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08-27-2013, 11:25 AM   #1
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Flash for manual lenses

The built-in flash is mostly useless for my manual non-A lenses. Even if I'll do the calculation and all, it remains that the flash always fires full power and eats up battery. So I'm looking for a compact auto flash to go with my most excellent K-01 panda. I'm looking at the Metz 20 c-2 and Nikon SB-20. Any suggestion or sharing your experience?

08-27-2013, 12:57 PM   #2
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I find that the Pentax AF280T works well in "Red" mode, or I just set it to the "L" position and it's usually good enough for what I want to do if it is a close enough shot. I love that flash - it recharges super-quickly and it works much better than I thought it would, when it is mounted on the camera for the odd quick shot.

A couple months ago I got a Zeikos ZE-AF585P on Amazon (there it is listed as ZE-AF58P until today, but that is a typo on Amazon's part). Like the Pentax it also bounces and swivels and has auto and manual modes along with the P-TTL mode (which I haven't even used yet). It also has the sensor to work as a slave and is rated 199 feet (guide number). No idea if that is an accurate number as these Chinese flashes sometimes exaggerate their numbers, but it does seem powerful enough for all I've wanted to do so far.

But the main reason the Zeikos (and its counterparts from Vivitar and Bower, which are the same flash, just more expensive) is good is because its manual mode has 5 settings, each a full stop down. So we have 1/1 (full power), 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 and 1/16. The 1/16 setting is very useful for fill-in light outside when doing portraits. Once you learn to read your available light and your distance (and whether you're bouncing off a wall/ceiling or not), it is very easy to find which one of the 5 settings you need, and even if I'm wrong I'm usually only one stop away from where I need to be.

Both these flashes together can be had for around 100 bucks and since the Zeikos can be a slave to the Pentax I think it's good cheap combo and there's a lot of possibilities with it that I haven't even tried yet, but with 3 young boys I will try and get some nice portraits going regularly as they grow up.

Edit: sorry, I totally missed the "small" part of your post.

Last edited by ChristianRock; 08-27-2013 at 01:48 PM.
08-27-2013, 01:31 PM   #3
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For something small I picked up a Sunpak 144D for next to nothing on eBay, not as small as some, but it does have bounce capability. It takes 4AA batteries instead of 2 like many smaller ones, so it recycles in a reasonable time. It has 2 levels of auto mode, which isn't great, but good enough. I have a Vivitar 4600 for a large auto flash.
08-27-2013, 06:46 PM   #4
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ChristianRock, I'd like to go small to match the K-01, but thanks for the pointers on manual flash. I'm reading up more on it. The SB-20 seems smaller than others, and it does have good adjustable manual power. Maybe I'll try it out.

eliott - The Sunpak 144D is indeed selling for next to nothing!

I stumbled upon a Fujifilm EF-X20. It looks pretty awesome and can do manual. But very expensive I think it can be used on Pentax bodies.



08-27-2013, 06:54 PM   #5
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I've found old flashes almost identical to that Fuji, but they've all had too high of a trigger voltage unfortunately.
08-28-2013, 10:33 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I wouldn't get anything that I can't at least bounce off the ceiling...
08-29-2013, 10:50 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
I wouldn't get anything that I can't at least bounce off the ceiling...
I'm getting this flash mainly for outdoor use, where weight and size are main factors. For indoor, you're right, I'll definitely get a proper one that can bounce.
So I ended up getting a Sunpak PF20XD. I bet they sell in low volume just because of the stupid name alone. So hard to remember Seen here on a Q in this thread: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-q/220115-flash-q-2.html#post2345390

08-31-2013, 03:01 PM   #8
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You have to careful with these old flashes, often the trigger voltage is high enough to fry your camera, small size does not guarantee low trigger voltage. Easy enough to measure with a digital voltmeter, usually +ve on the centre trigger pip and -ve on the contact inside the groove that fits onto the hot shoe plate with the flash turned on and ready to fire. Sunpak are common offenders.

Edit: this site is useful.

http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html

Scroll down for alphabetical list.

Chris


Last edited by ChrisJ; 09-03-2013 at 04:19 AM.
09-06-2013, 10:28 PM   #9
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This Sunpak works great, and looks great too on my K-01. It's light and quite powerful. I'm going to use it mostly outdoor as fill flash, and with manual partial power down to 1/32 I think it'll work. It has a built in diffuser. Takes 2 AAA batteries. I don't notice any recharge noise or delay.
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09-10-2013, 04:51 PM   #10
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Sorry to thread-jack, but I was wondering if there was a nice versatile flash with lots of adjustments and can control slaves for cheap. I am currently looking at the AF360 but would rather spend less money for similar features.
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