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06-14-2010, 10:19 PM   #1
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Best El Cheapo Flash for Pentax K-X

Hello all, my first post of hopefully many.
You can see my equipment listed (probably), and I'm searching for a flash for my big red K-X. I went back 3 pages and didnt find any topics devoted to this particular model, so figured it was a safe topic.
I have a few specific questions.
1) One of the auctions on ebay (where I prefer to buy this) stated that old 35mm flashes can fry your camera. Something about voltage up to 250V. Can any of the flashes made for the old 35mm Pentax Cameras actually harm my K-x?
2) Which ones could potentially fry my red beauty?
3) I'd like a flash that has swivel up and down, and side to side, that I can bounce the light. I'd like it to be easy enough to use on automatic settings for now, but have advanced options that I can use as I grow in the hobby.
Any suggestions?
What features should a decent flash have?
What should I look to avoid as far as unnecessary or useless features?
Any brands I should stay clear of?

Uses will include high resolution pictures of items to sell online, holiday photos, vacation (mostly Disney), and family and pets. In short, general use.

06-15-2010, 02:58 AM   #2
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With respect to trigger voltages, this site will help you.

Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages

Pentax flashes should be just fine.

Me, I'm partial to the the Nikon SB-24. Works off camera in manual mode, full power, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16. Works on camera in auto and manual mode.

Can be purchased used for less than $100US.
06-15-2010, 04:41 AM   #3
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For a cheap flash, I would look at a Vivitar 285 or a bottom end Sigma flash. Older flashes you do have to be careful about voltage. If you are willing to spend a little more, the Metz 48 is really nice (so is the Pentax 360, but it can't swivel, only tilt).
06-15-2010, 05:31 AM   #4
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I got a Pentax AF280T flash not long ago for $65 including trans Atlantic shipping, and you could probably get one for about half of that.
it has swivel, bounce and probably everything you'll need/want except for P-TTL.

PENTAX AF 280T

06-15-2010, 06:58 PM   #5
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There are two ways you can go. You can get a P-TTL capable flash, which communicates with the camera and does all the nifty automatic stuff. That usually means spending a little more. You won't have to worry about voltage, and you can pick features you need. A really good summary of the possible P-TTL options is in this thread:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-camera-field-accessories/43215-pen...omparison.html

Or you can get a flash that allows you to control the power yourself. That includes many possible options, including some already suggested here, old and new models. It's a little trickier to make sure the voltage is compatible, and get exactly what you need. One advantage of this group of flashes is they are typically easier to adjust, while the P-TTL group have complex interfaces for all the options.

I considered this for a while and decided to try the Pentax AF540FGZ. It does just about everything, and on paper, it ought to be great. But of all the fully automatic camera features, I think flash is the least reliable. That sucks because when I want to use the flash, I just want to bolt the thing on, put it in P mode, attach an AF lens and blast away. When this doesn't work perfectly, it's annoying. I keep thinking I should really learn something about flash, then get a manual version and control it myself. I am still considering that, the sticking point being learning about flash.

I think the big features are tilt and swivel and the power to use that. I wanted a flash with its own sensor so I could use it in non-P-TTL mode if necessary. That's because my wife blinks at the pre-flash sometimes. I could do without a zoom head but I'm probably the oddball here. The beam to help AF seems to come on when it's too dark; anyway the K-7 has its own beam so that's not a big deal any more. I don't feel competent enough with flash to discuss the other features.
06-16-2010, 08:06 AM   #6
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Check out the Sigma EF-530 DG ST. Has zoom, PTTL, swivel, and up and down.
06-16-2010, 09:06 PM   #8
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WOW! Thats a lot of options! I think all my questions were answered! I'm looking into every option, being the over-obsessive shopper that I am. I doubt anyone else here obsesses over their new gadget purchases like I do. Then again, maybe thats why there are forums! To feed those of us who do.
Thanks!

06-16-2010, 09:45 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SelfEmployedDebtFree Quote
WOW! Thats a lot of options! I think all my questions were answered! I'm looking into every option, being the over-obsessive shopper that I am. I doubt anyone else here obsesses over their new gadget purchases like I do. Then again, maybe thats why there are forums! To feed those of us who do.
Thanks!
The whole PTTL flash guide is the result of my over-obsessive gadget shopping. I figured, having done all that information gathering, I oughta share.
06-22-2010, 03:42 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by SelfEmployedDebtFree Quote
WOW! Thats a lot of options! I think all my questions were answered! I'm looking into every option, being the over-obsessive shopper that I am. I doubt anyone else here obsesses over their new gadget purchases like I do. Then again, maybe thats why there are forums! To feed those of us who do.
Thanks!
That's probably how we all start out since we are still excited about getting our gear complete.
I went this way with the flash too and had some hit and miss but mostly miss.
Promaster, Quantaray..etc..etc..even the Vivitar 285HV which I still have.
For a dedicated flash, I finally settled with the Bower power zoom..does just about anything that I would want it to do (with bounce card and diffuser built-in) and just around $100 when I bought it.
06-22-2010, 05:29 PM   #11
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AF280T, you can get them for real cheap on ebay, and it has bounce + swivel. The manual modes are only low and high, unfortunately, but I still manage to do some ok macro stuff with them.
06-22-2010, 05:55 PM   #12
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For less $50, get a copy of Sunpak 422D, 383 Super, 433D, 433AF, or B3600DX. The module doesn't need to be for Pentax, for any camera is fine as long as it is for "standard" hotshoe (beware of Minolta- and Nikon-proprietary hotshoes).

My first choice currently is the $49 "Auto 433D Dedicated Shoe Mount Flash (Guide No. 120'/37 m at 35mm) for Canon" in this list. It has low trigger voltage, 3 levels of auto, 5 levels (full to 1/16) of manual. You can get an extension cable to mount the flash on a bracket or for macro photography.

Or this Sunpak 422D.

You can get the manual here.

06-29-2010, 01:15 PM   #13
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I'm with SOldBear and others. A tough old flash like the Vivitar 285HV or Sunpak 383 Super (which I've been shooting with) is a good way to go. I prefer to skip the cable and use a cheap Chinese wireless trigger (the poor man's Pocket Wizard). I'm not sure about getting either of these for <$50. All the Strobist folks out there have driven prices up recently. Definitely should be able to get them for <$80 though (you can still get lucky).
07-02-2010, 07:01 PM   #14
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I'm now leaning towards this:
Sigma - EF-530 DG ST Flash for Pentax P-TTL - 179-109 - B&H

I have watched several auctions (outbid on all) and I have come to the comical conclusion that USED flashes on ebay are often selling for MORE than brand NEW prices!!!
The sigma above I watched sell used on ebay for $22 more than I could buy it brand new through BH (free shipping). I also read on B&H that it had been improved with more flash, so if thats an improvement over the same product in older model, then I would be getting a better flash for cheaper.
I'm also considering the Mets 48, but it's numbers don't look as good as the Sigma. Of course I may not know what I'm seeing. Where I use this I want massive flash. I'd like to be able to shoot across World Showcase Lagoon and have just enough flash to light up a country building, or the Japanese temple in the water on the other side.
So my next question, the Sigma St vs the Sigma Super. What major difference? Is it worth the extra $75? What kind of cases would you need it over the ST? Remember, i'm REALLY new to all this, so keep it simple please.
Thanks! I appreciate all the input! You guys are great! I hope some day i will be good enough to be able to help others as well.
07-02-2010, 08:52 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by SelfEmployedDebtFree Quote
I'm also considering the Mets 48, but it's numbers don't look as good as the Sigma.
The Sigma EF-530 DG flashes are about 20% more powerful than the Metz 48 AF-1 (when your lens is at 70mm or longer). A little bit more, if the zoom head is set to wide angle. Either way, that's not really a huge difference. The Metz flash is much more full-featured than the Sigma ST model -- more comparable to the Sigma Super model.

QuoteOriginally posted by SelfEmployedDebtFree Quote
Of course I may not know what I'm seeing. Where I use this I want massive flash. I'd like to be able to shoot across World Showcase Lagoon and have just enough flash to light up a country building, or the Japanese temple in the water on the other side.
That's not going to happen. Assuming it's about 500 meters across the lagoon, you'd need a flash with a guide number of 700 to light a subject over there at aperture f/1.4. That's about 175 more powerful than the Sigma flash.

QuoteOriginally posted by SelfEmployedDebtFree Quote
So my next question, the Sigma St vs the Sigma Super. What major difference? Is it worth the extra $75? What kind of cases would you need it over the ST? Remember, i'm REALLY new to all this, so keep it simple please.
The Super has a lot more features. See

Feature Tables - Pentax P-TTL Flash Comparison

and

Sigma EF-530 DG ST - Pentax P-TTL Flash Comparison
Sigma EF-530 DG Super - Pentax P-TTL Flash Comparison

Last edited by mattdm; 07-02-2010 at 09:01 PM.
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