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02-09-2008, 08:55 PM   #1
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Opinion/experience with cheap flash

I need a flash for a k100d super. It's my daughters. I have the k100d. I would be happy with the Pentax 360 flash, but my daughter likes to turn the camera for portraits, and the 360 doesn't swivel side to side. The 540 fits the bill, but is too expensive. Im wondering how good these ones on ebay are that sell for little over $100. They are called "digital." They swivel in bother directions, but are they a waste of money?

Another question, I saw a 540 on ebay. What is the life expectancy of a flash gun? Is it too risky to buy one used?

Thanks for any replies!

02-09-2008, 09:13 PM   #2
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look into the sigma units. priced in between the 540 and the 360. i would not trust those cheap ones, unless they will be used as a secondary set..(ie for slaves)

I've only had my 540 for about a year. cannot comment on it's life. so far so good....
02-09-2008, 10:56 PM   #3
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I wouldn't recommend just any flash. Especially for $100. If you are looking for a solid manual flash, the Vivitar 285HV is highly recommended because it's so cheap and versatile. Just make sure you get one that's digital camera safe.

I have the 540, and it's worth it to me. Being able to shoot in P-TTL in time demanding shoots (where the lighting scene changes frequently) are a big plus for me. The swivel and extra power are also desirable traits for my situations.

The 540 and the Sigma 530 are comparable flashes, I chose the Pentax over the Sigma because of the user interface. You may want to try researching there as well.

Lighting is everything in photography, so spending a bit more to get a flash I know I won't regret is well worth it.
02-10-2008, 03:15 AM   #4
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Just get a Sigma for full P-TTL, they work well, the basic non-super one just does the basics, the Super does stuff like high speed sync. Otherwise, just get a second-hand auto thyristor flash with a low trigger voltage, they're not that hard to use and usually get the exposure right without you having to fiddle about with settings much once you've got the hang of it.

02-10-2008, 05:31 AM   #5
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The Sigma EF-530 DG Super does just about everything the AF540 will do at a fraction of the cost. You might even find a used EF500DG Super on ebay for even less and it works great on the Pentax if it is the proper version of said flash.
02-10-2008, 01:58 PM   #6
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I bought a used SB-25 on fleabay for around 85 bucks and it works great. I rarely shoot with a flash on camera, but when I have, I pop it into auto-thrystor mode, set my aperture and shoot away, normally I use the built in bounce card. My shots are typically well exposed.
02-10-2008, 07:38 PM   #7
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I bought the promaster 5750dx flash and the 5050dxr module for my k10d. I really like it and it works great. It swivels left and right also. I got for muxh less than the 360 flash.
02-10-2008, 07:58 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by budkid Quote
I bought the promaster 5750dx flash and the 5050dxr module for my k10d. I really like it and it works great. It swivels left and right also. I got for muxh less than the 360 flash.

I have a 5550DX and tried the 5050dxr, and it was horrible, massive over exposure, so I returned it for a refund. I must have recd a bad sample. Mind posting a few examples? I may have to try another one.

02-10-2008, 08:08 PM   #9
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The sunpak 383 is great value if you don't mind using an auto flash (just set iso and aperture on flash to match camera) instead of P-TTL.
It tilts and swivels, has three aperture settings and manual power settings as well.

02-10-2008, 10:58 PM   #10
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I bought my Sigma 500DG Super outta of cheapness - not wanting to pay the extra $200 for the Pentax versions.

I'm paying that extra $200, and more, every time I use it.

It's horrible, ninety per cent of the time. For starters, the manual is written in the most horrible, horrible Engrish. It's a pure Babelfish translation, gotta be. I learnt nothing from the manual.

So I stuck it on my K100D.

It's alright. It does indeed flash, and does illuminate, and bouncing's good.

For, on average, the first ten shots or so.

Then, almost without fail every time, a heart-wrenching grinding noise will be heard from the flash head. The zoom motor seems to have come off the rails - my theory is that the materials used in the flash seem to expand significantly with the heat of accumulated flashes.

The exception to the above is when the flash simply, using a massive amount of seemingly sentient iniative, decides to give me an "er" warning, and stop working. Sometimes, though, to mix things up a little bit, the LCD simply freezes - the LCD info remaining onscreen even after I've fruitlessly flicked the flash on and off. The only way to get rid of it is to remove the batteries.

Doesn't fix it, though. Sometimes head butting the flashing knocks some sense into it, sometime you have to turn it upside down and turn it back on.

Sometimes you have to hold the flash by the based and flick it around.

I'm sure its very good. When it works.

There's probably steps I'm missing.


1) Make sure there are charged batteries in the battery compartment. Unless your battery compartment door has fallen off, like Lithos's.

2) Attach flash to camera.

3) Turn the flash on. If you've already been using the flash, don't bother, as the odds of it working now are about the same as you winning the lottery. Actually, go out and buy a lottery ticket, as if you win, you can buy a better flash, or, even better still, buy out Sigma and summarily execute every one of their "engineers" before running the company into the ground, possibly the greatest gift to the photographic community since disk film went out of fashion.

4) Take a hesitant photo, if the flash is working. Invariably, if you're using a K, M, or A series lens, the photo will be either over- or underexposed.

5) Fiddle with the settings. Since the manual has been translated into English from Japanese via a twelve-year-old Bedouin interpreter who speaks neither language, you must fiddle with the settings.

6) By now, the flash has thrown a tantrum because you dared use the flash without reading the manual, or because you dared use the flash, the flash has come up with an error.

7) What are you doing wrong? Have you checked with a Peruvian entomologist to be certain that a butterfly in Peru isn't flapping its wings? Are the stars and planets in correct alignment? Are you using the flash before world peace has been declared? Are you using it before the second coming of Christ? Did you sacrifice enough nubile virgins to arcane gods before using the flash?

8) Cry.
02-10-2008, 11:22 PM   #11
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So Lithos, seems you really like that Sigma
02-10-2008, 11:27 PM   #12
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I've got a mint Sunpak 333 and I could not be more happier. Swivel head auto and manual settings, small (compared to 285hv). I realy don't know a reason to buy other flash units, with stupid lcd screens and p-ttl.
02-11-2008, 02:55 PM   #13
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The only problem I've had with my EF500DG Super was the battery compartment door coming off. Took 45 sec. to fix it. Otherwise, it works fine. Sometimes, it tends to underexpose, but if you put the wide angle panel in front of it, it will expose properly. Go figure! Beside that, I guess I'm luckier than LITHOS.
02-11-2008, 03:48 PM   #14
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I have 2 Sigma 500 Supers and have owned a non super too. Never had a problem with any of them. However I will agree that the manual could be competing for worst translation ever. It's almost useless.

Just a tip for Super owners, if you want to use it manually off camera, has a nice guide at: Using the Sigma EF-DG Super Flash In Manual Mode Off-Camera
02-11-2008, 06:11 PM   #15
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I got a K100D in December & I'm in the market for a flash too. All the talk about sigma models, 500, 500 super, is it p-ttl that will work on a K100D or regular p-ttl for the *ist cameras, yada, yada ...

Suffice it to say, I'm confused about what will actually work with a K100D. What I'd like to see is a short list of flashes that you can just load-n-go. I presume that all of them will allow manual control to some degree.

I purchased a Vivitar 880AFp for pentax and it works inconsistantly on my camera. I have to have the modes on each device just right to get good exposures. Not generally a problem, but I'd love to be able to just slap it on the hotshoe & let rip for some off the cuff candid snapshots. I'm going to pick up another flash, but until then I have figured out how to use the Vivitar as an optically triggered slave. Good stuff.

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