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Better Beamer Flash Extender
Posted By: stormtech, 02-06-2013, 11:21 AM

When I was shopping for a flash extender to use on my AF540FGZ while shooting my longer lenses, there was little information available. The question comes up in the forums quite often about which model fits our Pentax flashes, and how they actually installed and work. Here is just a brief article on the flash extender and how it is installed.

Here are some pics and some explanation on how the Beamer goes together. The exact one I bought was here:

Amazon.com: The Flash X-Tender Better Beamer FX-6 Flash Output Booster for Nikon SB-900 Flash: Camera & Photo



In this first pic are the parts. You get the 2 side pieces, a strip of velcro and the lens. Disregard the velcro on the flash in this pic as that is my Lumiquest strip for holding my softbox and gel holder. The side pieces are labeled L and R so when they are installed the proper angle is achieved. Also, each side panel has a piece of velcro fastened to the outside of the u-shaped part to help hold it steady with the velcro strip.



In the above pic, I just loosely installed one side, and left if a bit forward on the flash so you can see how the u-shape of the side panel fits on to the side of the flash. With mine (FX-6) it is a perfect fit.



This photo shows the side panels installed The velcro strip simply wraps around it all and holds fairly well.



Another view from the underside of the flash.



Here are the panels installed. Notice at the ends are thin velcro strips. This is how the lens is attached.



Here is the lens which comes with its own plastic pouch. Notice the velcro on the edges where it will attach to the ends of the side panels.



And here is is with the installation complete. It is actually kind of a cheap setup, but it works very well, and there really aren't any commercially available alternatives that I know of. Sometimes a little adjustment is required to the vertical orientation - it will sometimes seem that it is shooting too low. The problem here is that if you try to adjust the flash head up just a little bit, it won't stay. If you go as far as adjusting the flash up to the first click, it is way too high. I've seen a couple folks on the forum try different things, but even in the straight forward position it is usually close enough. I tried this out in the near dark one night - amazing how far the flash will carry with this. I like up my tractor in the pavilion just fine which is ~50 yards from my deck. I also saw some gear setups where the camera/lens was mounted on a gimbal, and they made a bracket the attached to the gimbal somehow, and held the flash/beamer up above the lens a bit while they used an off camera flash cord to connect it. If I was going to use the beamer on a regular basis, I would fix myself up something like that.

Last edited by stormtech; 07-03-2014 at 11:10 AM.
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02-06-2013, 11:36 AM   #2
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Nicely illustrated, thanks. I've thought of buying a Beamer many times but never seem to get around to it.

Does it say to adjust your flash for 40mm? I would have thought the tighter the flash beam, the better.
02-06-2013, 11:42 AM   #3
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Great article Stan, appreciate you taking the time.
02-06-2013, 11:48 AM   #4
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Nicely illustrated, thanks. I've thought of buying a Beamer many times but never seem to get around to it.

Does it say to adjust your flash for 40mm? I would have thought the tighter the flash beam, the better.
I've only used the Beamer in P-TTL mode with my FA*300 4.5 lens, so I am guessing that the camera set the flash zoom to the extreme of 58mm.

02-09-2013, 07:35 PM   #5
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The BB instructions say to set the flash head zoom to 50mm. Keep in mind that newer Pentax flashes change the zoom scale when mounted on a Pentax DSLR (or to yet a different scale on the Q), and I would think what you want is 50mm equivalent.

As for aim, I generally use a strip of velcro to elevate the head just a bit.
02-09-2013, 10:40 PM   #6
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i keep meaning to secure something like that for photographing owls. I've seen some DIY setups that look pretty cheap and easy. You just reminded me to get my tush in gear. Thanks.

M
03-06-2013, 04:47 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
I've only used the Beamer in P-TTL mode with my FA*300 4.5 lens, so I am guessing that the camera set the flash zoom to the extreme of 58mm.
When I fitted my Beamer to my Sigma EF-610 DG Super I used Velcro shims on the corners of the flash head for a much tighter fit .Also on my Gimbal head there is a dovetail on the vertical arm and the flash bracket fits on there.If you use the flash and beamer on top of the camera rather than forward and slightly above the plane of the sensor you will suffer from steely eye.
03-06-2013, 04:52 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ducatigaz Quote
When I fitted my Beamer to my Sigma EF-610 DG Super I used Velcro shims on the corners of the flash head for a much tighter fit .Also on my Gimbal head there is a dovetail on the vertical arm and the flash bracket fits on there.If you use the flash and beamer on top of the camera rather than forward and slightly above the plane of the sensor you will suffer from steely eye.
Great tips, thanks!

03-06-2013, 05:50 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ducatigaz Quote
When I fitted my Beamer to my Sigma EF-610 DG Super I used Velcro shims on the corners of the flash head for a much tighter fit .Also on my Gimbal head there is a dovetail on the vertical arm and the flash bracket fits on there.If you use the flash and beamer on top of the camera rather than forward and slightly above the plane of the sensor you will suffer from steely eye.
Good info! I knew there was a reason why I wanted a flash bracket.

I'm planning on getting a flash bracket for when I use the BB. The one I am looking at will attach to the lens plate so I would be able to also use it when hand holding as well as on the gimbal head. I just have to check if there will be any interference. Plus, this one is 1/4 the price of the Wimberley brackets.

03-07-2013, 06:17 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
Good info! I knew there was a reason why I wanted a flash bracket.

I'm planning on getting a flash bracket for when I use the BB. The one I am looking at will attach to the lens plate so I would be able to also use it when hand holding as well as on the gimbal head. I just have to check if there will be any interference. Plus, this one is 1/4 the price of the Wimberley brackets.
I use a Wimberley flash bracket on a Benro GH-2 head, the flash bracket was stupid money[ 170]. I made a flash bracket for a mate using a couple of bits from ebay

New Twin Flash Bracket for Nikon D700 SB900 SB800 Canon 7D 5DII 580EX C-Shape | eBay

50mm Quick Release (QR) Adaptor - Arca Swiss Fit 3/8" | eBay

This allows you to fit a flash on a gimbal or on the Arca Swiss lens plate on the lens foot.
03-07-2013, 06:24 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ducatigaz Quote
I use a Wimberley flash bracket on a Benro GH-2 head, the flash bracket was stupid money[ 170]. I made a flash bracket for a mate using a couple of bits from ebay

New Twin Flash Bracket for Nikon D700 SB900 SB800 Canon 7D 5DII 580EX C-Shape | eBay

50mm Quick Release (QR) Adaptor - Arca Swiss Fit 3/8" | eBay

This allows you to fit a flash on a gimbal or on the Arca Swiss lens plate on the lens foot.
Thanks again!
03-07-2013, 06:48 AM   #12
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Here's a great deal for a flash bracket ($63) for use with the Better Beamer at B&H if you use the Wimberley Sidekick, as I do, Jobu Design FB-SM2 Sidemount Flash Bracket with Quick Release - You also have to buy a hot shoe adapter F for the K-5 , and FlashZebra Flash Shoe (Item #0068) reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database for the Jobu to mount your flash.
03-07-2013, 01:35 PM   #13
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I've been playing around with my AF 540 flash to see what type of settings I will need when shooting with the Q and adapted lenses.

I want to keep the Red Dot where it is on my Q hotshoe, so am relying instead on optical flash triggering to fire the AF540, using the Q's flash as the trigger.

I'm finding that I can get the flash to trigger at shutter speeds up to 1/1000 of a second using the Q, the Pentax official adapter and the AF540 in Slave 2 mode.

This is very cool, because the BB and flash will be providing fill light, I can still expose with the shutter speed I need for the ambient light up to 1/1000 sec.

I'm impressed, as I thought I would be limited to 1/250 sec. but I guess that limitation is only if I mount the external flash on the Q itself.

Can't wait for the Beamer to arrive so I can get out and try this.
03-07-2013, 01:55 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
I've been playing around with my AF 540 flash to see what type of settings I will need when shooting with the Q and adapted lenses.

I want to keep the Red Dot where it is on my Q hotshoe, so am relying instead on optical flash triggering to fire the AF540, using the Q's flash as the trigger.

I'm finding that I can get the flash to trigger at shutter speeds up to 1/1000 of a second using the Q, the Pentax official adapter and the AF540 in Slave 2 mode.

This is very cool, because the BB and flash will be providing fill light, I can still expose with the shutter speed I need for the ambient light up to 1/1000 sec.

I'm impressed, as I thought I would be limited to 1/250 sec. but I guess that limitation is only if I mount the external flash on the Q itself.

Can't wait for the Beamer to arrive so I can get out and try this.
That is impressive Larry! I'm sure it all has some to do with using the Pentax adapter.

Funny - after reading about you trying the AF540 in wireless mode with the Q, last night I had this vision in my mind of the bottom of the 540 facing the Q to get the signal with the head twisted 180deg to flash foward...........
03-07-2013, 02:04 PM   #15
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Ha Ha no it seems to pick it up no problem facing normally. I don't have my flash bracket yet but just hand holding it where I think it will end up.
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