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03-12-2019, 11:31 AM   #1
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How do I read the tables and markings on my flashes?

I've got a few older flashes I got with my K1000, and would like to learn how to use them.
They've got tables on the backs with ISO, distance, and aperture markings. How should I be reading these tables?
I have a Vivitar 560D, Pentax AF160SA, and a Pentax AF160 that is semi-broken. I'll attach a photo of the AF160SA and 560D.

The Vivitar also has a slider with 3 options on the front, white, blue, and red. What are they for?
It's also angle-adjustable and has 4 focal length options. Do I account for crop factor when setting the focal length?

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03-12-2019, 11:36 AM - 4 Likes   #2
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The table simply tells you what aperture to use. Look at the row corresponding to your film speed, then select the aperture in that row that corresponds roughly to your subject's distance. The shutter speed should always be set to the sync speed (1/60s on most older cameras).

It look like the 160SA flash allows the use of "A" mode on the aperture ring when the subject is 1-4 meters away (with cameras that support aperture automation).

The sliders on the right effectively accomplish the same thing, in an arguably more convoluted (but more interactive) way. I'm not sure about the colors, but usually they correspond to different fixed flash power settings.

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03-12-2019, 12:17 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The table simply tells you what aperture to use. Look at the row corresponding to your film speed, then select the aperture in that row that corresponds roughly to your subject's distance. The shutter speed should always be set to the sync speed (1/60s on most older cameras).

It look like the 160SA flash allows the use of "A" mode on the aperture ring when the subject is 1-4 meters away (with cameras that support aperture automation).

The sliders on the right effectively accomplish the same thing, in an arguably more convoluted (but more interactive) way. I'm not sure about the colors, but usually they correspond to different fixed flash power settings.
Ah, thanks!

Do I read the sliders top to bottom, seeing which values align in a column?

I suppose I should just mess around with them and try to learn that way.
03-12-2019, 12:21 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Adam summarized it nicely.

First a warning: If you plan to use these on a digital camera, doublecheck the flashes' hot shoe voltage first. Some old flashes had extremely high voltages that can fry a digital camera.

Second, If you plan to use these on a digital camera, you can use the table to pick the best ISO for the aperture you want to use: 1) pick your subject's distance; 2) drop down the column to the square with the aperture you want; 3) go left to the ISO on the row.

Third, the answer to your crop question is "yes." The W2 = 28 mm setting of that Vivitar flash will work with an APS-C camera and 18 mm lens (28 mm equivalent).

03-12-2019, 01:03 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Adam summarized it nicely.

First a warning: If you plan to use these on a digital camera, doublecheck the flashes' hot shoe voltage first. Some old flashes had extremely high voltages that can fry a digital camera.

Second, If you plan to use these on a digital camera, you can use the table to pick the best ISO for the aperture you want to use: 1) pick your subject's distance; 2) drop down the column to the square with the aperture you want; 3) go left to the ISO on the row.

Third, the answer to your crop question is "yes." The W2 = 28 mm setting of that Vivitar flash will work with an APS-C camera and 18 mm lens (28 mm equivalent).
Thanks for the warning! I've only tested them on my K1000 so far.

I'll play it safe for now and just not use these older flashed on my K-5. Maybe I'll pick up a digital-friendly flash sometime.

Alright, thanks for the clarification on the focal length question!
03-12-2019, 02:17 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ropuchy Quote
Thanks for the warning! I've only tested them on my K1000 so far.

I'll play it safe for now and just not use these older flashed on my K-5. Maybe I'll pick up a digital-friendly flash sometime.

Alright, thanks for the clarification on the focal length question!
I would recommend the Yongnuo YN585EX for Pentax flash in case you need a flash for your digital camera. I have one and it is an excellent flash. Please note that it does not have HSS (high speed sync), but I rarely use HSS on my flashes due to the amount of power it consumes.

I also have a K-1000.

Good luck!!
03-12-2019, 02:54 PM - 1 Like   #7
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The Pentax flashes are voltage compatible with your camera. The manuals for both of your flashes are available online:

AF160Sa and AF160 Manuals (FREE!!)

I could not find the manual for the Vivitar 560D, but it appears to be a dual-range auto-thyristor (has its own meter circuit) flash with limited ability to interact (may automatically set sync speed and light flash ready) with Pentax and several other brand cameras. The slider on the front controls the auto range (color coded) and the sliders on the rear (ISO/ASA) and modifier-type are fairly self-evident. To use:
  1. Set the desired (blue=near, red=farther, other=manual) range
  2. Set the ISO/ASA slider to that of the film or camera sensitivity
  3. Set the modifier-type to the appropriate mark (Assuming full left is no modifier...full strength)
  4. Set lens aperture to match the flash setting:
    • If using the red/blue settings, set the lens aperture to the F-number on the scale opposite the matching color dot and shoot at taking care that the shutter speed is set to the X-sync speed or lower
    • If using the manual setting, estimate the distance to the subject and set the aperture to match based on the scale on the back of the flash
While online resources indicate a trigger voltage of 15V LINK, it is probably prudent to check the flash voltage yourself before using on a modern camera and/or use a safe-sync adapter or similar.

Have fun!


Steve
03-12-2019, 04:01 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
I would recommend the Yongnuo YN585EX for Pentax flash in case you need a flash for your digital camera. I have one and it is an excellent flash. Please note that it does not have HSS (high speed sync), but I rarely use HSS on my flashes due to the amount of power it consumes.

I also have a K-1000.

Good luck!!
Thanks for the recommendation!

Yeah, my K1000 is what got me into getting a K-5.

---------- Post added 03-12-19 at 04:06 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The Pentax flashes are voltage compatible with your camera. The manuals for both of your flashes are available online:

AF160Sa and AF160 Manuals (FREE!!)

I could not find the manual for the Vivitar 560D, but it appears to be a dual-range auto-thyristor (has its own meter circuit) flash with limited ability to interact (may automatically set sync speed and light flash ready) with Pentax and several other brand cameras. The slider on the front controls the auto range (color coded) and the sliders on the rear (ISO/ASA) and modifier-type are fairly self-evident. To use:
  1. Set the desired (blue=near, red=farther, other=manual) range
  2. Set the ISO/ASA slider to that of the film or camera sensitivity
  3. Set the modifier-type to the appropriate mark (Assuming full left is no modifier...full strength)
  4. Set lens aperture to match the flash setting:
    • If using the red/blue settings, set the lens aperture to the F-number on the scale opposite the matching color dot and shoot at taking care that the shutter speed is set to the X-sync speed or lower
    • If using the manual setting, estimate the distance to the subject and set the aperture to match based on the scale on the back of the flash
While online resources indicate a trigger voltage of 15V LINK, it is probably prudent to check the flash voltage yourself before using on a modern camera and/or use a safe-sync adapter or similar.

Have fun!


Steve
Ok, thank you for all the information! I was having trouble finding any manual for the 560D too.
So my AF160SA is perfectly safe to use with my K-5?

How should I go about testing the flash voltage?


I've been having a lot of fun with my K-5, but winter has made taking photos a bit difficult where I live. Hopefully I can get back out there once things thaw a bit!

03-13-2019, 09:45 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ropuchy Quote
How should I go about testing the flash voltage?
The instructions on the page linked below are complete and also very helpful...

Checking trigger voltage | DPanswers (...skip the comments...)


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 03-13-2019 at 10:03 AM. Reason: Removed link to tedious video
03-13-2019, 10:27 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The instructions on the page linked below are complete and also very helpful...

Checking trigger voltage | DPanswers (...skip the comments...)


Steve
Alrighty, thanks for the link!
04-04-2019, 08:09 PM - 1 Like   #11
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I was discussing with some other forum members about flash trigger voltages in Flash Trigger Voltage for Film Cameras - PentaxForums.com

And as a reference:

According to Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages your Vivitar 560D has a trigger voltage of 15V, but it is known that Vivitar may silently change the internal circuits of an flash while using the same model name, so you might have to proceed at your own risk. There are several flash voltage regulators available, but AFAIK only the Wein Safe-Sync Hot Shoe to Hot Shoe with PC 990-560 B&H Photo is capable of dealing with ultra-high voltage flashes that can have trigger voltage in the range of several hundred volts, while cheaper ones like Vello HSA-PVU Hot Shoe Adapter with Safe Voltage HSA-PVU B&H can only handle up to 60V.

A few electronic film cameras may be able to handle high flash voltages, but they are exceptions rather than the rule. Most electronic film cameras (like the PZ-1) and digital ones (like the K-S2) can only handle relatively low voltages, and some of them like Sony have a strict voltage regulation of 6V, which rules out almost all legacy flashes.
04-18-2019, 11:44 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by butangmucat Quote
I was discussing with some other forum members about flash trigger voltages in Flash Trigger Voltage for Film Cameras - PentaxForums.com

And as a reference:

According to Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages your Vivitar 560D has a trigger voltage of 15V, but it is known that Vivitar may silently change the internal circuits of an flash while using the same model name, so you might have to proceed at your own risk. There are several flash voltage regulators available, but AFAIK only the Wein Safe-Sync Hot Shoe to Hot Shoe with PC 990-560 B&H Photo is capable of dealing with ultra-high voltage flashes that can have trigger voltage in the range of several hundred volts, while cheaper ones like Vello HSA-PVU Hot Shoe Adapter with Safe Voltage HSA-PVU B&H can only handle up to 60V.

A few electronic film cameras may be able to handle high flash voltages, but they are exceptions rather than the rule. Most electronic film cameras (like the PZ-1) and digital ones (like the K-S2) can only handle relatively low voltages, and some of them like Sony have a strict voltage regulation of 6V, which rules out almost all legacy flashes.
Thanks for the information!
I've decided just not to use it on my digital, not worth the risk/hassle.
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