I finally found a cost effective speedlight that works as a dedicated, TTL flash for current Sony cameras.
When I owned the a99 and the a77 cameras I went ahead and purchased their top of the line flash only to have it repeatedly shut down after 15 or 20 leisurely paced pops due to an overly cautious heat/panic threshold setting. It made the flash useless for event work or social documentation.
I've tested some of the newer Sony flashes but just didn't want to bite the bullet at the prices being asked and risk yet another sissy flash that can't be used for real work.
I did a recent event using only manual flashes on camera and we (the camera, flash and I) nailed about 490 out of 520 exposures. The remaining 30 could be saved with judicious use of post processing. But I had to think about exposure all evening and it made my brain tired. It made me long for the bomb proof flash systems we enjoyed in the heyday of the Nikon F5 film cameras. The mental sweat of a long, flash-ridden event pushed me to do some research.
I found the Godox Ring 860ii flash and an identical unit under another brand called, Neewer. Since the specs, battery, charger and appearance were identical I saved about $40 by ordering the Neewer version.
Why did I buy this? Well, it has a healthy guide number but it also has two features that I am delighted with. First, it has a whopping big Lithium Ion battery that charges quickly in a very nice charger, clicks into place in the side of the flash and provides about 600 full power flashes with one charge. Buy an extra battery just for peace of mind and you are ready to shoot all day long. Even if you are a promiscuous shooter like me. Charge time is something like 2 hours.
The second feature that makes me smile is that the flash incorporates the new multifunction flash foot that interfaces with the same multifunction flash shoe found on all the newer Sony cameras. It is compatible with all six Sony cameras that I own. The flash provides full TTL automation and it also provides HSS for syncing out in the sun. Going a step further, you get a simple optical slave capability, built in. Set the camera to S1 or S2 and you are ready to use this flash as a slave with ANY other flash.
It also can be used as a master flash to trigger other flashes in it's family.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating so the day I got it I charged the battery, tossed the flash on top of an A7Rii, set it to TTL and started going around the house scaring Studio Dog by shooting everything in sight. Every exposure was on the money. Right on the money.
For about one third the cost of a comparably capable Sony model I now have the rock solid flash performance, in full auto, that I've been looking for in the Sony system. Every camera flash I own now is some new brand built in China. Not that the Sony flashes aren't built in China as well. All the flashes have two features that allow me to use them as a system in the same way we used to use our monolights and "pack and head" systems. One feature is the power ratio control. I can dial the power on any of six flashes from full to at least 1/64th power. I can also set every flash to optical slave and use them together regardless of which radio trigger they want to answer to. It makes for a highly portable and mostly interchangeable system.
So many Sony peripherals are priced insanely. It's nice to find options that do a great job at much lower prices. I am happy with my purchase and recommend these flashes to other Sony shooters.