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12-24-2011, 02:36 PM   #1
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Flash

Hi everyone, and Merry christmas.
I am going to buy a new flash for my pentax Kx. my choice so far stop on the Metz mecablitz 50 AF-1 digital for $200, or the Metz mecablitz 58 AF-2 digital for $340.
I am looking to hear about pro and con of these 2 flash unit. Does the $340 model is really worth the $140 difference in price ?

12-24-2011, 04:21 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by psyclop Quote
Does the $340 model is really worth the $140 difference in price ?
It depends.

To me, absolutely yes.

The pain of the extra spending will soon fade. The joy of a better flash unit will long remain.
12-25-2011, 09:31 AM   #3
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The main difference between the 58 and the 50, apart from guide number, is the secondary reflector, and the thyristor, both of which I love having, but I don't use them all the time. The 58 can also act as an on-camera master for a multi-light setup where as the 50 cannot. Auto mode (provided by the thyristor) is a nice fall back for when pTTL fails you, and it allows you to use the flash with pre-TTL film cameras in something other than manual mode. Really it all depends on how you shoot. I own the Metz 58 (along with an old potato masher), but when I'm ready to buy another flash, I'll probably get a Metz 50. You could do it the other way around as well, start with a 50 and when you're ready to do more advanced lighting setups, add a 58 to your arsenal.
12-25-2011, 12:55 PM   #4
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A thyristor can simply be seen as a light switch controlled by some electronics; basically like a relay. It is switched 'on' to get the flash to emit light (pass the internal high voltage through to the 'bulb') and switched 'off' to cut the high voltage off so the flash no longer emits light. It's not related to automatic versus pTTL, both modes work the same way from that perspective; the only difference is the condition under which the the switch is switched off (instructed by camera in case of pTTL mode, decided by flash in automatic mode).

12-25-2011, 02:15 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
It's not related to automatic versus pTTL, both modes work the same way from that perspective; the only difference is the condition under which the the switch is switched off (instructed by camera in case of pTTL mode, decided by flash in automatic mode).
Sorry if my explanation was confusing, but this isn't 100% accurate either. In auto mode, you either set the aperture on the flash to match what you're using on the camera (or creatively lie to it) for off-camera work, or the flash can read the aperture directly if it's on the hotshoe. So let's say you're shooting at f/8, the flash will look at the scene when the shutter is pressed and begin emitting light. It will keep emitting light until your subject is correctly exposed for f/8 and then it will abruptly stop, and any unused power gets recycled for the next shot.

That's how TTL worked too, except the camera made the judgment call, and quickly relayed a signal to the flash to turn off, but that's not how pTTL works. pTTL uses an underpowered preflash to judge the correct exposure. You press the shutter, the preflash fires, the camera evaluates the scene and tells the flash, "ok, discharge X amount of light", the shutter opens, the flash does as instructed, the shutter closes. pTTL decides before hand how much light is to be emitted, there is no adjustment on the fly.

Most of the time the difference in the two systems is purely academic, but there are times when one system has the advantage over another. If your subject is moving, then Auto mode is a big advantage, because from the time the preflash fires to the time the exposure happens the flash-to-subject distance changes (not to mention the exposure is delayed because of the preflash). Also, in my experience, auto mode does a better job in scenes with strong back lighting, such as fill flash for a portrait that includes the sun in the frame. If you're using macro tubes or filters on the lens though, pTTL is probably the better system.

Here's a great explanation of all the different types of flash control systems. FlashZebra.com: Flash Exposure Control Methods
12-25-2011, 05:46 PM   #6
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I have 2 copies of Pentax 540, so p-TTL is available to me. But my "go to" flashes are several copies of Metz 54MZ - in auto mode of course.

But I avoid using it as much as possible. I use p-TTL only when needed (high-speed sync, (non RF) wireless). I use auto mode.

Many people react to the pre-flash strobe in p-TTL. As a result, they may blink during the main flash strobe. I don't use p-TTL when taking group photos.

Metz flashes have "smart" auto mode, in terms of ease of use, it is just as easy as p-TTL.

p-TTL requires "dedication": it does not work with different brands of cameras. I have cameras of different brands. Any of them works with a flash in auto mode.

I'd rather have a flash with auto and no p-TTL than one with p-TTL and no auto.

Last edited by SOldBear; 12-26-2011 at 10:40 PM.
12-26-2011, 07:28 PM   #7
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Thanks you guys, I am still not sure which I'll take. but now I have better tools to make my decision.
12-27-2011, 08:51 AM   #8
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Well it's done, I should received the Metz mecablitz 58 AF-2 sometime next week. 2012 will be all lighten up.

12-27-2011, 08:57 AM   #9
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Congratulations, you won't be disappointed, and you can always round out your collection with some more budget-minded flashes later. When I'm lighting backgrounds for instance (if I'm not using my studio strobes) I always use manual flash, so no need for all the fancy controls there.
12-27-2011, 10:37 AM   #10
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I highly recommend reading the strobist blog to see exactly what cheap flashes (100 dollars) can do. He uses speedlights almost exclusively and has really changed the way I light and take pictures in general. For 300 I picked up some stands with umbrellas plus another flash unit (to go with my 540). Set the cheap flash on slave and use a cactus trigger on the pentax flash gives me a ton of flexibility.

His 101 and 102 lighting classes are also excellent learning experiences.
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