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11-10-2009, 08:03 AM   #1
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Old flash on DSLRs

I've tried searching for this, but came up empty.

Is it possible to use an old flash like, say, a Vivitar 283 flash on a new DSLR (K100D Super, in my case)? I'm a cheap skate, and a noobie, and don't feel like dropping half a grand on something i'm not sure if i'll even use that much. I hear there are voltage concerns or something, but others say they use these old boys with no ill effects. So which is it?

11-10-2009, 08:31 AM   #2
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It depends on the specific flash unit. Googling "vivitar 283 trigger voltage" and see if you can found out the trigger voltage is for that particular flash unit. If it's low (I forget what's considered safe - anything under 6 volts, maybe?), go ahead. If it's way higher (some are in the hudnreds of volts), don't attempt it.

FWIW, if it turns out to be too high, there are plenty of other older and newer cheap flashes you can use that are safe. I use a $30 Sunpak DS-20 auto-flash on the rare occasions I want an external flash.
11-10-2009, 08:31 AM   #3
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If it's an old 283, then no it's not safe. Here is a site you can use to guide you in choosing a flash.
http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html
11-10-2009, 09:50 AM   #4
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I had exactly the same questions when I was new and tried to google everything until I eventually gave up and asked some questions and googled more.
I never got a very satisfactory answer as to what exactly is the safe trigger voltage for Pentax DSLR's.
What is sure is that for Canon and Nikon, the safe voltage trigger is 5volts or less.
For Pentax, I have received and viewed quite a number of a safe trigger voltage for it ranging from 25Volts (I think) and going by the big 2 (Canon & Nikon) for 5 volts.
I even asked here in the forums for members to measure all the variants of the Pentax Digital flashes (AF200FG, AF360FGZ, and AF540FGZ) to get somekind of a data to go by but only a few members tested their flash...so I didn't get a good enough data.
There are still some who say that "Pentax says", every flash that Pentax built can be safely used "for all" Pentax DSLR's.
Getting the data for these (trigger voltages) would be harder than the 3 new digital flash ones I mentioned above, since imagine that all the 3 digital are very much available and nobody even bothers to measure their trigger voltages!
As for the old Vivitar 283 (non-digital), the trig voltage (from my googling) is around 300volts..it will definitely fry your DSLR!
Some people suggest using a Wein safesyc, but yet that again is $50!
There is a DIY safesync going around that would only cost you $2.
You can try that if you like.

11-10-2009, 10:03 AM   #5
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I know for a fact that the AF160, AF200, and the AF280 are fine on the trigger voltage.
The Vivitar 285 (new model) and the 285HV are also good.
11-10-2009, 11:58 AM   #6
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I wouldn't use a Vivitar 283 on a Pentax. Mine will put out 330 volts with fresh AA batteries on the hot shoe contacts.
11-10-2009, 12:55 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by logic14 Quote
I've tried searching for this, but came up empty.

Is it possible to use an old flash like, say, a Vivitar 283 flash on a new DSLR (K100D Super, in my case)? I'm a cheap skate, and a noobie, and don't feel like dropping half a grand on something i'm not sure if i'll even use that much. I hear there are voltage concerns or something, but others say they use these old boys with no ill effects. So which is it?
Measure the trigger voltage on the particular flash, and determine for yourself.

I've been using flashes with trigger voltage up to 24V with my K10D.

I had 2 Vivitar 283 units, one with 184V trigger voltage and another with 8.4V trigger voltage. Apparently there were design changes but noone knows how to tell them apart.
11-11-2009, 01:42 AM   #8
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Get the Wein Safe Sync hotshoe adapter..........

11-11-2009, 03:05 AM   #9
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This is a common question and in addition to the excellent answers here so far, the ultimate answer is yes and, well, no as to whether older flashes are safe or not. The reason is none of the camera makers seem willing to state what is a safe voltage. Answers always skirt the issue and can vary as badly as info you get when calling the IRS...as in answers can be 180-degrees opposite.

My recommendation is the conventional wisdom is <= 6V and anything over than might work fine after one firing but everytime you fire that flash the circuitry is more stressed from the increased stress of higher voltages. So, a hotshoe might have a lifespan of 10,000+ triggers might have 1,000 (or less, a lot less) when using a higher voltage flash. So, if you have older flashes, buy some sort of hot shoe adapter or even better get a nice inexpensive (or the expensive kind) of remote trigger and fire the flash that way.

I use Chinese import el cheapo RF triggers and all of my flashes are thrift shop finds save for my one Yongnuo YN460 (a pretty darn nice manual flash that works great for what I need. And when I really wanna blast a background there is the Vivitar 273 I nabbed for $6 but it has a trigger voltage that is off the charts...never fried an RF trigger Rx unit though and I use flash all the time.

Considering the cost of your camera body, and more importantly, the cost to repair or replace it, why place it as risk to save $50 on the adapter or a set of RF triggers? But in the end it's your gear so do what feels right to you.
11-11-2009, 03:42 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by logic14 Quote
I've tried searching for this, but came up empty.

Is it possible to use an old flash like, say, a Vivitar 283 flash on a new DSLR (K100D Super, in my case)? I'm a cheap skate, and a noobie, and don't feel like dropping half a grand on something I'm not sure if I'll even use that much. I hear there are voltage concerns or something, but others say they use these old boys with no ill effects. So which is it?
Logic14,
what nobody has asked is where and why you want to use a flash? The amount of power [guide number] required to do this will change and this will influence your
decision as to what to buy,
once you have that sorted out ,then pick a couple of brands and models and ask the question again on the forum, "has any one used ****** on your camera"
there is loads and loads of info on flashes and guide numbers available just goggle[other search engines are available] to find info
Alistair
11-11-2009, 11:18 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by brecklundin Quote
The reason is none of the camera makers seem willing to state what is a safe voltage.
Ricoh is the only one that I know of. The GX200 manual specifically says "The voltage of the X contact must not exceed 20V."

QuoteOriginally posted by brecklundin Quote
My recommendation is the conventional wisdom is <= 6V and anything over than might work fine ...
The "conventional wisdom" 6V limit comes from something Canon tech support put out for one specific model of Rebel. It doesn't even apply to other Canon models.

QuoteOriginally posted by res3567 Quote
Get the Wein Safe Sync hotshoe adapter..........
Better yet, build one. I built about 10 little circuits for various flash units, average cost is about $2 each.

Link to thread
11-11-2009, 12:57 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by SOldBear Quote
Ricoh is the only one that I know of. The GX200 manual specifically says "The voltage of the X contact must not exceed 20V."
I had not come across that tidbit...THANKS. In fact I bet all bodies can handle a 20V flash w/o much worry, especially if you don't use a speedlight/hot shoe flash that often.

It's just a shame there is so much debate over the issue. Some Canon folks say, now, that pretty much any trigger voltage is fine since the hot shoe is on the same circuit as the PC socket. My concern was always that there can be so much variance and less than accurate QC on electronic components these days or even sourcing parts from different MFG's so tolerances might vary to a large degree. I sort of liken it to power supplies we used in the 70s & 80s were far better built and durable than those we could buy from the 90s forward. All because they were simply not using consistently good components. I still have power supplies which are 30yrs old running just fine, but a couple "brand name" PS's I bought only a few years ago have croaked a couple of times. So, I think I tend to lump any power control parts of devices in the same light...companies are likely to cut corners there since they can deny a repair by claiming a flash with too high of a trigger voltage was used and there is really nothing the owner can do to refute the matter. The doubt gets people to buy the really nice, but more expensive flashes made by the camera brand just to be safe.

QuoteQuote:
The "conventional wisdom" 6V limit comes from something Canon tech support put out for one specific model of Rebel. It doesn't even apply to other Canon models.
I had forgotten that is exactly where I read it came from. Sort of funny such a simple comment from Canon tech support has caused much confusion as found in pretty much any other area of photography. A real shame all companies simply cannot be like Ricoh, providing a number representing an upper limit on safe voltage.

Though isn't it true that under the right condition (you know like a fatigued bit of circuitry or flaky component circuit) pretty much any voltage can harm the flash subsystem? Of course this is the rare "other extreme" to high voltage, or at least that's my attempt to understand the whole thing...

QuoteQuote:
Better yet, build one. I built about 10 little circuits for various flash units, average cost is about $2 each.

Link to thread
Nice tip on a DIY voltage sync adapter. I have to admit my "slaughtering iron" is not what I thought I was buying at the time. D'oh!!! Turned out the "great markdown deal" I found at Home Depot was a "crafter's soldering iron" rather than for electronics or real soldering...so I can pretty much only melt solder and "maybe plastic" no matter how much I sand done the tip to a sharp point. hehehehe....I found I can use the plunger-type solder remover while re-soldering some things in order to make it kinda work...at least the stand/holder with flexible arms & alligator clips is really great. I use the arms often for macro shots. But hey it's a B&D and cost me all of $9.99, marked down from $49.99 on a clearance....sigh, I got too excited to find a "deal"... Somewhere is my OLD soldering iron I bought when in JUNIOR HS for electronics shop class ~1973ish, yeah they still had real shop back then...I think the thing cost around $4 or $8 and was still going strong last time I know where it was 10-yrs ago. hehehehehe....
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