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Sunpak GX8R ring flash review

Sunpak GX8R ring flashThe Sunpak GX8R is a compact ring flash head with a separate battery pack. This design makes the actual flash part much lighter in weight so there’s no strain on the lens. It’s an important thing to consider on modern autofocus cameras lenses where the construction may be a bit flimsy to be supporting a flash of the likes of the Centon MR20 or Vivitar MacroFlash 5000.

The flash was originally sold in the early 80s and comes in a case along with three lens adaptor rings to suit  49mm, 55mm and 58mm filter threads. You could attach it to smaller or larger filter threads using a step up or down ring. Care should be taken using the flash on filter threads larger than 58mm as the hole through the centre of the flash tube is just 50mm so vignetting would occur if a wide-angle is used. The ring screws into the rear of the flash on a rotating flange. This allows the flash to rotate on the lens.Sunpak GX8R ring flash rear view

At the base is a small protruding section with a built in cable that connects to the battery pack and a detachable flash sync cable. There’s also a flash ready indicator and a shorting plug. You can test fire the flash by pressing the flash sync cable against this. The flash tube diameter is  approx 7cm.

Sunpak GX8R ring flash outfit case

Sunpak GX8R ring flash battery

Sunpak GX8R battery packThe battery pack is an upright cylinder measuring 6x6cm and a height of 17cm plus 5mm for the top dial.  The pack takes four C size 1.5v batteries, and can also be powered by the included detachable 22mA AD-17 power adaptor. A carry strap is provided so the pack can be hung over your shoulder.

The overall build doesn’t feel quite so robust as some Sunpak units but it’s fair.

Sunpak GX8R Performance
The unit has a fairly slow recycling time compared with modern unit. When mains powered it’s about 8secs on full power and this doesn’t improve as you reduce the power. With batteries it soon starts to slow down and become annoyingly slow.

The top dial adjusts the flash output in settings for full, half or quarter power although the dial doesn’t have click stops so the flash can be used at any point in between these three settings and the power is set accordingly so finite adjustments can be made. It’s one of those flashguns where the model number indicates the guide number of 8 (ISO100/m)

A leaflet was included to show the flash provides the following coverage:

100-90cm 80cm 70cm 60cm 50cm 40cm 30cm 20cm 10cm
ISO25
F 4 4.3 5 5.6 7 8 11 16 29
H 2.8 3.2 3.5 4 4.5 5.6 7 11 20
Q 2 2.3 2.6 2.8 3.5 4 5.6 8 14
ISO50-64 F 6.5 7 8 9 11 13 16 25 46
H 4.5 5 5.6 6.5 7.2 9 11 17 32
Q 3.2 3.6 4 4.5 5.6 6.5 8 13 28
ISO80-100 F 8 8.5 10.2 11 14 16 22 32 58
H 5.6 6.3 7.1 8 9 11 14 22 39
Q 4 4.6 5.1 5.6 7.1 8 11 16 27
ISO125 F 9 9.4 11.3 12 15.5 18 25 36 64
H 6.2 7 7.8 9 10 12 15 25 53
Q 4.5 5.1 5.6 6 7.8 9 12.5 18 32
ISO160 F 10 11 12.5 14 17.5 20 27.5 40 73
H 7 8 9 10 11.2 14 17.5 27.5 59
Q 5 5.6 6.3 7 8.8 10 13.8 20 37
ISO400 F 16 17 20.5 22 28 32 44 64 116
H 11 13 14.2 16 18 22 28 44 78
Q 8 8.5 10.2 11 14 16 22 32 55

Full (F), Half (H), Quarter (Q) power

The light coverage is even and neutral. Overall quality is very good and certainly on a par with models from the camera manufacturers.

Photographs taken with the Sunpak GX8R

 

Sunpak GX8R photo of apple This shot displays the classic ring flash shadow around the subject
Sunpak GX8R photo of pencils Even illumination and bright
Sunpak GX8R photo of stamps No harshness and even light makes this good for document copying
Sunpak GX8R photo of camera dial This macro flash is good for close ups of cameras and jewellery

Things to check when buying a used Sunpak GX8R
Battery pack for previous leaks and corrosion, Check the springs in the pack and the contacts in the removable battery compartment. Make sure the ready light lights up and the filter ring mount thread isn’t damaged. Also check the tube has no damage and the mains adaptor works correctly. Make sure the power reduction dial is not damaged and the shoulder strap lugs are still solidly fixed. Try the sync cable plugged into a camera to make sure the flash fires.

BUY a used Sunpak GX8R
You can buy a second-hand Sunpak GX8R ring flash with total confidence from PhotographyAttic

 

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