is adequate. The shadows created were on-par with the on-camera flash on the old D50. I even fashioned a ping pong ball diffuser to lessen the unnatural shadows.
Automatic mode on the NEX attempts to get to 1/30 second shutter speed and will go down to ISO1600. Many photos in this mode turn out blurred with even slight movement. The camera is great when outdoors, but indoor photography suffers. This can be somewhat solved by putting the camera into P mode (or another non-automatic mode) and adjusting to ISO3200. Above ISO3200 introduces much grain and is undesirable to me.
The HVL-F20S solves many problems. The flash comes with a small pouch, diffuser, There are adjustments for direct vs. bounce modes and wide vs. tele modes. The flash doesn't use batteries and uses the smart accessory port for power. I've found somewhat decreased battery life, but I'm comfortable with the trade-off. One benefit is the ability to use the flash with my 18-200mm lens. Sony sells a riser for the included flash for around $70. Without a riser, the flash will create a blackend half circle on the bottom of the image where the light is stopped by the large lens. the HVL-F20S sits much higher than the included flash.
One day in and I'm very pleased with the results. Indoor photography has much improved with this. I'm able to shoot photos of my kids at a much better shutter speeds.
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