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12-26-2010, 05:04 PM   #1
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Kx and metz mecablitz 15 ms-1 macro

Hello,

Before I get to my main question, there is just a couple of things I need to lay out...
I'm currently trying out the Sigma EM-140 DG on a Sigma EX 105mm macro lens. I havn't bought it yet, as it is second hand and the guy was nice enough to let me try it out first.
After trying it for a while, I'm wondering if it is working correct, course it seems to overexpose pretty much all pictures I take, it seems hard to get correct exposure on the first shot. Furter use have lead me to think that this Sigma ring flash just ins't capable of getting correct exposure right. Now I havn't tried other ring flashes, so I don't know if ring flashes are less capable of getting correct exposure over normal flashes... Here I'm comparing the ring flash to my Metz 48 AF-1 and that can get correct exposure most of the time in the first shot (by my standards only of course), maybe someone can tell me?.

Main question:
So instead I would like to hear if anyone knows, if the Metz mecablitz 15 ms-1 ring flash would work with the Pentax Kx mounted with the Sigma EX 105mm macro lens?

I'm solely looking at the Metz ringflash due to it's low price compare to a brand new Sigma ring flash. Also the Metz ring flash takes up less space and just seems faster to mount.

Sorry for my first post to be this long, but I hope you could read through it

Best regards
Mikael

12-27-2010, 12:49 AM   #2
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Hi Mikael,

The Metz 15 MS-1 should work fine with your Kx since you can set your popup flash to act as a controller for a wireless remote.

You have to remember to set up your on camera flash to act as a controller in your Custom Menu, and remember to set up the camera for Wireless in the flash menu.

I use this Metz model, and it works well with my D FA 100/2.8 Macro and Sigma EX 180/3.5 APO DG Macro. It's lightweight and doesn't use any cords or extra brackets, but it is a dual flash as opposed to a ring flash, so you get a double glint off of reflective surfaces, and you'll get double shadows with some subjects. It also doesn't have the power of most of the dedicated ring flashes. As long as this is alright with you, it's a very convenient macro flash.

I'm attaching an example that shows the double glint and double shadow.

Scott
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PENTAX K-7  Photo 
12-27-2010, 01:11 AM   #3
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yikes! i've been shopping for one to use on night-time insect shoots and the double shadow does not look promising!

does that happen often? or only when you position the flash tubes in a certain position? (i.e. both facing inwards)
12-27-2010, 10:47 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by detritus Quote
yikes! i've been shopping for one to use on night-time insect shoots and the double shadow does not look promising!

does that happen often? or only when you position the flash tubes in a certain position? (i.e. both facing inwards)
Hi detritus,

This is really a worst case scenario. Both tubes faced inwards as you suggested, but with diffusers mounted. This shot happened to show the possible problems of the particular flash at its worst since the angle of the shot exaggerated the effect. I also use an unusual lens setup -- Sigma 180/3.5 with an F 1.7x AFA (306mm), so I'm shooting from a lot farther away than most macro shooters (10-15" from the front element). This tends to focus the flash and make the shadows more evident, I think.

Most of the time, it's evident, but not nearly as weird, and the flash is easy to rotate on the lens, and there's enough friction to stay in whatever position that you place it in, so it's easy to place the tubes vertically, and use one flash as the main source and the other as fill.

Last season, I only had a few sessions to shoot these Jumping Spiders, so I had limited ability to experiment with the flash.

I'm attaching a few more examples which show that with vertical positioning, and at different shooting angles, the effect is not as exaggerated.

Scott

Attached Images
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PENTAX K-7  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-7  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-7  Photo 
12-27-2010, 01:35 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi Mikael,

The Metz 15 MS-1 should work fine with your Kx since you can set your popup flash to act as a controller for a wireless remote.

You have to remember to set up your on camera flash to act as a controller in your Custom Menu, and remember to set up the camera for Wireless in the flash menu.

I use this Metz model, and it works well with my D FA 100/2.8 Macro and Sigma EX 180/3.5 APO DG Macro. It's lightweight and doesn't use any cords or extra brackets, but it is a dual flash as opposed to a ring flash, so you get a double glint off of reflective surfaces, and you'll get double shadows with some subjects. It also doesn't have the power of most of the dedicated ring flashes. As long as this is alright with you, it's a very convenient macro flash.

I'm attaching an example that shows the double glint and double shadow.

Scott
Hi Scott, and thank you for your reply!

I'm glad to hear the metz ring flash will work with my Kx, this will move me closer to a buy. You say the metz ring flash dosen't have the power of other ring flashes, could you give an example of this?
The dual flashes is not a problem, the Sigma EM 140 DG also has dual flashes, though it also has a pilot light, which the metz dosent seem to have, from what I can see... can you confirm this?

Also, do you have any problems with overexposure when shooting macro pictures?

Mikael
12-27-2010, 05:40 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikknu Quote
Hi Scott, and thank you for your reply!

I'm glad to hear the metz ring flash will work with my Kx, this will move me closer to a buy. You say the metz ring flash dosen't have the power of other ring flashes, could you give an example of this?
The dual flashes is not a problem, the Sigma EM 140 DG also has dual flashes, though it also has a pilot light, which the metz dosent seem to have, from what I can see... can you confirm this?

Also, do you have any problems with overexposure when shooting macro pictures?
Hi Mikael,

Glad I could be of some help.

I just looked up the Pentax and Sigma, and I'll have to take back that statement. The Metz has a GN of 15 /ISO 100, the Pentax and Sigma have GN of 16/ISO 100, so they are really close -- negligible difference. At macro distances, it's even less important. I had written that on the word of other users who stated that other ring flashes were considerably more powerful. Regardless, I have used this flash at indoor distances (up to about 20') without any issues, but with a GN of 15, it's only marginally more powerful than the popup flash. . .

The Metz has a modeling light mode which strobes the tubes for @ 2 seconds, or an AF assist LED lamp that lights for @ 10 seconds and shuts down automatically if the flash is triggered. The AF assist light is a little fiddly for me to use as you have to push a button on the flash, and handholding on a small subject with one hand with the Sigma 180 is not an easy proposition.

I've not experienced any overexposure problems in P-TTL remote wireless operation that couldn't be attributed to some mistake on my part. Of course, it exposes best at macro distances with relatively small apertures, and at longer distances with midrange to wide apertures. Since you can use either Ev compensation or flash compensation from the flash menu, overexposure should not be a problem.

You do have to initially set up the flash for Pentax P-TTL operation because it's compatible with all the major mfg's wireless remote TTL flash protocols. This is a major advantage to this unit -- it works with any of the major brands of DSLR, so resale is not restricted only to Pentax users.

I love this flash -- it has its downsides, but there are more than enough positives for me that I'll not be looking very hard for another macro flash.

Scott
12-27-2010, 08:23 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi detritus,

This is really a worst case scenario. Both tubes faced inwards as you suggested, but with diffusers mounted. This shot happened to show the possible problems of the particular flash at its worst since the angle of the shot exaggerated the effect. I also use an unusual lens setup -- Sigma 180/3.5 with an F 1.7x AFA (306mm), so I'm shooting from a lot farther away than most macro shooters (10-15" from the front element). This tends to focus the flash and make the shadows more evident, I think.

Most of the time, it's evident, but not nearly as weird, and the flash is easy to rotate on the lens, and there's enough friction to stay in whatever position that you place it in, so it's easy to place the tubes vertically, and use one flash as the main source and the other as fill.

Last season, I only had a few sessions to shoot these Jumping Spiders, so I had limited ability to experiment with the flash.

I'm attaching a few more examples which show that with vertical positioning, and at different shooting angles, the effect is not as exaggerated.

Scott
thanks for sharing i must say, i did not expect the results you posted.

generally, ring-flashes receive a lot of flak for giving "flat" light which eliminates shadows. not something that appeals to all shooters.

but your samples seems to suggest that the metz is able to provide soft, directional lighting (thanks to the adjustable tubes) which increases the versatility of the flash, both as a macro tool and for other applications.

it is probably more challenging to master too as a result. i must get one to try for myself.
12-28-2010, 07:57 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi Mikael,

Glad I could be of some help.

I just looked up the Pentax and Sigma, and I'll have to take back that statement. The Metz has a GN of 15 /ISO 100, the Pentax and Sigma have GN of 16/ISO 100, so they are really close -- negligible difference. At macro distances, it's even less important. I had written that on the word of other users who stated that other ring flashes were considerably more powerful. Regardless, I have used this flash at indoor distances (up to about 20') without any issues, but with a GN of 15, it's only marginally more powerful than the popup flash. . .

The Metz has a modeling light mode which strobes the tubes for @ 2 seconds, or an AF assist LED lamp that lights for @ 10 seconds and shuts down automatically if the flash is triggered. The AF assist light is a little fiddly for me to use as you have to push a button on the flash, and handholding on a small subject with one hand with the Sigma 180 is not an easy proposition.

I've not experienced any overexposure problems in P-TTL remote wireless operation that couldn't be attributed to some mistake on my part. Of course, it exposes best at macro distances with relatively small apertures, and at longer distances with midrange to wide apertures. Since you can use either Ev compensation or flash compensation from the flash menu, overexposure should not be a problem.

You do have to initially set up the flash for Pentax P-TTL operation because it's compatible with all the major mfg's wireless remote TTL flash protocols. This is a major advantage to this unit -- it works with any of the major brands of DSLR, so resale is not restricted only to Pentax users.

I love this flash -- it has its downsides, but there are more than enough positives for me that I'll not be looking very hard for another macro flash.

Scott
Hi Scott,

Thanks for another great reply. It's nice to hear your opinion, course I have been a bit lost on what to choose. I'm beginning to think that my initial worries with the Sigma EM 140 DG that I borrowed, concerning overexposure have been due to lack of macro photography knowledge on my part. However I've tried using different aperture sizes while also varying my distance to the object. I find myself constantly having to adjust settings in order to avoid overexposure or just getting acceptable exposure. I had an incident just now, where I got overexposure on F-stop 4, but not on F-stop 2.8, nor on F-stop 32 which doesn't quite add up to me. I can see the macro lens doesn't have F-stop 4 as a manual setting on the aperture ring, maybe that has something to do with that.
I guess if I have any doubt what so ever in regards to the used Sigma flash working correctly or not, I will probably be best off buying the Metz from new. That should at least be fault free and it is not that much more expensive than the used Sigma.

I would like to present a hypothetical scenario... If you set your shutter speed to 60 and get close up to an object for a 1:1 photo shot (as close as you can get. Then take two pictures, the first shot being on your largest aperture and the second shot on your smallest aperture. Same distance to the object on both shots of course. Do you then need to make any setting changes in between those two shots to get decent exposure, or does your Metz flash do the adjusting in that scenario?

Thanks again for your replies, I really appreciate it.
Mikael

12-28-2010, 11:30 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikknu Quote
Hi Scott,


I would like to present a hypothetical scenario... If you set your shutter speed to 60 and get close up to an object for a 1:1 photo shot (as close as you can get. Then take two pictures, the first shot being on your largest aperture and the second shot on your smallest aperture. Same distance to the object on both shots of course. Do you then need to make any setting changes in between those two shots to get decent exposure, or does your Metz flash do the adjusting in that scenario?

Hi Mikael,

Happened to have the macro setup nearby, so I tried your scenario, but didn't specify the shutter speed as it's pretty irrelevant when using flash -- left it at 1/180. I used a manually set WB (flash) and ISO (400). I set the flash Ev comp at +1 in the flash menu since I have to correct for a Sigma anomaly in reading aperture with this lens TC combination. No other adjustments were made -- once set up, I only changed the aperture setting, P-TTL did all exposure compensation automatically.

Looking at the exif, I can see that I forgot to change the FL for the SR, so it indicates 500mm, but that's inconsequential because SR is automatically turned off when using flash.

The first shot is at an indicated f6.7, the second at an indicated f57. These f-stop vales are due to an anomaly in the compatibility between the Sigma 180 and the F1.7x AFA which I won't go into here, but they are close enough to the actual values. . . anyway about a 7 stop difference -- you can easily see it in the DOF.

There is little variation in exposure to my eyes -- certainly not enough that you couldn't easily correct for with a tick of Ev compensation.

The difference in hue/saturation is due to the added contribution of warmer ambient light in the room. Shooting wide open allowed more of the warm artificial light to enter the lens while the flash was overwhelmingly the source of light for the stopped down shot. With my off-eye I could easily see the difference in brightness of the main flash when taking the shots.

FYI -- the word is that Sigma does not license lens or flash protocols from the camera mfgs -- they reverse engineer them. In general they do a good job at this, and it is beneficial to the end user as it reduces their cost, and allows them to sell at lower prices. This can result in some functional anomalies though, so that's one thing that has to be considered when buying Sigma lenses or flash guns. There is a possibility that there is a firmware difference between your camera and used Sigma model that you tried.

I cannot state this reverse-engineering policy as a fact, but I've experienced more functional quirks with Sigma products than any other 3rd party mfg, so I consider it as a personal guideline in my purchases. I currently own 3 Sigma lenses totaling over $3000 in market value, so I'm not adverse to buying their products, but I did consider the possibility that there might be some weird incompatibility issues when considering them for purchase. . .

Scott
Attached Images
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PENTAX K-5  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-5  Photo 

Last edited by snostorm; 12-28-2010 at 11:57 AM.
12-30-2010, 09:05 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi Mikael,

Happened to have the macro setup nearby, so I tried your scenario, but didn't specify the shutter speed as it's pretty irrelevant when using flash -- left it at 1/180. I used a manually set WB (flash) and ISO (400). I set the flash Ev comp at +1 in the flash menu since I have to correct for a Sigma anomaly in reading aperture with this lens TC combination. No other adjustments were made -- once set up, I only changed the aperture setting, P-TTL did all exposure compensation automatically.

Looking at the exif, I can see that I forgot to change the FL for the SR, so it indicates 500mm, but that's inconsequential because SR is automatically turned off when using flash.

The first shot is at an indicated f6.7, the second at an indicated f57. These f-stop vales are due to an anomaly in the compatibility between the Sigma 180 and the F1.7x AFA which I won't go into here, but they are close enough to the actual values. . . anyway about a 7 stop difference -- you can easily see it in the DOF.

There is little variation in exposure to my eyes -- certainly not enough that you couldn't easily correct for with a tick of Ev compensation.

The difference in hue/saturation is due to the added contribution of warmer ambient light in the room. Shooting wide open allowed more of the warm artificial light to enter the lens while the flash was overwhelmingly the source of light for the stopped down shot. With my off-eye I could easily see the difference in brightness of the main flash when taking the shots.

FYI -- the word is that Sigma does not license lens or flash protocols from the camera mfgs -- they reverse engineer them. In general they do a good job at this, and it is beneficial to the end user as it reduces their cost, and allows them to sell at lower prices. This can result in some functional anomalies though, so that's one thing that has to be considered when buying Sigma lenses or flash guns. There is a possibility that there is a firmware difference between your camera and used Sigma model that you tried.

I cannot state this reverse-engineering policy as a fact, but I've experienced more functional quirks with Sigma products than any other 3rd party mfg, so I consider it as a personal guideline in my purchases. I currently own 3 Sigma lenses totaling over $3000 in market value, so I'm not adverse to buying their products, but I did consider the possibility that there might be some weird incompatibility issues when considering them for purchase. . .

Scott
Thank you so much Scott, you have been of great help. Also, I forgot to praise the spider shots, those look nice. I quite appreciate that you took on my scenario, it has given me valuable information for my decision taking. I was happy to read that you could rely on the P-TTL system to do the exposure compensation, course the Sigma doesn't always seem to do that, but that might be some of that quirkiness you mentioned the Sigmas could possess.
Same goes for compensating with different EV steps.
Regarding firmware, that is one thing I see as a good benefit of a Metz flash, the fact you can update it's firmware.

I just have one final question, I hope you can bare with me. The Metz flash appears to have an infra red clip-on coming with it that goes into the hot shoe. You said that the Metz flash could be used with any camera brand so I was wondering if that infra red clip-on is not dependant on camera brand?

Mikael
12-30-2010, 12:45 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikknu Quote
[lang=us]

The Metz flash appears to have an infra red clip-on coming with it that goes into the hot shoe. You said that the Metz flash could be used with any camera brand so I was wondering if that infra red clip-on is not dependant on camera brand?
Hi Mikael,

The clip goes on over the popup flash. It allows infra red to pass, but blocks any visible spectrum light. The sensors used by the remote flash and the camera to communicate can operate off infra red frequencies, so the mini bursts that the popup uses to communicate with the remote wireless flash to set exposure and tell it when to fire for the exposure still work, but the clip would block visible light from the popup as a second light source at the time of exposure.

It's not apparent, but in wireless TTL mode there are a series of 4 bursts before exposure. IIRC the first readies the remote and confirms that there is a remote, the second fires the preflash for metering, the third transmits exposure information to the remote and the fourth triggers the main flash. I can only see two flashes, so this all happens really fast!

With remote wireless P-TTL, you can set up your popup flash as the Controller, so it doesn't fire at the time of exposure, and the clip is really not needed. I imagine that there's a possiblity that the popup flash can also contribute a tiny amount of light, even if it's being used as the controller, so the clip would eliminate any possibility of such contribution if the user is super fussy (which I am not).

I imagine if you have occasion to sometimes use wireless TTL with the popup flash as the Master, you could leave the camera set to this and use the clip to block the popup flash during exposure as you require.

I don't know the wireless protocols for the other brands, but I'm assuming that some don't allow the popup flash to only act as a controller -- I could be wrong. . .

I'm sure that the clip would fit any brand's popup flash , and could also be useful if you wanted to block the popup flash's contribution if using a digital optical trigger for a "dumb" slave flash. . .

Scott
01-01-2011, 09:35 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi Mikael,

The clip goes on over the popup flash. It allows infra red to pass, but blocks any visible spectrum light. The sensors used by the remote flash and the camera to communicate can operate off infra red frequencies, so the mini bursts that the popup uses to communicate with the remote wireless flash to set exposure and tell it when to fire for the exposure still work, but the clip would block visible light from the popup as a second light source at the time of exposure.

It's not apparent, but in wireless TTL mode there are a series of 4 bursts before exposure. IIRC the first readies the remote and confirms that there is a remote, the second fires the preflash for metering, the third transmits exposure information to the remote and the fourth triggers the main flash. I can only see two flashes, so this all happens really fast!

With remote wireless P-TTL, you can set up your popup flash as the Controller, so it doesn't fire at the time of exposure, and the clip is really not needed. I imagine that there's a possiblity that the popup flash can also contribute a tiny amount of light, even if it's being used as the controller, so the clip would eliminate any possibility of such contribution if the user is super fussy (which I am not).

I imagine if you have occasion to sometimes use wireless TTL with the popup flash as the Master, you could leave the camera set to this and use the clip to block the popup flash during exposure as you require.

I don't know the wireless protocols for the other brands, but I'm assuming that some don't allow the popup flash to only act as a controller -- I could be wrong. . .

I'm sure that the clip would fit any brand's popup flash , and could also be useful if you wanted to block the popup flash's contribution if using a digital optical trigger for a "dumb" slave flash. . .

Scott
Thank you again Scott for all your help. With that extra information I just need to figure out which product will be best for me.

Happy new year!
Mikael
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