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10-23-2012, 04:05 PM   #1
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ext. flash guidelines for K-01

So, for those starting & can't afford the official external flashes (and don't mind going manual)

What to look for when buying a cheap/random/third party flash for a Pentax K-01?

Trigger voltage = ?
(Other aspects ?)

10-23-2012, 04:31 PM   #2
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If you are buying an older flash, make sure it doesn't fry your camera.
Make sure the flash is compatible with Pentax cameras. P-TTL. Other things to consider are what batteries it uses, how powerful it is, what speeds it allows, whether it rotates and how much..
Or just get wireless triggers and a cheapo flash. But keep in mind that getting the cheapest stuff also means it can fall apart. (I mean those cheap, no-name chinese products)
Also, there is a flash review section that might be helpful:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/accessoryreviews/

Last edited by Na Horuk; 10-23-2012 at 04:38 PM.
10-23-2012, 04:43 PM   #3
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I'm aware of the "frying" part; hence my question about the trigger voltage limit to look for

Also "Manual" as i mentioned, means P-TTL won't be used
10-23-2012, 06:21 PM - 1 Like   #4
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10-23-2012, 07:54 PM   #5
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Universal Auto Flash for learning

Unless you are doing macro shooting, you don't need pTTL to get excellent shots. A large share of Canon wedding photographers depend on auto flash when not using multi-flash because auto flash tends to be far more reliable. And that's Canon which has a far-more sophisticated preflash TTL design than Pentax. (I don't bother with pTTL at all due to all the portrait reaction problems, but will use it at times on the Canon set up.) Another concern - if you are looking at really cheap third-party units claiming to be "TTL" - they likely are the old units designed for film that do not provide a preflash. The will not work properly with any Pentax dSLR made in the last seven years.

I also do not recommend settling for a strictly "manual" flash, even the ones that allow you to set power ratios. What you want is auto - short for auto-thyrister. You can tell if a flash has auto settings by looking at the front to see if it has a small hole to accept light and shut off the flash when the proper amount of light is received. Not only extremely reliable and accurate (at distances more than 3 feet), auto functions give you faster recycling and saves battery juice. I think the best of these flashes are probably on the used market (if you are looking for an old Vivitar 285hv - find one with a serial number on the front just above the tilt; newer ones are not well made or reliable due to the brand buyout about six years ago). If you can find one, the Vivitar 3700 with a universal (generic) base is very good and gives you both tilt and swivel).

Even the no-name new flashes can be OK - at least for learning - and you can find them at reputable dealers. Here's one from B&H for only $37, giving you two auto ranges up to 15 feet and 30 feet. You can use the 30-foot range with bounce and set your kit lens at f/5.6 and ISO 400. Not a lot of power, but these days you can use higher ISO without fear. It has tilt and swivel, so pretty good features for so little.
Dot Line RPS Automatic Thyrister Bounce Flash DL-82ABSZ B&H
B & H isn't entirely accurate - there is no auto range to 45 feet; but you could shoot manually to achieve the longer distances.

Good luck with learning flash shooting. Check out the Stobist blogspot for help with technique for beginner to expert levels.

Last edited by ScooterMaxi Jim; 10-23-2012 at 09:06 PM. Reason: model accuracy corrected
10-23-2012, 08:17 PM   #6
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Very interesting. I just pulled out my auto thyristor flash that came with my K1000 ages and ages ago. I couldn't take a bad photo with it, using the recommended settings on the back. The PTTL flash I am always having problems with. Maybe I just need to go older school, and find a nice auto thyristor bounce flash instead.

Charles.
10-23-2012, 08:32 PM   #7
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That old flash for the K1000

As far as I know, none of the newer flashes will have a trigger voltage problem. Even those old units with a 100v trigger will not knock out a digital Pentax on the first shot, but over time it can.

Some of the Vivitar flashes - especially the 285s - can be good or bad on this point; most of the 283s are high voltage. (It is pretty easy to actually measure it.) On Pentax, you can be pretty sure that anything at 12v or less will be quite safe.

Here's a listing: Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages

Also, I think the K-01/K30 are doing a bit better, making the most of what pTTL can offer in terms of accuracy and preflash speed. The K5 is better than the earlier models, but still many problems with accuracy. Before that, I would say pTTL by all reports just did not cut it.

Last edited by ScooterMaxi Jim; 10-23-2012 at 08:38 PM. Reason: more precise wording
10-23-2012, 09:43 PM   #8
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Yeah, I have a K-x and my Sigma flash will either wildly overexpose (especially with larger aperatures) or under expose terribly (especially distant subjects). In either case, I can manually adjust the flash settings to get the result I want, but I shouldn't HAVE to. If it's better with a K01 or a K30, that's awesome.

Charles.

10-24-2012, 01:17 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Medium FormatPro Quote
still didn't buy it, but I'm again triggered for it. I did look at photokina for it, but there was no Holga anywhere.
10-24-2012, 02:35 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
Unless you are doing macro shooting, you don't need pTTL to get excellent shots. A large share of Canon wedding photographers depend on auto flash when not using multi-flash because auto flash tends to be far more reliable. And that's Canon which has a far-more sophisticated preflash TTL design than Pentax. (I don't bother with pTTL at all due to all the portrait reaction problems, but will use it at times on the Canon set up.) Another concern - if you are looking at really cheap third-party units claiming to be "TTL" - they likely are the old units designed for film that do not provide a preflash. The will not work properly with any Pentax dSLR made in the last seven years.

I also do not recommend settling for a strictly "manual" flash, even the ones that allow you to set power ratios. What you want is auto - short for auto-thyrister. You can tell if a flash has auto settings by looking at the front to see if it has a small hole to accept light and shut off the flash when the proper amount of light is received. Not only extremely reliable and accurate (at distances more than 3 feet), auto functions give you faster recycling and saves battery juice. I think the best of these flashes are probably on the used market (if you are looking for an old Vivitar 285hv - find one with a serial number on the front just above the tilt; newer ones are not well made or reliable due to the brand buyout about six years ago). If you can find one, the Vivitar 3700 with a universal (generic) base is very good and gives you both tilt and swivel).

Even the no-name new flashes can be OK - at least for learning - and you can find them at reputable dealers. Here's one from B&H for only $37, giving you two auto ranges up to 15 feet and 30 feet. You can use the 30-foot range with bounce and set your kit lens at f/5.6 and ISO 400. Not a lot of power, but these days you can use higher ISO without fear. It has tilt and swivel, so pretty good features for so little.
Dot Line RPS Automatic Thyrister Bounce Flash DL-82ABSZ B&H
B & H isn't entirely accurate - there is no auto range to 45 feet; but you could shoot manually to achieve the longer distances.

Good luck with learning flash shooting. Check out the Stobist blogspot for help with technique for beginner to expert levels.

QUITE helpful, maxi

Thanks a million. And i looked up the Auto (Auto Thyristor) which was defined as a Pre-TTL version of flashes that doesn't receive exposure information from the camera like ISO...etc and instead has a sensor that senses the light (even bounced) and adjusts its power output automatically
It was also mentioned that it has faster recycles

ALSO; after some links; a post on a message board discussing trigger voltages said (after contacting Pentax) that the safe trigger voltage for their DSLRs *ist D*ist (sth like that) should be anything below 30V
10-24-2012, 04:37 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by RonHendriks1966 Quote
still didn't buy it, but I'm again triggered for it. I did look at photokina for it
I had this exact flah unit mounted to a yellow brick at Photokina. There were a fair share of people there actualy asking to look at both the camera and this secondary market flash unit - although... I did in fact take the batteries out of it, because quite frankly - I'm not sure if this particular unit is actually safe to use with digital ??

But also noting to the original article poster...

Why not also try a flash unit that has the slave function?
10-24-2012, 06:39 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Medium FormatPro Quote
I had this exact flah unit mounted to a yellow brick at Photokina. There were a fair share of people there actualy asking to look at both the camera and this secondary market flash unit - although... I did in fact take the batteries out of it, because quite frankly - I'm not sure if this particular unit is actually safe to use with digital ??
I think it is safe. And wow, you found it! It is a very general product, just with a new flashy coat. I think the technics are the same as the old Pentax flash 160sa (or something).

Does it look great! (in a weird world)
10-24-2012, 08:24 AM   #13
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More flash thoughts

The little Holga unit is just fine regarding trigger voltage. Small 3v powered flashes tend to have low triggers. They sell a lot of them in Europe and Asia, often in the image conscious Sharper Image kind of stores. We would have heard something if anyone had a problem.

My main source regarding the improvement in flash performance is the extremely thorough and reliable commentary from John Flores who has many gripes with his K-01, but did a lot of testing and found that it had none of the flash exposure problems commonly reported on the K5. As a K20D owner, I have noted threads indicating that the K5 is an improvement over that K20D unit which has a tendency to trigger droopy eyes in at least 10% of fast-reacting subjects due to the timing of preflash to main flash trigger. In at least 20% of the subjects photographed - if you look closely - people are beginning to react in facial tension (but not yet a droopy eye) due to preflash. This is an involuntary action that happens every time in these folks. The K5 is quicker by all reports, and I suspect the KX is better, as well. Really, everyone who can get away with all natural light wants to use it, but it is surprising how few pro photographers (at least the ones who don't do weddings) understand the advantages of a single flash output with no preflash.

As for exposure, it is an odd thing about any TTL system in terms of how a flash exposes. With a wedding couple, you tend to have white (bride) and black (groom), and the metering system will very possibly react to one or the other - causing poor exposure. With auto thyrister, you tend to have a normal to wide sensor pattern that simply shuts off when enough reflected light reaches it. Not nearly as precise, but far more fool-proof when you have to get the shot every time. This is the KiSS system to the extreme, and you have two huge main contacts (center and ground at edge of the hot shoe) that do not depend on two or three additional miniature contacts to function properly. If you have taken 100 TTL hot shoe shots in your life, you have experienced a poorly seated flash bombing out a full blast; if not congratulate yourself on being especially meticulous.

Yes, the Chinese flashes are mostly cheap and can fall apart. The shoes are especially vulnerable. I think the Bower units are a little more solid, probably close to the Sigma quality, but not nearly as good as Pentax or Metz. As for these cheap units that include slave, they have many masters to serve so they need to be set for X number of preflashes and they need to see each preflash in order to trigger properly. Tried one with the K20D, and found only about 50% success - not good. If you want multi-flash on the cheap, you are much better off with two cheap thyristor units with one mounted on the hot shoe and the second attached to a Wein slave. Works fine every time once you get your measurements figured out.

Speaking of Wein, they have a shoe mounted voltage surge protector for those old flash units.
10-24-2012, 08:46 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by RonHendriks1966 Quote
I think it is safe. And wow, you found it! It is a very general product, just with a new flashy coat. I think the technics are the same as the old Pentax flash 160sa (or something).

Does it look great! (in a weird world)
Now if Holga would just do a PK version of their toy lens in yellow (only Canon and Nikon get colors, grumble, grumble).
10-25-2012, 07:33 AM   #15
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I ran a test of my Sigma 610 vs a little auto thyristor. Put the camera on continuous shooting and held down the trigger. Sigma flashed four times, then missed two cycles, then flashed twice, missed one, then flashed again three times, etc.

Auto thyristor flashed seven times before needing to recycle... Sigma batteries were freshly charged, auto thyristor has whatever batteries were in it when I put it away two years ago.

Same target, everything was exposed properly (when the flashes fired). Auto thyristor performs much better for continuous.

Also, sigma is unreliable. If the flash isn't seated perfeclty, it either won't fire, or it will fire full blast. Even the slightest movement can dislodge it. Sliding 1mm backwards in the hot shoe is enough to eff it up.

Only deal with auto thyristor is you have to match the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed to specific values on the back. If you're trying to use a large aperture to expose the background correctly and a flash to expose your subject correctly, you'll be quite limited in that endeavor.

Charles.
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