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11-03-2017, 02:51 PM   #1
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Pentax ME Super with Vivitar Auto 2600 Flash

Hello!

My new Pentax ME Super is in the shop getting some new seal work done. The repair gentleman also set me up with a new Vivitar Auto 2600 flash.

I would like to understand how best to adjust my settings for an indoor/outdoor evening wedding reception with my Super.

I am using Kodak Tri-X 400 b&w, with the shutter set to 1/125x (to account for the flash) and the ASA at 400.

My questions is to understand what the repairman told me: Under 15ft switch to blue at F8 and Over 15ft switch to red at F4....How would I determine this when I get ready to shoot? Is it based off how far I am from the guests? And if so, what would be my best/safest settings to make sure my photos come out clear and best exposed? Thank you!

11-03-2017, 03:58 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Welcome to the Pentax Forums!

I own the Vivitar Auto 2600 and it is super easy to use. Your flash has an auto-thyristor function which means it is capable of varying its duration (strength) based on the real-time reading from a light sensor on the front of the flash (outlined with a blue circle). Here are the important points:
  • The flash has three modes: "red", "M", and "blue" settable using a sliding switch on the front
  • Red mode is used for distances between 7 and 30 feet
  • Blue mode is used for distances between 3 and 15 feet
  • In case you forget, the ranges for the two points above are indicated by red and blue lines under the distance scale on the back of the flash
  • Distance is determined by best estimate on your part or by the distance scale on the lens when focused on the subject.
  • The aperture to set the lens at depends on the film speed being used and may be read using the handy sliding calculator built into the back of the flash. Match the index slider to the ASA (the same as ISO) film speed on the top scale. The aperture to use will be above the red or blue line termination below the distance scale. For ASA(ISO) 400, your choices are f/4 (red) or f/8 (blue).
  • M mode is supported by setting the ASA(ISO) on the calculator and reading the appropriate aperture based on distance
There are a few other points should you have the optional snap-on diffusion attachment, but most people won't have that, so I won't go there. Three more important things:
  • Do no use your Auto 2600 on a modern digital camera. Its trigger voltage will likely damage the electronics in most modern cameras.
  • Do not mount the flash with the power switch in the "ON" position. The same goes for plugging in the PC sync cord (should you have one).
  • Use the PC sync cord if the flash is not mounted to a "hot" shoe. Remove the cord for hot shoe use as on your ME Super.
Two more and I am done. The amber charge lamp will shine when the flash is charged and ready. This may take some time if the flash has not been used in a long time. There is also a handy "auto check" feature that allows you to check if the distance is OK buy pressing the red button at the base of the flash. The "auto check" lamp will light briefly if the subject is in appropriate range.

That about does it.

Addendum: The flash coverage is appropriate for a 50mm lens on 35mm film. Using a wide angle lens without the optional diffuser will result in light fall-off at the edges of the frame.


Steve
11-03-2017, 04:11 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by dfeigs Quote
How would I determine this when I get ready to shoot? Is it based off how far I am from the guests? And if so, what would be my best/safest settings to make sure my photos come out clear and best exposed?
The Vivitar Auto 2600 flash does not have a tilt or swivel head, so the flash will hit your subjects directly. Indoors, when shooting closer subjects like couples, tables at the reception, or small groups, Iʻd use the blue setting at f/8. But if you have large groups, and subjects between 15-30 feet, switch it to red and f/4. Assume you will have to switch back and forth depending on the distance to your subjects.

Outdoors at night can be treated like an indoor situation. Outdoors during the day, is more problematic as with 400 ISO Tri-X and a max shutter speed of 1/125", f/8 is going to cause over exposure. You canʻt exceed 1/125" with your camera without getting a flash sync problem. So essentially, outdoors, the flash will work as a fill in shadow areas in the M or manual mode (not blue or red) and be most effective in the 3-15 ft. range.
11-03-2017, 04:22 PM - 1 Like   #4
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It's been a long time since I shot a wedding, but I'll offer you my advice. Keep in mind that free advice is often worth what you paid for it...

In manual mode on the 2600, the flash output is always the same, with exposure changed by adjusting the aperture on the lens, based on the subject distance. Flash output remains the same, aperture changes. In the blue or red auto settings, it's the other way around; flash output varies, aperture (within the selected auto range) stays the same.The flash is basing its exposure on reflected flash illumination from the subject as read by the sensor built into it. The flash will tailor its output based on the sensor reading. This is strongly dependent on subject to camera distance (actually subject to flash distance, but when the flash is on the camera these distances are the same). A closer subject will reflect more light than a distant one, so the closer subject results in a faster flash cut-off than a more distant one.

If you're not good at guestimating camera to subject distance by eyeballing, the lenses you'll be using on your ME Super are likely to have actual focus distance scales on them. You can check that for the distance. This is easier to do with posed group shots where nobody is moving. Candid shots where either you or your subjects are in motion might not offer enough time to let you consult the distance scale on the lens. Try to get a feel for where the changeover from the blue to the red auto setting takes place. Before the wedding, find a friend you can use to try to figure out a way of gauging distance through subject size. Measure out 15 feet between your friend and your camera and see how big they appear in the viewfinder. So, if people of similar height to your test subject appear smaller in the viewfinder than your friend did, they will be more than 15 feet away and you should switch to f4 and the red auto flash setting. Do this for any and all lenses you're going to use. If you're using a zoom lens, do the same thing for each end of its focal length range.

What lens or lenses are you using? If you're using a 50mm lens, chances are very high that most of your shots are going to be within 15 feet of your subjects, unless you're shooting large groups of people. I would also recommend shooting a test roll before the wedding to practice your technique and evaluate your results. Try to test under conditions as close as possible to what you'll be dealing with on the big day. You don't want to have to learn on the job when you're shooting someone's wedding.

An added note: A white wedding dress can cause a slight chance of underexposure as the flash sensor performance is based on the assumption of an overall middle grey tonal value subject. A lot of white in the scene will reflect more light, which the sensor will interpret as correct exposure of something it assumes is grey. In that instance the white dress will be grey in the shot and everything else will be underexposed too. You might get around this by either opening the lens up to an aperture a bit larger than the recommended one OR by selecting a slightly lower ISO setting on the flash. I'm not sure by how much you would need to stray from the suggested settings. Perhaps others here can chime in on that aspect. I used to shoot Ilford so I'm not sure how forgiving Tri-x is with under or overexposure. Again, someone else here might offer more precise suggestions in this regard.

Good luck!


Last edited by Thagomizer; 11-03-2017 at 04:28 PM. Reason: Spelling
11-03-2017, 08:30 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
Indoors, when shooting closer subjects like couples, tables at the reception, or small groups, Iʻd use the blue setting at f/8. But if you have large groups, and subjects between 15-30 feet, switch it to red and f/4.
That pretty much mirrors how I have used mine in the 35 years I have owned it. Blue for most purposes and red for groups. I am a big fan of "auto" flash and actually prefer it to P-TTL for situations where the range of available apertures is acceptable.


Steve
11-03-2017, 08:48 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Thagomizer Quote
You might get around this by either opening the lens up to an aperture a bit larger than the recommended one OR by selecting a slightly lower ISO setting on the flash.
Changing the ISO on the Auto 2600 does nothing other than move the calculator slide. The best way to override for the white dress case in either of the two Auto modes is to use a wider aperture. Alternatively, M mode might also be an option with aperture set according to distance.


Steve
11-04-2017, 05:55 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Changing the ISO on the Auto 2600 does nothing other than move the calculator slide. The best way to override for the white dress case in either of the two Auto modes is to use a wider aperture. Alternatively, M mode might also be an option with aperture set according to distance.


Steve
Aha! Thanks for catching that. That's what I meant when I said that sometimes free advice is worth what you paid for it...
11-05-2017, 07:10 AM   #8
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Steve,

Thank you so much!! I could cry, that answer was so straightforward and clear - I didnt even think Id GET a reply! I am anxious to put your tips to trial this weekend. I shall return with news of my victory. Until then, happy snapping!

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Welcome to the Pentax Forums!

I own the Vivitar Auto 2600 and it is super easy to use. Your flash has an auto-thyristor function which means it is capable of varying its duration (strength) based on the real-time reading from a light sensor on the front of the flash (outlined with a blue circle). Here are the important points:
  • The flash has three modes: "red", "M", and "blue" settable using a sliding switch on the front
  • Red mode is used for distances between 7 and 30 feet
  • Blue mode is used for distances between 3 and 15 feet
  • In case you forget, the ranges for the two points above are indicated by red and blue lines under the distance scale on the back of the flash
  • Distance is determined by best estimate on your part or by the distance scale on the lens when focused on the subject.
  • The aperture to set the lens at depends on the film speed being used and may be read using the handy sliding calculator built into the back of the flash. Match the index slider to the ASA (the same as ISO) film speed on the top scale. The aperture to use will be above the red or blue line termination below the distance scale. For ASA(ISO) 400, your choices are f/4 (red) or f/8 (blue).
  • M mode is supported by setting the ASA(ISO) on the calculator and reading the appropriate aperture based on distance
There are a few other points should you have the optional snap-on diffusion attachment, but most people won't have that, so I won't go there. Three more important things:
  • Do no use your Auto 2600 on a modern digital camera. Its trigger voltage will likely damage the electronics in most modern cameras.
  • Do not mount the flash with the power switch in the "ON" position. The same goes for plugging in the PC sync cord (should you have one).
  • Use the PC sync cord if the flash is not mounted to a "hot" shoe. Remove the cord for hot shoe use as on your ME Super.
Two more and I am done. The amber charge lamp will shine when the flash is charged and ready. This may take some time if the flash has not been used in a long time. There is also a handy "auto check" feature that allows you to check if the distance is OK buy pressing the red button at the base of the flash. The "auto check" lamp will light briefly if the subject is in appropriate range.

That about does it.

Addendum: The flash coverage is appropriate for a 50mm lens on 35mm film. Using a wide angle lens without the optional diffuser will result in light fall-off at the edges of the frame.


Steve


11-05-2017, 12:07 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dfeigs Quote
Steve,

Thank you so much!! I could cry, that answer was so straightforward and clear - I didnt even think Id GET a reply! I am anxious to put your tips to trial this weekend. I shall return with news of my victory. Until then, happy snapping!
Glad I could be of service. Now I think I will get all teary. I just wish I had a copy of the manual to point you to.


Steve
11-09-2017, 02:01 PM   #10
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Flash Diffusing

Hey question for this flash - I will be indoors and definitely within 15 feet of my subjects. Do you advise putting a bit of tissue paper over the flash to make sure it's not quite as blown out when I develop the film? ASA 400, Kodak Tri-x b&w 400, Vivitar set to blue f8 - just want to make sure the photos look balanced. Thanks!
11-09-2017, 02:04 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dfeigs Quote
Hey question for this flash - I will be indoors and definitely within 15 feet of my subjects. Do you advise putting a bit of tissue paper over the flash to make sure it's not quite as blown out when I develop the film? ASA 400, Kodak Tri-x b&w 400, Vivitar set to blue f8 - just want to make sure the photos look balanced. Thanks!
Yes, you can use tissue or even just any blank white paper that isnʻt too thick as a diffuser to soften the flash. Youʻll lose a bit of power for distance, but if youʻre under 15 feet, that shouldnʻt be a problem.
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