Andy Westlake tests a small, fully featured flash
Metz mecablitz M400 at a glance:
- Bounce-and-swivel head
- 24-105mm equivalent zoom coverage
- Uses 4 AA batteries
- Price: £239
- Website: www.intro2020.co.uk
Small yet fully featured mirrorless cameras have become increasingly common recently, and the mecablitz M400 is German flash maker Metz’s first unit specifically designed to complement them. It’s just 9cm tall, but still packs a decent punch with a guide number of 40m at ISO 100.
Indeed the M400 is remarkably similar in size and design to the Nissin i40, with the flash tube attached to the main body via an articulated metal armature. This allows the head to be tilted upwards 90° and rotated through fully 360°, so the light can be bounced for a more flattering effect. A small white card can be pulled out to direct a catchlight into your subject’s eyes.
Delving deeper into the specs, however, reveals the M400 to be a more sophisticated unit than the Nissin, which for some users will justify its higher price. It offers a finer degree of control over its light output, and supports high-speed sync (FP mode). For camera systems that include off-camera wireless flash, it supports both master and slave modes.
Metz mecablitz M400 – key features
Pulls out and folds down in front of the flash to give ultra-wideangle coverage (to 12mm equivalent).
A rotating collar around the unit’s foot holds it firmly in place on the compact camera.
LED video light
Adjustable in six steps, with a maximum output of 100 lux at 1m.
Allows the firmware to be updated for compatibility with future cameras.
Metz mecablitz M400 – our verdict
I tested the Micro Four Thirds version of the M400 and found it worked well. Its controls take a little getting used to, with five buttons on the back used to change settings on a tiny OLED display, but crucially it gave good exposures and the light output is even. Unfortunately, weak click stops on the bounce adjustment means it doesn’t work well with light modifiers that require the head to be set vertically as it collapses under their weight. Aside from this, it’s a good match to small mirrorless cameras.
SCORE: 4 out of 5
The Metz mecablitz M400 is available in versions to fit most major camera brands: Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus/Panasonic, Pentax and Sony. The exact feature set you will get depends on the version, particularly with regard to off-camera wireless flash control. To check exactly which features will work with your camera, check Metz’s website.