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03-27-2007, 07:35 PM   #1
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Yay Im not longer a Leper

Wow I am so happy that I decided to see if there were any pentax forums. Im a member of the photo forum, and it is a great place, but hardly anyone uses pentax there so I feel left out.

Anyways, last summer I got an *ist DL for graduation, this was my first "serious" camera. I had been looking at the D50 but my parents surprised me, getting me the "wrong" camera. Boy am I happy they did. I have been enjoying pentax since, and for christmas I got a K10D (gave my dad the istDL to replace his ancient digital, you know the kind that use floppies) as well as the 50mm 1.4 FA and the 80-200 4.7-5.6 FA.

I really want to get into portrait photography and possibly do weddings, but as a full time college student working only 15 hours a week, I dont have a lot of money.

a couple questions right off the bat... I want to do modeling, and so lighting is a must. I would like an onboard flash to help with out door fills as well as lighting for indoor modeling, and with the connectors or wirelessly, to use as a strobe.

The problem is I dont know what to get with the money I have. I have been looking at the sigma DG super 500. for 215 bucks it provides tons of power at a price I can afford. This was good to go, but I decided to do some research and according to some users on fredmiranda.com, the sigma flash is junk. They tell of the zoom motor locking so it wont go above 85mm, and the flash just generally breaking after the 1 year warrenty is up. So then I look at the pentax 360, but it is just too weak and doesnt have the swivel head. next up is the pentax 540. looks good, everything I need, but man, it is expensive at 340 dollars.

So what do you think? I tend to think that the reviews for the sigma were just from people who didnt like it, sort of like the idea that if there isn't a problem you dont complain and that people who experienced problems are more likely to write a review than someone who's flash worked. But, I dont want to get a flash that is crap and breaks in one year, because I dont feel like replacing the thing every year.

Help? sorry for rambling.

03-28-2007, 06:15 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum! I think a lot of people here use the Sigma flash, you might try doing a search to see what you come up with. I got the Pentax 540 for Christmas, and absolutely love it, but I understand where you're coming from budget-wise.

Looking forward to seeing some pictures!

Carol
03-28-2007, 11:52 AM   #3
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Hey, xfloggingkylex!

Welcome!

So your father had a Sony Mavica? That was a good camera though. At 1 MP, it could still out do many 2 MP and many of the newer, cheaper 3 MP cameras when it came out.

Anyway, to answer your question re: flashes, there are lots of choices out there. I am considering sticking with a Pentax flash because I heard the Sigma's have to be rechipped in order to work - even then, there's the chance that they aren't fully compatible.

As for strobes for studio work, I'm not ready to buy yet but I read a couple threads in this forum about them. One guy has a very cheap setup which works quite well. Wired vs. wireless? When I have the dough to buy my strobes, I'll go wireless 100% - I don't want me or my subjects to be tripping over cables.

Hope that helps!
03-28-2007, 10:28 PM   #4
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Thank you both for the warm welcome.

If i could afford the pentax flash without a problem, I would certainly do that. Yes I am hesitant about the sigma, I dont really mind having it rechipped because for that price, I can wait a couple weeks to use it. I just dont want it to stop working once I have it.

The other thing is that if I am doing portraits, I can buy the basic alien bee studio setup (B800, 32" umbrella, stand, and case) for 350 dollars, the price of the 540 before rebate. This obviously doesnt give me mobility like a hot shoe, but still, there is a large difference in power and especially in reload time, with the alien bees taking .5 seconds to recharge as opposed to the 5 seconds of the flash.

and xFraser, if you are interest my deviant art page has a few pictures. I just got the page recently so I could start displaying my pictures to the masses, so it doesnt have much.

03-29-2007, 05:36 AM   #5
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Thanks for the link to your page. I love the tractor! Guess I have a soft spot for farm equipment because my grandparents had a farm. Cute dog too, and I really like the picture of the flame.

I'm not sure if I would have climbed up to take that waterfall picture with a broken foot, but you did a great job!
03-29-2007, 06:36 AM   #6
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Hi and welcome to the forums. I've had the Sigma DG 500 super for several years now and have and no problem with it. I don't use it a whole bunch tho, doing mostly availabable light stuff, but it got a pretty good work out this last summer with about 300 shots over a week and a half and it stood up to that. I see that you are aware of the re-chipping issue. Since I shoot with a DS this is not a problem for me, and I don't know much about it. Of course a sample of 1 isn't great odds, but my unit has never given me any problems, other than a tendency towards mild underexposure.

NaCl(that's been my experience anyway)H2O
03-29-2007, 06:17 PM   #7
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Hello, and welcome!

One suggestion before you go out and spend money on a mini studio setup, grab your K10 and your 50 1.4 and head to a north facing window, perferable on a day that is overcast, raining or during the parts of the day that the light is not so strong.
buy a white reflector/ difuser for around 20 dollars. (the type that will also let some light through as well as reflect it)
get a readily avalible person or even a doll for that matter..... and take different shots from different distances and positions from the window.
the subject facing 90 degress to the window works well and slightly facing towards the window, but don't think of this as a rule, as they put you in a creative "box" that can be dificult to get out of..... use the reflector in the window to diffuse (and block some of it) the light even more.... all the while taking notes, shoot in raw, remembering what works well.
once you get the results you would like, then go back to your notes and try to duplicate the results in a different window, etc. (getting consistant results will be the toughest part)

once you know the power of window light, it will be that much easier to understand how to position the subject using unbrellas, etc.

also, look up some articles on lighting ratios. they mostly refer to studio flash, but the same can be used with natural lighting.... moving the difuser/reflector closer/further away from your subject.

pardon the spelling
oh, one more thing I forgot to add.... get some material from a local fabric store and find a way to drap it behind the subject.... something not distracting.

good luck!

randy

Last edited by slip; 03-29-2007 at 06:35 PM.
03-29-2007, 10:14 PM   #8
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xfraser - I'm glad you like the pictures. As for the stunt with the waterfall, aside from wanting a picture for the photocontest (it was a car forum, so not many photographers and I actually tied first place that month), I had just gotten my camera and was DYING to use it. Thanks for the kind words about the pictures.

NaClH20 (any particular reason for salt water?) - thanks for the input about the flash. I am really considering it because I have yet to hear anyone with a pentax complain about it, not sure if thats due to sample size or if it just works well with pentax. Right now there are three things on my list that I want, a flash (the sigma or the pentax 540 for swiveling), the sigma 70-300 apo dg macro (to replace the FA 80-200 silver that I have) so I can add 1:2 magnification and an extra 100mm FL to my kit, as well as shaving off 10mm on the wide side of the lens, and I'd also like the battery grip for the K10D, because I have two batteries to use it with, I like the vertical shutter release, and well I just think it gives the camera a professional look.

oh and I really like how you sign your name after each post.

SlipChuck - thanks for the great advice, I'll have to give that a try. Quick question about lighting, Ritz has a setup for 300 bucks that is 2 150w/hour (think thats what it said) lights with umbrella for one and a softbox for the other. Is this enough power? the other setup I am looking at is the alien bee beginners setup, which features what seems to be a much more powerful strobe, with recharge times less than a second compared to the 4 seconds of the other kit. The alien bee setup is like 360 dollars and comes with 1 light, stand, umbrella and case. The only reason I am considering the cheaper ritz setup is because it has 2 lights for more lighting options which will help eliminate or at least soften some of those shadows. Thoughts?

03-30-2007, 06:36 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Hi and welcome to the forums. I've had the Sigma DG 500 super for several years now and have and no problem with it. I don't use it a whole bunch tho, doing mostly availabable light stuff, but it got a pretty good work out this last summer with about 300 shots over a week and a half and it stood up to that. I see that you are aware of the re-chipping issue. Since I shoot with a DS this is not a problem for me, and I don't know much about it. Of course a sample of 1 isn't great odds, but my unit has never given me any problems, other than a tendency towards mild underexposure.

NaCl(that's been my experience anyway)H2O
My experience has been similar. The only frustration I have with this flash is when the batteries are low, I then get erratic behavior - extreme underexposure. New batteries & then I love it again!
(I'm using a DS tho).
03-30-2007, 09:34 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by xfloggingkylex Quote
xfraser - I'm glad you like the pictures. As for the stunt with the waterfall, aside from wanting a picture for the photocontest (it was a car forum, so not many photographers and I actually tied first place that month), I had just gotten my camera and was DYING to use it. Thanks for the kind words about the pictures.

NaClH20 (any particular reason for salt water?) - thanks for the input about the flash. I am really considering it because I have yet to hear anyone with a pentax complain about it, not sure if thats due to sample size or if it just works well with pentax. Right now there are three things on my list that I want, a flash (the sigma or the pentax 540 for swiveling), the sigma 70-300 apo dg macro (to replace the FA 80-200 silver that I have) so I can add 1:2 magnification and an extra 100mm FL to my kit, as well as shaving off 10mm on the wide side of the lens, and I'd also like the battery grip for the K10D, because I have two batteries to use it with, I like the vertical shutter release, and well I just think it gives the camera a professional look.

oh and I really like how you sign your name after each post.

SlipChuck - thanks for the great advice, I'll have to give that a try. Quick question about lighting, Ritz has a setup for 300 bucks that is 2 150w/hour (think thats what it said) lights with umbrella for one and a softbox for the other. Is this enough power? the other setup I am looking at is the alien bee beginners setup, which features what seems to be a much more powerful strobe, with recharge times less than a second compared to the 4 seconds of the other kit. The alien bee setup is like 360 dollars and comes with 1 light, stand, umbrella and case. The only reason I am considering the cheaper ritz setup is because it has 2 lights for more lighting options which will help eliminate or at least soften some of those shadows. Thoughts?
from what I have been reading.... I am wanting to get something simular to what you want someday.... for single portraits, the output should be min. 300 watts, larger groups should be more, depending on how many lights you are uing in the set up.

the kits you are looking at are basically good for single person shots..
I am sure there are many others on this board that have more experence and could help as well

you might want to look into a used light meter, one that will measure the output of a flash (incident light, not reflective). measure the main light with it, then measure the fill in flash and compare. this will tell you the lighting ratio, thus the effect you want.

here is a link to a good start in understanding lighting ratios
Lighting Ratios for Portrait Photography StudioLighting.net


good luck
03-30-2007, 03:34 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by slipchuck Quote
from what I have been reading.... I am wanting to get something simular to what you want someday.... for single portraits, the output should be min. 300 watts, larger groups should be more, depending on how many lights you are uing in the set up.

the kits you are looking at are basically good for single person shots..
I am sure there are many others on this board that have more experence and could help as well

you might want to look into a used light meter, one that will measure the output of a flash (incident light, not reflective). measure the main light with it, then measure the fill in flash and compare. this will tell you the lighting ratio, thus the effect you want.

here is a link to a good start in understanding lighting ratios
Lighting Ratios for Portrait Photography StudioLighting.net


good luck

So far the alien bee seems to be the best bet. Even though it is only one light for their beginners kit, it is a powerful light with full recharge in .5 second.

AlienBees: Illuminating the Galaxy with Professional Photographic Lighting Equipment

Thanks for the link.
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