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04-14-2009, 11:59 AM   #1
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Lens, Flash, etc. questions from a newbie

Hi,I

hope these questions aren't too redundant. I haven't seen them asked (and answered) in a way that gives the exact information I am looking for.

First some background. I'm a long-time film DSLR amateur, most recently with ZX-50 & ZX-M cameras. We got a p&s digital 5 years ago when our daughter was born, and our film use has dropped to nothing. So, I finally want to take the jump and get DSLR so I can go back to having the shooting flexibility I am used to. But money is tight, so I can't really afford to spend a bunch on new accessories. I ordered a K200D, which should be here at the end of the week. I'll probably keep the ZX-M for the occasional role of Tri-X or T-Max, but not much else.

I have 3 lenses for the film cameras: a Sigma 28-70 f/2.8-4 UC, a Sigma 70-210 f/4-5.6, and a Pentax FA 50 f/1.4. I ordered the camera body only since I have a reasonable assortment of lenses already. I know the Sigmas aren't the greatest lenses ever, but I was generally satisfied with their performance on film. Will I still be equally satisfied with their performance on the K200, or will I regret not getting the kit lens? I do know I'm giving up some zoom on the wide-angle side and I'm willing to live with that.

Second, I have an all-auto Sunpack flash for the ZX-50 that I know needs to be replaced because it won't do p-ttl. What I would really like is something with tilt & swivel that gets aperature and focal length info from the camera, but does its own auto-exposure like the Vivitar 283 (which I'm keeping to use on the ZX-M). Is there anything that does that? The problem is I know myself. With an automatic body, I will never remember to change the aperature setting and zoom on the manual flash, so I can't really use the 283 on the K200. I've heard good and bad about exposure quality with p-ttl. If I need to get a p-ttl flash, I have my eye on the Metz 48.

Finally, what is with Pentax changing the cable release plug? I have a perfectly good cable release for the ZX series. Certainly there is no reason it couldn't be used with the K200 if they had left the connector the same. (This is rhetorical.)

Thanks for your help,
Brian

ps. Anyone have an idea what a used ZX-50 (body only) is worth if I try to sell it?

04-14-2009, 12:14 PM   #2
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First, Welcome!

The FA50/1.4 is a great lens - many will tell you it's the best bang for the buck in the Pentax lineup. I'm not a Sigma fan so don't have any advice there, but I suspect if you were happy with them on the film bodies you'll like them on the K200 too.

The only dedicted flash I have is the AF540. I was leaning towards the Metz 48 and about to pull the trigger when I happened across a 540 listed as a customer return on Amazon for $140 - end of that story.

As for the cable releases, well... I have the new one for my K20D, cable release F for the PZ-1 and a good old fashioned cable cable release for the super Program.
04-14-2009, 12:57 PM   #3
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The only regret I see in not getting the kit lens is the one you've already mentioned; loss of the wide end. Easily fixed later on though as they usually go for only $50 or so around here. Flash, well there's the Pentax 360 (but no swivel) or the Sigma 530 (various sub-models with differing abilities) in addition to the Metz. As long as the voltage on that 283 is low enough, no reason it can't get you started. It's a great flash (I have 3, lol). The K200 may be an auto camera, but you can use it as manually as you like.

Why change the the release plug? I'd guess so they could cram all the other goodies on the inside.
04-14-2009, 01:15 PM   #4
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You could consider getting a trigger for your existing flash then the voltage won't effect your camera.
Instead of needing a flash that swivels you could get a Gorilla Pod. The DSLR size has a removable head and you can buy an attachment for a few bucks that will allow you to put your flash on it. You just place it where you want to emulate the swivel and it has the advantage of being able to be attached to objects like branches and railings which makes it even more flexible.

04-14-2009, 10:13 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jodokast96 Quote
The only regret I see in not getting the kit lens is the one you've already mentioned; loss of the wide end. Easily fixed later on though as they usually go for only $50 or so around here. Flash, well there's the Pentax 360 (but no swivel) or the Sigma 530 (various sub-models with differing abilities) in addition to the Metz. As long as the voltage on that 283 is low enough, no reason it can't get you started. It's a great flash (I have 3, lol). The K200 may be an auto camera, but you can use it as manually as you like.

Why change the the release plug? I'd guess so they could cram all the other goodies on the inside.
With that Vivitar 283, if you are not sure about the voltage, a Wein safe sync would be a safe investment.

My wedding and events rig.

Camera shown for illusration purposes as my K10D took the shot.

Stroboframe PRO RL

Vivitar 285 with metal shoe for durability.

Vivtar remote sensor cord.

Lumniquest Promax system flash diffuser.

Wein safe sync

My old ZX-60 which precluded my K10D

I also have a Sigma 28-105 f2.8-4.0 (I used for this shot).

A host of other manual focus lenses and filters.

Pentax 18-55II on the way from Amazon.com.









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04-20-2009, 10:12 AM   #6
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Hmm

First, thanks for your replies. I'll stop worrying about the lenses for now. It is too easy to get caught up in prime-fever just reading around here, I think! I do love my 50 mm/f1.4. It was my big splurge when I bought my last round of film bodies.

Now, for the flashes. I like the Gorillapod idea, but am I being a dunce here? Doesn't the sensor on the front of the 283 need to be pointed towards the intended subject of the photo for it to work? For example, say I take the flash off-camera and point it up at 45 degress in "portrait mode" because I have the camera turned to take a vertical shot. In other words, it is laying on its side, but rotated to point up 45 degrees and simulate swivel. Then the sensor is looking at the ceiling, not the field of view, and it won't see the right amount of reflected light.
04-21-2009, 04:00 AM   #7
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Keep a look out for a VP1 for the 283. It attaches in place of the sensor and dials the flash output from 1/1 down to 1/64.
04-21-2009, 08:49 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by bniece Quote
First, thanks for your replies. I'll stop worrying about the lenses for now. It is too easy to get caught up in prime-fever just reading around here, I think! I do love my 50 mm/f1.4. It was my big splurge when I bought my last round of film bodies.

Now, for the flashes. I like the Gorillapod idea, but am I being a dunce here? Doesn't the sensor on the front of the 283 need to be pointed towards the intended subject of the photo for it to work? For example, say I take the flash off-camera and point it up at 45 degress in "portrait mode" because I have the camera turned to take a vertical shot. In other words, it is laying on its side, but rotated to point up 45 degrees and simulate swivel. Then the sensor is looking at the ceiling, not the field of view, and it won't see the right amount of reflected light.
You will get better exposure off of the intended subject if you do. Look again at my rig in the previous post above your last post.. My Vivitar has the REMOVABLE SENSOR and REMOTE SENSOR CORD mounted on top of a Wein Safe Sync to protect the camera from excessive voltage. You can buy a Varipower sensor for your 283(I think Jodokast has the info in the above post) and get the sensor cord like I have. You can take your flash off of your camera and bounce it or whatever and the sensor stays on the camera.

04-22-2009, 02:29 AM   #9
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Couldn't find any at the retailers, but here's one on the 'Bay Vivitar VP-1 283 flash Varipower Sensor adapter ! - eBay (item 400044904020 end time Apr-28-09 17:26:34 PDT)
04-22-2009, 01:08 PM   #10
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Oh.

Oh yeah! I completely forgot the sensor comes off the front of the 283. Five years with a point&shoot really has made me into a dunce.

Thanks for all the pointers.
04-22-2009, 08:34 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jodokast96 Quote
Since Vivitar no longer makes the 283, just the 285HV in manual flash, that item may not be available at retailers. But it should be easy to find online like Jodokat did on EBAY. Probably used.
04-23-2009, 02:06 PM   #12
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Even the one I picked up from Adorama was a used one.
04-23-2009, 02:26 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by res3567 Quote
Since Vivitar no longer makes the 283, just the 285HV in manual flash, that item may not be available at retailers. But it should be easy to find online like Jodokat did on EBAY. Probably used.
Vivitar doesn't even make the 285 anymore. Sold out to Cactus.

However, LumoPro has a new flash that was designed by the guys at MPEX and with input from the Strobist community. Tilt, Swivel and a 100 GN. Looks promising: LumoPro LP120 Manual Flash

Last edited by Venturi; 04-23-2009 at 02:29 PM. Reason: correction
04-23-2009, 11:17 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Venturi Quote
Vivitar doesn't even make the 285 anymore. Sold out to Cactus.

However, LumoPro has a new flash that was designed by the guys at MPEX and with input from the Strobist community. Tilt, Swivel and a 100 GN. Looks promising: LumoPro LP120 Manual Flash
Really?

That sux!

I love this flash.

A workhorse and an excellent backup to dedicated flash.
04-23-2009, 11:19 PM   #15
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Yep. Cactus is making their version of it with the designs from Vivitar but I've not heard good things about the quality control.
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