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12-03-2019, 04:26 AM - 1 Like   #1
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HSS using multiple Pentax flashes

Hello all, first of all I apologize if this question has already been answered! I have recently been testing HSS with my Pentax K-3, using 3 different Pentax flashes: a Pentax 360 FGZ, a Pentax 540 FGZ, and a Pentax 540 FGZII. I am attempting to use all 3 flashes together in HSS. So far, I have found that this only seems to work when the Pentax 540 FGZ II is used as the MASTER flash on the camera body, with the other 2 used in "slave mode". If instead I use the 540FGZ or the 360FGZ as the "master" flash, this only manages to fire ONE of the other 2 flashes in "slave mode", I never manage to fire all 3 flashes together. I just wonder if someone else has tried similar situations out, or may it be that I'm missing out on something? Anyway, good to know that the system seems to work perfectly with all 3 flashes AS LONG AS THE 540FGGZ II is selected as the MASTER flash! I would also like to understand if, at this point, by using the 540FGZ II as the "MASTER" flash, it would be possible to fire even more than 3 flashes together in HSS? Thanks for any help on the matter! Paul

12-03-2019, 06:00 AM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dipper Quote
Hello all, first of all I apologize if this question has already been answered! I have recently been testing HSS with my Pentax K-3, using 3 different Pentax flashes: a Pentax 360 FGZ, a Pentax 540 FGZ, and a Pentax 540 FGZII. I am attempting to use all 3 flashes together in HSS. So far, I have found that this only seems to work when the Pentax 540 FGZ II is used as the MASTER flash on the camera body, with the other 2 used in "slave mode". If instead I use the 540FGZ or the 360FGZ as the "master" flash, this only manages to fire ONE of the other 2 flashes in "slave mode", I never manage to fire all 3 flashes together. I just wonder if someone else has tried similar situations out, or may it be that I'm missing out on something? Anyway, good to know that the system seems to work perfectly with all 3 flashes AS LONG AS THE 540FGGZ II is selected as the MASTER flash! I would also like to understand if, at this point, by using the 540FGZ II as the "MASTER" flash, it would be possible to fire even more than 3 flashes together in HSS? Thanks for any help on the matter! Paul
There should be no reason why they cannot all act as the on camera flash

A few things you can check out... Make sure when you are using the two in slave mode, that you have not set one of them to the second slave setting. This is often called dumb slave mode.
Make sure your line-of-sight between master and slave is uninterrupted.
HSS on Pentax is a P-TTL mode only, all flashes need to be in P-TTL mode.

What happens if you change the MASTER flash setting to a CONTROLLER setting instead? Do you still have problems.

If you are using HSS I assume you are outside. This means you may have issues if one slave cannot see the trigger flash because the ambient is too bright. I use radio triggers (Cactus). much more consistent and you don't need to worry about line of sight/ ambient brightness
12-03-2019, 06:38 AM   #3
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User @mcgregni may help.

He is the author of a Pentax P-TTL Flash Guide.

I agree with pschlute that radio triggering is better (easier and more flexible), but if you want to work with the equipment you've got then the above guide may give you clue as to what you might be missing.
12-03-2019, 06:43 AM   #4
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Thanks for the hints!
Actually I carried out all the tests indoors and made sure the flashes were in view of each other. Also, I must mention that when the AF540FTZ or the AF360FTZ were acting as the "MASTER" flash, they would only fire one other flash off, and if I turned one of the 2 slave flashes off, the remaining one would always fire. I could switch from one "slave" flash to the other just by turning them on and off alternately. But when both "slave" flashes were ON, only one would fire.
In other words it seemed that the AF540FTZ and the AF360FTZ were not "capable" of handling 2 off-line slave flashes - while when using the AF540FTZ-II as MASTER flash everything always worked perfectly.

regarding the "CONTROL vs MASTER" attempt, yes I tried this out a bit, and noticed no differences, but maybe I should explore it more thoroughly. Also, my aim is to have 3 simultaneous flashes working together so the "control" feature would not be of use to me.

Yes they were all in P-TTL mode and the slave settings were correct. All tests obviously were in HSS mode, using 1/5000 second on the camera.

Thanks again! Paul

12-03-2019, 06:50 AM   #5
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According to the table on page 66 of the 645Z Operating Manual, only the two FGZII models (540, 360) can perform HSS wireless flash on this camera. This may be a clue for the OP's issue. I don't think the 500FTZ knows what HSS is. The 540FGZ manual provides a method for off-camera wireless HSS, but it seems to depend on the camera having a built-in flash. Some experimentation would be needed to determine the true HSS limits of mixed flash combinations.

The Cactus system seems to provide multi-flash HSS functionality, although I haven't had a chance to test it.
12-03-2019, 07:50 AM   #6
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I must apologize: in my previous posts I am always referring to "FGZ" flashes, not "FTZ" as I erroneously wrote!! Sorry for the confusion!!

So, in summary:
I have tested 3 flashes together: AF360FGZ, AF540FGZ, AF540FGZ-II.

Using the AF540 FGZ-II as the "master" flash (and the other 2 as "slave" flashes) I manage to have all 3 flashes firing simultaneously in HSS P-TTL mode.
If instead I use either the AF540 FGZ or AF360 FGZ in "master" mode and the other 2 flashes as "slaves", I only manage to have 2 flashes firing at a time, never all 3.

I am probably making some mistake somewhere, but I'm not sure, and the manuals are not clear on this topic, they never clearly specify how many Pentax flashes can be used together in HSS mode....
12-03-2019, 09:13 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dipper Quote
I must apologize: in my previous posts I am always referring to "FGZ" flashes, not "FTZ" as I erroneously wrote!! Sorry for the confusion!!

So, in summary:
I have tested 3 flashes together: AF360FGZ, AF540FGZ, AF540FGZ-II.

Using the AF540 FGZ-II as the "master" flash (and the other 2 as "slave" flashes) I manage to have all 3 flashes firing simultaneously in HSS P-TTL mode.
If instead I use either the AF540 FGZ or AF360 FGZ in "master" mode and the other 2 flashes as "slaves", I only manage to have 2 flashes firing at a time, never all 3.

I am probably making some mistake somewhere, but I'm not sure, and the manuals are not clear on this topic, they never clearly specify how many Pentax flashes can be used together in HSS mode....
I guess I should ask whether you are certain that when a non FGZ-II flash is master, that the other flash that works is actually emitting HSS pulses? Is the slave flash that operates always the FGZ-II?
12-03-2019, 09:26 AM   #8
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The on camera flash power switch should be set to Wireless, and the Wireless mode on that flash to M. The off camera units should be set to S, be on the same channel as the on camera unit, and be set to Wireless mode. All units should be in P-TTL mode. Please note that shooting at 1/5000 will limit the flash distance (due to drop-off) of the units in HSS mode. You may want to try a lesser shutter speed. Also, the flash units zoom position should be similar to the focal length of the lens being used. The HSS uses a significant amount of power, so battery life may not last as long as when shooting in a mode other than HSS.

That is some information that is similar to my AF360FGZ manual guidelines, just in case it helps.

12-03-2019, 09:57 AM - 1 Like   #9
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THANKS, here are my quick replies:
kaseki: I cannot be certain that when a non FGZ-II flash is master, the other flash is actually emitting HSS pulses! Possibly the other flash gets triggered by the opptical photocell and fires something random? That is possible! (but it shouldn't do that according to what I gather from the manuals). As fo your second question, when a "non FGZ-II" is used as master, with the other "non FGZ-II" and the FGZ-II as slaves, then the FGZ-II IS indeed the one that fires! However, if I turn off the FGZ-II and refire, then the "non FGZ-II" will start firing away quite happily! All very confusing, it seems the "non FGZ-II" as master can't cope with more than one slave flash in P-TTL/HSS.

C_Jones: Thanks for your suggestions, I did indeed follow these guidelines very carefully, and only with the AF540 FGZ-II as master did all 3 flashes fire simultaneously. I assume they were all working in HSS in reality, too! I took some pics of birds in flight and they came out well. As for the 1/5000 of a sec, that's the speed I used when I was testing the flashes indoors. When I used them outdoors I used speeds of around 1/2000-1/3000 in order to freeze the birds in flight and avoid ghosting effects from the ambient light.
12-03-2019, 11:03 AM   #10
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It seems that you are well within the guidelines for use of the flashes. I have AF360FGZ units, not the AF540FGZII, so I have no way to test. I have never seen any information on the AF540FGZII that states it would act any differently than the AF540FGZ or the AF360FGZ in the wireless scenario. Maybe a lighting tech at the seller where you got the AF540FGZII or a Pentax tech at the Pentax/Ricoh site could advise you on the issue of the flashes not all firing in the setup you mentioned. They most likely would have access to equipment to test, or already have knowledge. On the other hand, maybe another forum member may know how to approach your goal.

Good luck.

Last edited by C_Jones; 12-03-2019 at 11:21 AM.
12-03-2019, 12:12 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dipper Quote
kaseki: I cannot be certain that when a non FGZ-II flash is master, the other flash is actually emitting HSS pulses!
Have you not looked at it while it is supposed to be firing ? It is either flashing or it is not ?
12-03-2019, 12:22 PM   #12
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Yes I always observe the flashes and I see when they go off and when they don't. But I can't be certain, when they fire, whether it's an HSS pulse or a "normal" flash. They are always all set to HSS, wireless, P-TTL, etc, and the camera is set to 1/5000. kaseki was suggesting that possibly when the system doesn't work as it should (ie only one slave flash fires), that in this case the flash may be a normal 1/1000 flash emission, and not an HSS pulse. I can't be sure of this without further testing. But in any case, it shouldn't be behaving like this. From what I gather from the manuals, the 3 flashes shoud always fire simultaneously in HSS mode, and not only when the AF540FGZ-II is used as the "master" flash.....
12-03-2019, 12:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dipper Quote
Yes I always observe the flashes and I see when they go off and when they don't. But I can't be certain, when they fire, whether it's an HSS pulse or a "normal" flash
You have confused me now. You premise for this thread is that one of your two off-camera flashes is not firing. You are now saying it does fire. So does it fire or not ? Just look at the flash unit as you trigger the shutter

If one of your flashes was firing in normal mode (rather than HSS) which is very unlikely, you would see a bright banding strip as your shutter speed is 1/5000

Have you set ratios on your set-up ?
12-03-2019, 12:59 PM - 1 Like   #14
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Sorry for the confusion!! Here are the facts: (IN SUMMARY, SOMETIMES ALL 3 FLASHES FIRE, SOMETIMES ONLY 2, DEPENDING WHICH FLASH IS BEING USED AS MASTER ON THE CAMERA)

I tested 3 flashes together: AF360FGZ, AF540FGZ, AF540FGZ-II, using each one of the 3 different flashes as "master" flash on the camera, one at a time.

When I use the AF540 FGZ-II as the "master" flash (and the other 2 as "slave" flashes) all 3 flashes fire simultaneously.

If instead I use either the AF540 FGZ or AF360 FGZ in "master" mode and the other 2 flashes as "slaves", only 2 flashes fire, one of the slaves will not fire (the 540FGZ-II fires, the other non FGZ-II does not) .

No, I have never set any ratios.

Excellent point about the bright banding strip!! Hadn't thought of that, and NO, I have never noticed any bright bands in my test shots so I must deduce that all flash bursts were HSS pulses!
12-04-2019, 10:44 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
It seems that you are well within the guidelines for use of the flashes. I have AF360FGZ units, not the AF540FGZII, so I have no way to test. I have never seen any information on the AF540FGZII that states it would act any differently than the AF540FGZ or the AF360FGZ in the wireless scenario. Maybe a lighting tech at the seller where you got the AF540FGZII or a Pentax tech at the Pentax/Ricoh site could advise you on the issue of the flashes not all firing in the setup you mentioned. They most likely would have access to equipment to test, or already have knowledge. On the other hand, maybe another forum member may know how to approach your goal.

Good luck.
In the 645Z Operating Manual, page 66, the non-II flash models are distinguished from the II flash models in two respects: (a) Discharging a flash multiple times, and (b) High-speed sync flash Wireless Flash2 [*2 Two or more compatible flash units are required.]

Someone with a recent FF model camera Operating Manual should check for any claims of differences among flash units to clarify whether the 645Z Flash Compatibility Chart is consistent in the above respect across modern Pentax digital cameras.
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