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Old Sep 2, 2006, 8:33 PM   #1
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I have a 20 year old Vivitar 285 HV flash unit, which served me well on my 35mm Pentaxes (SLRs), Leica 11F, Mamiya medium formats.

I am thinking of buying a Nikon D70s digital. I have heard that the voltage on these old flash units designed for film cameras generate way too much voltage for a digital and can fry the digital's electronics, if the film flash unit is placed on the digital's hot shoe.

Does anybody know if this is the case?

I have also heard that the old flash film units can be and are used with Digital SLRs, like the D70s, if they are remote from the camera body/hot shoe and a slave unit is used to trigger the flash? I don't know how much a slave unit costs and if it's worth it it to go to this trouble and maybe just a better deal to bite the bullet and buy a Nikon Speedlite, designed for the D70s?
It also used to be that after market flashes were regarded as good or better than the camera maker's flash units. I don't know if this is the case anymore and I have the sense that there are not as many aftermarket units available, anymore.

Any advice would be welcomed. Thank you.
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Old Sep 2, 2006, 11:56 PM   #2
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Yes, older flash units can damage modern camera circuitry. Find out the rated trigger voltage range for the D70s.

This is something taken from another site that addresses your problem:

Alan Latafat Correa checked with Vivitar[/b] and they clarified:
The 285HV has a voltage[/b] of 12V. The 285[/b] has a voltage[/b] of 350V.

I'm betting that if the 12v figure is accurate, you shouldn't have any trouble connecting the flash straight on the hot shoe. Check out this site and it tells you how to check the trigger voltage on a flash with a digital multimeter so that you know what your flash puts out:


Even if you can use this flash, you will be giving up TTL operation in favor of the flash's automatic modes. It'll work, but you won't get the accuracy that TTL offers.

If you find out that the voltage of your flash is too much, you can use it as a slave. I think that you would have to get one of the slave triggers designed for digital cameras, as they can ignore any preflash(s) that the camera produces. Otherwise, you would get the slave going off too early. I think you can get these for less than $50.00. Or, you can get a Wein Hot-Shoe-To-Hot-Shoe Safe Synch which fits between the flash and the hot shoe and drops the trigger voltage at the camera end to around 6 volts. It's about $50.00 from bhphotovideo.com.

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