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teddybear Jan 9, 2005 5:35 PM

I am considering purchasing either the Panasonic FZ3 (3 megapixel, 12 x opticalzoom,no external flash) or Panasonic FZ20 (5 megapixel, 12 x optical zoom, with boot for external flash).

I am a relatively novice photographer and most pictures will be family, vacation and kids action sports shots. The 3 megapixel will be just fine for the type of pictures I will print, however, I am unsure if I will need an external flash or will the FZ3 meet my needs.

Any suggestions are much appreciated!

KCan Jan 9, 2005 6:55 PM

teddybear wrote:

... most pictures will be family, vacation and kids action sports shots.
Family group and action sport pictures generally need a good flash.
You can also get a slave flash to use with the FZ3.
Also, notice that the hotshoe on the FZ20 is a generic one, allowing you to use a generic external flash in manual or Auto modes only, there is no dedicated ttl ("auto everything") external flash.

teddybear Jan 10, 2005 9:36 AM

Thank you so much for your reply. What is a slave flash? Also, could you expand a little more about the hot shoe being a generic one with no dedicated ttl. (I am a very novice photographer!)

Sleeps! Jan 10, 2005 5:22 PM

First, slave flash-external flash, same thing. Second, generic hot shoe, or non dedicated means that you can use nay of the non dadicated external-slave flashes. Some manufacturers makes their hot shoes specificly for their externel flashes, like Konica-Minolta, whoch means that you can not use their flashes. Any way, i have a FZ20 and bought myself an external flash. It's an old one, but it works great. It can be moved in any position, so you don't have to point it at your target, because, that way, your gonna burn it. This way you can point to the near wall or into the ceiling so the light from the flash will bounc against it and you will have more natural lightning af the target. If you are going to buy one check the bounce capabilities.

KCan Jan 10, 2005 8:07 PM

Hi teddybear again,

Here some more precisions:

Slave flash:
"Slave flash" implies "optical slave flash".
It's a term used to call flashes which are triggered ("commanded" to fire if you prefer) by an optical signal, usually by the camera flash; (or other suitable light source as well ).
It's the generally used designation because and a flash can be "acoustically" slaved also (to shot a bullet, or a water drop , etc..)
Slave flash made for digital camera recently can be set to ignore the preflash of these camera and fire at the same time with the main camera flash burst.

Generic flash and hotshoe:
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) establish the standards for many technical domain , and for photography too. They established how a hotshoe must be designed to be accepted by everyone .
The ISO hotshoe is just like what you have on the FZ20, 2 rails acting as mechanical support and also as ground terminal, and a center pin acting as the second terminal, the triggering terminal. It's a generic hotshoe, having only 2 purposes: mechanical support , and triggering the flash to make it start .

Generic flash is a flash that make use of a generic (ISO) hotshoe, offering the possibility to use the flash on any camera that have one a generic hotshoe. They can be simple full power flash, or offering several manual partial power modes, or can also have several auto modes (aperture settings)

Dedicated flash and hotshoe:
The manufacturer quick discovered that with 1 pin, they can't control the flash very much, and the most important, they can't stop the flash once it was started. For the flash, it's necessary to be able to stop it to control the power (it's the way to control) and that way make the ttl control possible. In short, ttl means "through the lens" (in general) : the camera sees the flash thought it's lens and stop the flash at the right moment to insure a proper exposed picture.
("ttl" control is sometimes /often achieved via an external sensor, but not really "through the lens" as it says)
So they start adding some more pins to be able to communicate other signal to the flash (flash stop signal (ttl), focus aid light control, flash zoom motor control…) , and receive signal from the flash too (flash ready, flash zoom position , )
Of course, each manufacturer develop it's own in house standard for these extra pins, but keep the compatibility with the generic ISO function, meaning in most cases we can use generic flases on cameras whith an ISO hotshoe even they have extra pins.
Some exception are Minolta for example, the hotshoe on the Dimage and after are 100% proprietary .

External flash:
External flash are called so, opposite to the internal or on board flash of the camera.
External flash can be slave or not .
Generic flash are external flash which is not slave because they are triggered electrically via the center pin of the hotshoe .
External flash can also use a sync cord plugged to a PC sync terminal present on some cameras.
Generic flash can communicate only one way to the camera, ie: camera tell it to fire, nothing else.
External flash can be generic or dedicated. Dedicated flash are made to use only with the corresponding make (brand) of camera, and sometimes with certain models only.
External flash usually offer zoom, bounce etc… which is not possible with the simple camera's flash.


search over this forum, there are many threads cover slave flashes

KCan Jan 10, 2005 9:37 PM


This is a good example to show you:
The D70 is a Nikon with a dedicated hotshoe, but compatible with the ISO hotshoe standard. It's designed based on the ISO hotshoe, with some extra pins, and to make things more complicated, the new control communication protocol is different from the old Nikon analogic one(film time) making even old Nikon dedicated flash not compatible :?.
But, since it still is compatible to the generic basic ISO hotshoe definition, we can use any external flash , triggered by the center pin as ISO originally specify:grin:.
Of course, no TTL, or zoom control by the camera, but with practice, many people including me (and NHL) will be very happy with the manual and the auto mode .

The Metz 45 flash (like you see in my avatar) is a very popular and reputed external bracket mount flash (opposite to hotshoe mounted flash) which is a generic flash (manual mode, Auto mode) which can be converted to dedicated flash by the addition of a module (45CT/CL3,4,5, not 45CT/CL1) to many brand and models of camera (but the module can be quite expensive). Sunpak also has this design of dedicated module for some of their flash.

Many amateurs and professional adore this flash, you can have it used for less than 200$. Myself I got 3 Metz up to date:G, 45CT-1, CT-4 and a very old 402. They are very well constructed, almost unbreakable and last several decenies , no jokes.

[email protected] Jan 12, 2005 9:06 PM

I have a Sunpak 383 super I bought at B&H for about $65.

It has a swivel head that can point upwards to bounce the flash off the ceiling, and also swivels sideways.

The only problem with an external flash is it makes your camera a little top heavy.

If your just doing a little "fill flash" (look up the term on the internet), you could probably use the flash already built into your camera. Just make sure it's set to "force flash" (ie. the flash will go off every time, no matter what), and if it has the ability to set the flash power (from slightly bright to VERY bright), then you can play around with the power setting to see the effect.

Usually the built in flash is fairly low power. An external flash takes it to a whole new level. And believe me, $65 is fairly cheap for an accessory that will give you years of enjoyment and experimentation.

KCan Jan 12, 2005 9:20 PM

[email protected] wrote:

The only problem with an external flash is it makes your camera a little top heavy.
Yeah I agree, that's why I use bracket mount flash, muchbetter balance.

Monza76 Feb 14, 2005 9:38 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I totally agree about the bracket and handle, the other fear is that a minor bump could tear the hot shoe right off the camera.

Here is my S7000 Vivitar setup:


BTW a powerful flash which can be bounced makes for much more natural pictures, no more "deer in the headlamps" look.

Monza76 Feb 14, 2005 10:05 AM

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Here is the difference between on camer direct flash and an external bounce flash:


Notice that the bounce flash looks like available light with muted shadows while the direct flash leaves the features flat and harsh shadows.

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