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12-05-2007, 08:13 AM   #1
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Flash help - suggestions, etc

Well, I had a very in-depth post written up and for some reason the website ate it - that pisses me off..

Anyway, I'll give the short story this time..

I'm an available light photographer but, I realize I'm giving up too much creativity by not embracing flash use - time for a change. What's the absolute best flash for the K10D? I shoot wide and long, landscape and architecture. 99.9% of the time I shoot in M-mode, RAW and on occasion in Auto-mode, JPG for fun shots with friends and family, etc. (read: expensive p&s at the dinner table)

I do not want to give up ANY functionality whatsoever! Period! No excuses, no work-arounds.

I want IR control, High Speed Sync to 1/4000, complete compatability with P-TTL, good battery life on 4-AA's, a legible manual that takes into consideration the camera I'm using, works perfectly with the camera in Auto mode for those lazy days, and no known issues with quality, broken this or that, etc.

I think only two units fit my needs and those would be the.. If there are others, by all means, enlighten me.

Pentax AF 540 FGZ
Sigma EF 530 DG Super

Thanks in advance..

12-05-2007, 08:25 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom M Quote
High Speed Sync to 1/4000
I wondered about this yesterday. I don't think the K10D is capable of that. I believe I read somewhere the fastest is 1/180. Don't quote me though... The Nikon D70s, can do that, but I believe there is a good deal of tweaking to accomplish that.

Maybe we can put out heads together and find a work around for us!
12-05-2007, 08:30 AM   #3
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Sorry Tom J is right is correct High Speed Sync is 1/180 for a flash with the K10. Curious why would you need that high a snch speed. This may be obvious to others but not me
12-05-2007, 08:30 AM   #4
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Metz 58 AF-1 too.

12-05-2007, 08:31 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jshurak Quote
I wondered about this yesterday. I don't think the K10D is capable of that. I believe I read somewhere the fastest is 1/180. Don't quote me though... The Nikon D70s, can do that, but I believe there is a good deal of tweaking to accomplish that.

1/180th sec is the x-sync speed -- the fastest shutter possible when you're using the normal flash setting. The Pentax 540 FGZ can do high-speed sync up to 1/4000th sec. Can't say how well it works, as I don't use high-speed sync often.

Addendum: To shoot high-speed, you change a setting on the flash. As I understand it, this causes the flash output to be done differently -- a series of pulses, rather than a single burst. I just took a shot using the 540 and my K10D. In high-speed sync mode on the flash and in M mode on the camera, I was able to move the shutter speed up to 1/4000th sec.

Will
12-05-2007, 08:35 AM   #6
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The K10D has shutter speeds capable of 1/4000 and the flash should strobe and allow sync to those shutter speeds.

The pop-up flash is only capable of 1/180. The two flashes I mentioned are both capable of 1/4000
12-05-2007, 08:40 AM   #7
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wlachan,

<strike>I was unable to find the Metz in P-TTL.. Got a link?</strike> Never mind. I found it at the Metz website. They say it's P-TTL..

How does this compare to the other units I mentioned? Is it IR capable? The spec sheet doesn't say. Can it handle 1/4000?

Does anyone own this unit? How is it?

Last edited by Tom M; 12-05-2007 at 08:50 AM.
12-05-2007, 09:00 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom M Quote
I'm an available light photographer but, I realize I'm giving up too much creativity by not embracing flash use - time for a change. What's the absolute best flash for the K10D? I shoot wide and long, landscape and architecture. 99.9% of the time I shoot in M-mode, RAW and on occasion in Auto-mode, JPG for fun shots with friends and family, etc. (read: expensive p&s at the dinner table)

I do not want to give up ANY functionality whatsoever! Period! No excuses, no work-arounds.

I want IR control, High Speed Sync to 1/4000, complete compatability with P-TTL, good battery life on 4-AA's, a legible manual that takes into consideration the camera I'm using, works perfectly with the camera in Auto mode for those lazy days, and no known issues with quality, broken this or that, etc.

I think only two units fit my needs and those would be the.. If there are others, by all means, enlighten me.

Pentax AF 540 FGZ
Sigma EF 530 DG Super

Hmm. I'm not sure this question has an answer.

The Pentax 540 FGZ is a good unit. Not great, just good. I have two of them. It's not very sturdily built and it's not the most powerful flash unit on the market, either. I went with the 540 myself (twice) for three reasons. First, the 540 can tilt AND swivel -- very valuable for bouncing flash. Second, I thought that using a Pentax flash with my Pentax body would mean fewer compatibility problems. Not sure that has actually mattered. And third, the 540 supports P-TTL and one of the other flashes that I purchased and returned (a Metz) did not. In retrospect, I've come to have very mixed feelings about P-TTL. You can search this and other forums for discussions of P-TTL's strengths and weaknesses. It's certainly easy to use.

On downside, first, there's the fact that with the Pentax 540 you'll probably be using P-TTL; conventional TTL (which uses no preflash) isn't an option. Maybe you'll love P-TTL, so I don't promise this will be a problem. What I can tell you is that the 540 doesn't fall into the category of flashes with "no known issues with quality, broken this or that." My first 540's zoom motor broke after I'd used the flash for just a few shoots and I'm not the only person to have that problem. The 540 manual is NOT a model of clarity and was written before the K10D existed, so you won't find references to it. Are these really problems, though? I'm not sure the users guides for other flashes will be any better.

Others here say that Sigma flashes are well built and work well. You should look at this thread. And they're a good bit less expensive than the Pentax 540. I wish I could get my hands on one to try it out. If I were buying another flash, I think I'd give one more try to the Metz I had for a day or two earlier; click here. I'm not recommending it -- I can't, as I only had it for two days. Just saying that's what I personally would look at if I had $400 this week to spend on another flash.

All in all, the safe choice -- the choice that many others have made and been happy with -- is certainly the Pentax 540 FGZ. You know it will work, and since lots of other users have this flash, you'll find it easy on the forums to find info about things. That's a big plus.

By the way, I assume you know -- but feel I should remind you -- that hot-shoe flash isn't going to help you shoot buildings, and nothing is going to help with landscape photography. I gather you're thinking of the flash for that 0.01% of the time when you're shooting something close enough for the flash to matter.

Will

12-05-2007, 09:12 AM   #9
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Yes, I am fully aware of how to use a flash for landscape, architecture, etc, even if I'm not currently - but, you made a good point and thanks for that. One of the reasons I mentioned that it specifically had to be IR wireless compatible with the K10D is because of remote flash opportunities in landscape shots.

Also, I looked at that link you provided to the Metz- I see it's different from the one mentioned earlier in this thread..


Does anyone own the Sigma EF 530 DG Super?

It's hard for me to justify the Pentax AF 540 FGZ now as I have read of too many complaints and honestly, if the Sigma or Metz is 100% compatible - I'd rather go with one of them and avoid the quality issues associated.

Last edited by Tom M; 12-05-2007 at 09:26 AM.
12-05-2007, 09:27 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom M Quote
Yes, I am fully aware of how to use a flash for landscape, architecture, etc, even if I'm not currently - but, you made a good point and thanks for that. One of the reasons I mentioned that it specifically had to be IR wireless compatible with the K10D is because of remote flash opportunities in landscape shots.

Does the 540 FGZ have an infrared wireless mode? I am not aware of it, and I can't seem to find either of the two manuals I should have lying about my office. What I do know (because I use it a fair bit) is that the main wireless mode for the Pentax 540 doesn't use infrared, it uses light pulses that are emitted from the flash itself. These pulses are used so the body can communicate with the remote flash; the pulses are sent out a second before the big flash that is synchronized with the opening of the shutter to capture the shot. The pulses communicate with the remote flash unit on four so-called "channels." These aren't channels at all, however, they're more like codes. The purpose of the channels is to prevent the flash from firing in response to a flash from someone else's camera.

On the plus side, this system generally works pretty well and, um, you don't need cables or wires! You can use a single Pentax 540 FGZ off camera and trigger it using the K10D's built-in flash. You can even have the built-in flash contribute its light to the photo, which can be useful.

On the minus side, wireless synchronization with the 540s only works within fairly short distances -- and only when the light is low enough that the pulses don't get lost in the ambient light. In other words, you can't really use a flash off-camera during the middle of the day unless you have a cable. At least when I've tried it, it didn't work. The triggering flash coming from the camera simply gets lost in the general bright daylight and the remote unit does not fire. This is one of the big reasons that so many photographers use things like Pocket Wizards to control remote flashes via radio signals.

Will
12-05-2007, 09:36 AM   #11
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.................... ....................





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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom M Quote
Well, I had a very in-depth post written up and for some reason the website ate it - that pisses me off..

Anyway, I'll give the short story this time..

I'm an available light photographer but, I realize I'm giving up too much creativity by not embracing flash use - time for a change. What's the absolute best flash for the K10D? I shoot wide and long, landscape and architecture. 99.9% of the time I shoot in M-mode, RAW and on occasion in Auto-mode, JPG for fun shots with friends and family, etc. (read: expensive p&s at the dinner table)

I do not want to give up ANY functionality whatsoever! Period! No excuses, no work-arounds.

I want IR control, High Speed Sync to 1/4000, complete compatability with P-TTL, good battery life on 4-AA's, a legible manual that takes into consideration the camera I'm using, works perfectly with the camera in Auto mode for those lazy days, and no known issues with quality, broken this or that, etc.

I think only two units fit my needs and those would be the.. If there are others, by all means, enlighten me.

Pentax AF 540 FGZ
Sigma EF 530 DG Super

Thanks in advance..
12-05-2007, 09:55 AM   #12
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I was completely under the assumption that the AF 540 FGZ was able to be controlled via IR. I now see it is optical pulse, or, quite hokey in my opinion. I'll need a true wireless setup then.

Well, is the reciever for this visible light wireless control at the back of the flash, or front and back? Also, what is 'limited distances'? 10ft, 25ft, 50ft or more? I could very well need as much as 100ft of wireless control for my shots. Not to mention, how good is this visible light trigger in broad daylight?

Also - I see the Metz is not HSS capable for Pentax cameras per their spec sheet.

Not sure what JRDavis is up to - Are you OK buddy?

Last edited by Tom M; 12-05-2007 at 10:12 AM.
12-05-2007, 10:11 AM   #13
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Another question or two..

Does the Sigma EF 530 DG Super have an AF Spotbeam for low-light AF Assist?

Also, what is the compatible film speeds? ie; the Af 540 FGZ is ISO 25-1600 - Understanding that I will certainly upgrade to another Pentax camera to replace the K10D when the time comes and also understanding that the replacement will surely have ISO 3200 or 6400, I;d liek to know that the flash has not just been obsoleted..
12-05-2007, 10:20 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom M Quote
I was completely under the assumption that the AF 540 FGZ was able to be controlled via IR.
Don't think so. I just searched the 540's manual, which is available online here. Neither "infrared" nor "IR" (as a whole word) is found in the document.


QuoteQuote:
Well, is the reciever for this visible light wireless control at the back of the flash, or front and back?
The 540 sees the flash from its "front". But this in itself isn't usually a problem, as you can tilt and swivel the head -- in other words you can point the main part of the flash one way and the light-producing part another way, so that things work as you like.


QuoteQuote:
Also, what is 'limited distances'? 10ft, 25ft, 50ft or more? I could very well need as much as 100ft of wireless control for my shots. Not to mention, how good is this visible light trigger in broad daylight?
As I said in my previous post, this is where you need radio units.

The wireless pulses have to stay strong enough to be picked up by the remote unit. That means that the remote unit can't be too far from the source of the pulses. I'm not sure how far is too far, but it's certainly way less than 100ft. I've used wireless a fair bit but my remote unit is seldom much more than 10ft from the camera -- and both camera and remote flash are seldom much more than 10ft-15ft from the subjects. Not saying it wouldn't work further away. Also, as I said earlier, wireless doesn't work well in bright daylight. I wish it did, but I just take this as a fact of life and don't imagine that other makes or models would do any better. The sun is brighter than any flash.

I use both flash bracket and cables when necessary. I have never used radio units but will probably start doing so early next year, as I've encountered enough situations where I think it would have been a big help. Some pros find 'em a pain in the neck; others swear by them.

Will
12-05-2007, 10:29 AM   #15
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One other small note. I bought a battery pack for the Pentax AF 540 FGZ. Shooting a wedding reception, this is a big help. The flash is ready to fire again more quickly and you can shoot many more shots using a battery pack than you could using four AA batteries inside the flash.

I do not know whether other Pentax-compatible flash units have battery packs and I don't know whether the Pentax battery pack might be compatible with any other flashes. I do know that the pack is very useful if you're shooting an event where you take hundreds of shots. I would not want to be without it. For more "normal" flash photography where the photographer isn't under quite so much pressure, the battery pack may be unnecessary.

Will
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