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If your camera has a hot shoot then whoever made the camera, probably also makes a flash system designed specifically to work with your camera. So if you have a Canon SLR then you have the option of buying Canon made flashes. Nikon shooters have a wealth of Nikon created flash units available. In general, if you go with the flash unit created by your camera maker then you'll be guaranteed of getting a flash that works well with your camera's metering system. What's more, you'll probably have the ability to control the flash from the camera itself, not just from the controls on the flash unit.
Finally, you may get some extra features by going with a camera-specific flash. Now there's no reason that you can't use a flash made by another camera manufacturer. In fact some third parties create flashes for specific camera brands. These flashes offer full compatibility with a camera's metering. And feature sets similar to flash units made by the camera vendor. When looking at one of these flashes, you'll want to ensure that it's compatible with your specific camera's metering system. If it's not, you'll still have the ability to use that flash manually, which might be all you need, depending on how you'd like to work with flash.
So, buying a flash made by your camera maker is probably the best choice, if you want maximum compatibility. And a full suite of automatic features. If you prefer to control your flash manually. Then it doesn't really matter what you buy. And I'll have a specific manual flash recommendation later.
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