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10-06-2023, 09:54 AM   #16
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Have you considered getting some studio flash units for your studio shooting situation? Yes, it is possible to get good results with shoe-mount flash units, but it's just easier with the more powerful plug-in units. Also, they can be fitted with big light modifiers, like a 5-foot-wide umbrella, or a 30"x30" or larger soft box, which will give you softer light, with fewer shadows. You don't have to worry about P-TTL compatibility, since most studio flash units have infrared sensors that will trigger their flashes when they see the flash from the primary unit. The primary unit can be triggered by a PC cord going from your camera, or with the built-in flash or a shoe-mount flash dialled down to very low power, like 1/32 or 1/64. Or, you can use a built-in or shoe-mount flash to provide some fill lighting while also triggering your studio units.

You can use a flash meter, as I did when I was shooting with film, but with digital cameras, it's easy to see if you got the look you were after. Not quite right? Just adjust the f-stop until you've got what you want. The camera is usually set to Manual, so there's no confusion between what you want and what the camera wants. The shutter speed is usually set between 1/60 and your top synch speed, like 1/180, 1/200, or maybe even 1/250, because you want all light falling on your subject to come from your flash units, not from the light in the room.

Yes, big new studio flash units can be very pricey, but used ones can be a real bargain, especially the old ones that still work just fine. I bought a Bowens 400 for under $500, including stand, and then a pair of old Courtenay 650 units, complete with stands that are tall enough to hit the ceiling in an 8-foot-tall or slightly taller room. They also came with a boom and a weight. I never used the boom and weight, so I sold those and still had all the gear I needed, but now at a slightly reduced price. $750 was the price I paid, minus $150 from the boom and weight sale, so a good deal. The only issue with the older studio flash units is that some of them don't have the fine adjustability of modern gear, so instead of having a range of 1/64 to full power, it may have just 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and full power, meaning that even at 100 ISO, you may need to shoot at f8. To open up for shallower depth of filed, you can use an ND filter, for one option. Those model numbers are in watt-seconds, meaning they're much more powerful than the 150-200 watt-seconds output of typical shoe-mount flash units. This can come in handy when you're bouncing the light off a reflecting umbrella, or even through a shoot-through type. Newer old studio units, like from this century, will likely have the finely adjustable power outputs of current units. I bought those three flashes over 20 years ago, and they still serve me well.

Just something different to think about. Also, the POP! of big studio flash units firing lets your subjects see and hear that they're in a real studio, even if it's in your living room, garage, or basement.



---------- Post added 10-06-23 at 10:17 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by sebberry Quote
What's your budget?
I ended up getting a new Godox with wireless transmitter after having two dead AF540FGZ flash units. The Godox is a good bit of kit. I know this doesn't address your question specifically, but don't limit yourself to those options.


---------- Post added 10-06-23 at 10:20 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by sebberry Quote
"What's your budget?
I ended up getting a new Godox with wireless transmitter after having two dead AF540FGZ flash units. The Godox is a good bit of kit. I know this doesn't address your question specifically, but don't limit yourself to those options."

You had two AF540FGZ flashes die on you? I was considering getting one, for the weather resistance, for times when I'm shooting outdoors and it starts to rain. However, it looks like the model is discontinued, with no replacement listed. That's two clues that they're not the best flash Pentax ever made. Do you know what went wrong with yours?

Read more at: Metz Mecablitz 44 AF-1 or Pentax AF360FGZ flash? - Page 2 - PentaxForums.com


Last edited by Pentax4me; 10-06-2023 at 10:21 AM.
10-06-2023, 11:36 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentax4me Quote
You had two AF540FGZ flashes die on you?
Somehow they lost track of where in the zoom range the zoom head was, so it would keep trying to drive it and make a machine gunning noise as the gear kept skipping. I had to restart it to resolve it but it kept doing it.

Keep in mind these were the first gen, I don't know if the weather sealed units are better. It's pretty sad Pentax doesn't have any good flashes.

For my K3-3 I got the Godox V860iii plus transmitter. Seems good so far, the lithium ion battery gives quick cycle times and lots of flashes. I do need to use it more and get better with the remote trigger and functionality - it could be slightly more user friendly but for the price, no complaints. I just need to learn it more
10-17-2023, 11:05 AM   #18
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Investing in studio flash kit is not on the cards. I do very little flash photography as it is. I would rather invest in a full frame camera body.
12-27-2023, 12:57 PM   #19
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I've read similar dubious reports about the AF540FGZ, and it's disappointing.

However, I've been shooting with a Metz 58AF2 since 2011 with good results, first with the K-3, and now with the K-3 III. There is a dedicated Pentax model, marked "FOR PEN" near the base. It might require couple of test shots to get set, but then it's consistent. I had one problem with the zoom mechanism, but that was quickly repaired under warranty around 2012 or so, and no bother since then. It's well-built and powerful, but there's no factory backup anymore because there's no company anymore. I normally use it in P-TTL, but sometimes I'll set it to manual and dial it down to 1/64 power and use it to trigger my studio flashes wirelessly. The camera is in Manual with the studio flashes, usually at 1/60 or 1/125. Set and forget.

I hope this is helpful.

Almost forgot: I've heard a lot of good things about the Yongnuo flashes, especially their prices.

12-28-2023, 09:23 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
Investing in studio flash kit is not on the cards. I do very little flash photography as it is. I would rather invest in a full frame camera body.
I got the Godox kit for under $300 USD (Flash and wireless trigger). I was using off-camera flash (sat the flash on a flash tripod in the corner, bounced off the ceiling) for family Christmas morning photos and it made a world of a difference to picture quality. I do recommend it. Plus, you can expand the system easily later.

My bigger complaint was using off-center focus points but that's a rant for another thread...
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