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12-01-2011, 10:11 PM   #1
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Is my new K-5 ruining my external flashes?

Hello all,

I just purchased a k-5 and I've dusted off all my old camera lenses and flashes from my zx-5 and z-1p days (about 7 years ago). Anyway, I've been trying to take some test pictures. When I turned on my Promaster FTD-7000M it test fired fine. Then I set it on my camera, press the shutter - no fire. Press the test button - no fire. Change batteries - no fire. Seemingly broken.

Well, I thought that the flash must be at fault. Don't know much about the quality of Promaster flashes, but there sure is a lot of features for the cost, so I would think that perhaps the flash is to blame. So, moving on, I tried to play with my Vivitar ring flash. Take a macro picture, flash fires (picture is totally washed out), but the Vivitar now won't fire again!! Same problem.

Now these flashes are Pentax compatible, at least they were for my aforementioned film cameras. Is there a compatibility issue with the k-5? Do I have a lemon k-5 that is causing the problem? or is it the lightning struck twice (figuratively) and my flashes spontaneously broke?

Thanks for any help,

Adam

12-01-2011, 10:28 PM   #2
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I've heard of old film camera flashes blowing up cameras, but not vice versa. That flash has a low voltage, so it should be safe for the K-5.
12-01-2011, 10:43 PM   #3
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Do not just plug in any old flash on a digital camera without doing your research as some of them will fry with your camera with high trigger voltage. Best to use a wireless or slave trigger for any flash you are unsure about.
12-01-2011, 11:45 PM   #4
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If you take them of the camera, do they fire again (test button or by shorting the center pin)?

According to K10D Flash.... finally got an external. - Steve's Digicams Forums the 7000 works on a K10D. That would point to known issues with the K5. I suspect many flash manufacturers reverse engineer the pTTL protocol (cheaper than buying a license) and hence I don't think the K5 is to blame.

Any chances it works in manual or automode (if applicable)?

12-02-2011, 04:48 AM   #5
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You might be lucky that the flash no longer works. I wouldn't take anyone's word that an old flash was OK to put on a digital camera. Not worth the risk. I will only use modern flashes specifically designed for digital. You could use a slave trigger to fire the flash.
12-02-2011, 06:57 AM   #6
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Use this to protect your camera from the high voltage of a flash. (Wein Safe-Sync Hot Shoe to Hot Shoe High Voltage Sync Regulator (SSHSHS)) Wein Safe-Sync Hot Shoe to Hot Shoe (SSHSHS) 990-560 B&H Photo

It reduces the voltage from a flash to a safe voltage of less than 5 volts. I measured the trigger voltage of an old Vivitar flash and found it over 200 volts. I then installed the Wein trigger and measured it again and it was less than the 6 volts as advertised. I use one with all my flashes now just to be safe, even on my film cameras. Nice feature, it will take a hot shoe to hot shoe, or a pc input, and has a flash test button.
12-02-2011, 07:50 AM   #7
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There's nothing new about the flash shoe of a digital camera, modern film cameras are just as sensitive. I would expect anything made for AF cameras to be safe. But I would still measure it too be sure. (And I would consider 24v and below to be safe, but be as paranoid as you feel like.)

The most likely cause of your flashes breaking is probably age, it's been my experience that a flash that hasn't been used for many years quite often works only once.
12-02-2011, 08:25 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
If you take them of the camera, do they fire again (test button or by shorting the center pin)?
No, the flashes no longer fire. But they do seem to charge up and you can turn on the LED screen light etc, so other than firing, there is power.

12-02-2011, 08:26 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by drougge Quote
There's nothing new about the flash shoe of a digital camera, modern film cameras are just as sensitive. I would expect anything made for AF cameras to be safe. But I would still measure it too be sure. (And I would consider 24v and below to be safe, but be as paranoid as you feel like.)

The most likely cause of your flashes breaking is probably age, it's been my experience that a flash that hasn't been used for many years quite often works only once.
This is true, and also good advice. My Leica M6 TTL is a totally mechanical camera, except for the flash. If the battery is dead the flash will not work. Thus, you must assume that mechanical switches no longer close the flash circuit, but a solid state device is used instead. This is when I first started using the Wein trigger, to protect the M6 circuit from my older strobes. But, your camera did not fry the flashes.
12-02-2011, 09:01 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by funky1 Quote
No, the flashes no longer fire. But they do seem to charge up and you can turn on the LED screen light etc, so other than firing, there is power.
So you either hear the high pinched noise and it stops or the flash ready light comes on (if they have one) after a while. If so, my guess is that the tube is gone / tubes are gone; that last flash just killed them. But it is a guess.
12-02-2011, 09:19 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
So you either hear the high pinched noise and it stops or the flash ready light comes on (if they have one) after a while. If so, my guess is that the tube is gone / tubes are gone; that last flash just killed them. But it is a guess.
Yes, the ready light goes on for both flashes. Just that the flash won't fire. Is there a way to test if the tube burst? If it is the tube, is it replaceable?

The problem is that though the tube breaking (even on two independent flashes) is a reasonable theory, the possibility of the camera causing the destruction is also possible (until I know otherwise) and I am reluctant to purchase new flashes only to have them destroyed again. On the flip side, I am reluctant to send back the camera if there is nothing wrong with it. Thus, I am in a bit of a quandry
12-02-2011, 09:24 AM   #12
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The next logical step would be to try the flashes on another camera, Pentax or no.

Jack
12-02-2011, 09:29 AM   #13
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According to my Metz owner's manual:

The flash capacitor built into the flash
unit undergoes physical change if the
unit is not switched on for a prolonged
period. For this reason it is necessary to
switch the unit on for approximately
10 minutes at least once every three
months. The power supplied by the
power source must be sufficient to cause
the flash readiness indicator to light up
no more than one minute after the flash
unit is switched on.


This process is known as capacitor forming, and it rebuilds the protective oxide coating on the metal surfaces of the capacitor. It's possible if the flash sat unused for 7 years that the energy from the first discharge was enough to fry the flashtube.
12-02-2011, 09:46 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbinpg Quote
The next logical step would be to try the flashes on another camera, Pentax or no.

Jack
The flash does not fire off camera; as far as I understood that, that means the test button. If that's the case, another camera will not make a difference in my opinion; but I might be wrong.
12-02-2011, 09:53 AM   #15
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I would definitely not try any of those old flashes as the triggered voltage could damage my k-5. If I need to try it (for example, a third-party made-in-China flash), I would rather test it on my k10D first. You are a brave soul..
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