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12-26-2014, 09:32 AM   #1
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K5 II Flash Issues - Need some advice

I have a K5 II and a Metz 50-AF1 Flash. Both the camera and the Flash have the latest firmware.

I have found that the picture quality with the flash is very hit or miss, mostly miss. I just can't seem to get consistent pictures from the flash with this camera.

I know the K5 has issues with flash - but I would think I could get better pictures with it than I have been getting. I figure I would ask the experts here and get some advice.

I mainly shoot with the 18-135 Pentax lense. I have the Flash set on PTTL and I usually shoot the Camera on "P" mode. But I have also tried it on Full automatic mode. I get bad results with both. The main complaint I have is if I'm shooting at more than about 10-15 feet - the pictures are completely underexposed almost all the time. With close pictures - sometimes I get perfect results, then when I try and shoot the same shot again, (after the flash has charged), I get a very bad shot.

Bounce Flash is even more frustrating - almost always way underexposed. It's like the Flash won't compensate for the bounce effect.

I realize that when I zoom the lense the aperature get's smaller. I have tried to shoot with higher ASA settings - but still don't get the results I expect.
Other times I try and adjust the aperature to get more consistent results. I have tried shooting with the camera's flash and don't get much better results. It has much less flash range than the Metz.

The bottom line is shooting the flash is never consistent. Even my old K100D takes better flash pictures than the K5 II.

Is this something I have to live with on this camera - or am I doing something wrong?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I love this camera but hate shooting with flash.

Oh - and happy holidays to everyone!

12-26-2014, 09:59 AM   #2
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I have recently had similar experiences with a k50 and the 540 fgz Pentax flash.
12-26-2014, 10:06 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
I have recently had similar experiences with a k50 and the 540 fgz Pentax flash.
I have read quite a few forums saying PTTL mode does not work well with the K5 series and most people use the flash in "M" mode. I might have to learn how to use that. You would have thought that by the time the K5II came out they would have fixed the PTTL flash issues? I understand that the K3 is much better with Flash.

I'm hoping someone here who has some experience with the same flash and the K5 could give me some pointers on the best way to use the flash. The Metz flash is quite capable - but in PTTL it seems useless except for close up pictures - (Less than 3 feet away) and .....most of the time it over exposes those.

---------- Post added 12-26-14 at 12:07 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
I have recently had similar experiences with a k50 and the 540 fgz Pentax flash.
I actually thought the K50 is supposed to work better, like the K3 with flashes. It uses a different exposure engine than the K5, which is older. I'm surprised to hear you are having the same issue with the K50.

---------- Post added 12-26-14 at 12:57 PM ----------

According to the Metz manual 105mm is the highest effective focal length I should use. That might have been part of the problem. Also - I'm not sure what mode I should really be using the camera in to get the right shutter/flash synch. I think the default is supposed to be a max of 1/180th - but can I use a higher shutter speed if I want?

I usually shoot in Aperature Priority mode. I would think that the Metz flash should set the shutter speed properly depending on what I have set the aperature at.

Sometimes I get a perfect exposure, other times it is terrible. It just doesn't seem to be consistent. I might try spot exposure metering and see if that helps.

Thanks again in advance for any help here. I'd like to get better at flash photography.

Last edited by digitaleagle12; 12-26-2014 at 02:36 PM.
12-26-2014, 11:07 AM   #4
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Go manual or upgrade to the K-3. I use flash all the time and especially love bounce.

12-26-2014, 11:38 AM   #5
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I'm not sure of the reason for my issues, I too am fairly new to using these pttl flashes.
12-26-2014, 02:39 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by tabl10s Quote
Go manual or upgrade to the K-3. I use flash all the time and especially love bounce.
Don't think the boss would approve an upgrade to the K3 right now. I've only had the K5 II for a few months.
12-26-2014, 02:51 PM   #7
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It's certainly not perfect. I'll actually use green mode sometimes - it seems to do the best job with the flash, unless you have time to set everything up properly. Yes, I said Green mode (the only time I ever use it). I have the original AF 540FGZ flash. [For more critical situations I still use my Einstein monolights, Minolta light meter, and M mode.]

Of course green mode has its disadvantages - such as only shooting JPEG! Make sure your JPEG quality settings are right beforehand as well. While I often shoot 1-star quality JPEGs for action or events (they're small, so they upload quickly) and they look fine, they're not so ideal if you'll be doing PP on most of your photos. So when I took the extended-family group Christmas photo this year (about 30 people) I used green mode, and to my surprise the camera reverted back to 1-star quality (with no RAW files) when I used green mode - even though I'd just set it to 3 or 4 star quality! Fortunately I was still able to get good enough looking adjustments out of that 1-star JPEG, but double check before you rely on it!


Also, don't forget that any brand of DSLR should usually have the flash set to -1 or -1.5 EV for a nice exposure. I tend to bounce plus use a Sto-Fen diffuser, in addition to the -1 to -1.5 EV setting on the flash itself, all while in green mode.

Last edited by DSims; 12-26-2014 at 03:05 PM.
12-26-2014, 03:41 PM   #8
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This appears to be a common problem with the K-5 series. If you do a search in the flash forum you will find lots of threads about it, especially when using it in bounce flash
I have the exact same flash used with my K-5 II.
For indoor flash my work around is to place the camera in manual mode, set at 1/125 or 1/180 depending on the need to stop movement. I set the F stop at 5.6 and iso at 400. The flash is set a P-ttl & strength to 0. Then I take a test shot to check my settings. This gives me a working distance for the camera & flash settings. Then I can easily change the flash intensity by quickly changing the any of the settings up or down, or changing the flash strength either on the flash unit or on the camera.
I still get a few bad exposures, but my keeper rate is higher.

12-26-2014, 04:46 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wingincamera Quote
This appears to be a common problem with the K-5 series. If you do a search in the flash forum you will find lots of threads about it, especially when using it in bounce flash
I have the exact same flash used with my K-5 II.
For indoor flash my work around is to place the camera in manual mode, set at 1/125 or 1/180 depending on the need to stop movement. I set the F stop at 5.6 and iso at 400. The flash is set a P-ttl & strength to 0. Then I take a test shot to check my settings. This gives me a working distance for the camera & flash settings. Then I can easily change the flash intensity by quickly changing the any of the settings up or down, or changing the flash strength either on the flash unit or on the camera.
I still get a few bad exposures, but my keeper rate is higher.
Good advice - thanks for the tips. I have been playing with the flash a bit this afternoon. If I set the camera for shutter priority mode it selects 1/180th of a second. If I select Aperature Mode I can set any aperature I llike and the camera selects a shutter speed based on the aperature setting, but never more than 1/180th. I think I will keep it on Aperature Priority mode and then adjust the flash strength with the flash settings to compensate for any over/under exposure.

I'm sure once I spend more time with the Flash, I will get better with it. The problem is, I don't use it all the time, so I forget how to set it.

I've used the "Green" mode - but I don't like how it selects the ASA settings.
12-28-2014, 12:16 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by digitaleagle12 Quote
I've used the "Green" mode - but I don't like how it selects the ASA settings.
I'm not sure I do either, but after you've gone through enough frustration with the flash you may end up going back to it sometimes anyway.
01-17-2015, 11:11 AM   #11
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To fixed the PTTL flash issues(overexposed photos) I suggest, clean the contacts on body and flash, with contact spray. I had problems with original battery, rear control dial and flash(Metz 44) with Pentax Kr. I fixed all problems with contact spray. I suspect the oxidation of metals in contacts.
Have a nice day!
Grega
01-17-2015, 09:45 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by digitaleagle12 Quote
The Metz flash is quite capable - but in PTTL it seems useless except for close up pictures - (Less than 3 feet away) and .....most of the time it over exposes those.
Are you using auto-iso? If so, that more than likely explains your overexposure at close distance; it might also (partially?) explain your other results. Stay away from auto-iso when using flash.

Explanation
Pentax cameras try to expose for ambient light when using flash. With auto-iso on, the camera might very well decide on a high ISO to achieve this. ISO affects the maximum flash distance and in case of pTTL or auto-thyristor mode the minimum flash distance (roughly 10% of the maximum).

Example
With a kit-lens set to 55mm, the GN will be 50@ISO100 (50 meters) for the Metz. Let's assume that the camera decides on 1/90 and f/5.6 and an ISO of 1600. A subject between 3.6 meters (12 feet) and 36 meters (120 feet) can be correctly exposed by the camera / flash combination (using non-bounce). When you fix the ISO to 100, the numbers become 90 centimeters (3 feet) and 9m meters (30 feet).

Note
Avoiding auto-iso will not necessary create perfect flash pictures, but it will eliminate one variable.
01-18-2015, 08:18 AM   #13
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No - was not using auto ISO - but thanks for the post and thoughts.
01-22-2015, 02:06 PM   #14
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Does the 50 AF-1 have Auto mode? When I bounce the flash in pTTL I get inconsistent results, but in Auto it's quite good. This is with the K-5 and Metz 58 AF-1 - and the camera in M.

The other alternative is to shoot manual. A bit more trial and error, at least until you get used to it, but consistency is guaranteed.
02-22-2015, 10:50 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by savoche Quote
Does the 50 AF-1 have Auto mode? When I bounce the flash in pTTL I get inconsistent results, but in Auto it's quite good. This is with the K-5 and Metz 58 AF-1 - and the camera in M.

The other alternative is to shoot manual. A bit more trial and error, at least until you get used to it, but consistency is guaranteed.
No, 50 AF-1 does not have A mode. I agree the K5 series works better with a flash that has A mode. (Which means the flash body has a light sensor that measures during exposure and cuts flash when it decides it is enough. Kinda sad that this older technology works better than P-TTL.)
When there's no budget to upgrade to K3 consider buying a used 58 AF-1. I did and I'm happy with it. I find the user interface a lot easier to work with than the 50 AF-1, owning both.
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