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01-14-2011, 11:17 PM   #1
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Please educate me so I can choose a Flash

I have a K-r with 18-55mm kit lens, and I know I want an external flash.

I am relatively new, and don't want expensive stuff that's overkill, but I also want a real chance at producing very good photos. So I want to spend if it's "highly recommended".

I know off-board are supposed to be a lot better, but will be they be out of my budget? I guess they are bigger and I would end up not having it with me sometimes. If I get an on-board, how do you use those off-board... can they all be used that way?

So, next I see there are P-TTL flashes, do I definitely want one of these? I am thinking yes. I like whatever is more convenient and automatic (if it's not giving up much on flexibility).

I read this excellent page at Feature Comparison - Pentax P-TTL Flash Comparison to get an idea of what's available. I don't know if I need most of those features yet. Most of them would be nice. I think I would want swivel, but not enough to pay a bunch more. Manual seems good too since I don't have a zoom lens.

01-14-2011, 11:45 PM   #2
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When people refer to 'on-board' flash, they mean the one that is built into the camera.

An external flash unit can be mounted to the hotshoe, controlled wirelessly, or via a sync cable.

Your K-x is capable of all of this.

I use an AF360FGZ in all of those modes, and I'm not exactly an expert. You will find it useful, provided you read the manual and spend a lot of time testing the various modes.

Swivel is particularly useful (on the hotshoe) if a) you have to bounce off a wall or b) you shoot in portrait mode a lot and need to swivel up to the ceiling.
01-14-2011, 11:54 PM   #3
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I think the K-x and K-r can't hook up to a sync cable, only K-7? So most people fire the flash manually unless they spend big bucks on one that can sync wirelessly?
01-15-2011, 12:10 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kitty Quote
I think the K-x and K-r can't hook up to a sync cable, only K-7? So most people fire the flash manually unless they spend big bucks on one that can sync wirelessly?
Sorry, I didn't explain that well. K-x and K-r don't have a sync output, but you can hook a sync cable up to your hotshoe with an adapter.

01-15-2011, 05:44 AM   #5
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Off-camera flash is not out of your budget, nor does it have to involve large pieces of gear. Unless you want to get pro-style AC-powered studio lights, the flash unit you use is exactly the same as the type you can stick on top of your camera. You can get simple radio triggers to remotely fire the flashes and there are very affordable models out there. You can also work just fine with some older used flashes and save quite a bit of money over buying new.

However, as this is all new to you I would suggest you consider getting an affordable new(er) unit which includes P-TTL functionality and bounce/swivel so you can get maximum versatility out of the flash when it is on your camera. If you then decide you would like to learn about using it off your camera all you need to get is a set of cheap radio triggers.

You can get flashes that have built-in wireless ability and work directly with certain camera models, and you can expect to pay a bit more for that feature. But it isn't strictly necessary. You can use various methods to fire the flash remotely (not manually...that's different) which have nothing to do with built-in features of the flash. This is especially nice for the budget-conscious such as ourselves because it means you can use some older used flashes picked up at bargain-basement prices. I do the majority of my flash shooting with flashes from the 1980s that cost me between $10 and $30 and there is nobody alive who can look at a photo and tell if you used a thirty year old $10 flash or a brand-new $300 flash to take it.

If you have the 18-55 lens, Kitty, you do have a zoom lens. The 18-55 is a zoom lens. Zoom refers to the lens having a range of focal lengths (from 18mm up to 55mm) and doesn't refer to lenses that make far away things look near.

A lens can be wide-angle, and still be a zoom lens. A lens can make far away things look near, like a telescope, and not be a zoom lens. Look through your camera with the 18-55 mounted and twist the ring back and forth so what you see in the viewfinder changes. That is "zooming". Some zoom lenses are only for wide angle photos and are called....."wide angle zooms". Some are only for medium-to-far objects and are called...."telephoto zooms." Some are for everything from wide angle to far away and are called....."superzooms."

By now you must be thinking, "Okay....then everything is a zoom." But there is a class of lenses which cannot change their focal lengths. These are called "prime" lenses. Put the 18-55 all the way to one side or the other and imagine that the ring is stuck and you can't move it. If you want to change what you see in the viewfinder you have to walk closer to or farther away from your subject. That's what prime lenses are like.
01-15-2011, 08:56 AM   #6
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Kitty,

I suggest if the funds are there that you consider getting a flash that has tilt and swivel (I have the Sigma EF 500 DG Super). I don't do a lot of bounce flash (the most typical use for bounce & swivel) but instead, I use both features with my flash modifier.

Here is a Pentax Forums article on the flash modifier I use the most.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/do-yourself/50941-diy-making-flash-bouncer.html

I posted a couple of examples in that thread showing the two sizes I use. As you can see from the pictures below, I have the diffuser mounted on my flash with the head straight up and in the swivel position. The reason being is that when I hold my camera in the portrait position, I can tilt the head back to 90 degrees and diffuser will be in the correct position without having to reposition it.




Here are a couple of examples using the diffuser.






Tim
01-15-2011, 09:15 AM   #7
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https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-camera-field-accessories/104364-no...questions.html

The cheapest p-ttl solution is the Promaster 5050DXR flash module ($50) w/ a compatible flash ($20).
01-15-2011, 02:24 PM   #8
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Hm that sounds good, but are there drawbacks to using the 5050DXR module to achieve P-TTL with an older cheaper flash? More weight and bulk to carry around I suppose? That's a concern for me. For some or all of them, apparently you have to also buy and use the PAF module too.

Still may be better than buying a basic $129 P-TTL flash. I probably shouldn't spend more on a flash. I don't mind used.

01-15-2011, 03:34 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kitty Quote
Hm that sounds good, but are there drawbacks to using the 5050DXR module to achieve P-TTL with an older cheaper flash? More weight and bulk to carry around I suppose? That's a concern for me. For some or all of them, apparently you have to also buy and use the PAF module too.

Still may be better than buying a basic $129 P-TTL flash. I probably shouldn't spend more on a flash. I don't mind used.
You only need the Quantaray module if you want to modify the Promaster module to mount the older Quantaray flashes. Newer Quantaray flashes like the 9550U and 6550D work without modification.

Personally I don't think p-ttl is really that necessary. An AF280T would work fine for a lot less money.
K-X with AF280T . How to use it?

If you really want to find a p-ttl flash check out The definitive guide to Pentax hot shoe flashes and compatible 3rd-party options.
01-15-2011, 04:03 PM   #10
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If you find a p-ttl flash is too expensive, there is always the AF280T that automates exposure with its built in sensor with the limitation of supporting two aperture values (5.6 / 11 for ISO 200). This has tilt and swivel and is pretty compact too. As it is no longer made it can be had second-hand only, but quite inexpensively (should be no more than US$ 50). Checking out the manual should help to figure out whether this would suit you.

http://www.cameramanuals.org/flashes_meters/pentax_af_280t.pdf
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