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Flash – The Comprehensive Camera Flash Buying Guide

Recycling Rate

The recycling rate determines how much time you have to wait in between flash pops. The recycling rate is often listed in seconds with an assumption of a fresh set of internal (often AA) batteries.

The spec sheet will often show you two sets of numbers (e.g. 0.1 to 6 seconds for the 580 EX II). The lower value tells you how soon you can take the next flash shot if the flash produced the least amount of light output, while the higher value indicates how you long you have to wait before taking the next flash shot after it has produced the maximum amount of light output.

In many cases, the key value to check will be the recycling rate at maximum power. The shorter, the better.

Don’t forget that weaker flashes will tend to recycle faster at maximum power as the same set of batteries no longer needs to feed a large flash tube. However, remember that the larger flash’s maximum output is significantly brighter than the smaller flash’s max output as well. When your small flash hits its maximum output, it’ll probably just be about 70% output capacity of the larger flash, so the larger flash will still give you faster recycling given the same light output.

Get the highest powered flash with the lowest recycling rate using the standard 4 AA battery configuration.

Short note about batteries, the type of battery you choose for your flash can be a HUGE difference maker in terms of recycling rate. Make sure you’re using top-notch batteries that are designed for high-drain devices for your flash.

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