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07-08-2011, 07:48 PM   #1
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external flash questions

I haven't been doing a lot of photography lately but a friend wants me to attempt shooting an event for her so it got me thinking.. Any recommendations for an acceptable and as inexpensive as possible external flash for me to purchase for my k100D?

07-08-2011, 08:27 PM   #2
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what do you consider inexpensive?
07-08-2011, 08:30 PM   #3
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Todd, effective events shooting and cheap gear are almost mutually exclusive.
Nevertheless, if you have no need for bounce flash then the PENTAX AF 200FG reviews - Photographic/Pentax Accessory Database - Flash, Grip, Camera Bag Reviews would suffice. If you're in need of some flexibility with bouncing then a third party flash such as the Metz AF 48 may be within your budget.
If you can pick up the skill of manual flash, then a $30 flash with non-dedicated hotshoe and manual settings would do the job quite well. It is depends on how you're able to do with your K100D.
07-08-2011, 08:31 PM   #4
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@adpo - I am pretty poor so I don't know... Under $50 maybe.. I just found the flash review section of the forum, so it looks like I am about to learn some things.. :-)

@ash - Thanks I'll check it out.. I would like some bounce-ability but may not be necessary for this event..

07-08-2011, 10:16 PM   #5
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in that price range, if you don;t mind learning manual flash (not that hard), there's the yongnuo yn460 ii. Lots of power, tilt and swivel head for bouncing, lots of manual control (i think it had something like 8 stops of power variation?), decent build. Downsides are lack of support if something does go wrong, and the fact that its all manual.
07-09-2011, 12:35 AM   #6
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Hi todd,

You could also opt for an Auto Thyristor (usually called Auto Mode) flash and get some automation, cut the learning curve, and stay within your budget.

An Auto flash has a light sensor on the flash itself, and does not rely on the camera's sensor to set exposure. The flash cuts itself off when it "sees" the right amount of light has reflected back to itself (and assuming it's mounted on the hotshoe, also the camera).

There are still new ones available, but on the used market, they're really inexpensive. I bought a Pentax AF 280 T with its swivel and tilt head for @ $20 USD a few years ago, and it's a great flash, and definitely safe from a trigger voltage standpoint. This is something that you need to consider -- trigger voltage. Anything around 6V is definitely safe, 12V is probably safe, but over that, I think you're taking a significant chance of harming the camera, and it's just not worth it. Auto flashes were used by professional photographers for many years with good results, and a high quality Auto flash is probably a much better investment than a mediocre or worse digital flash (P-TTL for Pentax). You can probably find some professional quality Pentax, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, and Metz Auto flashes on the used market that will easily fit into your budget. In Auto flashes, there was no brand dedication, so they could be used on any brand or model camera.

The advantage of the Auto flash is that you tell it what range of distances you want to shoot from, and it will give you an aperture and ISO to set your camera to to get reasonable exposures, even if you bounce (which could limit the range a bit). Stay within the distance range, and you're pretty much set. Not having to worry about anything but min and max distance to the subject makes shooting an unfamiliar event situation a whole lot easier.

While it might be desirable to learn the ins and outs of manual flash, but it's just not necessary. If you can divide and multiply by 2 or 4, then you can also extrapolate from the settings suggested by the flash, or shoot at different distance ranges.

I'd suggest that you get the flash well in advance of the event, and experiment with it a lot before taking on the assignment -- the "film" is free, and you'll enjoy yourself a lot more.

Scott
07-09-2011, 06:15 AM   #7
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Hi Todd,

I also have a K100D and have several auto-thyristor flash units that I use frequently for "paid" event shooting. My personal favorite is the Sunpak 522, but it requires that you use a remote triggering device. I own a Pentax AF 280T and can assure you that it will work effectively and safely with your K100D, plus the battery life is exceptional if you plan on a long shoot.

Ray
07-10-2011, 11:26 AM   #8
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thanks everyone for the helpful input... My wife informed me that my budget needs to go as low as possible, and my event is next Saturday, so I am beginning to shop my local craigslist for thyristors.. Hard to know what is what but some possibilities so far:

Vivitar 285HV-Plastic Hot Shoe Mount- Asking $50
Vivitar 285-Plastic Hot Shoe Mount- Asking $40
Vivitar 285-Metal Hot Shoe Mount-Asking $45
Vivitar Zoom Thyristor 3500 manual flash
Vivitar Auto 215 flash
SUNPAK AUTO 544 THYRISTOR
Sunpak auto 422D
Sunpak Thyristor auto 26FD

Yongnuo YN560 (read good reviews here.. Too bad asking $85)


Last edited by todd; 07-10-2011 at 11:40 AM.
07-10-2011, 12:31 PM   #9
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That Sunpak 544 is a big handle mount flash. I have a similar model and although they're bulky they are also powerful and well built. With 6 AAs instead of 4 the recharge rate is fairly fast. Mine was used by a pro and came with all sorts of accessories (wall charger, AC power cord, remote sensor, sensor extension cord, multiple battery trays, filters, etc).

The 422d is similar to my 433d and is should work in manual and auto thyristor mode even if it doesn't come with a Pentax module.

Both of those Sunpak models have heads that tilt and swivel, which is a nice feature.

The Vivitar 285 is also a nice flash, but the head doesn't swivel. It is more flexible if you can find one that has the remote sensor cord. Older non-HV models may have a high voltage sync, so test them with a DC voltage meter.

This site lists trigger voltages (you're looking for a flash under 24V unless you are going to modify the flash or use it with a safe sync): Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages
07-10-2011, 01:07 PM   #10
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Thanks Steinback.. I think based on price and accessibility, I am going to pursue the 285HV since the other 285's are possibly higher voltage based on that link you gave me, and I don't have a voltage meter.. It is a slight bummer it won't be able to swivel but hey, it's a start..
07-11-2011, 07:04 AM   #11
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I would tell your friend you don't have the necessary equipment to shoot an event and ask if she would be willing to contribute to the cost of a flash as compensation for your time and labor.
07-11-2011, 07:21 AM   #12
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I would mprince, except that this friend has helped my wife and I with a bunch of remodeling work on our house for free, donating her time, tools, expertise, money and labor, so this is a way for us to return a favor...

I ended up not getting the 285 as the guy wasn't available. Not sure it'll happen now.. At least it sounds like a good portion of the event (first few hours) is going to be outdoors and during daylight. It's a couple hours in the evening that will be indoors..
07-11-2011, 08:31 AM   #13
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Hi I have both the Vivitar 285hv and the Yongnuo YN560...

For off-camera the Viv is hard to beat and I go to it first...

For on the hot-shoe the YN560... The swivel feature is a must for me... Don't think you can get a better unit for the price...
07-11-2011, 08:34 AM   #14
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BTW... FYI...

I believe you can get the 285hv (low voltage) re-badged from CACTUS...

For you're intended usage though... I'd still go YN560
07-12-2011, 02:59 AM   #15
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[langtitle=pt]High voltage trigger[/langtitle]

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