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07-09-2009, 04:33 AM   #1
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Transmitters vs. pop-up for off-camera flash triggering

First off, I want to thank everyone on this forum for so generously sharing their knowledge and experience. 90% of what I know, I learned here.

I just recently figured out how to get the pop-up flash on my K100D to trigger the Pentax AF 360 flash off-camera, wirelessly. Works like a charm and opens up a whole new avenue of lighting techniques for this newbie to explore.

But a question keeps nagging at me: if off-camera flash is so easily triggered by the camera, what is the point of 3rd party wireless flash triggers and receivers, like the Cactus and PWs? Is it strictly a battery conservation issue (that pop-up is a voracious power-eater) or are there other issues to consider?

By the way, my high-end Nikon and Canon-user friends could not believe this feature was available on my lowly, entry-level K100D, until I gave them a quick demo.

07-09-2009, 07:25 AM   #2
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Using radio wireless trigger is better as for using pop-up flash trigging, the flash has to be in line of sight, as your AF360 need to "see" that light from pop up flash to get trigged. However, radio trigger like Castus and others is broadcasting the signal which give you much more freedom where you placing the flash, as radio signals can travel through many non-metallic objects (ie. walls).
Of course as you said the battery conservation is a big thing too.
07-09-2009, 09:03 AM   #3
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I see what you mean

Yes, I see what you mean. I just ran a few tests shots, moving the AF360 further away, and behind me, with no "direct" line of sight to the front of the camera. Even as far as about 12 feet behind the camera, it continued to fire off nicely, until I put a wall between the camera and the flash. Then, as you said, nothing.

So, I'm guessing that as long as I keep the camera and flash within say, 12-15 feet of each other, with no walls or other obstacles in between (and a year's supply of batteries on hand) I should be OK firing the off-camera flash from anywhere within that perimeter.

Thanks. Much appreciated.
07-09-2009, 09:17 AM   #4
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The three methods (wired, optical and radio) are not exclusive of each other. That is to say one is always better then the other or canít sometimes be used together. If I want a flash on a bracket then wired gives me a quick 2 flash system (a 360 on the bracket say with the pop up flash). If I pop the flash off I can put it on a table next to me and go P-TTL wires. The flash is close to the camera and I get to use P-TTL as I walk around. But if you need more range or for a flash that canít see the other flash to trigger it then radio is the way. I was just taking some boring group photos. I had 2 flash unites on stands in front that I moved in and out depending on the size of the group. Those could have been any kind of trigger but I used radio because I needed to trigger a third flash that was hidden behind the group that was for the background with a banner on it.

Different tools for different problems. If you have more then just a hammer you donít have to treat every problem like a nail.

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07-09-2009, 04:03 PM   #5
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Thanks for that concise and effective explanation and example, which clarified the different applications of the three technologies. Like you said, different tools for solving different problems.

I'm just getting back into photography after a decades-long absence, because I'm suddenly unemployed. However, now that I have the luxury of time to explore and enjoy the miracles of this new digital world, I have very limited funds to expend in this pursuit. For the time being, I can't run out and buy stuff (much as I'd like to) unless and until I have a pressing need. I'll guess I'll just make do with what I have for as long as I can and in the meantime, continue to try and soak up as much information and knowledge as possible, and hopefully make wise purchasing decisions in the future.

By the way, that's a beautiful signature quotation you have there.
07-09-2009, 04:38 PM   #6
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Your welcome.

It is probably best to NOT just go out and buy a bunch of tools right away. IMHO it is better to learn the tools you have and what problems they are good for. If you start to feel constrained by the tools you have or have a problem that is not well suited to the tools you have then look at getting a new tool and learn that tool. This way not only do you get better with what you have but will tend to gravitate to the things you are interested in doing with out wasting time and money on thing your not interested in.

Thanks about the signature. It is my personal photographic philosophy. It is how I approach photography and photographic equipment.

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07-10-2009, 01:58 PM   #7
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QuoteQuote:
Different tools for different problems. If you have more then just a hammer you don’t have to treat every problem like a nail.
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07-10-2009, 02:25 PM   #8
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Marianne, the timing of your post is perfect and may be you can help me. I spend several hours with my K100d and AF 360 last weekend trying to make it fire wirelessly off camera. I finally opened the manual and then went to pentaximaging learning center to view the video on the two pentax flashes and both confirmed that the pop up flash on K100d will not activate the off camera flash wirelessly.

So how did you do it? I resigned myself to getting a wireless trigger, but if there is a way to do it without it, I'd love to know.

Thanks. Len

07-10-2009, 02:36 PM   #9
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Len,

You did the common 'try to work it out before reading up about it' and it didn't work. Where did you try to look it up in the manual? It actually explains it reasonably well.

Put simply, you have to have the flash on the hotshoe, switching the flash onto the wireless 'on' mode (middle click on the AF360 power switch). Then switch the camera to wireless flash mode (via the Fn button). Once you have confirmed the channel setting (usually CH 1 on the LCD), set the mode you want (start with P-TTL for ease of testing), then half-press the shutter button to 'sync' the flash with the camera - the camera now knows to communicate with the flash wirelessly.

Now detach the flash and pop up your on-camera flash. Set the flash away from the camera with the IR sensor facing the on-camera flash and fire aaway. Have an eye on the 360 flash while shooting to confirm it is firing when the shutter is released.

Happy wireless flashing.
07-10-2009, 05:39 PM   #10
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Ash, I hear you about trying it first and only going to the manual as a last resort. Believe that is the standard mode of operation here.

But to get back to setting up the flash, my K100d doesn't seem to have the wireless mode. When I push the function button, the flash options are auto, manual, auto with red eye and manyal with red eye. The manual says: "Wireless mode is not available for the built in flash." (pg. 163.)

So how did Marianne do it? Help!
07-11-2009, 05:49 AM   #11
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Lenp is correct: the K100D Fn button does not offer a wireless mode selection.

Here's how I did it (hope I relay this properly and can repeat this miraculous experiment!):

I used the yellow dot setting to set the AF360 to Channel 1; Slave 2 (check p 48 & 49 of the flash's manual for instructions--I don't want to mislead you).

I slid the wireless button on the flash to "S" for slave

With these settings in place, I put the flash on the the camera while the camera was in "off". I turned the camera on, set it to autoflash, popped up the flash, and depressed the shutter button half-way. Then I removed the flash from the camera and...eureka!

Truth is, I was quite surprised when it worked because I too read that the K100D will not operate in wireless mode. But it did, and it does. Not only that, the AF360 did not require a direct line of the sight to the pop up. It continues to fire from behind me, so I'm guessing it's responding to the arc of the flash.
07-11-2009, 07:44 AM   #12
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Marianne, thanks for the explanation. But I cannot replicate it. Oh well. May be I just need an excuse to upgrade to K20. K7 is a little out of reach right now.
07-13-2009, 12:14 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by GerryL Quote
Master Yoda will be proud!
May the Pentax FORCE be with you Gerry!
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