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05-29-2009, 04:06 PM   #1
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Super simple flash Q

Hi,

I have never used an external flash before, but know what kind of picture the k200d's internal flash can give. It's usually way too bright and spoils the shot with bright whites bouncing off the subject.

Is an external flash that much better? I prefer warm images with nice tones, ie, those that result from my FA f1.4 50mm during sunset portraits, however, do the external flashes offer this in very low light situations?

I read that a lot of people like to use a remote flash so it can illuminate from the side instead of "head-on", but is there a specific type of bulb or filament that is better for this shot?

Thanks. Accept me as a complete novice with flashes....

05-29-2009, 07:59 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by esman7 Quote
Is an external flash that much better?
Yes, very, very much so, when used right. If you just point the flash directly at your subject from the top of the camera, it may be even worse (due to the even-brighter flash) than with the built-in, but when used carefully to provide indirect lighting, you can get great results. And this is actually easily done (indoors with normal-height ceilings) with any flash which can tilt upwards to bounce. Very simple, and gives good results.

See my flash guide on some options here: Pentax P-TTL Flash Comparison: Tilt / Swivel Flash Head

QuoteOriginally posted by esman7 Quote
I prefer warm images with nice tones, ie, those that result from my FA f1.4 50mm during sunset portraits, however, do the external flashes offer this in very low light situations?
You can adjust the flash power to provide a mix of flash and natural lighting something that's pretty hard to do with the built-in flash.

QuoteOriginally posted by esman7 Quote
I read that a lot of people like to use a remote flash so it can illuminate from the side instead of "head-on", but is there a specific type of bulb or filament that is better for this shot?
A regular flashgun will work. A convenient feature is wireless P-TTL, which uses the built in flash on the K200D (and all other recent Pentax dSLRs) to send an optical wireless signal controlling the exposure of the remote flash, which you can have on a stand somewhere else. I personally consider this a vital feature I couldn't live without. Flashes which can do this:

Pentax P-TTL Flash Comparison: Wireless
05-29-2009, 09:21 PM   #3
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Flashes generally emit daylight-colored (~5000 kelvin) light, so the light emitted generally won't look like the warm setting-sun colors. If you're trying to get light more like that I imagine some combination of post-processing or possibly colored gels mounted on the flash might help.

Some of the main things to make pictures look more natural and less flashy:
  • Don't use direct flash--bounce the flash and/or use it off-camera (either wired or wirelessly). Diffusers may help in certain cases as well.
  • Make the most of ambient light, relying less on flash power--raise ISO, lower shutter speed, open aperture.

Both of these tips will reduce harsh shadows, blending the flash output with natural light more.
05-29-2009, 10:28 PM   #4
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Do you suggest a specific model of Pentax flash and why? Oh and what's the deal with the Metz flashes?

Thanks by the way!


Last edited by esman7; 05-29-2009 at 10:54 PM.
05-29-2009, 11:51 PM   #5
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Of pentax flashes I suggest the 540. Simply because its the only one with tilt and swivel. I find it very disappointing that the 360 doesnt do swivel. I had the 360 because I bought it before the 540 was released, Ive sold it now. The 540 unfortunately is bigger and more expensive, the 360 would have been fine if it had the swivel.

Sigma also makes flashes for pentax and I belive their cheaper version does both tilt and swivel altho I am not sure if the cheaper one does wireless, which I belive their more expensive one does.
05-30-2009, 03:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by esman7 Quote
Do you suggest a specific model of Pentax flash and why?
701 reasons not to spend a lot of money on flash equipment.
05-30-2009, 10:13 AM   #7
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The main advantage of a separate flash is the ability to get the light to come from a different direction as opposed to just a couple of inches above the lens. That's the source of the harshness (and red-eye, when that hapens) with the built-in flash.

You can actually improve on the results using the built-in flash by using a diffuser to spread the light out (although most things you might try with the built-in flash don't really diffuse the light enough to matter), or a bounce card to redirect the light to the ceiliing. I do this in many of the (rare) situation where I use flash - a piece of opaque white platic or cardboard that I hold in front of the flash to bounce the the light to the ceiling. There is also a cheap device you can buy for this purpose (Lightscoop).
05-30-2009, 09:10 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by esman7 Quote
Do you suggest a specific model of Pentax flash and why? Oh and what's the deal with the Metz flashes?
It depends on what you need. I don't suggest the AF200FG, since without either tilt or swivel and with not much control it's barely a step up from the built-in flash. (And no wireless, even as a controller, making it actually a step down.)

The AF360FGZ tilts but doesn't swivel something that kept me from buying it, but now I realize I use my Metz 48 AF-1 off-camera the vast majority of the time anyway, and there swivel is unimportant.

Metz is a German company with a long and well-respected history of making flashes. They reverse-engineered the Pentax dedicated flash protocol (including wireless) and make several compatible models.

05-31-2009, 06:39 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattdm Quote
It depends on what you need. I don't suggest the AF200FG, since without either tilt or swivel and with not much control it's barely a step up from the built-in flash. (And no wireless, even as a controller, making it actually a step down.)

The AF360FGZ tilts but doesn't swivel something that kept me from buying it, but now I realize I use my Metz 48 AF-1 off-camera the vast majority of the time anyway, and there swivel is unimportant.

Metz is a German company with a long and well-respected history of making flashes. They reverse-engineered the Pentax dedicated flash protocol (including wireless) and make several compatible models.
So you are saying that for off camera use, the 360 would have been a good choice?

You reccomend it for of camera strobist use with the wireless P-TTL?
06-02-2009, 10:31 AM   #10
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Kind of ironic that the model labeled "360" doesn't swivel
06-02-2009, 11:25 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by res3567 Quote
So you are saying that for off camera use, the 360 would have been a good choice?

You reccomend it for of camera strobist use with the wireless P-TTL?
I have a pair of them that I bought used for this purpose to with my AF-540FGZ. It's a good unit, and the lack of swivel isn't much of a drawback for this purpose. One small drawback is that you can't completely disable auto power-off (though it is substantially lengthened for wireless usage) so there may be some scenarios where that may be an issue. If you're planning on using manual rather than P-TTL then there are cheaper alternatives but the AF-360FGZ is perfectly capable of both. The Metz 48 has a swivel and a little more power but is a little less flexible as it can't function as wireless commander or master and lacks the auto-flash mode.
07-27-2009, 01:30 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattdm Quote
It depends on what you need. I don't suggest the AF200FG, since without either tilt or swivel and with not much control it's barely a step up from the built-in flash. (And no wireless, even as a controller, making it actually a step down.)

The AF360FGZ tilts but doesn't swivel something that kept me from buying it, but now I realize I use my Metz 48 AF-1 off-camera the vast majority of the time anyway, and there swivel is unimportant.

Metz is a German company with a long and well-respected history of making flashes. They reverse-engineered the Pentax dedicated flash protocol (including wireless) and make several compatible models.
HI Mattdm
What about the Pentax AF280T w/K200d
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