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05-02-2011, 01:25 PM   #1
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Which External Flash Should I get

Hello.

I need some advice on which external flash I should be looking at.

First, a little bit about what I shoot: I really purchased my k10d because I was tired of paying studios every month to shoot my 3 young children. I have since bought studio lighting that I am still learning with. However, I need an external flash I can take with me for birthday parties, family gathering and other imprompto photos that need light. My pop up flash seems to wash everything out and I just don't like the way the photo's look.

I have looked on the Pentax website and only see 2 that are available. However, I know there must be an off brand out there or maybe the Pentax external flashes really are the best, I have no idea.

Obviously I am learning as I go but want to pay for good equiptment. I have learned the hard way by buying a "cheaper" version and had to go back out and the buy the original one I wanted. I mostly shoot with my 77 f1.8. I really want the 31 ltd lens, but that's a whole other story :-)

I don't want to say price is not an issue, but I want a good flash that has directional lighting, adjustable power. If the best external flash is $100, great....but if the best flash out there is $500.00 fine too....I just want the best for the best price, like everyone else :-)

Please help, I am new to this but want to be better and someday hopefully want to take pictures of other children.

Dynnel


Last edited by dynnel; 05-02-2011 at 03:03 PM.
05-02-2011, 02:05 PM   #2
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Hi dynnel...

Are you wanting this flash for 'on' the hot shoe or 'off-camera' or both?

Metz flashes get really good write ups... Full P-Ttl metering when in the hotshoe etc... You should be able to do both:-)


Check out this websites 'Accessory database' for a few ideas and to check reviews

All the best
Dave
05-02-2011, 03:02 PM   #3
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I would like to use it on the hot shoe.
05-02-2011, 03:20 PM   #4
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You can get the Pentax AF 540 FGZ for about $250 used on PF the marketplace. They are more common than the used Metz 48 or 58.

05-03-2011, 03:57 AM   #5
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I have used both the Pentax AF540 (until it fell off a lightstand and the flash tube broke, not the flash's fault) and my current Metz 58 AF-2 (pentax) and Metz 58 AF-1 (nikon). I use both systems.

Both flashes are superb (Pentax & Metz). The display backlighting on the Pentax is actually better for my old eyes than the Metz for low lighting viewing, but the Metz has a nice stroboscopic mode and a small strobe light on the front that is secondary to the main flash for catchlights.

The Pentax has more buttons (easier to set) versus the Metz which only has four buttons and a 'Menu' driven system. However, the Metz will remember settings on the flash when you turn it back on or it powers down versus the Pentax which 'forgets' everything when it powers down.

I find Metz has better technical support, when I submit a question to support in Germany I generally get a reply within 24 - 48 hours, I asked Pentax Canada a question about 2 months ago & am still waiting, their website seems to randomly delete inquiries.

The Metzs used to be far more highly priced but at least here in Canada the Metz 58 is about $150 cheaper than the Pentax AF540.

You do have to make sure you get the Metz designed for your current system, i.e. Pentax or Nikon or Canon or whatever but they do work completely compatibly with all the features of your camera.

If you are buying for the future then either will let you 'grow' into bigger and better ideas for your photos.

Hope this helps.

Michael
05-03-2011, 06:35 AM   #6
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Feature for feature the Metz 58 is ahead of the pack. Some of those features you may not need (e.g. strobe modelling) others may become an essential part of your toolkit. For instance one can bounce the main flash and simultaneously use the secondary reflector to push additional light forward to lift facial shadows. Of significance is the fact the A mode on the Metz is more accurate than P-TTL in my experience.

I am still waiting for a high-end weather-sealed flash with rubber edges to protect against impacts. The menu system could be improved by the addition of two soft buttons that could be configured to settings one needs to commonly access. But for now the Metz 58 AF-2 is it.
05-03-2011, 07:02 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
I am still waiting for a high-end weather-sealed flash with rubber edges to protect against impacts. The menu system could be improved by the addition of two soft buttons that could be configured to settings one needs to commonly access. But for now the Metz 58 AF-2 is it.
Those options plus the ability to easily change the foot and firmware to accommodate different systems (Pentax, Nikon etc) would make a great flash. I wish Metz would expand their SCA system.

Michael
05-09-2011, 04:18 PM   #8
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So my husband surprised me with the Pentax AF540 for Mothers Day the day after I told him how much I wanted the Metz 58. He bought it from B and H...the dilemma. Do I return my wonderful Mothers Day gift or keep it and see how I like it.

05-10-2011, 06:11 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dynnel Quote
So my husband surprised me with the Pentax AF540 for Mothers Day the day after I told him how much I wanted the Metz 58. He bought it from B and H...the dilemma. Do I return my wonderful Mothers Day gift or keep it and see how I like it.
I would keep the Pentax flash personally. And instead of always leaving it on the camera try getting it off the hotshoe. Even if it's only a couple of feet to the left or right of the camera itself.
05-10-2011, 08:38 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dynnel Quote
So my husband surprised me with the Pentax AF540 for Mothers Day the day after I told him how much I wanted the Metz 58. He bought it from B and H...the dilemma. Do I return my wonderful Mothers Day gift or keep it and see how I like it.
The Pentax flash does not remember its settings when powered off, which would be infinitely frustrating for me. Also it has less manual control than the Metz and lacks some features I use all the time, like the Secondary Reflector.

Personally, I don't think the Pentax units even compete. I am sure you could exchange it and maybe even save money on the difference?
05-10-2011, 02:38 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dynnel Quote
So my husband surprised me with the Pentax AF540 for Mothers Day the day after I told him how much I wanted the Metz 58. He bought it from B and H...the dilemma. Do I return my wonderful Mothers Day gift or keep it and see how I like it.
I would return it and get the Metz 58, and give the change to your spouse :-) Far better that than hold a small grudge because you didn't get what you wanted.

Soon after we were married, my wife knew i was looking at SLRs, and so she went out and bought me a surprise birthday present, an SLR from a mfr, that i didn't want and couldn't return. Its not a big issue, but 40 years later i still resent it in a tiny way.

I have a Metz 48, but i think the winning function on the Metz 58 is the Auto function, nice backup to PTTL. Plus they have firmware updates that Pentax doesn't have.
05-10-2011, 03:13 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
I have a Metz 48, but i think the winning function on the Metz 58 is the Auto function, nice backup to PTTL. Plus they have firmware updates that Pentax doesn't have.
I prefer the exposures I get with Auto -- I think it is more accurate. But I do use PTTL for the HSS function when doing fill flash.
05-12-2011, 02:49 PM   #13
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I got the Pentax 540 over the Metz 58 last month and I couldn't be happier. The controls are very easy to set and I am happy to not be scrolling through a bunch of menus...but that might just be me. As to it forgetting my settings after it powers off, I don't really care. The way I shoot (weddings) conditions change rapidly, so I am always changing my settings.
05-12-2011, 02:58 PM   #14
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Also look at the new Sigma EF-610 Super. It has comparable features to the Metz 58 or Pentax 540, is more powerful than either and a lot less costly. It does store the last setting when it's turned off.
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