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04-16-2011, 09:21 AM   #1
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Can I use this old flash on my Kx

I have a Vivitar 550FD from my film camera, can I use this on my Kx? If so what setting should I be using indoors?

04-16-2011, 09:57 AM   #2
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See this website:
Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages

for flash voltages.
04-16-2011, 10:02 AM   #3
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Lookup your flash on Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages ; measure it to make sure it's (far) below 25V. That's the value that's often mentioned for Pentax cameras if I'm not mistaken.

A voltage that is too high can fry your camera. There are adaptors (e.g. Wein safesync) that will 'make' it safe to use a high voltage flash.

I'm not familiar with your flash; you can basically use the same setting as for your film camera (except for TTL if your flash supports that). X-sync for current Pentax models is 1/180s, so you can use any shutter speed equal to or slower (e.g. 1/90s) than the X-sync.

PS
I'm assuming your talking about the digital K-x, not the older film one.
04-16-2011, 10:59 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
A voltage that is too high can fry your camera. There are adaptors (e.g. Wein safesync) that will 'make' it safe to use a high voltage flash.
IF you are actually consider the Wein solution, consider buying a set of Cactus transceivers since they have safe-voltage circuitry built in and also give you the use of remote radio triggers for flash or shutter. The Wein is expensive for what it does and the Cactus are cheap for what they do.

All this is moot if the flash is less than 25v anyway.

04-16-2011, 03:10 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by gebco Quote
See this website:
Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages

for flash voltages.

This site is a good place to start, but don't accept it as gospel. Manufacturers made running changes in various models over the years the item was in production.

Vivitar is particularly known for this. They didn't really make anything themselves. They were merely an importer that contracted with other manufacturers to put the Vivitar name on products. The model 283 flash, was made for a very long time, in three different countries, by different manufacturers. Some have safe voltages, while others, from a different production period, are over 100 volts.

My advise it to check your particular unit. Its easy to do with a digital multimeter, available at any hardware store, Radio Shack or Home Depot, for a few bucks (they're handy to have around the house for a lot of things).

Simply set the DC volts scale on 200, charge the flash up and put the positive lead on the center stud of the hotshoe. The negative lead goes to the ground connection of the flash, which is located in one of the side slots that the shoe slides into the camera's hotshoe. It may be hard to see, but look closely, its there.

A voltage of 25 or less is generally considered safe, but, the lower the better. Today's flashes use about 5-10 volts for the trigger.
04-16-2011, 09:13 PM   #6
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I read all that sensible voltage advice after using my Vivitar 550FD flash for a year or so. Mine was fine and the camera is fine; I figure it's too late to check the actual volts. I would do that now just to be sure.

Mine is the Pentax-dedicated version, labeled M/P/O. It should turn on the ready indicator in your viewfinder.

The flash has a sensor that can automatically adjust power within a range of values. If you set the mode switch to A1or A2 and the ISO to whatever the camera is set to, the flash should show you a suggested f-stop setting to use for the lens, and a distance range it'll work in. Keep in mind that it will work best with a lens set to about 30-40mm. If you set the lens wider, you'll get vignetting (dark corners). Longer and you may not have enough power.

I'd set the camera to M mode. That allows you to set the f-stop easily. When the camera detects a flash, it will limit your top shutter speed to 1/180. You can make it slower to let more ambient light in. The flash pulse is at least 1/1000 sec. so the flash pulse itself will freeze motion.

The K-x can't use the flash's TTL mode. Manual mode should work.

Although the flash is not loaded with features, you can learn something about flash usage from it.
04-17-2011, 12:49 AM   #7
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I was asking exactly this question a week or two ago and there is a lot of detailed stuff about where to measure voltages etc on this thread, which may be of some use.
10-02-2013, 07:08 AM   #8
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No, you cannot. The Vivitar 550FD does not work on a K-x. The shutter speed setting goes haywire once the flash is attached and turned on, and it will fire intermittently if at all.

The Vivitar 550FD does however work perfectly on the K-01 and the Pentax Q. (In A1, A2, and M modes. No TTL support)

Charles.

10-02-2013, 07:26 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChopperCharles Quote
No, you cannot. The Vivitar 550FD does not work on a K-x. The shutter speed setting goes haywire once the flash is attached and turned on, and it will fire intermittently if at all.
Charles.
This is not true. If you use the 550 FD M/P/O (Minolta, Pentax, Olympus-- it'll say on the top right corner of the back) keep it on A1, A2, or M. It will work perfectly using the onboard auto mode, as well as manual full power.

If you put it on TTL it'll freak out, as Pentax DSLRs haven't supported TTL since the *ist's.

I have used my 550FD N (Nikon) on my K100d and my girlfriend's K-X without issues. I passed it off to a friend with a K10d and he loves it. It was the best $1.75 I spent at a thrift store before upgrading to a pair of 285HV's.

I have also tested the C/R model (Canon, Ricoh) and it worked fine, too. I've never tried the M/P/O model (Minolta, Pentax, Olympus), so maybe even in manual and onboard auto the contacts confuse Pentax DSLRs? No need to buy the Pentax model, though, as you won't get TTL-- I think the C/R model is the cheapest.

I tested mine, and the trigger voltage was around 11v, but I didn't have a super accurate volt meter. These things work great, and if you don't need a ton of power and manual control, you can pick them up for $10 or so. I learned basic flash techniques, and once you start bouncing, you'll get hooked and want to become a flash master.
10-02-2013, 07:32 AM   #10
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Old thread, but recently failed the flash driver on my Olympus E_PL1 , using an old Pentax AF16 flash that has a trigger voltage measured at 5 Volt.
I think it happened when I accidentally pulled the flash out of the hot shoe while the flash was switched on, and maybe pressed the test button at same time.

I have not traced the circuit but i think the earlier electronic flashes can have the hotshoe center pin closely connected to the pulse transformer that fires the tube.
On a bench test with oscilloscope connected I replicated the above, and pulling the flash out of the socket,I could see a transient voltage overshoot of at least 2 times, probably more, over the 5V that is measured with a meter.
I need a faster storage oscilloscope to see the full transient.

In the meantime I am going to only use the AF360 etc on the dslrs.
- and confine the older flashes to the film slrs.
10-02-2013, 08:46 AM   #11
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no, I have the M/P/O version, and it DOES NOT work on the K-x. It works on the K-01 and the Q without issues, but the K-x freaks out REGARDLESS of the setting on the flash. A1, A2, M, or TTL all give the same freakout on the K-x.

Charles.
10-02-2013, 08:52 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChopperCharles Quote
no, I have the M/P/O version, and it DOES NOT work on the K-x. It works on the K-01 and the Q without issues, but the K-x freaks out REGARDLESS of the setting on the flash. A1, A2, M, or TTL all give the same freakout on the K-x.

Charles.
Hmm. I've seen that M/P/O used before on other Pentaxes... Wonder what makes tha K-X different. I guess check the back, if it's 'C/R' or 'N', you're good to go.
10-02-2013, 09:18 AM   #13
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No idea what's different about the K-x, but I can post a video of it freaking out if you don't believe me. M/P/O version.

Charles.
10-02-2013, 09:33 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by iluvs2ski Quote
I have a Vivitar 550FD from my film camera, can I use this on my Kx? If so what setting should I be using indoors?
The Vivitar 550FD should work just fine on your K-x. I used mine on my K-r and now use it on my K-30. TTL is useless as the K-x doesn't support TTL (P-TTL is the new standard). However both manual and auto-thyristor modes should work without problem.

Go to manual mode on your K-x, set your shutter to 1/180 (or slower) and match the ISO and aperture with the scale on your 500FD.

Also, you might want to check out these old posts:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-flashes-lighting-technique/185932-...pttl-sort.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-flashes-lighting-technique/187513-...tructions.html
10-02-2013, 09:34 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChopperCharles Quote
No idea what's different about the K-x, but I can post a video of it freaking out if you don't believe me. M/P/O version.

Charles.
I believe you. I've seen an M/P/O working on a K10d and a K-30. It'd be interesting to know why the K-X is different. Also, if you insulate or short the other control pins, it should work on any camera with X-Sync without issues?
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