Review by Mark Degner
As I have stated before in a previous review, when built-in camera pop-up flashes first appeared many years ago on film SLR cameras, I thought they were more of a gimmick and not really that useful for serious photography. However, I’ve found in certain situations they’re actually quite useful. In terms of outdoor and nature photography, despite some limitations, pop-up flashes are handy and convenient in providing fill-light to the shadows when the subject is relatively close, and they can provide a catch light in the eyes of wildlife and people.
One of the limitations with on-camera pop-up flashes is they have a relatively low output. If you need more power then really your only option is to use a more powerful speedlight. Well, at least that was the case before the introduction of the new Rogue Safari, a DSLR pop-up flash booster.
The Rogue Safari is a plastic unit that attaches to the camera’s hotshoe and has an oval Fresnell-type lens (Rogue refers to it as an optically concentrated lens) that boosts the output of the camera’s pop-up flash. Fresnell lenses have been used to boost the output of speedlights for years and are popular with wildlife photographers, however, as far as I’m aware the Rogue Safari is the first commercial product to apply that technology to pop-up flashes. Optimized for use with lenses with focal lengths over 100mm and cameras with cropped sensors (APS-C/DX), it’s reported to increase the output of a pop-up flash to provide up to eight times more light. There are two factors that determine how much the flash’s output can be boosted — the distance to the subject and the focal length used — so there isn’t a consistent amount the light output will be. I didn’t do any accurate output measurements with a handheld light meter, but based on my field trials it increased the output of my camera’s pop-up flash by three to over five stops. I also tried it with a full-frame DSLR and telephoto lens and was able to get acceptable results in some cases.
There’s only one model of the Rogue Safari to fit all the different camera makes and models. To accommodate the different heights the pop-up flashes rise up on the different DSLRs, there are two optional spacers (5mm and 8mm) included that can be used to adjust the Rogue Safari so that it’s properly centred to the flash. Depending on the camera’s hot shoe, attaching and removing the unit may be difficult due to its tight fit. Over time it should loosen up, but until it does it can be very frustrating to remove.
The Rogue Safari is made from rugged polycarbonate materials and is lightweight (57 g) and relatively compact (approximately 10.5 cm long and the oval-shaped front lens is about 9 cm x 7 cm) so it doesn’t take up much space in your camera bag. In addition, its design gives it a stylish appearance.
The Rogue Safari is a handy and inexpensive ($38.99) little accessory that has found a home in my camera bag. If you use your DSLR’s pop-up flash and want to increase its versatility then you should check it out.
For further details visit www.roguesafari.com.