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02-18-2009, 11:45 AM   #1
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focus-assist lamp absence in k20d.

its lack of a focus assist lamp and having to use the flash as a strobe kinda irritating if in a non flash or very low light environment.

What is the setting to get the strobing action but the flash does not fire?

and also i notice that the strobing feature does not always activate so i am guessing there isnt a always on switch for this as well.

just to ask, in the case of the strobing effect always on...is it okay to tweak the firmware so that rather then get approval from the camera onboard metering that may not always be accurate, i set it to Always On.

02-18-2009, 11:57 AM   #2
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If it is like the k100d the strobe happens if you have it set to AF-S, the flash up and it is low light.
02-18-2009, 12:08 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by BPT Quote
If it is like the k100d the strobe happens if you have it set to AF-S, the flash up and it is low light.
strobing action to allow the autofocus in low light but the onboard flash doesnt fire. Is there such an option?
02-18-2009, 12:18 PM   #4
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You've hit on my biggest complaint about the wonderful K20d. If we can't have a focus assist lamp then why in the world isn't there a way to activate the strobing action only. If I am missing some setting or trick, besides closing the flash after it strobes, I would sure like to know about it! The problem is that it seems to erratically strobe only when it wants to. In some low light situations, where there is a small highlight or spot of brightness somewhere, it refuses to strobe at all. It's a real drag.

02-18-2009, 12:19 PM   #5
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Oh so you want the strobing to focus then you want the flash to NOT fire after focus has been achieved. If that is so, after the camera grabs focus simply close the flash.

The only thing is you will have to make sure your exposure is set correctly for a non-flash photo
02-18-2009, 12:30 PM   #6
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When I want this effect, I use my AF540FGZ mounted on my camera set to the "SB" or spot beam mode.

It projects a red light beam, not mini-flash bursts to assist with AF, and no flash is fired during exposure.
I think the built-in flash is more limited.

-Chris
02-18-2009, 01:02 PM   #7
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Yep, only way to do this is w/ a hotshoe mounted flash. If you look in the News forum, you'll see it's been wishlisted to be able to do this w/ the popup. The only thing I have come up w/ so far is to crank the flash comp down to -2ev.
If you set it to wireless commander, it won't fire, but it also disables SR :-P
02-18-2009, 01:44 PM   #8
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Even with a hotshoe flash, I wouldn't necessarily expect it to activate the spotbeam in any scenario that it wouldn't strobe the popup flash--I am imagining that the same criteria is used for strobing popup flash and turning on hotshoe flash spotbeam.

Wireless commander disables SR? I've seen some other strange interlocks but this is the first I've heard of this one. My favorite is that you can't combine 3-second remote with wireless flash. 2-second timer and no-delay remote are both OK...go figure.

As far as I know, the cleanest way to do this is to close the popup flash after achieving focus lock. Also be aware that in AE modes, the program line changes when the flash is up...when closing the flash, the recommended exposure settings will likely change.

Another solution: Buy a used AF-330FTZ autofocus/TTL flash for <$40. It is fairly small and only weighs 210g (empty?). Set it to spotbeam mode; the flash won't fire, just the spotbeam when camera thinks it is needed. You can also use it in manual mode in a pinch but there are better flashes for that purpose if important. If you shop around, perhaps there is an even smaller & lighter pentax-compatible flash with a spotbeam where the flash can be disabled. Disposable lithium AA's are probably the lightest power source for this and if only used for spotbeam would probably last nearly forever.

If Pentax isn't going to put a real AF-assist spotbeam on their bodies they should sell a tiny hotshoe-mounted spotbeam that uses smaller/fewer batteries. I'd pay $50 for one.

02-18-2009, 03:21 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by AndrewG NY Quote
Wireless commander disables SR? I've seen some other strange interlocks but this is the first I've heard of this one.
...
Another solution: Buy a used AF-330FTZ autofocus/TTL flash for <$40. It is fairly small and only weighs 210g (empty?). Set it to spotbeam mode;
...
If Pentax isn't going to put a real AF-assist spotbeam on their bodies they should sell a tiny hotshoe-mounted spotbeam that uses smaller/fewer batteries. I'd pay $50 for one.
Yep, I suggested that to someone a few months back who said he wanted to use the popup only for the AF beam and using wireless commander mode disables SR... :-P

Wait...the AF-330FTZ is a *great* idea. Does anyone have one who can try it to see if it works on the K10D/K20D in spot beam mode for AF assist? Why would you bother w/ a dedicated spotbeam if you can buy an el cheapo flash for $40-50? The only thing that's missing is some sort of accessory shoe in case you want to use it for spotbeam only but want to put on a wireless trigger...
02-18-2009, 06:03 PM   #10
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easy one!

The only way you can focus in total darkness is:

1.menu
2.C custom setting
3.setting #29 "flash in wireless mode" set to 2
4. open the popup flash.
5. shoot

voila!
02-18-2009, 09:34 PM   #11
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i was wondering if its okay to mess with the camera firmware to find the rules for the strobing effect and instead set to Always On.
02-18-2009, 11:02 PM   #12
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I have a question. Is there a list somewhere of flashes that have sb mode? I have my Af360 but most of the time it's simply too big to use only as af assist. The 330 ftz looks nice but I wonder if there's a smaller unit.

Oh and I've seen the setup posted by a member here using some kind of chinese light on flash bracket to assist AF. While this is ingenious I don't think this is the kind of setup that I want
02-18-2009, 11:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reportage Quote
i was wondering if its okay to mess with the camera firmware to find the rules for the strobing effect and instead set to Always On.
Is it OK? You mean, you have the technical expertise to reverse engineer the firmware yourself and make the change? I'm sure it would void the warranty, but if you've got the programming chops to pull it off, I can't Pentax sending out the lawyers to stop you. Or are you asking something different?

As it is, while you could indeed pop up the flash, use it to focus, then close it before taking the picture, I figure that takes about 10 times longer than simply focusing manually.
02-18-2009, 11:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
Wait...the AF-330FTZ is a *great* idea. Does anyone have one who can try it to see if it works on the K10D/K20D in spot beam mode for AF assist? Why would you bother w/ a dedicated spotbeam if you can buy an el cheapo flash for $40-50? The only thing that's missing is some sort of accessory shoe in case you want to use it for spotbeam only but want to put on a wireless trigger...
Don't have one to try...but seems likely to work. I was thinking the same thing about wanting to combine with a wireless trigger though I imagine if you use enough adapters and wires you can probably find a way to connect both.
02-18-2009, 11:50 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Andi Lo Quote
I have a question. Is there a list somewhere of flashes that have sb mode? I have my Af360 but most of the time it's simply too big to use only as af assist. The 330 ftz looks nice but I wonder if there's a smaller unit.
On Boj's site there is a list of Pentax AF flashes--all at least include a spotbeam. A question that remains is if there is a way to put the flash in spotbeam-only mode. I picked the AF330FTZ as a likely candidate because it offers the combination of a switch that appears to be SB-only, and relatively small size/light weight. Bear in mind that even the flashes that look relatively dinky hold 4AA batteries so aren't that small. It seems possible that some simple AF flashes may not offer a SB-only mode, so that would disqualify it for this purpose.

The pre-AF flashes would not have spotbeams because there was no autofocus to assist (duh). I don't know about third-party flashes or whether there is something notably smaller that offers this.
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