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Bob Martin tests the Sunpak 16R Pro ringflash.
A budget ringflash with a guide number of 16 at ISO100 and one circular flash tube.
Sunpak 16R Pro Ring Flash: Features
Unlike many other affordable ring flashes, the SunPak 16R Pro has a perfectly circular ring flash without any breaks or using multiple tubes. You can honestly describe it as a true ring flash.
Despite its small size, it packs an impressive punch with a guide number of 16 at ISO 100, which is more than enough for macro work and just about right for basic fashion lighting too. Another standout feature is that there is a basic level of auto control on offer but it’s nowhere near as accurate as the TTL offered on standard flashes but you will find it useful when you need to work really fast or are just starting out with manual flash settings.
In the box you will find three filter thread adaptors supplied as standard: 58mm, 62mm and 72mm, while there are other sizes available up to 77mm so you shouldn’t have any compatibility problems with most lenses. The length of the cable to attach the ring to the power pack seems excessively long when you have it connected to the camera but it’s just long enough to start experimenting with off-axis ringflash too by simply holding the flash off to the side of your subject.
Sunpak 16R Pro Ring Flash: Handling
The fact that you can only get the most of the flash while in manual mode means that you have to be on the ball with exposures, both with the camera and on the flash. Thankfully the 16R Pro makes this fairly easy to do, with the only fiddly part of the equation comes from a long way around to change the ISO setting on the flash. The most important thing for accurate flash exposures is the distance/power scale which is easy to read if you are familiar with how it works.
With the adaptor ring fixed to your lens, the flash easily attaches to it and a snug fit reassures you that it’s not going to fall off without a fight. Although this is technically a budget option ring flash, it really doesn’t feel like a budget piece of kit. There’s a solid feel to the whole unit but still retains the lightweight advantage over larger rivals.
Sunpak 16R Pro Ring Flash: Performance
We’ve mentioned the guide number of 16 at ISO 100 but what does that actually mean in practical terms? If you set the camera to ISO 100 with an aperture of f/5.6 full power (1/1) flash would light a subject up to three metres away. That’s ideal for full length fashion photography although it’s slow going at seven seconds recycle time between full power flashes and you will only get around 100 before the batteries need changing.
The Sunpak 16R Pro one of the few that really is a true ringflash and the results back this up. As the flash tube is a perfect circle the catch lights are perfect too, which is a distinct advantage over the Ringflash adaptors and other ‘ringflash’ on the market. Although there is that auto setting available, it’s still a manual flashgun if you want to get consistently perfect exposures so you have to work a lot slower than using other flashguns and it can be fairly frustrating until you get use to not having a TTL setting.
Sunpak 16R Pro Ring Flash: Verdict
A lot of photographers are often sceptical about third party flashguns especially when they don’t immediately seem to offer outstanding value for money, as is the case with this model. However, none of the camera manufacturers offer anything close to this handy little gadget so it scores instant points.
If you want some a little bigger or more powerful, you’ll be looking at thousands of pounds rather than hundreds, go again, the Sunpak scores well. At around £329, it’s a solid investment for any creative photographer especially macro fans and those interested in fashion and modern portraiture.
Sunpak 16R Pro Ring Flash: Pros
Compatible with all DSLRs except Sony/Minolta
A true ringflash that offers perfect catchlights
Highly portable and lightweight without skimping on build quality
Sunpak 16R Pro Ring Flash: Cons
The auto mode is limited and you need to use manual for most scenes
It’s unnecessarily fiddly to change the ISO setting on the flash
Sunpak 16R Pro Ring Flash: Specification
|Available for||One mount fits all (except Sony/Minolta)|
|Guide number||16Gn at ISO 100|
|Flash modes||Manual, Multi, Auto|
|Power||4 x AA|
|Recycle time||approx 7.5sec (Ni-MH)|
|No. of full power flashes||approx 100 (Ni-MH)|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||120x120x32mm (head), 75x130x65mm (pack)|
|Weight (without batteries)||150g (head), 300g (pack)|
The Sunpak 16R Pro Ring Flash costs £329.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Sunpak 16R Pro Ring Flash