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10-01-2007, 08:03 PM   #1
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Setting up a new flash kit

Hey all,

I'm looking to upgrading and expanding my current flash set up. I want to get the newest Pentax 540FGZ as it seems to do the job pretty well. As the demand for my photography work is ever increasing and varying I'm needing a multi-purpose flash and this one seems to fit the bill.

I'm currently using an old school Sigma EF430ST, does OK, but now that my expectations on myself are greater, this flash will no longer cut the mustard.

As part of the work i'm going to be doing i'm thinking about the wireless set up and some cool stuff i could do with it.

Is it possible to say, mount the flash (Pentax 540FGZ) on a tripod and use the on board flash to trigger the unit?

Also what flash set up could you recommend would be good in terms of using slaves and how does that generally work?

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

cheers

10-01-2007, 08:38 PM   #2
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Beyond one dedicated flash triggered by the on-board pop-up flash the best bang for your buck would be some sort of radio wireless triggers (i.e. PocketWizards) and a couple of studio monolights. For extra portability get AC/DC monolights at about 300watt-seconds each.

A kit of one or two lights, batteries, stands, an umbrella or softbox and triggers is $1100-1200. That's something you can grow as your skill/needs increase.


QuoteOriginally posted by switch79 Quote
Hey all,

I'm looking to upgrading and expanding my current flash set up. I want to get the newest Pentax 540FGZ as it seems to do the job pretty well. As the demand for my photography work is ever increasing and varying I'm needing a multi-purpose flash and this one seems to fit the bill.

I'm currently using an old school Sigma EF430ST, does OK, but now that my expectations on myself are greater, this flash will no longer cut the mustard.

As part of the work i'm going to be doing i'm thinking about the wireless set up and some cool stuff i could do with it.

Is it possible to say, mount the flash (Pentax 540FGZ) on a tripod and use the on board flash to trigger the unit?

Also what flash set up could you recommend would be good in terms of using slaves and how does that generally work?

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

cheers
10-01-2007, 09:04 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by switch79 Quote
I'm looking to upgrading and expanding my current flash set up. I want to get the newest Pentax 540FGZ as it seems to do the job pretty well. As the demand for my photography work is ever increasing and varying I'm needing a multi-purpose flash and this one seems to fit the bill.
The 540FGZ is a very nice flash. I have had a problem (discussed in a thread here) with the build quality in one of the two I have. That one is still at Pentax being repaired; I should have it back. My other 540FGZ has been getting a lot of use lately and seems to be holding up well.

If you are going to put yourself in a position where the flash is mission-critical, in other words, where it would be a catastrophe for it to break on you, then you'll have to buy two of them. But if you have two, you can do twice as much.


QuoteQuote:
As part of the work i'm going to be doing i'm thinking about the wireless set up and some cool stuff i could do with it.

Is it possible to say, mount the flash (Pentax 540FGZ) on a tripod and use the on board flash to trigger the unit?

Also what flash set up could you recommend would be good in terms of using slaves and how does that generally work?
You can put the 540 on a tripod (or stick it in a flower pot, or hold it with your hand) and trigger it using a flash signal from the camera's built-in flash. Works well, in my somewhat limited experience with it. I ended up buying the Pentax cables and hot-shoe adapters as someone pointed out to me that, if you trigger the unit with a controlling flash well you may find your flash going off at the wrong time, if you're trying to shoot a scene (say, wedding formals) while other people are also using their cameras and flashes.

With or without cables, if the 540 is off the camera, then yes, you can combine the 540 with the camera's built-in flash. To do it without the cable, put the built-in flash into master mode (K10D's custom menus) rather than controller mode. Set the Fn for flash to wireless. Set the 540 to wireless/slave.

Using both the built-in flash and the 540 is turning out to be the main reason to use a bracket as far as I can tell. Otherwise, if you bounce the flash or simply know how to control the output reasonably well, it seems to me you can do just about as well with the 540 mounted to the camera as mounted on a bracket. At least I'm not seeing a huge difference in the pictures I take with and without the bracket.

Will

PS If you are interested in shooting with the cable and need help figuring out what cable and hot shoe adapters to buy, just ask. Took me a little head-scratching to figure it out myself but now I know. ;-)
10-01-2007, 09:51 PM   #4
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Thanks Will. What equipment do you have, how much did it cost you to set up.

10-02-2007, 06:32 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by switch79 Quote
Thanks Will. What equipment do you have, how much did it cost you to set up.
I now have two AF 540FGZ units. Each one cost about $350. I considered the cheaper 360 and would have liked to save the money, but the 540's ability to swivel as well as tilt is very useful if you like to bounce the flash. Would not like to be without it.

The Manfrotto 233B bracket I'm using cost $60.

Now, to connect the camera to the flash when it's on the bracket, you need two adapters, one on the camera, one that sits on the hot-shoe, and a cable to run between them. The Pentax hot-shoe adapter FG costs $36; this is the item that sits in the camera's built-in hot shoe. The off-camera shoe adapter F costs $42. This is the item that screws on to the connecting pole on the bracket, and then provides the hot shoe for the 540 FGZ. There is also a hot-shoe adapter F that is not designed "off-camera." This one is cheaper but it doesn't have a screw hole on its underside because it is intended to slide into an existing hot shoe. The Pentax 3' cable cost about $25.

I also have the Demb Flip-It! Pro package which cost about $50, no, a little less than that I think. I'm not sure that I can recommend this strongly though. I've taken hundreds of photos using these items and I'm not yet convinced they do anything very important. I generally think I get better results simply by bouncing carefully.

Hope this helps.

Will
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