A hammerhead flash unit is an external camera flash that is not attached directly to the camera, and unlike most other flash units, it does not fix onto the top of the camera. A hammerhead flash is normally attached to a special flash bracket which then screws into the camera's tripod mounting, while a TTL module and cable may be attached to the hot shoe fixture on the top of the camera in order to enable the user to accurately measure the light in the image and to check the focus of the shot. The positioning of the hammerhead flash unit on the bracket means that it is situated to the side of the camera. There are several advantages to using a hammerhead flash unit, and there are certain particular types of photography that may benefit greatly from its use.
The off-centre positioning of the hammerhead flash at the side of the camera means that it lessens the chance of the flash causing red eye in the subject of the shot as the flash is not being aimed directly at the subject and is situated away from the central axis of the lens. This makes a hammerhead flash unit the ideal choice for wedding photography or any type of portrait shots. The side positioning of the hammerhead flash unit also gives the photographer the chance to experiment with lighting as it will make it easier to light just a particular area of an image and to use directional lighting by bouncing light off the subject. This can give a softer lighting effect than a flash that is positioned centrally aimed straight at the subject. A hammerhead flash is extremely powerful, and the high amount of light that is produced by it makes it ideal for illuminating shots of larger subjects like buildings. The user will also be able to take more quick consecutive photographs when using a hammerhead flash unit compared to using an internal flash as the higher power and the strength of the hammerhead mean that it has an extremely fast recycling time. If the light which is produced by a hammerhead flash unit is felt to be too harsh for the subject, then attaching a flash diffuser can help to soften the impact of the flash and will also give a greater variety of lighting options to the user.
The hammerhead flash unit is not particularly portable compared to other flash units due to its larger size and heavier weight. This may hamper the user when trying to take certain shots and is something that the user should consider before choosing a hammerhead flash to purchase, particularly if the camera will be used primarily for handheld shots and not with a tripod. If the weight of the camera with the hammerhead flash unit attached does become an issue, then this could damage the ability of the user to hold the camera steady. If the camera shakes too much because of this, the user could end up with blurred images. It is also worth considering the size of the hammerhead flash unit and the size of the bracket that will be needed to attach it to the camera. Hammerhead flashes can vary in size depending on the model and manufacturer, and if it is too large in comparison to the size of the camera, then too much strain may be placed on the tripod screw to which the bracket will have to be attached.
The choice of hammerhead flash units that can be bought may be limited as a photographer will normally have to buy the same brand of hammerhead flash unit as their camera because although most of the main camera manufacturers have produced a range of external flash units, they are not usually interchangeable with different brands. Some brands may be interchangeable if a hot shoe adapter can be used to enable the hammerhead flash to communicate with the camera. The battery life of a hammerhead flash unit can be relatively short due to the large amount of power that is used by the unit.
It is possible to find certain models of hammerhead flash units which have some additional features. If the user requires greater flexibility with the positioning of the unit, then it may be best to look for a model which has a tilt head or a swivel head. A hammerhead flash unit which has a secondary tube may be the best option if additional light is required on a regular basis as this will provide a significantly higher amount of light. The top range of hammerhead flashes may also have a manual control to enable the user to set the speed of the flash. Some models may also have a pre flash function. This is designed to send an initial flash before the image is shot. If this is used with a hammerhead flash that connects to the camera through a TTL lead, then the pre-flash function enable the required light to be measured so that the level of the flash can be adjusted accordingly for the actual shot. It makes sense to ask experienced photographers about how they use their hammerhead flash, as they may have some useful and surprising tips.
To find a Hammerhead Flash Unit on eBay
The first step to take when looking for a hammerhead flash unit that is for sale on eBay is to open the eBay home page and then click on the All Categories link which is situated near the top left of the screen. Once the list of all of the categories that are displayed on eBay is shown, the next step is to click on the link for the Cameras & Photography category. A list of sub categories will then be displayed on the left of the screen, and this will include a link for Flashes & Accessories. Clicking on this will pull up a list of further sub categories, including Flashes. The final list of sub categories includes Hammerhead/Handle Mount, and the last step is to click on this link. A list of all of the hammerhead flash units that are currently for sale on eBay will then be displayed. It is possible to refine the search even further if required as there are links for all of the major brands such as Metz, Panasonic, Nikon, and Canon. It is also possible to search directly for hammerhead flash units by using the search bar which is displayed at the top of every page on eBay. Typing in some specific keywords, such as "hammerhead flash unit" or “hammerhead flash unit used”, will then pull up a list of all of the hammerhead flash units that are currently available for sale on eBay.
A hammerhead flash unit can be a valuable piece of camera equipment to own, particularly if one of the primary functions of the camera is to take portrait shots. The strength and power of a hammerhead flash also means that it can be useful for landscape shots where a wide area or a large series of buildings needs to be lit. There are two main qualities that make a hammerhead flash unit a useful purchase for any serious photographer. Firstly, it removes the need to worry about potential red eye occurring in the image because it is positioned to the side of the camera away from the centre of the lens. Secondly, a hammerhead flash unit is extremely strong and provides a powerful source of light which is ideal for rapid shooting. The strength of a hammerhead flash makes it ideally equipped to deal with the most strenuous and intense photographic session. The additional features that may be available, such as a secondary tube or a tilt or swivel function, adds to the versatility and the value of owning a hammerhead flash unit.