Sunpak PF30X - £82/ $128
The Sunpak PF30X is larger than the Nikon SB-400 but far smaller than the other flashguns in the group. It runs on just two AA batteries and features a bounce-only head with no swivel adjustment.
Full power output is rather low, at GN 30, although there's no zoom facility in the head, so the quoted power doesn't benefit from you zooming in to match a telephoto focal length.
The control panel is basic, with no fancy features or even an LCD information panel. You can only use the Sunpak in i-TTL mode, as manual power adjustments aren't available either on the flashgun or via the camera's flash menu.
There are a couple of switches with LED confirmation for altering flash exposure compensation between +/-1.5EV, but that's it.
The i-TTL metering proved quite accurate in our tests. For more advanced use, though, the lack of manual power adjustments is a bugbear, as is the lack of swivel for bouncing flash.
The full-power recycle times of 16 and 22 seconds for NiMH and alkaline batteries are really tedious, taking up to four times longer than Nikon's SB-400.
There's no facility to set manual flash power on the Sunpak, so it could only really be tested at maximum output, where it acquits itself fairly well.
Aperture reading at 1m
i-TTL exposure accuracy
Almost as accurate as the Nikon flashguns on teat, the Sunpak does well in terms of i-TTL accuracy, with a flash exposure of -0.3EV in this case.
iTTL exposure accuracy
As is the case with i-TTL metering, there is practically nothing to separate colour accuracy between the Sunpak and the Nikon SB-400 and SB-700 flashguns.
Image quality verdict
The lack of manual power settings might be frustrating for advanced users, but i-TTL metering and colour accuracy are both pretty good.