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02-16-2015, 08:34 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Using the K3 with flash in the wilderness ?

Well ... seems like I have some interest with the K3 after all.
I originally wanted to upgrade my old K5 with the K5IIs. That could also be something I would consider still if that is a better camera to use with a flash.

The only "issue" I have is this:

Most of my photography is birding (75%), and some landscapes/portraits.
About 50% of that birding photography is done in good light and the other 50% in less-than-ideal lighting conditions: overcast, or in deep woods where the light is at times rather scarce.
This makes me use high ISO, up to 6400, with the K5 quite often. Results are satisfactory to very good when I don't underexpose.

With the K3, does anyone feel that the need for a flash unit would be ideal when trying to get pictures of some "camouflaged" birds? For instance, last Fall I was after a brown creeper and of course it was "running" along a large tree trunk in a very dense forest: light was not good to say the least.
The results were only satisfactory ( I could make out the bird but lots of details were lost because of noise).

The question: does anyone here use flash for this type of photography with their K3?
If so, what is the best way to go about it in terms of parameters?
The max speed is 1/180s, right? A bit slow for a quickly moving bird I would think.

BTW, the flash I have is the Pentax AF-540 FGZ ( not the new one).

Suggestions would be welcome !

JP

02-16-2015, 09:02 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I just started playing around with a Better Beamer flash extender with the K-5/K3 and the Q7. The Better Beamer focuses the flash for longer distance, letting you use lower flash power and thus have faster recycling times. Initial results are promising, although the Better Beamer isn't the most sturdy contraption. These shots are taken at our bird feeder which sits in the shade of the house.


House sparrow
by john m flores, on Flickr


House sparrow
by john m flores, on Flickr

I've also played with wireless triggering, which is more useful at the bird feeder than in the field:


House Finch, Male
by john m flores, on Flickr


House Finch, Male
by john m flores, on Flickr

In either case, the flash helps keep the ISO low, and the pulse of the flash freezes the bird, not the 1/180
02-16-2015, 09:30 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
The question: does anyone here use flash for this type of photography with their K3? If so, what is the best way to go about it in terms of parameters? The max speed is 1/180s, right? A bit slow for a quickly moving bird I would think.
If you want to use the flash for daytime fill practice using it in High Speed Sync (HSS) mode so you can keep shutter speed up.
The better Beamer is useful if you are using telephoto lenses or shooting far distances where a naked flash would not reach.
It will take some practice to make it look natural.
I believe a user here @ducatigaz (Gary Chalker) uses flash with a better beamer for bird photography.
He blends flash with available light very well.
See his setup and flickr here https://www.flickr.com/photos/gary-chalker/6731421119/in/set-72157626244457722
02-16-2015, 09:51 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Speaking of brown creepers taken with a flash,



This was the K-3 with Sigma 500mm 4.5. The light was low, I wouldn't have been able to freeze movement with a fast shutter speed and get any detail. I was using a Yongnuo 560II manual mode. 1/8, 1/16 power gives a very short duration light that freezes movement even with the 1/180 shutter speed. I was at iso 400.

I since purchased the new Pentax AF540FGZ II for weather resistance. I was worried about the flash getting wet and shorting causing damage to the body. PTTL mode works and exposes well, I haven't done enough to know what works and what doesn't. I was shooting a western wren on the weekend, unsuccessful more due to obstacles, and it seemed to expose ok, maybe needed a slight decrease in power.

This wren was on a very dark wet day, hidden in the brush. I could barely see it. The flash froze the action quite well.



These Golden Crowned Kinglets are almost impossible to capture without. They hang out in the bushes, out of the light and move very quickly. This is the best shot I have managed to get, DA*300.



I use the Harbor Digital flash extender. It is a bit more robust than the Better Beamer. Works very well. It is a bit of a learning curve, more hardware to haul around, and you will blow lots of shots. But if you get it right you will get shots you could not have otherwise.

When I was shooting with the K-5 I tried this with the Metz AF-50 and in pttl mode the results were disappointing. I didn't do very much, it was one more learning curve among many at the time. It is very easy to over expose and create an ugly mess of hot spots. Manual mode is not too difficult; 1/16 1/8 and 1/4 are probably the three settings you will use (unless things are really far away) and it is easy in X mode to stop down or change ISO to adjust up or down. It is surprising how quickly you learn by eye to get proper exposure.

---------- Post added 02-16-15 at 09:20 PM ----------

Here is my setup.



Last edited by derekkite; 02-16-2015 at 10:11 PM.
02-17-2015, 01:21 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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I have been looking for a beamer thingy for my flash and am still looking. The flash, a Metz 50, does a good job at quite a distance. Without the flash I have taken some nice pics at high ISOs. See below.

Anyone that knows where I can find this beamer or equivalent in Europe?



02-17-2015, 07:16 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tjompen1968 Quote
I have been looking for a beamer thingy for my flash and am still looking. The flash, a Metz 50, does a good job at quite a distance. Without the flash I have taken some nice pics at high ISOs. See below.

Anyone that knows where I can find this beamer or equivalent in Europe?
r
I see them sold on UK eBay. @ducatigaz is in UK so you can PM him or ask your local shop to order.
Note that there are different sizes so check this site to see which fits your flash.
They also ship internationally.
Visual Echoes - NatureScapes Store - Your Trusted Source for Nature, Wildlife and Outdoor Photo Gear
02-17-2015, 08:34 AM   #7
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I think you have the right flash for the job because you can use A (auto-thyrister not provided on the newer models). No shutter release delay in A, and no pre-flash. Much easier to get a good shot that way - just set the ISO based on your estimated distance (calculated based on aperture). As for the chances of the flash somehow shorting out the camera in a drizzle, chances are slim-to-none - and slim has left the building.
02-17-2015, 01:34 PM   #8
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I can see there are more versions of the Better Beamer - which one would fit AF540FGZ?

02-17-2015, 02:50 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by zzeitg Quote
I can see there are more versions of the Better Beamer - which one would fit AF540FGZ?
For the original 540FGZ I use the Better Beamer model FX-6.

It is too large for the 540FGZII version, I am not sure which of the Better Beamer models fit that one.

@derekkite solution with the Harbor unit looks like a perfect fit to 540FGZII. I may need to pick one up.

---------- Post added 02-17-15 at 01:56 PM ----------

BTW, if you are OK with the 1/180 limitation you can also using the onboard flash paired with a Rogue Safari unit.
http://www.adorama.com/EXRSPUFB.html?
You do not have an option for HSS with the on board flash so you must be ok with the 1/180 sync limitation.

I have tested it on the K-3 and it works well.
I did not get good results with a K-5 though due to the type of lens used on the on board flash it causes more banding.
See some test results and setup recommendations with the unit in this thread. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/22-pentax-camera-field-accessories/256288...ml#post2818885

Last edited by crewl1; 02-17-2015 at 03:05 PM.
02-18-2015, 11:31 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
Well ... seems like I have some interest with the K3 after all.
I originally wanted to upgrade my old K5 with the K5IIs. That could also be something I would consider still if that is a better camera to use with a flash.

The only "issue" I have is this:

Most of my photography is birding (75%), and some landscapes/portraits.
About 50% of that birding photography is done in good light and the other 50% in less-than-ideal lighting conditions: overcast, or in deep woods where the light is at times rather scarce.
This makes me use high ISO, up to 6400, with the K5 quite often. Results are satisfactory to very good when I don't underexpose.

With the K3, does anyone feel that the need for a flash unit would be ideal when trying to get pictures of some "camouflaged" birds? For instance, last Fall I was after a brown creeper and of course it was "running" along a large tree trunk in a very dense forest: light was not good to say the least.
The results were only satisfactory ( I could make out the bird but lots of details were lost because of noise).

The question: does anyone here use flash for this type of photography with their K3?
If so, what is the best way to go about it in terms of parameters?
The max speed is 1/180s, right? A bit slow for a quickly moving bird I would think.

BTW, the flash I have is the Pentax AF-540 FGZ ( not the new one).

Suggestions would be welcome !

JP
You could also ask weevil, he has some experience with what you want to do.
02-18-2015, 06:32 PM   #11
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Sincere thanks for all the replies and my apologies for not replying right away.

I will try to digest this load of information ... I am still trying to convince myself that when the sync speed is automatically set at 1/180s that the flash will actually freeze motion.
I am "not convinced" because I have tried this with people on the move and ended up with disastrous results.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

JP
02-18-2015, 06:54 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
Sincere thanks for all the replies and my apologies for not replying right away.

I will try to digest this load of information ... I am still trying to convince myself that when the sync speed is automatically set at 1/180s that the flash will actually freeze motion.
I am "not convinced" because I have tried this with people on the move and ended up with disastrous results.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

JP
The only way you can do that is to minimize ambient light and letting the flash do all the work. if there is any ambient light captured you will get ghosting.

Here is a sample I took yesterday with the K-3, DA*300, 540FGZ and Better Beamer FX-6

This robin was picking up berries under a large tree so was in the shade.
I used High Speed Sync setting on the flash, and TAv on the camera with 1/1000 shutter speed.
With F5.6 aperture the camera chose ISO800 because I used the flash.
It would have required a higher ISO without the flash



I was working hand held and having the BB on with the original 540 is rather awkward to hike around.

I am going to look into @derekkite's solution with the Harbor Digital unit so I can use my 540 version II and hopefully it will be less cumbersome.

Here is another shot with a bird in better light but the flash helped to fill in the back lit bird nicely.
I was still using TAv 1/1000 f5.6 but this time the camera chose ISO300 due to better light.


Last edited by crewl1; 02-18-2015 at 07:00 PM.
02-18-2015, 06:59 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
The only way you can do that is to minimize ambient light and letting the flash do all the work. if there is any ambient light captured you will get ghosting.

Here is a sample I took yesterday with the K-3, DA*300, 540FGZ and Better Beamer FX-6

This robin was picking up berries under a large tree so was in the shade.
I used High Speed Sync setting on the flash, and TAv on the camera with 1/1000 shutter speed.
With F5.6 aperture the camera chose ISO800 because I used the flash.
It would have required a higher ISO without the flash
Great thanks for a solution !
I was really looking for precise instructions such as these.

I thought of having to give up using TAv with the flash and never thought of using HSS with this set up.
The only bummer: I don't have a Better Beamer. I'll try that without one ... no choice.



JP
02-18-2015, 07:16 PM   #14
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The way I approach it is that it allows me to get shots I couldn't have gotten otherwise, so if there is adequate light I turn it off. HSS may help in those situations so you can keep the shutter speed up and add a bit of light to fill a shadow or something.

Some occasions when I've used it successfully.

Backlit subjects such as birds against a sky. You know what you do in these situations; you +1 or +2 ev to expose the bird and blow the sky. Blue sky isn't as bad as clouds. The flash lights the subject. It is hard to freeze movement with 1/180 because the silhouette against the sky, so hss would be the option, or getting a shot stationary where movement isn't an issue.

Low light situations. Say a bird in the brush. Without the flash, at iso 100-400 the shot is seriously underexposed, so the open shutter doesn't really catch anything. The only exposure occurs when the flash is illuminated. If you shoot manually, stop down to f8, iso 200 and without the flash the shot will be almost black. That is how you freeze action.

It isn't a panacea, and definitely not point and shoot, but in addition to what you are already doing improves some shots or extends the possibilities.

Another issue is steely eye or equivalent of red eye. Post editing or having a flash bracket that moves the flash off the axis of the lens helps. Definitely a negative however.

---------- Post added 02-18-15 at 06:21 PM ----------

The flash will work without a better beamer but is limited in distance.

crewl1: If you order from them, select the Metz 50-AF1, and tell them in the notes that you are using the Pentax AF540FGZII. I got part number DD-A3. It comes with some pieces of sticky fill to make it fit, and it works fine.

I haven't tried HSS yet, and will experiment with it. In the winter around here it is very dark and I don't have any trouble freezing motion with the flash.
02-18-2015, 09:17 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
Great thanks for a solution !

I thought of having to give up using TAv with the flash and never thought of using HSS with this set up.

JP
Using TAv with flash is not a good solution, HSS or otherwise. The camera is not set up to handle it, no matter the flash mode. Blind luck to not get over-exposures - unless the distance is a bit out of flash range. And HSS at 1/1000 will always give you very little added flash because the range becomes so short at that point.

Last edited by ScooterMaxi Jim; 02-18-2015 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Specific clarification
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