Sony HVL-F20M flash review

Sony HVL-F20M flash review

Sony HVL-F20M muti interface shoe flash

Introduction and Specifications

The Sony HVL-F20M is an on-camera flash that slides on the new Sony multi-interface shoe.

Sony HVL-F20M flash

It supports the use of the Sony Alpha TTL (through the lens) system. With TTL, light is metered through the prism and all other optical elements that influence exposure. This means that filters, extension tubes, etc. are automatically factored in the flash metering.  For controlling the flash exposure, the Advanced Distance Integration (ADI) flash metering system  measures the subject-to-camera distance, as well as ambient light and subject reflectivity.  The ADI system uses all this information to control the flash output in order to provide optimised flash exposures.

Sony HVL-F20M flash

When compared to the built-in pop-up flash of many cameras, this flash helps to extend the effective flash working distance by providing a guide number of 20m at ISO 100. This flash can also serve as a wireless controller for triggering an off-camera flash.

Sony HVL-F20M flash


A built-in diffuser gives you a wider spread of the Sony HVL-F20M. This feature can be turned off to facilitate tele lenses, giving you a longer reach. Another interesting feature is the bounce slider that angles the flash head 75° upwards, giving you greater control over direction and spread.

Sony HVL-F20M flash
Raising the flash upwards into shooting position turns it on, so there is no button for this. A charging lamp indicates when the flash is ready for use; a LED bellow tells you the state of your two AAA batteries that provide around 90 flashes.

Sony HVL-F20M flash

Sony HVL-F20M flash In use

The Sony HVL-F20M is the smallest and cheapest flash from Sony currently available. It pairs great with an Sony A7(r) or RX1(r) where you don’t want to but a humongous flash on a small and portable body.

Despite its small size, it is a very capable device with some interesting features. Especially the bounce mode comes to mind, raising the flash (with diffuser) upwards, allowing you to use the ceiling as a bounce source. This gives a much more natural light than the direct mode. I’ve included some test pictures where you can see the effect.


Additionally, TTL and ADI automatically lower the ISO in-camera, giving you a less grainy and clearer shot. In A, P, and M modes, you can turn down the flash strength with the compensation dial. This also affects aperture and shutter speed of course, so If you don’t want this you’ll have to delve into the menu and adjust flash compensation in camera settings.


I was pleasantly surprised by the Sony HVL-F20M, and it has turned out to be more useful than I thought. Despite its apparently lower power than bigger units, it has all the features of a pro flash at a decent price. If you are looking for a flash for your NEX, A6000, A7(r) or RX series, and you still want to keep your system portable, this is the one to get.


wim arys

Wim Arys is a photographer from Belgium Europe with a passion for mirrorless cameras.

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4 Responses

  1. Milan says:

    thanks for your very useful reviews, including A6000. I would like to ask you:
    1) Do you know is it possible to use A6000 + HVL-F20M with pre-flash TTL functionality and where can I switch on on my camera (I didnt find it)
    2) Can I use TTL functionality with HVL-F20M on my camera + external flash Sony HVL-F43M connect via wireless (from HVL-F20M signal) = Can I use TTL with double flashes?
    Thank you very much !!

    • wim arys says:

      I think the HVL20M overrides the pop up flash of the A6000 and TTL functionality is automatically enabeled. So you it should work with the same menu functions as the pop-up. TTL with 2 flashes, not sure, someone would have to try it out. If you do, let me know.

  2. Wilco says:

    Is the flash strong enough when used via bounce?

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