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02-28-2010, 02:15 AM   #1
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Is it neccesary for a flash?

I am pretty new to photography and I've got a K200D and I think the flash on the camera works nicely. What would the benefits of having a flash such as the AF200FG have on my pictures over that of the one built onto the camera? And also, are the xternal flashes easy to use?

In the end... should I get one?

Thanks =)

02-28-2010, 02:36 AM   #2
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More power (longer light throw), the ability to bounce and swivel the light (some flashes), and the ability to move the flash off camera (some flashes). Does everybody need one? No, but it's not a bad accessory to have.
02-28-2010, 02:59 AM   #3
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The AF200FG will only give you more power. Other flashes have the ability to twist themselves so you can bounce light from walls and ceilings. If you feel that the built in flash is too weak for you, perhaps you should get the AF200FG but if I were you I'd try and find something with more capabilities. There's a whole new world of photography when you buy a good flash. The AF360 for example can be controlled wirelessly so you can place the flash somewhere else and get nice lighting from various angles. This is a fantastic attribute that Pentax incoroporates in their flashes that other companies lack.
02-28-2010, 03:08 AM   #4
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Or why not try the high end AF540..

02-28-2010, 03:25 AM   #5
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Well, I was thinking that the AF200FG would be a decent step up from the default flash and it wouldn't be too costly buying it second hand.

I was just also wondering whether the lighting from the external flash will look more natural than the one on the camera. I say this because of the photos I take with flash, you can tell that the flash was used in the photo because of the white reflection coming off the object.

Just a side note: I have a Pentax M-28mm f2.8 and everytime I try to use the flash with the lens, the picture just becomes very white. Is that normal for a manual lens?
02-28-2010, 03:29 AM   #6
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khaz0r, the most important question to ask yourself is why you want/need an external flash.
Jodokast touched on that, but you must decide - basically the more advanced the flash the more versatile the lighting you will have to operate with.

I'd personally not go for any flash that does not bounce and swivel, and if you want auto features, then P-TTL is therefore a must. I started out with a manual bounce/swivel flash, which worked beautifully for me - but then I found P-TTL that much more versatile that I invested the extra bucks into it. I haven't regretted getting the AF540FGZ one bit. Then again, I use it often for weddings and off-camera wireless flash.
02-28-2010, 03:34 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by khaz0r Quote

Just a side note: I have a Pentax M-28mm f2.8 and everytime I try to use the flash with the lens, the picture just becomes very white. Is that normal for a manual lens?
You're trying to use a P-TTL flash with an M lens - no compatibility there, I'm afraid...

See here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/80525-any-way-redu...re-lenses.html, https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/83348-p-ttl-w-manual-lenses.html, as well as others in the forum's archives.
02-28-2010, 05:18 AM   #8
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Not sure what the M28 exactly is, I assume it's a full manual lens where you set aperture on the lens and select shutter speed on the camera.

The reason why you get washed out pictures is that the flash uses full power. The only way for you to control the amount of light on the sensor (in low light scenarios with flash) is by opening and closing the aperture. The shutter speed has not much influence on the flash as the duration of the flash is quite short compared to the selected shutter speed.

The first reading would be the user manual of the camera. The K100D manual has some chapters that are relevant so I assume your manual has them as well.
  1. Distance and Aperture when Using the Built-in Flash
  2. Calculating Shooting Distance from Aperture Value
  3. Calculating Aperture Value from Shooting Distance

The quick guide here would be:
  1. set shutter speed to X-sync (1/180) or longer (e.g. 1/125or 1/60)
  2. estimate distance of subject and calculate aperture; set aperture to found value
  3. focus and shoot
The selected shutter speed determines how much available light will be used in the picture.

Notes
  1. you can also focus first, check the distance on the lens and calculate the aperture from there.
  2. X sync for K100D and K10D is 1/180; check the specifications in the manual for flash synchronisation speed; I assume it's also 1/180
  3. changing aperture is not the only way, changing the distance will also do but that changes your composition


02-28-2010, 05:36 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by khaz0r Quote
Well, I was thinking that the AF200FG would be a decent step up from the default flash and it wouldn't be too costly buying it second hand.

I was just also wondering whether the lighting from the external flash will look more natural than the one on the camera. I say this because of the photos I take with flash, you can tell that the flash was used in the photo because of the white reflection coming off the object.

Just a side note: I have a Pentax M-28mm f2.8 and everytime I try to use the flash with the lens, the picture just becomes very white. Is that normal for a manual lens?
This, is where an external flash becomes most useful, for you. Flashes that can do Auto (not autofocus) can be set for your ISO and Aperture and thus, the exposure is quite well controlled. You can also try stopping down your lens if all your photos are washed out.

That said, I am of the firm belief (and I'm not going to argue the point) that most built in camera flashes suck. Sorry to use a harsh word like that, but IMO, it's truth. They are too close to the lens and typically throw a reddish cast on skin tones making people look as if they are wearing a lot of makeup. I've seen a lot of situations where there are stray reflections of light that simply go away when using a shoe mounted flash. Red-Eye reduction is spotty at best in part because People tend to move after the preflash and still have red eye. Goes away with a shoe mounted flash.

I have to agree that to best use an external flash, at the very least, a tilt head is needed. Swivel and tilt are the best of all worlds. If you want to stick with Pentax and don't want to spend a fortune, the AF280 will give you most of the options of the more modern units. It dwarfs the AF200 however and still lacks P-TTL. Of course, there are also aftermarket options (Metz, Sigma, Promaster, Used Vivitar, Sunpak, etc). Other than doing Auto exposure for your M lens shots though, I don't think the AF200 is going to buy you a lot of versatility. Just my opinion, YMMV..

02-28-2010, 05:38 AM   #10
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Is there a thread in here that you can post photos taken by using an external flash or other lighting just like those of the lens club in the lens section? It might be helpful to for someone new to flashes who dont know what to buy
02-28-2010, 06:44 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
I don't think the AF200 is going to buy you a lot of versatility. Just my opinion, YMMV..
My mileage does vary.

I think the AF200T is a wonderful flash unit. You just have to get it off the camera to use it to its best advantage. (And be aware that there were two models of the AF200, the AF200S and the AF200T, so it is helpful to distinguish between the two.)
02-28-2010, 08:39 AM   #12
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I'm a guy who doesn't own an external flash that will work on my K10D. While from time to time there have been occasions where I could have used one, I have other priorities first and a flash is down on on the list. I do have an older flash from my film cameras that I could use off camera but I haven't bothered at this point. If you are happy with the results you are getting and don't see the need, save your money and spend it on something you know you will use.
02-28-2010, 12:13 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
My mileage does vary.

I think the AF200T is a wonderful flash unit. You just have to get it off the camera to use it to its best advantage. (And be aware that there were two models of the AF200, the AF200S and the AF200T, so it is helpful to distinguish between the two.)
Actually there are now three. Pentax has a newer model launched around the same time as the K-m/K2000 called the AF200FG.

I bit the bullet and got the ridiculously expensive AF540FGZ yesterday, part of my plan to upgrade my camera. I think some kind of flash is an excellent accessory. Fast lenses and high ISO can only go so far. A flash can make taking photos really easy where f1.4 and ISO 3200 are still not enough.

The downside to flash photography is that using one well is a whole extra subject. I don't think even the "does everything" AF540FGZ is that good unless you take the time to learn how to use the flash. I can't just put it on auto-everything and get great photos. I debated for a while whether I should just get powerful all-manual flashes, since the main issue for me is not lack of features, just lack of skill. So IMO the answer to the OP's question is no, they are not that easy to use.
02-28-2010, 12:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
So IMO the answer to the OP's question is no, they are not that easy to use.
Flash usage is sort of like camera usage, though, in that the basic principles are neither numerous nor complicated. With both it is the practical application of those principles to produce a pleasing result in which the challenge lies.

Just like a camera, using one is easy. Using one well is a whole different matter.
02-28-2010, 01:00 PM   #15
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whatever it takes

Photography means "drawing with light" and flash is just another tool. For much photography, you can get by with the onboard flash, or existing light. You can carry a thin white infant's sock or translucent 135 film can to diffuse the onboard flash. Other situations REQUIRE flash. With my K20D, I bought an AF-360, and it has served me well. Used on-camera, I often use a diffuser, and bounce light off ceilings and corners. Off, camera, it works wirelessly. I'll often use the onboard flash (with a sock on it), while the K20D is on a minitripod nearby, aimed at a reflective surface.

A warning: cheap old flashes abound in thrift shops. While they may work fine, they generate high voltages that can FRY YOUR CAMERA'S ELECTRONICS. ("Don't brick the camera!") You want to NEVER connect a flash to your camera unless you KNOW it's safe. Ah, but such flashes CAN be safely used. You can buy slave triggers. I use a cheap nameless cube with a photocell that fires when it sees a flash; I got it for a few bucks somewhere. The trigger sits on a minitripod, the old Vivitar or Sunpak flash sits on that, and it's aimed into another corner of the room or wherever. Zap!
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