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Sony HVL-F42AM flash quick review


Contents of box, velcro on flash head not included.
LCD lit up, showing available settings



Specifications and general information.



Sony HVL-F42AM  Discontinued in 2011.

Owner's manual

Sony ESupport for HVL-F42AM  Go here and click on the 'manuals, specs and warranty' tab.


MSRP $299

Tested on

Sony A580, Sony A900.

In the box

Flash, stand, vinyl pouch and instructions.

Build quality

Very good all around.

Weather sealing?


Hotshoe style

Sony proprietary type 

Guide number

42 (138') ISO 100, @105mm zoom position, and 35 (112') at 50mm zoom.

Guide number accuracy

Maximum output seems similar to other models with same rating.

Stated color temperature

Not stated.

LCD monitor

No LCD, but has panel with illuminated settings.  2" x 1.2" (53mm x 30mm).  Has battery indicator, zoom length with wide panel down indicator, power levels, HSS, wireless channels, and auto levels.

Lights and switches

On-off slider, test/charge button, select buttons for mode, HSS, level and zoom.

Power source

4 AA, 1.5V

Recycle time

About 3 sec at 1/1. Half-power (1/2) recharge is almost instantaneous for a couple of pops, then it slows down.

Flash duration rating

No info.

Power saving function

Yes, 30sec, 3min, 30min and none.  Wireless flash mode power save can be set to 60min or none.

Adjustable power levels

Six full levels only; Auto, 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, and 1/32.

Wide angle diffuser type

Built-in, pulls out and down, covers 16mm, (11mm APS-C) and shows on display when attached (Wide).

Bounce card or reflector plate

Not included.

Bounce positions

45°, 60°, 75°, and 90°.

Swivel positions

Left, 30°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°, - right, 30°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°, 120°, 150°, 180°.

Zoom positions

Auto, wide (16mm), 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 105mm.

Zoom type

Internal, and fully automatic in auto mode.

Auto format zoom

Yes, the flash knows what focal length the lens is at, either full frame or APS-C format.

AF assist beam

Yes, red, works properly.

Custom functions

Five settings may be changed.  Wireless CH1/CH2.  Time to power save-30sec, 3min, 30min, none.  Time to power save when using wireless flash; 60min/none.  Recording modes in which manual flash may be set.  Brightness setting of the display, bright/dark.



White balance info


Modeling flash


Multi-flash emission


High speed sync

Yes, to 1/4000.

Wireless ability


Sony ADI support


Red eye reduction

Not supported by Sony.


3.0"W x 6.4H x 2.4D   76mm x 162mm x 62mm   Maximum length 6.4" (162mm) including shoe mount.  Length and depth measured with flash flat.


11.8oz (335g) without batteries, 15.5oz (439g) with batteries.

Operating temp

0°-40°C,  32°-104°F


Will work with Radiopoppers™ triggers with Sony cable adapter or other connection, but needs to be mounted on camera first, with both (camera and flash) turned off, then both turned on, then flash is taken off camera and attached to receiver. 
If power save turns power off, you must do this again.  Advice; turn off power save when using radio flash triggers.
Flash will fire even if it isn't charged sufficiently, so check the charge indicator before shooting, otherwise you may wind up with the wrong exposure.  It does this so you won't miss a shot waiting for the flash to fully charge.


Can be custom set for full manual use in all recording modes, even "auto." 
Flash is automatically turned off when camera power is turned off, then back on if flash is still switched on.

Good for

everything, it's easy to use, and great for beginners.

Not good for

No real negatives.


Highly recommended, but not available new.  Replaced with HVL-F43AM in early 2011.