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11-07-2012, 11:56 PM   #1
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Hot shoe flash question

Please forgive me if I don't use the proper verbiage I am very new to the camera arena. I have a k-30 with the 18-55mm lens. I use it a lot taking pictures of my ferrets playing. The lighting is indoor and I need a faster flash. Also what would be recommended for a lens for close fast moving ferrets and what is a general all around good filter for all situations.

Respectfully,
Eric

11-08-2012, 12:24 AM   #2
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You are forgiven for your use of terms.

When you say 'faster' flash, I assume you mean more powerful. Flash light (in fact all light) is pretty speedy ~ around 3million meters/second Speed of light - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The speed of light is a universal constant (as far as we know) but there is a phenomena known as 'fall off' where light becomes 'dimmer' and gets more diffuse as it travels in all directions from the source. This is known as the inverse square rule. So, in other words, for every given distance the light has to travel, it loses half of its power for every additional unit of distance. Inverse-square law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So, if your problem is you are not illuminating the ferrets sufficiently, then you need a more powerful, not faster flash. In Pentax terms, there is the AFG360 or the AFG540 flashes. The 540 is more powerful, more flexible and more expensive than the 360. There is also a ring flash for use in macro and portrait work.

There are other less expensive alternatives available on eekbay or similar that others can inform you about.

The lens you are using is OK-ish as a beginners lens, but you may need a bit more length to keep up with your furry friends. If funds are not an issue you can get something like a DA* 60-250 F/4, or a Sigma/Tamron 70-200 F/2.8. These are much 'faster' lenses than your kit lens. In this sense 'faster' means they are able to let more light reach the sensor than your kit lens can because they have a bigger maximum aperture (the hole in the lens). Therefore for any given level of ambient or flash light you are shooting in, you can choose a 'faster' shutter speed and get a sharper picture than would be the case with the 18-55.

If funds are an issue, there are many alternatives, some in the used or veteran lens markets. There is also the 18-135 Pentax alternative kit lens which will give you reach without breaking the bank, but it has the same F stop restrictions as your 18-55. Then there is the 55- 300 - Longer, but slower. Are you starting to get the idea that there are many alternatives, but quality lenses rarely come cheap? This is the path of LBA, and many pentaxians are afflicted. (You only need to look at my sig line to see I'm an addict!)

Some of the information that will help you is here Recommended Pentax Gear | Pentax Cameras | PentaxForums.com

There is no such thing as a 'universal filter' What are you trying to filter, and why?

Keep asking questions, there are many good folk on this forum who will be happy to help.

Last edited by wizofoz; 11-08-2012 at 12:39 AM. Reason: additional information
11-08-2012, 11:30 AM   #3
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When you use flash, either the pop-up ot an external flashgun, and shoot in P mode, the camera will set the shutter speed to what is termed the 'Flash Sync Speed'. On Pentax DLSRs this is currently 180th of a second I believe. This speed should be fast enough to freeze most movements of the animals.

If you find the pictures are too dark, as suggested above, a flashgun will have more power so would help, or you can try setting a wider aperture (set Av mode and using the rear thumbwheel). But you may be at the limits of this already depending on your lens.

The other advantage of a flashgun is a function called High Speed Sync - this allows you to set a higher shutter speed than the cameras flash sync, such as 500th second for example. This may help reduce any blur, although really most moving objects are 'frozen' by the actual flash burst, but if the shutter is too slow there may be some visable edge blurring recorded by the camera also.

If flash is your primary light source for these pictures, then definately the best course of action is to invest in a flashgun and learn about its settings and the cameras flash functions. A good alternative to Pentax flashguns is the range made by Metz - eg Metz af44 / af54 / af58. They have most of the functions, and quite well built, and reasonably prices. Of course, I support Pentax, so if you have the budget then I'd recommend a Pentax gun firstly - you are guaranteed no compatability issues this way.

Don't worry about any filters for now - filters will reduce the light entering the camera and just increase your problems.
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