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06-24-2008, 07:31 PM   #1
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Need help with deciding on a flash unit

Hi everyone,

I new to this forum and dSLR use and have recently purchased a K10d.

I am very pleased with the camera but am not so pleased with results using the built in flash. That said, I would like to purchase a flash unit for the camera that allows bounce and off camera use.

I realize that the dedicated units made by Pentax would be easiest to use and provide TLL exposure setting. However they are pricey and at this point I would rather spend my limited disposable income on more lens.

So I am looking for a cheaper alternative, something like a SunPak 383. But I understnd that such units can produce excess voltage and damage the camera. So I think I need some sort of adapter.

Thanks in advance for any advice on this

Jim Buttitta

06-24-2008, 07:45 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuttitta Quote
Hi everyone,

I new to this forum and dSLR use and have recently purchased a K10d.

I am very pleased with the camera but am not so pleased with results using the built in flash. That said, I would like to purchase a flash unit for the camera that allows bounce and off camera use.

I realize that the dedicated units made by Pentax would be easiest to use and provide TLL exposure setting. However they are pricey and at this point I would rather spend my limited disposable income on more lens.

So I am looking for a cheaper alternative, something like a SunPak 383. But I understnd that such units can produce excess voltage and damage the camera. So I think I need some sort of adapter.

Thanks in advance for any advice on this

Jim Buttitta
I believe Sunpak 333 gives around 2-5V of voltage according to Photo Strobe Trigger Voltages.

Also according to this thread re the UK Pentax,

Official word from Pentax regarding safe flash trigger volta - Pentax / Samsung dSLR - Digital SLR Cameras - Steves-digicams.com Forums

it is safe to handle 30V (for DL2 only). It is your call if K10D can also handle as well as DL2.


Daniel
06-24-2008, 08:12 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuttitta Quote
Hi everyone,

I new to this forum and dSLR use and have recently purchased a K10d.

I am very pleased with the camera but am not so pleased with results using the built in flash. That said, I would like to purchase a flash unit for the camera that allows bounce and off camera use.

I realize that the dedicated units made by Pentax would be easiest to use and provide TLL exposure setting. However they are pricey and at this point I would rather spend my limited disposable income on more lens.

So I am looking for a cheaper alternative, something like a SunPak 383. But I understnd that such units can produce excess voltage and damage the camera. So I think I need some sort of adapter.

Thanks in advance for any advice on this

Jim Buttitta
Jim

While the AF540FGZ is expensive, think about it just a little in the following terms.

It is the most flexible flash I have seen, in terms of operating modes. It has 4 principle modes (not counting off camera flash modes) Manual, Auto (using its own built in sensor) TTL and P-TTL (The K10D is P-TTL only)

What does this mean to you, possibly it is the last flash you will ever buy, because even if you decide to get a legacy film body, or an older DSLR (*istD for example) and legacy glass, you can take advantage of the maximum capabilities of the camera.

For example, with the *istD and DS, these cameras can operate in TTL mode with K mount lenses making excelent flash results. Although the K10D won't do this, you can still use the auto mode like you would with an older K series film body.
Put a modern lens on a DLSR and you switch instantly to P-TTL mode.

I am not so sure other flashes can do all of this,.
06-25-2008, 12:55 AM   #4
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TTL is not available on any DSLR.

Rusty

06-25-2008, 02:10 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rusty Quote
TTL is not available on any DSLR.

Rusty
Yes it is not availeble to current model dslr.
But Ds can only do TTL which is why a few people still using it

Daniel
06-25-2008, 04:17 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by danielchtong Quote
Yes it is not availeble to current model dslr.
But Ds can only do TTL which is why a few people still using it

Daniel
Same as my *istD, TTL is available and works very well thank you, especially with K mount (non A) lenses.

As you say, it is why my *istD is still in use.
06-25-2008, 06:01 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuttitta Quote
So I am looking for a cheaper alternative, something like a SunPak 383. But I understnd that such units can produce excess voltage and damage the camera. So I think I need some sort of adapter.
I'm not familiar with the 383, but unless you need a new-in-box flash unit, and if you're willing to live without P-TTL or you're camera doesn't support TTL, I can recommend a Vivitar 3500 with the "Standard" module. It was all I had for awhile(I still have it) and while it is NOT as convenient to use as a fancier flash unit, I did get good results with it. The 3500 is available used for not too much money on fleabay as well as other sources, and according to the web sources I checked, the trigger voltage is low enough to be comfortably safe for the flash sync circuits in modern slrs, both film and digital, in fact it isn't even close to the danger zone.

The 3500 uses dedicated modules that snap onto the bottom to adapt it to different brand cameras. I just use the standard module with provides Auto-Thyristor flash as well as manual. The head zooms and bounces, although it doesn't swivel.

To be honest, I already owned the 3500 with a Minolta TTL module left over from my Maxxum, and grabbed a cheap standard module and AC power supply from fleabay.
To use the 3500, I set the camera on manual, dial in x-sync, set the flash on the auto-range I plan to use and set the aperture from the auto-scale based on the iso I have set. Since the auto-thyristor is in the flash, and isn't necessarily calibrated for digital, I take a test shot and fine-tune the aperture until I get a good exposure, it usually only takes one or two test shots. After that, as long as I keep the flash to subject distance within the auto-range it works pretty well.
06-25-2008, 06:20 AM   #8
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The AF540FGZ is a good recommendation if you can afford it, but failing that, the Metz 48 AF-1 is a good bet.

06-26-2008, 01:51 PM   #9
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Thanks

Thanks to all for your quick and insightful replies.

I hadn't realized the difference between P-TLL and TLL. I have since researched that.

Messages on these forums and info elsewhere seem to question the results of the P-TLL implementation on the K10d. Because of that and price I believe I'll go with the Sunpak 383. I can purchase that for a quarter of the price of the Pentax unit, and even if I also purchase a safe sync as well, it is still way cheaper. Since I won't be using the flash a lot anyway, this seems the way to go. A few test shots should result in correct exposures

My research seems to show that the Sunpak only puts out about 7 volts, and the camera is good up to 30 so it should be fine. You can bet I'll check the flash voltage with a meter before hooking it up!
06-26-2008, 04:45 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuttitta Quote
Thanks to all for your quick and insightful replies.

I hadn't realized the difference between P-TLL and TLL. I have since researched that.

Messages on these forums and info elsewhere seem to question the results of the P-TLL implementation on the K10d. Because of that and price I believe I'll go with the Sunpak 383. I can purchase that for a quarter of the price of the Pentax unit, and even if I also purchase a safe sync as well, it is still way cheaper. Since I won't be using the flash a lot anyway, this seems the way to go. A few test shots should result in correct exposures

My research seems to show that the Sunpak only puts out about 7 volts, and the camera is good up to 30 so it should be fine. You can bet I'll check the flash voltage with a meter before hooking it up!
If you are buying the 383 new, there are no worries about voltage. You don't need a safe sync. I have experienced fabulous results with my Vivitar 285HV in auto mode on the hotshoe of my K100D. The flash meters itself very accurately and once the camera is set up with the correct apeture, I can just shoot.
Personally, I would not spring for the 360 or the 540 because I can't see getting any better results.
My 2 cents, YMMV!
06-26-2008, 04:51 PM   #11
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If you want cheap, go for a Digital concepts 952AF/PEN flash. $109 on ebay (vcc113) and it does swivel and bounce. Works great with my K200D, which is pretty close to your K10D. I am sure it doesn't match the light output of the Pentax 540, but it also costs less than 1/3.

At max power it is sure is powerful enough to blind my friends for a few seconds (pressing the test button when it wasn't attached to the camera, by surprise) .

QuoteOriginally posted by jbuttitta Quote
Hi everyone,

I new to this forum and dSLR use and have recently purchased a K10d.

I am very pleased with the camera but am not so pleased with results using the built in flash. That said, I would like to purchase a flash unit for the camera that allows bounce and off camera use.

I realize that the dedicated units made by Pentax would be easiest to use and provide TLL exposure setting. However they are pricey and at this point I would rather spend my limited disposable income on more lens.

So I am looking for a cheaper alternative, something like a SunPak 383. But I understnd that such units can produce excess voltage and damage the camera. So I think I need some sort of adapter.

Thanks in advance for any advice on this

Jim Buttitta
06-26-2008, 06:08 PM   #12
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Hi Jim,

I just bought a Sunpak 333 (not 383) off of Ebay for my K100D, and I'm having a blast with it. It was used, but I found several board postings saying the voltage was safe. I can confirm that.
Unfortunately, the Sunpak 383 is no longer being made. I confirmed this with ToCAD (the manufacturer) last week. Everyone (e.g. strobist) sems to recommend the Vivitar 285, but I really wanted the swivel function, which it doesn't have.
I was in the same quandary as you -- spend $2-300+ on a PTTL flash by Pentax/Metz, or go super cheap. I ended up paying $22 for the Sunpak. For me, photography is a pure hobby, and I've benefitted from learning how to set up a manual flash.
Now for off camera use -- I guess you can use Pocketwizards, which will give you 100% reliability. But you will have trouble with peanut optical slave as a trigger for the Sunpak. It's been reported on other boards as well. Something about needing a very high flash input to generate enough voltage to set it off. I went to my local store and couldn't get the Wein peanuts to set it off consistently. So I bought a generic $15 optical peanut and it works 50-70% of the time, better so if in pitch black darkness. Fine by me, since I'm just taking pictures of my closet for now.
Hope that helps. This is my first posting that answers a question. Woo hoo!
06-26-2008, 06:38 PM   #13
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I have a K10D and the Sunpak 383 and they both work fine together. Since it's not TTL, you have to do everything manually, but it's not that bad. Even with that, I still might upgrade at some point, but I have lenses to buy.

Heather
06-26-2008, 07:00 PM   #14
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A 383 433 etc will work fine for most anything you do normally. For off camera flash try the cactus triggers and mod them

I have a 540, 360, sigma 530 super and a sunpak 433. I still use the 433 ofter as it has swivel tilt and is very reliable.
06-27-2008, 02:34 AM   #15
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I do not get that
Sigma 530 flash with full pTTL , swivel , tilt and provides power matching the most powerful Metz 58 and Pentax AF540. It is $189 at B&H.
If manual flash is preferred I would not go for anything more than $50 which is the going rate for a foolproof Pentax AF280T at ebay.
I sold my AF280T to another medium format Pentax fellow. And he is happy.
I do have Sigma 500 flash ST (older model )

Daniel
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