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09-15-2010, 07:00 PM   #1
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I know nothing about lighting, but I keep hearing Pentax's solution sucks

Is this true? I keep reading all these threads about how Pentax cams are really maturing, but the flash systems are way behind their Nikon/Canon counterparts. Is it that far behind that it would hinder someone trying to build a studio system around Pentax lighting gear?

I virtually have no experience with the whole lighting stuff, so even though I read the specs on all the maker's lighting gear, I dont know what makes one better or worse...

09-15-2010, 07:52 PM   #2
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For studio lighting you will probably want to go with mono lights, not hot-shoe strobes. If you want a lighting kit that is portable and light weight, that's different. You can still built a decent setup with Pentax only gear, especially if you are just starting out. Maybe someone else has experience with various flash setups to better evaluate Pentax's ability to meet your needs.
09-15-2010, 07:52 PM   #3
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I think a true studio set up is not based around portable flashes, but it depends somewhat on what you are shooting. Typically you'll have a power pack that you can plug in one or more flash heads on booms or stands, with softboxes or reflectors, etc.
09-15-2010, 07:54 PM   #4
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Sorry, I think I really dont know what I'm talking about hehehe

Maybe a better question is more like: what makes the Pentax flashes worse than Nikon/Canon? Disregard the studio bit, oops!

09-15-2010, 08:35 PM   #5
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Communication between the flash and the camera for metering purposes.
Spotbeam focusing is also quite a drag as well...
09-15-2010, 08:37 PM   #6
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I don't know about everyone else but when used as a Pentax System, I actually find the Pentax flashes quite nice.

09-15-2010, 08:40 PM   #7
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I am also interested to know why people claim that Pentax flash sucks; while I don't find any problem with it.
09-15-2010, 08:46 PM   #8
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3rd party support isn't as good - to my knowledge nobody is building radio TTL triggers compatible with Pentax yet.

How well any of the TTL flash systems will work for you will depend quite a bit on what you're doing and which components you are willing to buy.

Using the onboard flash as a P-TTL commander for multiple strobes is a neat trick. I have only had the chance to play with P-TTL flashes for a few minutes at a time while doing macro work - all of my strobes are manual and I don't use the onboard flash much.

09-15-2010, 08:48 PM   #9
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Particularly with the K10D and to a slightly lesser extent the K20D, the P-TTL system is somewhat unreliable. Ranging from underexposure to slight overexposure, there are times when you might think that the P-TTL is a 'hit and miss' system.

I have personally experienced only minor under-exposure using P-TTL when set at 0EV and 0FEC, but I routinely set my FEC to +0.7, sometimes adding +0.5 on flash when metering is difficult, and I generally get very good consistently well-lit results.
09-15-2010, 09:48 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by aleonx3 Quote
I am also interested to know why people claim that Pentax flash sucks; while I don't find any problem with it.
Have you ever shoot the same subject with Pentax and Nikon flash? Try it and after that you'll see
09-15-2010, 11:07 PM   #11
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My own opinion is that the current Pentax flashes (360/540FGZ) simply suck, from P-TTL reliability to built quality. Nikon leads the game, Canon quite behind but still much better than Pentax. It was said a new Pentax flash would be released next year. Until then.
09-16-2010, 05:38 AM   #12
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Nikon's CLS (creative lighting system) is much more flexible than what Pentax has. You can control up to 4 groups of flashes independently, and adjust their relative strength/EV comp directly from a menu in the camera. All are triggered by the camera's build-in flash (though a dedicated, more powerful controller is also offered).

Contrast this with Pentax, where all the remote flashes are part of a single group, and you have to go to each flash to adjust its strength/EV comp.
09-16-2010, 06:13 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RBellavance Quote
Nikon's CLS (creative lighting system) is much more flexible than what Pentax has. You can control up to 4 groups of flashes independently, and adjust their relative strength/EV comp directly from a menu in the camera. All are triggered by the camera's build-in flash (though a dedicated, more powerful controller is also offered).

Contrast this with Pentax, where all the remote flashes are part of a single group, and you have to go to each flash to adjust its strength/EV comp.
Better than this, you can even control what mode they are in, right from the camera!

Say you find that CLS sucks for your subject, you can switch to manual or Auto mode right from the camera...
Or you can set some flashes in the background, give them a fixed power in manual, then use a TTL flash moving with you to take care of any interaction with the subject.
09-16-2010, 08:53 PM   #14
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I shoot studio with Pentax. Never have any problems. I do use real studio lights though. I have yet to meet a photographer who is really serious about studio work who uses hot shoe strobes.
09-17-2010, 05:31 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by uchinakuri Quote
Sorry, I think I really dont know what I'm talking about hehehe

Maybe a better question is more like: what makes the Pentax flashes worse than Nikon/Canon? Disregard the studio bit, oops!
Hi uchinakuri,

I think that for up to some pretty advanced flash use, the Pentax flash system works pretty well. The point that the other mfgs pull away in sophistication is pretty far beyond how the great majority of people who might want to use flash will use them.

If you imagine yourself as someone who just wants to use a flash occasionally, then P-TTL is pretty brainless.

Up to and including the use of a single wireless off-camera flash, using the camera to meter the shot, it's still not too difficult, but there is something of a learning curve, and it's not well documented, but relatively easily doable, maybe with a little specific help from a forum like this.

If you see yourself really getting into it to the point that you're using multiple flashes off camera, to get the lighting 100% right, then it'll become more frustrating, and another system might be more appropriate if you want ultimate ease of setup and use. There are still a lot of photographers that use Pentax camera in this environment, but it's definitely more difficult, and a comprehensive knowledge of lighting techniques and gear is going to be necessary.

I'm pretty much an advanced beginner in flash photography. I use most of the included features in the AF360 and AF 540, plus a couple of other P-TTL flashes, and the system works for me very predictably, if not 100% perfectly, but apparently a lot people don't seem to be able to get how it works. My feeling is that those who don't like P-TTL are either wanting sophistication beyond the system's significant capability, or they don't really understand how it works on a very basic level. I may not know all the nuts and bolts, and am certainly not a really high end flash user, but P-TTL works well enough for me.

Scott
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