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12-21-2015, 05:58 PM   #16
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What ranges are you anticipating discharging the flash at? Indoors or outdoors? Candid or posed?

12-21-2015, 06:14 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
What ranges are you anticipating discharging the flash at? Indoors or outdoors? Candid or posed?
I'm looking at mostly 25-90mm shots with the flash, though I might need to push the zoom a bit more if necessary so GN is important here, mostly outdoor but with potential for evening/night shots, mostly posed/object/landmark shots since I don't do candid well at all.
12-21-2015, 10:05 PM   #18
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Ok, so I did go out and get a multimeter tonight. Just tested the flash I have and I'm getting 2.5v? That seems very low to me, so I want to make sure I'm actually measuring it right. I'm supposed to check the center pin and the side contact that is by the bracket clamp while the unit is on and ready to fire, and it's DC voltage, correct?
12-22-2015, 12:30 AM   #19
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If you really want to stay cheap, you have 2 options:
  • A (new) 3rd party pTTL flash.
  • An older Thyristor flash
Examples:
2 years ago I got a Soligor DG-340DZ for a VERY low price, new.
It works quite well, but the drawbacks of this one are:
Just pTTL, no manual or auto; tilt, but no swivel; zoom adjust manually; GN=34 is the result of the common GN inflation with which the manufacturers try to fool us (just give the number for APS-C, tele and higher ISO!).
Which means in some situations the flash will be too weak, specially if using tilt.

As a cheap used (and most times reliable) Thyristor flash I can recommend the Metz 32 MZ-3 or (more expensive) the Metz 40MZ-2.
Both need a module SCA 3701 or SCA 3702. The 3701 is older and supports less functions than the 3702, but that's relevant only for Pentax SLRs. The 3701 sets the flash about 20-30mm higher, so sometimes better for reducing the red-eye effect. Both flashes support tilt and swivel, and use an AF support light, if needed. Both offer automatic motor zoom, and that adapts correctly to either FF (film) and APS-C angles of view, without your doing. The 40MZ is not only stronger, it also has a seperate built-in flash (10% of flash power and can be switched off) directly pointing to the target for tilt/swivel. Also the 40MZ has a (illuminated) LCD screen, stores several flash settings, supports any working aperture, and gets aperture and ISO automatically from the body. The 32MZ only supports some fixed aperture values depending on ISO, and you must set these manually.

EDIT:
The Metz 32MZ ist nearly self-explaining.
For the 40MZ you will absolutely need the manual, there are just too many functions you would not even think about. You can download it from their website.

EDIT 2:
Don't get fooled by the GNs of the Metz flashes. These were calculated the old way (for FF 50mm ISO100). For the 40MZ the "new age" counting would say GN 50-52, some manufacturers may even offer such a flash as GN 60+.


Last edited by RKKS08; 12-22-2015 at 12:48 AM.
12-22-2015, 01:42 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by RKKS08 Quote
If you really want to stay cheap, you have 2 options:
  • A (new) 3rd party pTTL flash.
  • An older Thyristor flash
Examples:
2 years ago I got a Soligor DG-340DZ for a VERY low price, new.
It works quite well, but the drawbacks of this one are:
Just pTTL, no manual or auto; tilt, but no swivel; zoom adjust manually; GN=34 is the result of the common GN inflation with which the manufacturers try to fool us (just give the number for APS-C, tele and higher ISO!).
Which means in some situations the flash will be too weak, specially if using tilt.

As a cheap used (and most times reliable) Thyristor flash I can recommend the Metz 32 MZ-3 or (more expensive) the Metz 40MZ-2.
Both need a module SCA 3701 or SCA 3702. The 3701 is older and supports less functions than the 3702, but that's relevant only for Pentax SLRs. The 3701 sets the flash about 20-30mm higher, so sometimes better for reducing the red-eye effect. Both flashes support tilt and swivel, and use an AF support light, if needed. Both offer automatic motor zoom, and that adapts correctly to either FF (film) and APS-C angles of view, without your doing. The 40MZ is not only stronger, it also has a seperate built-in flash (10% of flash power and can be switched off) directly pointing to the target for tilt/swivel. Also the 40MZ has a (illuminated) LCD screen, stores several flash settings, supports any working aperture, and gets aperture and ISO automatically from the body. The 32MZ only supports some fixed aperture values depending on ISO, and you must set these manually.

EDIT:
The Metz 32MZ ist nearly self-explaining.
For the 40MZ you will absolutely need the manual, there are just too many functions you would not even think about. You can download it from their website.

EDIT 2:
Don't get fooled by the GNs of the Metz flashes. These were calculated the old way (for FF 50mm ISO100). For the 40MZ the "new age" counting would say GN 50-52, some manufacturers may even offer such a flash as GN 60+.
Yes, a 3rd party P-TTL flash is basically out of the question, you lose just about every other function of a manual flash for those so it winds up not being worth the $70-$90. I'll check out the 32MZ with the others everyone else told me to look at, the 40MZ is outside my budget. Thanks for the insight!
12-22-2015, 05:24 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by fullmental Quote
Ok, so I did go out and get a multimeter tonight. Just tested the flash I have and I'm getting 2.5v? That seems very low to me, so I want to make sure I'm actually measuring it right. I'm supposed to check the center pin and the side contact that is by the bracket clamp while the unit is on and ready to fire, and it's DC voltage, correct?
Here is how it's done (page down once or twice depending on your screen size). Centre pin is positive and the metal contact INSIDE the hotshoe slot is negative.
12-22-2015, 08:09 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by fullmental Quote
One more question if you don't mind. The sunpak models were mentioned and linked to. I was browsing a few of those on keh and ebay and it looks like the 422D is a nice model. Do I need to get the ones that specifically say "for Pentax" or can I get the canon/nikon models and just use auto mode?
As long as they have a standard hotshoe, they should be fine. I have two Nikon dedicated 433Ds and a Pentax dedicated 444D. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is the Nikon ones won't tell the camera when the flash is ready to fire. But they all work in auto and, of course, manual.

The 433Ds and 444Ds have a bit more flash power than the 422D. Otherwise, I believe they're pretty much the same.
12-22-2015, 09:52 AM   #23
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CHEAP FLASH GUNS DEMYSTIFIED: Here are the best options for you:-
a) An Auto Thyristor Flash, like a used Vivitar 285HV Zoom, approx $ 20 to 35 on evil bay. This flash is just as powerful as any Pentax costing $ 300 or more, and has lots of settings.
See links:-
Vivitar 285HV Zoom Thyristor reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database
Vivitar 285-HV Shoe Mount Flash
Re: The old Vivitar 285 Zoom Thyristor Flash...: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

There are many other flashes like this from world famous manufacturers - Braun, SunPak, KakoNet, Metz, Panasonic, StarBlitz, Tumax etc. Here is how they work. There is an electronic eye on the flash gun. As soon as it thinks enough light has fallen on the subject it shuts down the flash and bypasses the voltage to a capacitor, saving power in the batteries. There is a manual computer on the Flash that tells you for a given ISO Speed, the distance from the camera you want the flash to illuminate, it will tell you what aperture to set on your camera. Normally all these flash guns will give you three (3) color coded Aperture - ISO - distance illumination range.
Put your DSLR in Manual mode. Set the aperture on the camera to the one dictated by the Flash. Just go on firing the shutter as you move close or away from the subject. You will get perfectly exposed shots - guaranteed, as long as you are in the distance range specified by the Manual Computer on the Flash Gun. Magic. Can't be simpler. These flashes work with all the DSLR models made in the world.

b) The more modern combo flash guns - these are mostly TTL - use interchangeable Flash Modules. That is the flash guns come in two parts - the top gun portion with electronic circuitry and switches, and the bottom attachable module with the hot shoe and matching electronics and switches. The modules are made separately for each DSLR maker. The top Flash Gun portion is common to all DSLRs in the world.
My Quantaray QB 6550U ($ 12 new) and QTB 9550U ($ 30 new) with the manual Quantaray QDA-P Module ($ 8 new, P - refers to Pentax) works exactly like the Auto Thyristor Flash Guns of yore.
With the Promaster 5050 DXR Module ($ 40 to 50 brand new), the combo works like the latest PTTL Flash.

Hope I have given you the cheapest Flash Gun in the world. Enjoy. Note, I use b) on my Pentax K-5 IIs with great results.

12-22-2015, 10:05 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by nanhi Quote
The more modern combo flash guns - these are mostly TTL - use interchangeable Flash Modules. That is the flash guns come in two parts - the top gun portion with electronic circuitry and switches, and the bottom attachable module with the hot shoe and matching electronics and switches. The modules are made separately for each DSLR maker. The top Flash Gun portion is common to all DSLRs in the world.
It's the Adaptall philosophy in flash form!

QuoteOriginally posted by nanhi Quote
Just go on firing the shutter as you move close or away from the subject. You will get perfectly exposed shots - guaranteed, as long as you are in the distance range specified by the Manual Computer on the Flash Gun. Magic. Can't be simpler. These flashes work with all the DSLR models made in the world.
And the film ones too - my AF200Sa gives excellent results on the ME and MX when used within correct range and aperture parameters; and although I haven't got the film back from my Spotmatic yet, I live in hope.
12-22-2015, 10:20 AM   #25
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If you want a fully manually flash to play, experiment, and learn then you ought to be able to find one costing anywhere from free to maybe $5? Just set your camera into X sync mode and go nuts. Experiment taking pictures of rooms in the house, baskets of laundry, your vacuum cleaner, your garbage can, etc. None of these things move and none will object to repeatedly being photographed.

Once you're done experimenting and you get a feeling for bounce, power levels, etc then get a Yongnuo 560 IV. It's huge and stupid-powerful but it's all the flash you will ever need. Yes, it works just fine at 1/128th to 1/16th power levels too.

I think fully automatic flashes are kind of overrated unless your environment is changing minute by minute. If you're in a certain setting then your settings probably don't need much adjustment.
12-22-2015, 10:46 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Here is how it's done (page down once or twice depending on your screen size). Centre pin is positive and the metal contact INSIDE the hotshoe slot is negative.
Okay, then yes I'm definitely getting a 2.3~2.5V rating every time. I had no idea the voltages could even be so low, but apparently they can be. Looks like I'm free to at least test the auto thyristor out first before I go pick up a more feature-heavy model.
12-22-2015, 10:53 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
If you want a fully manually flash to play, experiment, and learn then you ought to be able to find one costing anywhere from free to maybe $5? Just set your camera into X sync mode and go nuts. Experiment taking pictures of rooms in the house, baskets of laundry, your vacuum cleaner, your garbage can, etc. None of these things move and none will object to repeatedly being photographed.
Once you're done experimenting and you get a feeling for bounce, power levels, etc then get a Yongnuo 560 IV. It's huge and stupid-powerful but it's all the flash you will ever need. Yes, it works just fine at 1/128th to 1/16th power levels too.
I think fully automatic flashes are kind of overrated unless your environment is changing minute by minute. If you're in a certain setting then your settings probably don't need much adjustment.
What you say makes brilliant sense. But we live in a highly mechanized society where life is so much automated that kids will not fumble with that Free or $ 5 Flash Gun of yore. Too much work for them.
Please do note that the Auto Thyristor Vivitar 285 HV is just as powerful as the Yongnuo or $ 300 to 400 Pentax flashes. It too has various power levels, zoom, tilt and swing etc and can be used on any DSLR. In fact I have another Auto Thyristor Flash Gun I bought in Dubai for peanuts that has dual flash heads. The main flash is just as powerful as the Yongnuo, And I have the option of turning the smaller fixed flash off. Best of all they are compact and light enough to fit on my Pentax K-5 IIs. And yes I can connect a 120 to 220 volt power cord too.
Regards.
12-22-2015, 10:54 AM   #28
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Af-280t

Consider the Pentax AF-280T flash. It is an auto-thyristor and old TTL (not P-TTL) type flash. What is nice about using this flash on a Pentax DSLR is that when you put the DSLR in P mode (e.g. on my K100DS or K5) the flash automatically sets the aperture to match the camera-selected ISO, with the flash set in one of the auto-thyristor modes (but NOT in the "TTL" mode which does not work with Pentax DSLRs other than the *istD). It's very convenient, and works great with the tilt/swivel head, especially for popping off a lot of shots quickly. It also has two manual power levels (full and 1/4 power I think). There is much more, including that the head actually tilts down a little for use with close-focus/macro photography. Read the description and reviews here.

I REALLY like mine, and find it works great for portraiture bounced off the ceiling if I add a white paper card to add some fill and catchlights in the eyes. You can find them for $30 to $40 range on auction sites.

-Joe-

P.S. I just remembered another point: I do NOT like P-TTL because of the pre-flash, which causes subjects to blink, and I end up with a lot of photos of people with closed eyes if I use the built-in flash in P-TTL mode. The AF-280T solves that problem, as it delivers proper exposure with the built-in thyristor sensor, and it only flashes ONCE while the photo is taken. NEVER do I get subjects with closed eyes with the AF-280T!

Last edited by k0og; 12-22-2015 at 10:59 AM.
12-22-2015, 11:44 AM   #29
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Thanks Koog Sir. Must give the Pentax AF 280T a try.
My Quantaray QB 6550U ($ 12) & QTB 9550U ($ 30) with the Quantaray Pentax Module QDA-P ($8) when switched to auto also a) sets the sync speed to no more than 1/180 sec and b) changes the Aperture on the camera when you change the ISO. Eg: the combo dictates f 5.6 at ISO 100 at the mid range power setting. The camera can be set to Av or TV mode. I have not tried it on P mode. When you change the ISO to 200 the flash will move the aperture on the camera to f 8 and so on. Both the flashes have power settings tilt, swing etc, and the larger 9550U has zoom and twin flash heads too.
Regards.
12-22-2015, 12:41 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by nanhi Quote
But we live in a highly mechanized society where life is so much automated that kids will not fumble with that Free or $ 5 Flash Gun of yore. Too much work for them.
The great thing about digital is that you can play with flashes in this manner and (a) not waste any film doing so, (b) see immediately how you need to change your settings, (c) get an idea of how your flash will perform at various distances, apertures and power settings so that if you DO go over (or back) to film, you have a better idea of what it can and cannot do.
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