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09-21-2010, 07:29 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Pentax TTL bodies and Nikon flashes...

Well, I don't know if you're aware of this neat trick, but for all of you still using those wonderful old film bodies or the *istD, DS or DS2 (in short, any TTL body, not those fancy P-TTL ones ), you can use some Nikon film flashes as wireless TTL slaves!

Some pre-DSLRs Nikon SB flashes indeed offer an (AFAIK) unique slave mode called SU-4 (named after the little separate unit that can also transform non-SU-4 flashes into TTL wireless slaves).

In this mode, the slave flash not only detects when the main flash is fired, but also when it is cut off by the camera, and so reacts accordingly and shut off its own burst.

Yeah, that's right : Nikon really made an universal TTL wireless slave flash, back in the film days...

Best part is that the last crop of Nikon film flashes featuring this are simply useless on Nikon's DSLRs, so they can be found for next to nothing, and are in really good shape...
The SB-50dx, for instance, has this ability and can be easily found for 50€... So has the SB26 (IIRC), the SB-80dx, and some others...

So, if you can try this, shoot and post some sample!!!

09-24-2010, 11:42 PM   #2
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I have an old, small Nikon flash that I use as a hair light or for small jobs. I control it by radio triggers. Works fine with Pentax. If you use radio triggers, pretty much any flash will work.
09-25-2010, 10:03 AM   #3
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That's a cool feature. I wasn't aware that it was able to light for just as long as the master flash. I thought it would just trigger and last for as long as you has set it to do manually. This is SU-4 automatic mode then?

Btw I think even the more expensive SB-800 is backwards compatible with an SU-4 mode.
09-25-2010, 10:08 AM   #4
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TTL is more fancy than PTTL, IMO. PTTL is simply cheaper and feasible due to all the electronics everywhere nowadays.


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09-25-2010, 12:06 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
TTL is more fancy than PTTL, IMO. PTTL is simply cheaper and feasible due to all the electronics everywhere nowadays.
Well, a huge thing going for P-TTL (theoretically) is that it can use Matrix Metering (and all the bells and whistles going with it, like the "Link to AF point" feature), whereas TTL is rather plain (more a One Zone metering...).
09-25-2010, 12:08 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by sveinmb Quote
That's a cool feature. I wasn't aware that it was able to light for just as long as the master flash. I thought it would just trigger and last for as long as you has set it to do manually. This is SU-4 automatic mode then?

Btw I think even the more expensive SB-800 is backwards compatible with an SU-4 mode.
Yep... You can even buy a SU-4 module by itself (that where the name came from, BTW), and plug it on any Nikon flash, and voilà!
09-26-2010, 05:28 PM   #7
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If it works with TTL flashes this would work with any flash in auto mode
09-27-2010, 01:33 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
If it works with TTL flashes this would work with any flash in auto mode
You mean that you could use one "master" flash in Auto, triggered by the camera, and slaves in SU-4 mode...
Yeah, neat idea!

So, in effect, you can use this for easy & cheap wireless with P-TTL-only bodies. Just plug an Auto flash on the DSLR (one with aperture and sensibility sync, if possible), your SU-4 flashes around your subject, and voilà!

09-27-2010, 04:53 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlacouture Quote
You mean that you could use one "master" flash in Auto, triggered by the camera, and slaves in SU-4 mode...
Yeah, neat idea!

So, in effect, you can use this for easy & cheap wireless with P-TTL-only bodies. Just plug an Auto flash on the DSLR (one with aperture and sensibility sync, if possible), your SU-4 flashes around your subject, and voilà!
Like I said if the nikon flash works in ttl mode it would work in auto also.

This also gives me an idea for a slave unit. It should be possible to make a remote trigger that activates the turn off pin on a ttl flash
09-27-2010, 09:56 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Like I said if the nikon flash works in ttl mode it would work in auto also.

This also gives me an idea for a slave unit. It should be possible to make a remote trigger that activates the turn off pin on a ttl flash
The SU-4, but for Pentax...
11-04-2010, 04:52 PM   #11
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For those interested, I've started to work on a SU-4 module for Pentax TTL flashes (quite dumb to do, actually), with my brother...

And if you head over to the Film Discussion, where I also explain this feature, you'll see some examples...
11-05-2010, 10:31 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlacouture Quote
Well, a huge thing going for P-TTL (theoretically) is that it can use Matrix Metering (and all the bells and whistles going with it, like the "Link to AF point" feature), whereas TTL is rather plain (more a One Zone metering...).
There's no reason that TTL couldn't use matrix metering if it was updated, since the body is doing the metering.
11-06-2010, 02:04 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
There's no reason that TTL couldn't use matrix metering if it was updated, since the body is doing the metering.
Not really. TTL reads the reflection of light bouncing off the film or sensor to detect the amount of light that has been fired.
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