Before jumping in with the review of the Metz 26 let’s have a quick look at the main features:-
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 26m/ Focal length coverage – 24mm – 85mm/ Recycling time – 0.3 – 8 secs/ ETTL - Yes/ EV compensation on flash - +/- 3EV/ Slave - Yes/ Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt - None/ Dimensions – 63mm x 85mm x 85mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $140/£75/ Power – 2xAAA batteries
With a guide number of 26m (35mm @ ISO 100) the Metz 26 is one of the least powerful speed lights in its class, however 26m from such a small unit is still pretty impressive. It is worth pointing out that this is at 85mm zoom setting. At the 35mm zoom setting this drops to 20m, and at 24mm it drops further still to 14m. If you can be up close and personal to the subject this should be sufficient power, even shooting at wider focal lengths.
The Metz 26 offers TTL mode so you can effectively attach it to your camera’s hot shoe, turn it on and snap away. If you want to change the power (there are +/-3EV available) you do this adjusting the flash exposure compensation via the camera’s menu. There is also full manual mode where, once again, you select the power via the camera’s menu. The manual power options comprise of 1/1 – 1/128, which isn’t too shabby at all. The Metz 26 can also be used as a TTL slave for an off camera lighting set up, which is pretty cool.
In order to set the mode there are illuminated buttons on the back of the flash but, as stated above, if you want to change the flash power you have to delve in to the flash menu on your camera. Having to change the settings in the camera’s menu and not having a dial or button close to hand is slow and cumbersome (the extent of which depends on your particular brand and model of camera), and if you have to adopt a “run and gun” style of shooting, like I often do, you will miss quite a few shots. That said, if your photography style is slower and/or you can take your time and set everything up before pressing the shutter button having to change the settings in this manner is more of an inconvenience than a deal breaker.
The Metz 26 has a vertically tilting flash head (between 0 and 90 degrees) so you can bounce the light off the ceiling, where the ceilings are low enough of course. The flash head doesn’t tilt horizontally so there is no chance of bouncing the light of side walls or reflectors, which is a limiting factor. This flash does have an integrated diffuser to soften the light, which is a nice touch and works very well.
The build quality of the Metz 26 is pretty good however it isn’t as strong and robust as other speed lights in this class. That said, it feels like it will last, providing you don’t give it too much abuse of course.
The manufacturer sates the 2 x AAA batteries provide enough juice for 100 full power pops, which is oaky but it is not as high as other speed lights in this class some of which kick out 200 pops at full power. That said, using this flash in normal shooting conditions, i.e. not at full power all the time, you will get significantly more than 100 flashes per charge.
The recycle time of the Metz 26 speed light is 0.3 seconds (at 1/128 power) – 8 seconds (at full power). The recycle time at full power is the slowest of all the speed lights in this class, but given it is powered by 2 x AAA batteries this isn’t really surprising. The recycle time is simply too long for my style of shooting and I struggled with it, however other people may not find it such a problem. Only you know if you can live with such long recycle times – it is something you need to think about and consider before parting with your hard earned money though.
The Metz 26 has a video light for recording but since I don’t use my dslr camera to record video footage I can’t comment on how good the light is, or not as the case may be.
The Metz 26 is a small, lightweight and portable speed light that is perfect for travel or for carrying around in a shirt pocket for those times when you need to a kiss of light to lift the shadows. It is also the perfect size for smaller CSC and mirrorless camera systems, and this seems to be what the Metz 26 speed light was designed for. Yep, this speed light is available for almost every camera manufacturer out there – see the availability section at the end of this review for more detail.
The Metz 26 is priced at the bottom end of the market for speed lights in this class, but it isn’t exactly cheap as there are several speed lights out there costing a lot less. The thing is, there aren’t many speed lights that are as small, light and as powerful as the Metz 26 for less money. All thing considered the Metz 26 isn’t great value for money, but then if you want small and powerful there aren’t too many options and you will have to pay through the nose for it.
Alternatives to the Metz 26 speed light
Nissin i40 (full review here)
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 27m / Focal length coverage – 24mm – 105mm / Recycling time – 0.1 – 4 secs/ ETTL - Yes / EV compensation on flash - +/- 2EV / Slave - Yes / Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt – 0 – 180 degrees/ Dimensions – 100mm x 50mm x 50mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $230/£155/ Power – 4xAA batteries
Godox TT350 (full review here)
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 36m/ Focal length coverage – 24mm – 105mm/ Recycling time – 0.1 – 2.2 secs/ ETTL - Yes/ EV compensation on flash - +/- 3EV/ Slave - Yes/ Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Dimensions – 140mm x 62mm x 38mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $85/£70/ power – 2xAA batteries
Canon 270EX (full review here)
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 27m/ Focal length coverage – 28mm – 50mm/ Recycling time – 0.1 – 4 secs/ ETTL - Yes/ EV compensation on flash - No/ Slave - Yes/ Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt - No/ Dimensions – 77mm x 66mm x 65mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $170/£180/ power – 2xAA batteries
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.