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06-14-2019, 11:12 AM   #1
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Ultrasounds out of the flash

Hi,
long story short:
my new 201fg flash unit emits ultrasounds that I am unlucky enough to pick up while charging. It is annoying, almost painful. Is there anyone else with my same problem? Have you been able to solve buying an other model instead?


I recently bought my first external flash to be paired with my pentax cameras. I never used one before and honestly I never played around that much with the ones on board. It is a 201fg and I have one big problem with it which is enough to be a dealbreaker. Ultrasounds. Now most people are not affected by this at all, in particular after a certain age since the perceivable spectrum shifts towards lower frequencies; however it is a HUGE problem for me since I have always been a little bit more sensitive than average. Basically most of the power suppliers and even some types of lights emit this super-annoying noise that almost nobody can hear but I can, just because the designer for the circuit never bothered to shift the operating frequency a little bit further. And usually people just think I am mad or the next thing I would say is that I also see ghosts and the new trilogy of star wars is not that bad.
In this case I guess the problem is the relatively low frequency at which the voltage multiplier is operating, and all the capacitors inside which enjoy to oscillate as well .
So, I you experienced the same problem, do you have any other compatible model with pentax to suggest? I have to send this one back, but still I would like to use a proper flash in the future without feeling pain. By the way none of the onboard flashed that I had on my cameras so far shared this problem.

Thank you for your time!

06-14-2019, 11:31 AM - 1 Like   #2
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You must be young. The old Pentax potato masher AF400T flash would get the attention of every dog in the neighbourhood when the capacitor was charging. Sorry for your problem but other than insulating the flash head, I see no way to get around the whining sound.
06-14-2019, 11:34 AM - 3 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by fairyvilje Quote
my new 201fg flash unit emits ultrasounds that I am unlucky enough to pick up while charging. It is annoying, almost painful. Is there anyone else with my same problem? Have you been able to solve buying an other model instead?
A high pitched whine while charging is a characteristic of all electronic flash and indicates the flash is working properly. If the whine is absent, either the batteries or the flash are dead.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 06-14-2019 at 12:59 PM. Reason: grammar
06-14-2019, 12:38 PM   #4
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Thank you for your answers!
Well, it is quite unfortunate. I guess I will just try again in a decade; at that point my hearing should have declined enough not to bother this noise so much. Patience is one of my virtues.

Youth is quite a relative concept I daresay, but since I was born many years after the af400t has been first released, I guess we could agree .
I am not sure on how to properly insulate the flash itself without compromising its usability. One of the reasons I bought it over the other models is that it is more compact and lightweight. I do not feel confident that wrapping it around some phono-absorbent foam would end up being a good solution for me.

For the time being, I may just relay on light bouncers or led panels where possible. It is a huge compromise but there is no way I am going to make photography a painful experience to me since its not my job .

06-14-2019, 01:12 PM - 4 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by fairyvilje Quote
Thank you for your answers!
Well, it is quite unfortunate. I guess I will just try again in a decade; at that point my hearing should have declined enough not to bother this noise so much. Patience is one of my virtues.

Youth is quite a relative concept I daresay, but since I was born many years after the af400t has been first released, I guess we could agree .
I am not sure on how to properly insulate the flash itself without compromising its usability. One of the reasons I bought it over the other models is that it is more compact and lightweight. I do not feel confident that wrapping it around some phono-absorbent foam would end up being a good solution for me.

For the time being, I may just relay on light bouncers or led panels where possible. It is a huge compromise but there is no way I am going to make photography a painful experience to me since its not my job .
Have you considered investing in some in-ear acoustic filters? You'd need to do a little research and choose some that attenuate mostly high or middle and high frequency sounds (in the USA, I believe there's a product called "Hocks Noise Breakers" that might do the trick - not sure if you can find them in Italy). These might offer a possible solution, as you only need to wear them when you're using your flash - although it sounds like they might be helpful to you in other situations too.

I have over-sensitive hearing and pulsatile tinnitus. If I go to a live music concert, all I hear is distortion unless I stand right at the very back of the venue. It's painful if I stand any closer. I can't even listen to the television or radio at the same volume as my friends, as I find it very uncomfortable. And when I talk to someone on the telephone, I usually hold the handset an inch or two away from my ear. A year or two back, I bought some relatively inexpensive in-ear filters, and they work superbly. The sound quality isn't bad at all, and I get no distortion - just a slight muffling, which I can live with. I only wear them when I need to, but they've been very helpful
06-14-2019, 03:57 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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Yeah, I had that problem up into my 30s with ultrasonic burglar alarms which felt like they were slicing my head in half. I could clearly hear all the flash units but not to the extent you mention. TV's could sometimes be an issue with the 15khz horizontal frequency. Now, all is calm - can't hear the alarms, and TVs have done away with CRTs and the 15kHz. Just have patience or take up rock concerts to hurry the process along.
06-15-2019, 12:56 AM   #7
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@BigMackCam: this could be a much better idea! I actually moved to England so I will have to find out how it is called here. Thank you!
@Bob 256: No, I will avoid rock exposure and just wait nature to make its own things . Concerts are painful experiences to me for all reasons other than music itself.
06-15-2019, 05:48 AM   #8
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The ear plug suggestion is probably your best bet. However, to be complete one other idea occurs to me.

Many Pentax flashes (but I am not familiar with the 201FG) and even Cactus flashes have a port where an external HV power supply can be attached. As it happens, the Quantum Turbo batteries can be used to perform this function (with the correct interconnecting cable). The earlier version of these Quantum units (serial numbers below Kxxx, I think, but this needs to be checked) do not pulse feed the flash, but apply a dc voltage that rises with the flash capacitor charge. Hence, the switching power supply primarily charging the flash is not at the flash, but in the Quantum Turbo battery pack. I'm too old to do an ultrasonic test drive for you, but I vaguely recall the acoustic noise to be in the normal hearing range and relatively unobtrusive.

06-15-2019, 06:47 AM   #9
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I just tested the flash with my field recorder. There is a strong peak at 15kHz and a less strong one around 20.5kHz. Well that is what the recorder says. Everything above 20kHz should be filtered out and these measurements would be out of specs. So the peak is there but I cannot measure it in a precise way. Not that it does really matter at this point.

So any sort of in-ear filter capable of filtering out frequencies above 14kHz should work fine for me.

@kaseki: This specific model does not seem to be equipped with such kind of port as far as I can see.

Edit. I tested the wrong file as it was a compressed mp3. I performed my analysis again on a wav sampled at 96kHz. There is also a strong second harmonic at 30kHz. That one however should not affect me in any way .

Last edited by fairyvilje; 06-15-2019 at 07:19 AM.
06-16-2019, 11:28 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by fairyvilje Quote
I guess I will just try again in a decade; at that point my hearing should have declined enough not to bother this noise so much.
If you don't listen to overly loud music (which can damage the ear's high-frequency response) the problem may persist for decades. I just turned 68 and I can still easily hear my speedlights charging. I am an exception though - few men of my age have hearing as good as mine, and I have guarded mine as my hearing is one of my most important tools at work.
07-15-2019, 12:28 AM   #11
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Tv's used to bother me. Had to be very careful when buying new ones. Can still hear flash charging and some brand/models seem to run bugs away worse during macro photography.
Thanks,
barondla
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