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06-27-2011, 05:34 PM   #1
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Ready to move beyond the popup flash

I've been shooting a dslr for awhile now, but I'm a complete novice at flash & was looking for some recommendations. I have 2 older cameras, an istD and a K100D. I know the istD is TTL capable, but I'm pretty sure the K100D is not. I don't do a lot of shooting with flash, so what might be a decent basic unit that I can use with both cameras? Seems like the old tried & true AF280T would be an option? Thanks for any suggestions!

06-27-2011, 06:09 PM   #2
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You will get varied responses I'm sure. But heres my take on things.

Flash is fun - but get it off camera. On-Axis is 95% of the time ugly. Off-Camera gives massive amounts of additional control and compositional elements to your image. Its also far simpler than it seems. (Doing it 'well' is another story..... lol).
I spent a fair amount of time sussing out how/what to invest in Speedlite wise... and heres what I came to.

TTL is nice - but expensive, and unpredictable. It'll add from $200 -> $500 to the flash, and you can fire off the same shot 5 times and get 5 different exposures. This equates to very low 'repeatability' or 'control'.

The advantage of course is, you can *potentially* - forget about controlling the flash and just 'run and gun'... hoping TTL gets it more right more often than not.

Also - the cheaper TTL controllable flashes endup providing the expensive TTL bit by usually greatly reducing power, which means the Flash-to-subject Distances you can work with are greatly reduced. I can easily light someone 10M's away with a '560.... you'd be hard up doing that with a AF360 or AF280 (which puts out about half the light that a YN-560 does.....)

The other side of the coin is - Know your Flash! A few evenings playing at home, and you'll have it fairly sussed in terms of controlling the flash, and thus controlling the lighting elements in images. Using a manual flash not only lets you 'appreciate' more what you are doing and why - but its guaranteed repeatable. Light *always* behaves the same - given the same parameters.

I have a couple of YN-560's and some Sigma EF-500DG's and a 530DG... The 560's are more powerful, and 1/5th the price. They also have PC-Sync ports etc. And a much better Optical Slave. YN-560's can be had for about $70... And the beauty of Manual - It'll let you pick up any flash - for ANY camera - and be confident in operating it. TTL is a crap shoot, and also very different between Pentax, Nikon and Canon... so if you are tied to using TTL, you can be just as tied to a platform as much as a particular Lens Mount...

Anyway - Just my irrelevant thoughts... Good Luck.. get some radio triggers tho, and get Off-Camera... it'll change the way you think about pictures (well it did for me anyway )
06-27-2011, 06:21 PM   #3
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I use a $220 pTTL flash that has given me excellent results and I .... gasp ... use it on camera. There's absolutely nothing wrong with using on camera flash so long as you bounce it off a wall. pTTL is very handy when you are shooting in a dynamic environment where your exposure or flash to subject distance is changing. Manual flash is ideal where those things are more static.

Here's an excellent and comprehensive guide to using on camera flash
06-27-2011, 06:28 PM   #4
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Oh I agree twitch - hence why I said '95% it looks ugly'. Also - you can 'run and gun' in manual and bouncing - the difference is going to be minimal (unless the height of the ceiling/walls are massively changing).

My primary reason tho is 'bang for the buck'... $70, for a GN58 flash.. vs... $220 for.. I'm guessing.. a GN36-40 flash which is more of a crapshoot (at least in my limited experience with the Sigma's) than the GN58 ?


EDIT; One also can't mention OCF without dropping the strobist.com link

06-27-2011, 06:39 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by adr1an Quote
My primary reason tho is 'bang for the buck'... $70, for a GN58 flash.. vs... $220 for.. I'm guessing.. a GN36-40 flash which is more of a crapshoot (at least in my limited experience with the Sigma's) than the GN58 ?
It's a Metz 48 (since superceded by the 50), it's half way in power between a Pentax 360 & 540 but for the cost (in my market anyway) of a 360, plus it tilts & swivels.

The other nice thing about pTTL flashes is the ability to do High Speed Sync, something the manual only flashes can't do.

However if you going to do portraits of adults, or photos in studio situations, or need raw power, the manual only option is a good one. Otherwise I think pTTL is ideal, a pTTL flash can do everything a manual flash can do (at a price) but the reverse is not true of a manual flash.
06-27-2011, 07:02 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
It's a Metz 48 (since superceded by the 50), it's half way in power between a Pentax 360 & 540 but for the cost (in my market anyway) of a 360, plus it tilts & swivels.

The other nice thing about pTTL flashes is the ability to do High Speed Sync, something the manual only flashes can't do.

However if you going to do portraits of adults, or photos in studio situations, or need raw power, the manual only option is a good one. Otherwise I think pTTL is ideal, a pTTL flash can do everything a manual flash can do (at a price) but the reverse is not true of a manual flash.
I agree with all of this. I even have the same Metz flash and am quite pleased with it. The newer model 50 has a metal mount, though. The plastic mount on my 48 makes me a little nervous sometimes, though it's never broken or cracked.
06-27-2011, 08:34 PM   #7
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It's the old story; low price, power, features. Pick any 2.
06-27-2011, 08:37 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
I agree with all of this. I even have the same Metz flash and am quite pleased with it. The newer model 50 has a metal mount, though. The plastic mount on my 48 makes me a little nervous sometimes, though it's never broken or cracked.
Same here, I think the plastic foot is fine in normal use, but I feel as though the foot wouldn't survive even a minor accident like the camera tipping over while putting it on a table. So far so good for me though.

06-28-2011, 07:56 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
I've been shooting a dslr for awhile now, but I'm a complete novice at flash & was looking for some recommendations. I have 2 older cameras, an istD and a K100D. I know the istD is TTL capable, but I'm pretty sure the K100D is not. I don't do a lot of shooting with flash, so what might be a decent basic unit that I can use with both cameras? Seems like the old tried & true AF280T would be an option? Thanks for any suggestions!
I see two potential problems with a TTL flash. One is, it'll work differently with each camera. Two, any newer camera model will be P-TTL only, like the K100D. A P-TTL flash can be expensive but will avoid those issues. That's why I ended up with an AF540FGZ, not cheap but almost every feature. I like being able to use it with almost anything.

To save money, it's a balancing act, deciding what features are essential and what you can give up. On the *ist D, something like the AF500FTZ is awesome. Lots of power, zoom, tilt, swivel, TTL, lots of manual settings, even optical slave. On the K100D, not so cool, only manual settings. If you can find one for $75, dedicate it to the *ist D and it'll solve (almost) all your problems.
06-28-2011, 09:31 AM   #10
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Hey guys, thanks for all the replies - lots to think about now. Like I said, I don't forsee doing a lot of flash work, and would like to keep it < $100 or so. I was originally thinking of just a low to mid-powered flash, but maybe it's better to go for more power (still staying within budget), and not having to upgrade later. Twitch, thanks for that link - lots of good stuff to review there!
06-28-2011, 09:59 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
Hey guys, thanks for all the replies - lots to think about now. Like I said, I don't forsee doing a lot of flash work, and would like to keep it < $100 or so. I was originally thinking of just a low to mid-powered flash, but maybe it's better to go for more power (still staying within budget), and not having to upgrade later. Twitch, thanks for that link - lots of good stuff to review there!
At that budget, you may be tempted to go for the little Pentax (the 210, I think), but don't do it. That flash is fixed at 90 degrees, meaning you can't bounce it. Bouncing flash is vital indoors.
06-28-2011, 01:42 PM   #12
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For $100, there are plenty of options. All of the flash units in my signature, except for the two copies of the AF540FGZ, cost less than $100.

There have been numerous discussions on this subject. Below are some of them.

- Sunpak Auto 433D.

- Which flash should I get?

- More newb flash help, specifically for Sunpak 422D

- Best flash under 100$?

- Old Pentax Flashgun for K100D

- Recommend me a flash gun

- Sunpak Flash for K-x

- recommend me a flash under $120 please!

- Finally going to get a flash-recommendations

- How other old flashes compared to Nikon SB24?

- K100D + AF280T: What can it do?
06-28-2011, 03:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
I've been shooting a dslr for awhile now, but I'm a complete novice at flash & was looking for some recommendations. I have 2 older cameras, an istD and a K100D. I know the istD is TTL capable, but I'm pretty sure the K100D is not. I don't do a lot of shooting with flash, so what might be a decent basic unit that I can use with both cameras? Seems like the old tried & true AF280T would be an option? Thanks for any suggestions!
Paul,

You may want to consider making yourself one of these after you buy your flash. Not all locations work well with bounce flash and this diffuser will really help soften the shadows.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/do-yourself/50941-diy-making-flash-bouncer.html

Tim
06-28-2011, 05:44 PM   #14
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With your budget, go with the AF280T. It swivels. It tilts. The auto mode works great. It costs very little.
06-30-2011, 09:23 AM   #15
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Again, thanks for all the responses. SOldbear, thanks much for all the awesome links (that I was too lazy to look up), & atupdate for the DIY project - very cool! Still not sure at this point - I may just go for the AF280T for now. I can always resell & move up if it doesn't meet my modest needs. Thanks again to all.
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