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09-17-2011, 01:20 AM - 9 Likes   #1
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Definitive manual external flash guidance

So as some of you read, I was experiencing very odd behaior with my external flashes and triggers. I've done testing with the following variables:

Is the Flash a PTTL flash and if so, is it in PTTL mode?
Allow or disallow internal flash to fire while retracted
Flash setting to ON (forced fill, rear curtain, red eye reducer, etc) or OFF

This is a total of 12 different setups. Below are the details and then the summary below that.

Flash usedEnable/Disable while closedFlash ModeResults
-------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PTTLdisabledONP-TTL
PTTLdisabledOFFNo flash
PTTLenabledONP-TTL
PTTLenabledOFFNo flash
PTTL manual modedisabledONFixed flash power regardless of setting on flash
PTTL manual modedisabledOFFNo flash
PTTL manual modeenabledONFixed flash power regardless of setting on flash
PTTL manual modeenabledOFFNo flash
manual flashdisabledONNo flash (NOT as expected)
manual flashdisabledOFFFires flash as full manual
manual flashenabledONFires INTERNAL flash (as if no external existed)
manual flashenabledOFFNo flash

To summarize my findings:
When using a P-TTL flash in P-TTL mode, everything works as you think it should. The camera will use the external flash instead of the internal flash. P-TTL metering works.

When using my P-TTL flash in manual mode, things go pretty nuts. You can turn the flash off by choosing the Flash OFF setting for flash. But if you set flash to ON, the external flash only seems to flash at one level, regardless of what output I set the flash to. Full power or 1/16 looks identical. I used a Sigma 530 DG Super.

For a full manual flash or flash trigger is where it gets really complicated. If you allow the internal flash to fire while retracted, it will fire the internal flash when flash is set to ON, but the external flash is ignored. FLASH OFF yields no flash, as expected. But if you DISABLE the internal flash while retracted, you will get no flash (internal or external) when set to FLASH ON. That's counterintuitive. But if you set the Flash mode to FLASH OFF and disable internal flash while retracted, you can get the manual triggering we're looking for.

So in summary, the Q can use P-TTL flashes exactly as you'd expect. If you only do P-TTL flash, you're fine. If you want to use a P-TTL flash in manual mode, you're screwed. You have no settings that will allow this. And finally, if you want to use a manual flash or flash trigger, you MUST set the "Flash When Retracted" to "Do Not Discharge Flash" AND you must also set the flash mode to FLASH OFF. These are the only settings that will give the results you want!

Edit 2011-09-30:
I just discovered that while you can sync the internal flash to an adapted (non Q) lens to 1/13 second, you cannot do the same for manual external flashes. When using a fully manual, no electrical contact lens in front of the Q, I cannot find a way to get my external manual flash to fire at any shutter speed. However, in the same setup with no lens electrically attached, I am still able to use an external PTTL flash and sync it at up to 1/13 seconds. This is troubling because I'd like to be able to use adapted lenses AND my external manual flash at once.


Last edited by devorama; 09-29-2011 at 10:17 PM. Reason: Added info about shooting without a Q lens attached.
09-17-2011, 08:33 AM   #2
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Thanks for these usefull advices.
09-18-2011, 09:07 AM   #3
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Nice info to have. Thanks for all the detective work. I am going to print your chart out and add it to my IB. It will save me time someday.
thanks
barondla
09-21-2011, 08:07 AM   #4
mel
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Great guide! I was just messing around with this yesterday with various flashes and was wondering why my cheap straight-from-China manual flash would fire but not my Pentax 360. Thanks for figuring it out for me.

As an aside, it is rather comical seeing a great big flash mounted to a teeny tiny camera.

09-29-2011, 10:19 PM   #5
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I just found out some new and disappointing things about using my manual external flash when the lens is disconnected. Whithout a Q lens electrically connected to the mount, I see no way to activate a manual flash or flash trigger. My PTTL flash works, even though it can only sync to 1/13 sec or slower. I've updated the original post with this informatin too. Hopefully this can be fixed with a firmware update!
09-30-2011, 02:44 AM   #6
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Hello devorama, thats exactly what i experienced using the tele toy lens as stated in the other thread : max speed of 1/13s...
09-30-2011, 07:13 AM   #7
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Good to know thanks for running and posting the findings.
03-12-2012, 06:18 PM   #8
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Urgh, this same problem bit me again. I was going to take a super closeup with my new 03 fisheye lens, but I forgot my flash triggers won't work with this lens. This should be fixable with a firmware update. I know it's fixed aperture and manual focus, but it's not classified as a "toy" lens and it has electrical contacts to tell the body about the aperture. Boo!

03-13-2012, 02:36 PM   #9
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Hi, the toy lenses give aperture too, so i guess this is not the problem. Flash synch. is rather an electronic shutter issue.
02-27-2014, 10:40 AM   #10
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With the Pentax adapter I can get the PT04 triggers to work up to 1/250 sec shutter speed.
Note that the flash settings have to be set to 'OFF' on the camera.
I noticed that if I shoot at around 1/100 it is very consistent, but as I start to approach 1/250 sometimes it will not trigger or will stop triggering all together.
The transmitter will not even respond it I push the top firing button.
I have to turn the Q7 off then back on to get it to start working again.

With the Q I recall being able to trigger consistently at 1/250, so I dont know if my Q7 is bad or if it is my triggers have a problem.

One of the cool things I find to using the Pentax adapter is that if instead of using the PT04's I use the onboard flash as an optical trigger, I can get my external slave flashes to fire at up to 1/1000 of a second without needing HSS.

I use this method when I am adapting long lenses for birding and using the Pentax 540 with a flash extender, but I suspect it could be used for other creative flash work.
03-06-2014, 07:33 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
With the Pentax adapter I can get the PT04 triggers to work up to 1/250 sec shutter speed.
Note that the flash settings have to be set to 'OFF' on the camera.
I noticed that if I shoot at around 1/100 it is very consistent, but as I start to approach 1/250 sometimes it will not trigger or will stop triggering all together.
The transmitter will not even respond it I push the top firing button.
I have to turn the Q7 off then back on to get it to start working again.

With the Q I recall being able to trigger consistently at 1/250, so I dont know if my Q7 is bad or if it is my triggers have a problem.

One of the cool things I find to using the Pentax adapter is that if instead of using the PT04's I use the onboard flash as an optical trigger, I can get my external slave flashes to fire at up to 1/1000 of a second without needing HSS.

I use this method when I am adapting long lenses for birding and using the Pentax 540 with a flash extender, but I suspect it could be used for other creative flash work.
Could be a change in setting make it not working in Q7.
if you have set 1/250 and keep every other setting (A, T, ISO, mode) the same, it might fire up everytime.
I don't own a Q7 but just my guess.
03-18-2017, 06:21 PM - 1 Like   #12
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In regards to using the on board flash as an optical trigger, I found on the Q10 it may be problematic since the camera might fire off a pre-flash causing the external flash to fire off pre-maturally even if you simply set the flash mode to on (as opposed to doing red eye reduction which will always fire off a pre-flash burst).

Fortunately though, my Metz 64AF-1 has a 'learn' mode, where I figure off a picture and it learns the flash pattern to be triggered. Flash sync is still limited to 1/13th and below, however with this method you can successfully fire the external flash with a non-electronically-connected adapted manual lens using the onboard flash as a trigger. It may help to reduce the onboard flash to -2EV on the flash compensation as not to add to your exposure from the front unless you want it to (doesn't have much of a guide number compared to most externals though).

Also reason why Pentax's PK adapter can fire up to 1/1,000th without sync issues is because it is using a leaf shutter, leaf shutters sync at all speeds.

QuoteOriginally posted by devorama Quote
Urgh, this same problem bit me again. I was going to take a super closeup with my new 03 fisheye lens, but I forgot my flash triggers won't work with this lens. This should be fixable with a firmware update. I know it's fixed aperture and manual focus, but it's not classified as a "toy" lens and it has electrical contacts to tell the body about the aperture. Boo!
The non-metal-mounted lens with electronic contacts will fire, but only at 1/13th or below. You'll notice this if you put it in any mode that automatically changes the shutter speed for you, it'll drop down to 1/13th automatically if you pop up the flash.

So the nutshell is :

External Flash (attached directly or triggered via hot-shoe to sync cable/remote trigger)
Will fire at 1/250th and below with a metal mounted lens (01/02/06/08) with a built in shutter and the official Pentax K adapter (with leaf shutter).
Will fire at 1/13th and below with any electronically connected lens.
Will not fire with lens removed, or using an adapter with no electronic contacts.
Flash mode must be 'off', and custom setting for flash when retracted should be disabled

Onboard Flash*
Will fire 1/2,000th and below with a metal mounted lens (01/02/06/08) with a built in shutter.
Will fire at 1/1,000th and below with the official Pentax K adapter with built in leaf shutter.
Will fire at 1/13 and below for all lens/adapters

External Flash w/ onboard as optical trigger*
Will fire at 1/2,000th and below with a metal mounted lens (01/02/06/08) with a built in shutter (external flash does not cause any focal-plane-like cut offs even at 1/2,000th)
Will fire at 1/1,000th and below for the official Pentax K Adapter (seeing that 1/2,000th doesn't cut off an external flash, the PK leaf shutter should not either)
Will fire at 1/13th and below for all lens/adapters

Basically for the last one, whatever the onboard flash can do directly, can be done when using it as a trigger.

* Setting flash to "On", rather than Auto, since it might decide the scene doesn't "need" flash depending on the mode you're shooting in. Should be able to also do On+RedEye if your external can learn the pattern, but On+Trailing might not get the best results with external flashes seeing as the on-board flash is being fired at the end of the exposure.
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