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02-18-2014, 09:40 PM   #1
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Built In Flash Help

Totally new to DSLR I have had my K3 for just over 3 weeks now. Built in flash works fine for pictures I have taken indoors, no real problems. I spent last week on the North Shore of Lake Superior and first night outside the cabin a wolf killed a deer just after dark. Tried to shoot a picture of the deer and couldn't get the flash to go off no matter what I did. Finally had the presence of mind to shine my led headlight on the deer and it worked. The wolf circled me and I had 2 shots at it but couldn't get the flash to go off or camera to focus, the wolf stayed just out of range of the headlight. Went back at 2 AM with a flashlight and the rest of the pack had showed up. Again couldn't the camera to go off without putting the flashlight on the deer. But as the wolves circled around me in the dark I couldn't manage to focus the flashlight and camera at the same time. After 20 minutes in -32 F and some ridiculously cold windchill gave up trying to shoot one of the wolves. I just took the dog outside here at home and noticed a Great Grey Owl in an Oak tree 25 feet from me. Carefully walked back inside grabbed the camera and although the owl was just on the edge of my outdoor floodlight couldn't get it to focus or the flash to go off. First time in the 12 years I have lived here that I have ever seen a great grey owl, and I'm still shaking LOL. But frustrated at myself more than anything due to my ignorance.

I realize the problem is my lack of knowledge and I also have a feeling that I am going to need to purchase a flash to make night shots like this? Already looking at one for fill lighting on birds along with the better beamer. But in the meantime is there anyway I can get the on board flash to work in these situations? I'm using P mode on the camera all 3 times I tried to use the flash. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have spent some time reading and researching but everything I find seems to be geared toward aftermarket flashes. Thanks for any advise you experts can throw my way!

02-18-2014, 10:01 PM   #2
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No definitive idea. Couple of thoughts though. At that temperature the battery might have been struggling a bit, and I'm not sure how long it might have taken for the flash to charge. The camera may have also been struggling to pick up a signal from the focus aid light - you don't indicate if the camera was firing in the dark without the flash or just not taking any pictures until you shined the flash light. If you were in AF-S mode, the camera won't fire unless it can confirm focus.
02-18-2014, 10:25 PM   #3
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Thanks MSL, I think your right it is struggling to pick up a signal from the focus light, that is exactly what seems to happen. It will not fire in the dark no matter what I do unless I add additional light. I am in AF-C mode and spot focus most all the time. My eyes are not what they used to be without reading glasses but the display blinks red with ISO 3200 flashing every time this has happened.
02-18-2014, 10:32 PM   #4
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Easiest way to confirm this is to put it into AF-S and see if it fires. At those temperatures, though, you may also have a very slow recycle rate.

02-19-2014, 05:38 AM   #5
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I think you nailed it. Haven't even finished my first cup of coffee and the thought hit me to examine the metadata for the pictures that I took with the aid of the headlamp and flashlight. Sure enough they are Single AF. Could have sworn that I have AF-C set for U1 and P mode with memory on to remember the settings but that is not the case in P mode. Thank you!
02-19-2014, 07:31 AM   #6
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Glad to be of help. I know that in the Green mode a whole bunch of settings are disabled or put to specific defaults. I'm not sure if P also has certain limitations placed on it, to keep it simpler for an inexperienced user to depend on.
02-19-2014, 09:46 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cold Iron Quote
Thanks MSL, I think your right it is struggling to pick up a signal from the focus light, that is exactly what seems to happen. It will not fire in the dark no matter what I do unless I add additional light. I am in AF-C mode and spot focus most all the time. My eyes are not what they used to be without reading glasses but the display blinks red with ISO 3200 flashing every time this has happened.
Blinking numbers means that something is out of range. Since the ISO can go higher than 3200, it might be limited somehow. Maybe you or a default setting have Auto ISO limited to 100 to 3200*. Since it was really dark, the camera's meter might have been out of range too. I'm not sure whether the shutter will fire anyway under those conditions, or give up because it doesn't have enough data.

*EDIT: The Auto ISO default setting is indeed 100-3200 on the K-3. So any mode that allows ISO to adjust itself (P, Tv, Av, TAv) will use that limit.

Last edited by Just1MoreDave; 02-19-2014 at 11:04 AM.
02-19-2014, 10:44 AM   #8
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These are the situations you'd love a camera with the IR filter removed, I'm sure! Not that it's any easier to focus in the dark, of course...

Set it up to fire no matter what any confirmations tell you.

Will the mounted flashes work better in these situations? More power, for sure, plus separate batteries.

02-19-2014, 03:59 PM   #9
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Thanks gentlemen! I had set the ISO to 6400 earlier and will verify if it kept it or not, either way yes I am pretty sure something was out of the parameters it was looking for. Still lots to learn and thinking U3 (or U2) may be a good place to setup for flash. And practicing changing settings on the fly until I don't have to think about where everything is would help tremendously. As much time as I spend practicing with it now am thinking there isn't any thing as too much practice and trial.

Spent part of today looking at flashes and I'm about ready to purchase the AF540FGZ. If I understand correctly it has a red light for assistance in focusing and that would be a huge help. I came back from the North Shore with a lot of pictures of birds in trees that were too dark and in shadows and think the flash with something like the better beamer flash extender would help in those situations as a fill light. Uh Oh I am already justifying additional purchases
02-20-2014, 07:26 AM   #10
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If you're shooting in RAW (and you should be) you might get more from those images during processing. At some point I'm sure there's just not enough light but these sensors are pretty amazing at capturing data. I haven't researched the subject, but I'd think there are some powerful flashes out there for wildlife, distance etc. Of course how they work in extreme cold is a separate question!
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