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12-17-2013, 01:24 PM   #1
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AF400FTZ flash not always firing on K30?

The Af400FTZ's flash ready light is lighting up, the flash symbol in the camera's viewfinder will light up (not blinking, so it is indicating the flash is ready), yet the flash will intermittently fire. All the metal contacts are clean and it fires at random regardless of head tilt position or settings on camera. I am using the camera in manual mode and the flash in manual mode as well. I am using 4 AA rayovac alkaline batteries that always worked fine in a Minolta flash from the same era. All I expect is for it to fire every time it says it's ready! Any suggestions?

12-17-2013, 01:26 PM   #2
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The flash also fires every time I push the test button on the rear of the flash.
12-17-2013, 02:22 PM   #3
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The AF 400FTZ flash was designed exclusively for the Pentax SFX/SFI Camera.

The Pentax SF-X was a camera from the Japanese Pentax brand, manufactured by the Asahi Optical Co., Ltd. (called PENTAX Corporation since 2002). It is also known as the Pentax SF-1 in the United States, and was first produced in 1987. It was Pentax's second Autofocus 35mm SLR after the Pentax ME F. It was the world's first AF SLR with built-in auto flash.

I rather doubt it will work reliably on the K30.
12-17-2013, 02:29 PM   #4
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The Pentax AF-400FTZ is an old TTL flash. The Pentax K-30 needs a newer P-TTL flash, like the AF-360FGZ (original or II) or AF-540FGZ (original or II). The K-30 lacks the necessary flash ciruitary to drive the older TTL flashes.

Having said that, you should be able to set the AF-400FTZ to auto, where the flash rather than the camera measures the amount of light required, or to manual. the flash and camera combination should work in both these situations.

What you can not do is set the flash to TTL and expect the camera to meter the scene and choose the correct flash output. This will NOT work.

Regards

Chris

12-17-2013, 07:33 PM   #5
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People, read the openig post Camera in manual, flash in manual

@stillshot2,
Do you, by accident, use faster shutterspeeds than 1/180s when it does not fire?
12-17-2013, 07:55 PM   #6
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I am using less than 1/180 shutter speeds, and it's weird because sometimes it will fire 3 or more times in a row just fine with only a few seconds in between shots and then all of the sudden nothing at all for a few clicks yet all the lights on the back of the flash are lit as normal. I am also aware that older flashes can have too high of trigger voltages for newer dlsr cameras, but I made sure that this flash is rated well below harmful voltage levels before I bought it.
12-17-2013, 09:57 PM   #7
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Any options to test the flash on another body? Friends, shop?
Does it make a difference if you use the camera in portrait or landscape position; maybe a bad contact somewhere.

But I'm basically out of options for now.
12-17-2013, 10:28 PM   #8
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Nope, I don't have access to any Pentax DSLRs. And in portrait position and swiveling the head it seems to be just as unpredictable. I also have it screwed on very securely. If I do a burst of 2 or 3 consecutive shots I can usually get it to fire. I held perfectly still when doing this so I doubt there is a loose or poor contact. Mechanically speaking this problem just doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps the flash is just too old to be compatible, but if it works some of the time then shouldn't it work all of the time? I used a Minolta 3500xi from 1992 on two different modern Sony DSLR's in full manual mode without any problems like this. Since I don't use flash very often I guess I will have to be prepared to delete a bunch of black frames when sorting through photos from a shoot, or perhaps buy a different flash. It's a pity because I like using manual flash and this one does everything I want and only cost me $12. If only it would fire consistently!

12-17-2013, 11:58 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by geru2000 Quote
The AF 400FTZ flash was designed exclusively for the Pentax SFX/SFI Camera.

The Pentax SF-X was a camera from the Japanese Pentax brand, manufactured by the Asahi Optical Co., Ltd. (called PENTAX Corporation since 2002). It is also known as the Pentax SF-1 in the United States, and was first produced in 1987. It was Pentax's second Autofocus 35mm SLR after the Pentax ME F. It was the world's first AF SLR with built-in auto flash.
Hmm, maybe that's why it won't work with my Yongnuo radio triggers and the K-5.

I'll try the trigger and flash with my SFX.

Btw, the flash does work well with my *istD (which does support TTL).
12-18-2013, 01:41 AM   #10
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I'm quite sure that in manual mode, only the center contact counts when it comes to 'firing'. so radio triggers should work fine.

There are a few threads about the AF400FTZ; just do a search here or on google; concensus seems to be that they work on Pentax dSLRs (K100D and up) in manual mode and before the K100D in TTL mode and manual mode.

@stillshot2
Full manual flashes can be bought new and relatively cheap (although not for US$12); have a look at the Yongnuo's.
12-18-2013, 10:06 AM   #11
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I would look at the flash foot. The contacts have springs so they can compress as the flash slides on, then extend and make good contact with the camera's hot shoe. The contacts may be clean, but there could be corrosion between the contact to spring connection, or spring to wire connection. The test button bypasses all those connections so it still fires reliably. You could test further if you had a Pentax 5P cable and 5P hotshoe, but these are often very expensive. The flash foot is usually replaceable so you should be able to disassemble it easily, clean up the internals and see if it works.

To clear up some incomplete information, the AF400FTZ voltage is safe. It has no Auto sensor. The modes are TTL, full or 1/4 power. TTL won't work well with Pentax DSLRs except for the *ist D, *ist DS or *ist DS2 - the flash will fire at full power. It does have an AF assist light. Construction is not impressive, partly because the manual zoom head feels cheap.
12-18-2013, 08:54 PM   #12
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@Just1MoreDave: the contacts are all very springy and return nicely. You are correct that the build quality isn't superb, but my flash is in near immaculate shape and appears to be well kept. I think I am still going to take it apart to see what's going on inside. Would permanently removing all the contacts except for the middle one possibly be a solution? Perhaps the outer contacts on the K30 may be giving out a signal which confuses the flash?

@sterretje: Thanks for your suggestions so far. I gave a look at the Yongnuo YN-460ii. It is tempting since I could experiment with off camera flash and it also gives more flash output intervals to choose from
12-18-2013, 09:16 PM   #13
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I just took off the flash's foot, and the connections seem secure. There are many little colored wires going to the contacts. I think I am going to leave them alone.
02-21-2014, 04:47 PM   #14
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Update for those who have problems with older manual flashes. I bought another flash, a Yongnuo 460ii. It's much better than the AF400ftz since it has more options for power levels, but today out of curiosity I electrical taped over all the outer connectors on my AF400ftz so only the middle connector made contact with the hotshoe and it solved the problem. The AF400ftz fires every time now, so the other pins must have been confusing the camera. Since the AF400ftz has a 7 sec recharge time with fully charged eneloops when used at full power, and it's low power setting isn't extremely useful I will keep it as a backup if the Yongnuo ever dies during a shoot.
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