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09-25-2014, 09:28 AM   #1
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Af160fc problem

Recently purchased a Pentax AF160FC macro/ring light and immediately ran tests under these conditions:
K3 body set at ISO 100 and AV mode
K5 body set at ISO 160 and AV mode
200mm SMCA ED macro @A setting, aperture to f16 via the camera body
Small figurine used as test object and photographed at about 1/3 life size
Flash set at "auto"

The flash overexposed by FIVE TO SIX EV STEPS, requiring -1 EV on the flash head; -2 EV for flash output via the four-way controller on the camera body; and an addition -2 to -3 EV on the +/- exposure adjust on the camera body.

The flash power unit was removed and remounted on each hot shoe three times to make sure the all contacts were being made.
I also tested with a 50mm SMCA macro with pretty much the same results, except it was necessary to set the +/- exposure adjust even more, and when that lens was used at 1/2 life size, it was impossible to prevent overexposure.
AND I tried a different object (a dull-finish metal thumb screw) to see if the reflectivity of the figurine was the problem, but again the flash overexposed by about 5 EV.

Considering the uniformly high praise this flash unit has received, I wanted to see if there were any suggestions before it is returned for a refund.

Disillusioned and disappointed - WPRESTO

09-25-2014, 09:44 AM   #2
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Did you check if flash is overexposing in normal distance ? Did you check if your cameras need some firmware updates ?

I have the same flash and using it with K10D - it works perfectly fine in any distance. HOWEVER - I have exactly the same experience with Pentax K-01 - flash is overexposing in macro distances - above around 50cm flash is exposing perfectly. I have read online that pentax K-01 is not working well with many flashes - and I assumed that this is one of those. Very disappointed as well - since when I bought a K-01 I intended it mainly for macro work with this flash. Sadly I had to stick to full manual mode for K-01 , as P-TTL works only with my K10D.

I am writing this just so you know that the flash itself is working perfect in my case - I also tested it with film Pentax Z1p and it worked well ( in TTL mode I guess ) - and only with K-01 there is a problem . I think this should have been fixable via firmware fix - and I would contact Ricoh if I ware you - especially having problems with their flagship K3 !!

Good luck and please report back any news as I am also thinking of upgrading the camera and I would hate if it wasn't working with 350+ flash !!
09-25-2014, 11:06 AM   #3
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Manntax: Thanks for the reply. Before running additional tests, I'll wait a bit to see if anyone has other suggestions so I can try all at once. I repacked the flash is disgust intending to return it ASAP, but then reconsidered and posted for help. I'll unpack it again and load batteries when/if there are more suggestions. BTW: I tried operating in the flash manual mode, but at typical macro distances with the 200mm, at ISO 100 on the K3, I had to stop down to f25 with the flash @ minimum manual output to get something close to an acceptable exposure. Even the 200 macro, my best lens, has IQ degrading diffraction by f16, much less f25.
09-25-2014, 11:15 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Manntax: Thanks for the reply. Before running additional tests, I'll wait a bit to see if anyone has other suggestions so I can try all at once. I repacked the flash is disgust intending to return it ASAP, but then reconsidered and posted for help. I'll unpack it again and load batteries when/if there are more suggestions. BTW: I tried operating in the flash manual mode, but at typical macro distances with the 200mm, at ISO 100 on the K3, I had to stop down to f25 with the flash @ minimum manual output to get something close to an acceptable exposure. Even the 200 macro, my best lens, has IQ degrading diffraction by f16, much less f25.
When I bought this flash back in 2012 ( or maybe even 2011) - I only had my K10D at that time and so I was hapily using it with my flash . The exposure is fairly consistent ( with minor overexposure at F2.8 and gone by F5.6 . At usual apertures above F8 the exposure in auto mode is always spot on with my K10D. So when I bought my K-01 - the warranty period for my flash was already long gone. I tried the K-01 and was quite devastated seeing the flash overexposing badly, but then one firmware came - hoped for best upgraded the camera. No luck. So I lost the hope and simple kept the camera for its other qualities, and flash was already out of warranty period so I couldn't do much. I think I should contact Ricoh and ask about this flash now - seeing like newest cameras ( K5 and K3 ) in your case still malfunctioning, and knowing that flash works fine with K10D - I tend to lean towards the conclusion that Pentax has done something not quite right in CAMERAS , not in the flash itself. So if you got a good bargain - I would would try and report to Ricoh - after all the camera (K3 ) is fairly new and so they should know that it is malfunctioning with their flagship macro flash. I will try contact them and let's see what happens...

Keep them coming please !

09-25-2014, 11:39 AM   #5
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My Pentax AF160FC is in the mail.

With other flash units I usually shoot in M mode, set the aperture in the body with the lens in A mode, and set the shutter to 180. I let the flash and the body work out the rest and generally get good results.
09-25-2014, 11:48 AM   #6
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Are you confident that you were shooting in P-TTL mode? The exif may provide a clue as might setting the 2s delay on the shutter (no pre-flash = no P-TTL). I sounds like the flash is firing at full intensity.

Edit: Is your flash mode set to "Full" by any chance? I know you said "auto" above, but the two are 180 degrees from each other and mix-up is possible.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 09-25-2014 at 12:01 PM.
09-25-2014, 11:58 AM   #7
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Hey there, I have used the same flash for 4 years on a k-5. Not knowing what you consider acceptable and knowing that I couldn't spot a 2-stop problem if I fell over one, I just took two sample shots for you: one on black background, one on white background. No longer have a 200mm macro so used the D FA 100mm, f13, iso200, flash set on green (auto) with no adjustments. Handheld camera in AWB and AV mode with a -1/3 EV that I use on this body for all modes. Here are the untouched results. Hope they help with your decision.








QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Considering the uniformly high praise this flash unit has received, I wanted to see if there were any suggestions before it is returned for a refund.
WPRESTO
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09-25-2014, 12:55 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by aoeu Quote
My Pentax AF160FC is in the mail.
Please report back if you get any issues with your copy.

QuoteOriginally posted by aoeu Quote
With other flash units I usually shoot in M mode, set the aperture in the body with the lens in A mode, and set the shutter to 180. I let the flash and the body work out the rest and generally get good results.
This is what I normally do as well - on K10D I got great results. On K-01 - totally overexposed until extend the distance of the flash from the subject ( which effectively means that you cannot use the flash for its main purpose - macro), or until I stop down to something like F22 - which aperture is so small that flash even at full mode cannot overcome it. I can however use the flash in Manual mode - with manually selected power (FULL, 1/4 or 1/16 ) - but this is very limiting.

Here are samples of what I get with K-01 - images straight from camera :

1) K-01 AUTO mode

2) K-01 (Manual mode 1/16 power )


Last edited by manntax; 05-20-2015 at 12:19 AM.
09-25-2014, 12:58 PM   #9
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Here are samples of what I get with K10D - straight from camera !

1) K10D AUTO mode

2) K10D (Manual mode 1/16 power )

Last edited by manntax; 05-20-2015 at 12:19 AM.
09-25-2014, 01:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by manntax Quote
Please report back if you get any issues with your copy.



This is what I normally do as well - on K10D I got great results. On K-01 - totally overexposed until extend the distance of the flash from the subject ( which effectively means that you cannot use the flash for its main purpose - macro), or until I stop down to something like F22 - which aperture is so small that flash even at full mode cannot overcome it. I can however use the flash in Manual mode - with manually selected power (FULL, 1/4 or 1/16 ) - but this is very limiting.

Here are samples of what I get with K-01 - images straight from camera :

1) K-01 AUTO mode

2) K-01 (Manual mode 1/16 power )
The image you've posted as K-01 in auto mode looks pretty much like what I'm getting in "AUTO" mode with both the K3 and K5. I'll have to check about the pre-flash suggestion, but SFAIK the camera is in normal mode, no shutter delay. And the flash is definitely set to "AUTO" as my first thought was that it was set to "FULL" in manual mode so that it was firing at full all the time. If nothing else, the fact that the exposure can be changed by using the camera body +/- exposure adjust and/or the +/- flash output adjustment via the 4-way controller would eliminate that possibility. Also, it isn't a malfunction with the flash metering of the camera body because both the K3 & K5 expose correctly with the pop-up flash, a Pentax 360 and two Metz flashes on PTTL. I'll do more testing a bit later, as I must go ASAP to get the dog from her twice-weekly play group and cook supper.

Last edited by WPRESTO; 09-25-2014 at 01:33 PM.
09-25-2014, 01:52 PM   #11
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I think this is not the flash problem, but the camera - or more precisely - the communication of the flash and the camera. My K10D works great in AUTO mode and consistently gives me good results. K-01 is badly overexposing in AUTO mode - BUT when I shoot with K-01 and flash in AUTO mode some portraits or something further away - then the exposure is fine. Actually I regret that I didn't go after this issue right after I bought my K-01. But seeing that this is still present and affecting other, newer camera - I think Ricoh should be looking into this problem and offer us a fix in firmware - for the cameras affected, which I think would be enough to resolve the issue.
09-25-2014, 05:29 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by manntax Quote
I think this is not the flash problem, but the camera - or more precisely - the communication of the flash and the camera.
Or a failure of the flash to respond to the camera's commands. Since both the camera and flash are still under warranty, this is an excellent opportunity to see what Ricoh/Pentax suggests and whether they are aware of any known general faults causing this problem with these cameras.

I don't believe there have been any general issues with the post K10D cameras with Pentax-brand P-TTL flashes or even the K-01, K-5, and K-3 with same. I did a little Google work and was reminded at how selective memory is. Indeed there have been reports of P-TTL overexposure issues with the K-5 and K-7 though none for the K-3 that I could find.* This thread from earlier this year contains several other links to related threads...

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/120-general-technical-troubleshooting/250...etz-flash.html

Use the search term "pentax p-ttl overexpose"

Letting my mind wander a bit, I might consider:
  • Ineffective or missing pre-flash (exif on images above indicate camera was aware of P-TTL mode)
  • Failure to properly meter the pre-flash
  • Failure to properly throttle the flash based on the pre-flash metering


Steve

* I personally had period problems with my K10D with some lenses/subjects, but none so far with the K-3. Still though, I prefer non-TTL auto (sensor on flash) and manual technique for both general shooting and macro.

Last edited by stevebrot; 09-25-2014 at 05:45 PM.
09-25-2014, 05:56 PM   #13
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The reason the camera is overexposing is that the metering isn't taking the flash into account, you are using AV mode ( which IMO is a fault in technique, Using AV mode for flash is like using Auto ISO in manual mode.) The overexposure is due to the camera trying to expose for the level of ambient light - and the flash is pushing light levels beyond that- because you are too close to the subject or the subject has reflective parts that is confusing the PTTL metering, Use the flash and camera in full manual mode at 1/180th and you should be fine. You will need a higher shutter speed anyway because of the longer focal length.


I have a habit of using my flash units in manual mode anyway, and the AF160FC is no exception. I can happily say I have never had this sort of issue with my ringflash.

Pentax K7 - Pentax FA*200mm f/4 ED [IF] Macro and pentax AF160FC ringflash + Wireless AF540FGZ

Last edited by Digitalis; 09-25-2014 at 06:01 PM.
09-25-2014, 07:22 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
The reason the camera is overexposing is that the metering isn't taking the flash into account, you are using AV mode ( which IMO is a fault in technique, Using AV mode for flash is like using Auto ISO in manual mode.) The overexposure is due to the camera trying to expose for the level of ambient light - and the flash is pushing light levels beyond that- because you are too close to the subject or the subject has reflective parts that is confusing the PTTL metering, Use the flash and camera in full manual mode at 1/180th and you should be fine. You will need a higher shutter speed anyway because of the longer focal length.


I have a habit of using my flash units in manual mode anyway, and the AF160FC is no exception. I can happily say I have never had this sort of issue with my ringflash.

Pentax K7 - Pentax FA*200mm f/4 ED [IF] Macro and pentax AF160FC ringflash + Wireless AF540FGZ
In AV mode, with the 160 or any PTTL flash, the shutter speed automatically goes to 1/180 unless "low speed flash" is selected. Were I happy with manual flash I would stick with my old Sunpak ring flash which has more EV down steps than the 160, or my Cactus flash that has both a wider range of steps (down to 1/128) and in wireless mode can be adjusted in 1/10 EV steps (overkill - it isn't possible to see a 1/10 EV step difference in exposure). But the point is to have PTTL for field use on live insects that sometimes do not wait for one or two test flashes followed by exposure adjustments. For plants, manual flash is fine - set up two or three slaved units - but not for live insects.
09-25-2014, 11:58 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I don't believe there have been any general issues with the post K10D cameras with Pentax-brand P-TTL flashes or even the K-01, K-5, and K-3 with same. I did a little Google work and was reminded at how selective memory is. Indeed there have been reports of P-TTL overexposure issues with the K-5 and K-7 though none for the K-3 that I could find.* This thread from earlier this year contains several other links to related threads... Overexposed P-TTL when using Metz flash
Here is another thread that I found , back from 2011 : https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/115-pentax-k-5/129538-pentax-af160fc-auto...ing-flash.html
- post from 'xGene' - it looks like he had very similar problem - overexposing when getting in macro distances.

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Since both the camera and flash are still under warranty, this is an excellent opportunity to see what Ricoh/Pentax suggests and whether they are aware of any known general faults causing this problem with these cameras.
I definitely agree that Ricoh should do something about this, and I blame myself for not reporting this problem earlier ,when I got my K-01 - but somehow I dismissed the problem due to other important matters. Now when I come to think of it - it actually is quite serious issue that prevents me from fully using my flash with fairly new body (K-01) - and if these issues are still existing on K-3 - then this is a major concern and a good reason to alert the Ricoh.

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Or a failure of the flash to respond to the camera's commands. Since both the camera and flash are still under warranty, this is an excellent opportunity to see what Ricoh/Pentax suggests and whether they are aware of any known general faults causing this problem with these cameras.
I think this problem should be solvable via firmware only. The flash is working 100% with K10D - that means the flash has full capacity to perform via P-TTL protocols and is maintaning good communication with the body. Getting it on K-01 proves that problem lies on the body side - at least in my case - but hearing other reports ( mind you! The flash IS expensive and fairly few people are actually having and using it ! ) - and if I was responsible for that at Pentax - I would start looking in their firmwares what's been changed in P-TTL code in those newer cameras, when compared to a K10D.

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
The reason the camera is overexposing is that the metering isn't taking the flash into account, you are using AV mode ( which IMO is a fault in technique, Using AV mode for flash is like using Auto ISO in manual mode.) The overexposure is due to the camera trying to expose for the level of ambient light - and the flash is pushing light levels beyond that- because you are too close to the subject or the subject has reflective parts that is confusing the PTTL metering, Use the flash and camera in full manual mode at 1/180th and you should be fine. You will need a higher shutter speed anyway because of the longer focal length.

I have a habit of using my flash units in manual mode anyway, and the AF160FC is no exception. I can happily say I have never had this sort of issue with my ringflash.
I will have to disagree with you since I specifically used Manual mode for my test shots ( check exif )- besides this is not true. When you enter the AV mode with P-TTL flash on, the camera will automatically set your shutter speed - usually it stays at above or on 1/60th - but is limited to 1/180th . I often shot with K10D and AV mode - and there is no issues with my flash - it is delivering perfectly exposed shots. The K-01 on the other hand is simply ALWAYS overexposing - doesn't matter if I use AV or M mode.

So your reasoning is partially correct - I CAN use the flash in Manual mode - which I do, but the point is that it SUPPOSED to work also in AUTO mode. So perhaps you could put your happiness to test and do a shot with your flash in AUTO mode ? Go down to 1:2 or 1:1 with it in AUTO and in either M or AV mode ( with ISO set to 100 ) and let's see if your camera are any different from those reported so far ? That would be very helpful !
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