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09-21-2007, 12:03 PM   #1
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Discuss: Hack/enable a higher speed sync flash K10D

A large number of people shoot with off camera flash, and for myself, I have strobist.com to thank for that. The camera will not send a signal if anything past 1/180 is chosen, which causes a crutch for flash photographers using Pentax cameras. At a higher chosen speed and off camera flash there are creative photos that can be made with HSS enabled flashes and even older flashes despite the blackening out of a frame.

I know there's a lot of talent on our boards, and I would like to kindly request a firmware hack that still allows the camera to trigger a flash at a higher sync speed. If it is even possible, then that would be great news for many us.

When I emailed pentax about the issue, they replied stating that "a firmware change is unlikely to come...but hopefully future models will be able to sync at higher speeds." That's great news for future models, but how about for our beloved K10D. Can we get this done, or is it too much to ask?

Check out this article: Hacking your camera's sync speed
If anyone is interested, there are many great articles about flash on stobist.com as well.

Respectfully,
-imt

EDIT: Clarified the original question


Last edited by imadethis; 09-21-2007 at 10:12 PM.
09-21-2007, 12:12 PM   #2
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You cant fix this in firmware, this is a hardware issue. The speed of the shutter limits the max sync speed, you cannot make the mechanical shutter faster with firmware. Another option to get high sync speeds is to add an electronic shutter, but the k10d does not have one and again firmware cannot add that.

I am really hoping for higher sync speeds in future models, altho it seems Pentax isnt really putting flash high on its priority lists, considering they actually removed the pc sync connector that was on the istD, from the k10d.

I am hoping they put the sync speed to at least 1/250 on future models so at least they catch up with the competition.
09-21-2007, 12:20 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
You cant fix this in firmware, this is a hardware issue. The speed of the shutter limits the max sync speed, you cannot make the mechanical shutter faster with firmware. Another option to get high sync speeds is to add an electronic shutter, but the k10d does not have one and again firmware cannot add that.

I am really hoping for higher sync speeds in future models, altho it seems Pentax isnt really putting flash high on its priority lists, considering they actually removed the pc sync connector that was on the istD, from the k10d.

I am hoping they put the sync speed to at least 1/250 on future models so at least they catch up with the competition.
The last camera I saw with higher speed sync was the PZ-1, it had a 1/250th sync, but note it also had a 1/8000 maxumum shutter speed.
09-21-2007, 12:32 PM   #4
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My phrasing of the question may have been off, so let me clarify. The K10D could still fire a flash over it's maximum speed and capture some light. I am not asking for a physically faster sync speed, but am asking to enable the camera to send a signal to the hot shoe to fire any flash. With that in mind, the mechanical shutter would capture light but have a blackening out of the frame.

Here's the article I was referring to earlier:
Strobist: Hacking Your Camera's Sync Speed, Pt. 2

Thanks,
-imt

09-21-2007, 12:40 PM   #5
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Ah I see, then I did misunderstand you.

A proposed solution for that is Pocket Wizards, although I am not sure if there is a remote cable for the k10d, I dont see any Pentax camera listed on their site so I dont know if you can get the cable to fit.

But if you could. this setup means that you have a PW connected to your cameras remote port so that the PW triggers the camera, then you also plug a flash into the PW so that the PW will trigger the flash as well, now you can fire the flash at any speed, since the PW is fiering the flash and the camera doesnt even know that there is a flash being fired.
09-21-2007, 12:59 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by imadethis Quote
My phrasing of the question may have been off, so let me clarify. The K10D could still fire a flash over it's maximum speed and capture some light. I am not asking for a physically faster sync speed, but am asking to enable the camera to send a signal to the hot shoe to fire any flash. With that in mind, the mechanical shutter would capture light but have a blackening out of the frame.

Here's the article I was referring to earlier:
Strobist: Hacking Your Camera's Sync Speed, Pt. 2

Thanks,
-imt
Please see pg 181 of the manual

With an AF540FGZ or Af360FGZ the K10 can run very high speed sync.

The way this works is that the flash fires at reduced power multiple times, as the shutter moves. Each flash is over a different area of the sensor.

Normal flash sync is achieved with the shutter wide open. Above 1/180 the shutter becomes a narrow slit that passes over the sensor, exposing only a small area at a time. Firing the flash when above max sync only once would result in a bright band over one portion of the sensor, and the rest of the image would be dark
09-21-2007, 01:10 PM   #7
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The 540 is limited to p-ttl flash, which means I would have to have either a long cable, or keep the flash on the camera. Hopefully, we can find a solution for all flashes. Thanks for the info though.

Andreas, that's a great idea having the remote cable port send a signal to the PW. The K10D utilizes the same cable as the Canon EOS 300D 350D 400D 300V cable if that helps. Could you link me to the information from PW?

EDIT: I did further reading into this, and from my understanding, PW can only be used to trigger the camera. I believe there's no output coming from the remote release port, and if there was a way to trigger the flash this way, it would limit the way the camera triggers.

Coming back to the original topic, how about a hack enabling a signal to the hot shoe past 180?

Thanks,
-imt

Last edited by imadethis; 09-21-2007 at 01:33 PM.
09-21-2007, 01:36 PM   #8
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That is true, and that was what I meant too.

you have to use the test button on the PW to take the shot, then it will work. Normally if you want to do that trick and with off camera flash then you will be using a setup so that having to use the pw test button to trigger shouldnt be too much of an extra burden.

09-21-2007, 03:39 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by imadethis Quote
The 540 is limited to p-ttl flash,
The AF540FGZ can run in either P-TTL or Auto Flash on the K10D.

As I stated earlier auto uses the photocell built into the flash.

The 540 is a great flash because it can work in ANY mode for ANY pentax camera
09-21-2007, 03:42 PM   #10
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It can do Manual too, but neither of these modes allow for faster than 1/180 sec sync on a k10d which is what the OP is asking about.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
The AF540FGZ can run in either P-TTL or Auto Flash on the K10D.

As I stated earlier auto uses the photocell built into the flash.

The 540 is a great flash because it can work in ANY mode for ANY pentax camera
09-21-2007, 05:53 PM   #11
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a shot that used too high flash sync

Don't think there is a way to do it with K10D. Like many others, would have said it was useless because "shutter is a slit at higher speeds". So the light coverage would be uneven. However.
Years ago saw a vertical pro surfer photo. The surfer was in the curl. The photographer shot the flash at 2x the highest sync speed. Think he had a Nikon F3 film camera. No high speed sync. He knew the shot could be half dark/half light because of this. Shot it anyway. Shot came out normal exposure because he was using fill flash only. Trick was the flash created catch lights in the surfers eyes. He had to know which way his shutter went - horizontal and where to "put" the flash (in the half of the picture that had the surfer's eyes. Holding the camera vertically the other direction would have put no extra light in the eyes. Pure genius. Goes to show all good rules can be broken at times. I marvelled at his creativity ever since.
thanks
barondla
09-21-2007, 08:06 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by imadethis Quote
The camera will not send a signal if anything past 1/180 is chosen, which causes a crutch for flash photographers using Pentax cameras.

It's not really a crutch. All other 10 mpix DSLR's are all stuck at 1/250th that's only 1/2 of a stop, not really much at all. The D40/50/70's can sync at any speed, but the standard pocket wizards start to become inconsistent above about 1/640th. When you get down to it, the roughly 2 stops (considering the K10d is limited at 1/180th and the pocket wizard is 1/640th) is not that big of a difference.

I had the D40 and I have 4 Vivitar 285's and 4 Sunpak 383's with 5 pocket wizards. I have now fully switched to the K10D and really don't notice much of a difference when shooting in bright sun. Bright sun is really the only time you need to push the small flashes that much anyways.
09-21-2007, 08:28 PM   #13
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Ummm, the 540 can fire wirelessly faster than 1/180, actually up 1/3200 if you're close enough to something. I've done it plenty of times and here is the trick:

You need two pentax flashes, either the two 540's, two 360's or one of each. Set one mounted on the camera and enable wireless as controller or master and the other to wireless slave. They will sync up to 3200 and I just double checked it right here in front of me so you can trust the results
09-21-2007, 10:07 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Don't think there is a way to do it with K10D. Like many others, would have said it was useless because "shutter is a slit at higher speeds". So the light coverage would be uneven. However.
Years ago saw a vertical pro surfer photo. The surfer was in the curl. The photographer shot the flash at 2x the highest sync speed. Think he had a Nikon F3 film camera. No high speed sync. He knew the shot could be half dark/half light because of this. Shot it anyway. Shot came out normal exposure because he was using fill flash only. Trick was the flash created catch lights in the surfers eyes. He had to know which way his shutter went - horizontal and where to "put" the flash (in the half of the picture that had the surfer's eyes. Holding the camera vertically the other direction would have put no extra light in the eyes. Pure genius. Goes to show all good rules can be broken at times. I marvelled at his creativity ever since.
thanks
barondla
Your story describes exactly what I was striving to do with the K10D. The thing I didn't like about the K10D was that pentax limited any kind of flash firing past 1/180 (unless it has P-TTL mode). If we could trigger a flash past that, we could still have a proper exposure if our subject was within the right part of the frame. When I'm outdoors with my K10D, I feel somewhat limited with my equipment when I should feel free when I use it.

I use a Vivitar 285 and Sunpak 444D's manually with wireless triggers, and was hoping I could still shoot to this effect. When I go on a shoot on a sunny day, max out the sync speed, high f-stop, and 1/1 full power flashes to overpower the sun. The Pentax 540, 360, and Sigma 500DG are all options costing more money, which I can't justify to spend where a simple change in firmware could enable usage of off camera flash with a higher speed off-sync.

-imt
09-22-2007, 08:11 AM   #15
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Would a ND filter help on those bright days?
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