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Old Sep 15, 2007, 9:17 AM   #1
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Picked up this flash, and in it's most basic form it's fine, but I would like to know what it can do, but can't find a manual (at least for sale in the UK)

Can anyone "translate" these settings into something I can understand please?

I can figure out the ISO and on/off parts before anyone makes a joke! :blah:

Thanks in advance.
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 10:20 AM   #2
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Have you got any photos that show more of the flash (and the aperture and distance scales you should find on it)?

That flash looks like it's got two Auto Ranges (the A1 and A2 positions) + Manual Power Settings. But, without seeing the rest of the flash, it's difficult to figure out everything.

The way you'll probably want to use it is shooting manual exposure on the camera, setting the aperture and iso speed to match one of the flash auto ranges (which I can't see in that photo because it should have some color coded scales somewhere that show ranges and aperture to use). The ranges you can shoot within probably show a color band on the scale matching the color of the A1 and A2 positions.

Then, set your shutter speed to allow the desired amount of ambient light (shutter speed has no impact on the amount of light the camera sees from the flash, since the flash burst will be much faster than any shutter speed you'd set). Usually, around 1/100 second would be a good starting point. Then, shoot within the range shown on the scale for the selected Auto Range, ISO speed and Aperture Selected, letting the flash control it's own output. If flash is providing most of the light, set your WB to flash (or try daylight and see which one works best).


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Old Sep 15, 2007, 10:52 AM   #3
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Here's the auto-range part on the flash head, thanks for the explanations so far!
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 11:13 AM   #4
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OK.

See the blue line on the scale? If you had your ISO speed slider on ISO 200 (it's a tiny bit offset right this minute), it would be pointing to f/4. If you had the switch on the flash set to A1 (to match this Auto Range), you'd set the camera to f/4 and ISO 200 and you could shoot within the distances shown for that range (where the blue line runs from around 1.5 to 9 meters).

If you change you ISO speed, you'll see that the aperture you need to use will change, too. For example, you'd get the same range shooting at ISO 400 and f/5.6 or ISO 800 and f/8.

The flash has a built in sensor that measures reflected light during the exposure. When it sees enough light for the Auto Range selected, it terminates the flash output. That's the "Auto" part of these old type flash units.

If you moved the switch to A2, you'd use the Red/Orange scale instead (giving a different aperture to use and range to shoot within for a given ISO speed setting).

It's also got a manual position. To use it, you need to set the aperture and ISO speed to match it exactly (there is no range) and shoot at the exact distance shown for the aperture on the scale you want to use. It does not appear to have multiple manual settings (it's probably just a full power flash and you need to change your aperture/ISO speed depending on your exact subject distance). For example, if you're shooting at ISO 200 and your subject is 1.5 meters away, you'd probably need to use around f/16. But, if your subject is 25 meters away, you'd need to use around f/1.4 to reach them at ISO 200. Moving the ISO speed slider will let you use a smaller aperture (higher f/stop number) for a given subject distance.

You'd probably want to use one of the two available Auto ranges with it (that way, you are shooting within a range of distances, letting the flash control it's own output, versus using a full power flash and varying your camera settings for an exact subject distance).

Then, if the exposure isn't quite right, tweak it a bit. For example, if your exposure is a stop overexposed, use a stop smaller aperture than the scale shows (for example, f/5.6 versus f/4). If it's underexposed, do the opposite (use a stop larger aperture than shown, for example f/2.8 versus f/4). Or, vary your ISO speed instead to change it from what settings it thinks are needed.

Chances are, it will be very close without doing that (but, some cameras are more or less sensitive than their set ISO speed and need a tweak or two). Subject reflectivity can also throw off exposure and may require a tweak or two from time to time .

You may also want to reform the capacitor. I'd set it to manual with good batteries in it and fire the flash around 8 or 10 times, waiting around 30 seconds between each burst. When a flash hasn't been used in a while, it's a good idea to do this.

This kind of old flash has the added benefit of not needing a preflash (the way most modern digital cameras work). That's because the flash is controlling it's own output if you use one of the Auto ranges, by measuring reflected light during the exposure (terminating it's output when it sees enough light for the selected Auto Range).

But, you do need to use manual exposure, setting the camera and flash to match. Again, shutter speed won't matter for how much light from the flash the camera sees (as long as you stay within your camera's sync speed limitations).

You vary it if you want to let in more or less ambient light into the exposure (for example, using a slower shutter speed to get more background illumination for existing light, or using a faster shutter speed to make the background darker to isolate your subject from it). I'd probably start at around 1/100 second and play with it so you'll have a better understanding of how that works.

As for the other switch on it (the O, M/P, N, C), that's probably for Olympus, Minolta/Pentax, Nikon and Canon). That's only a guess. But, it may have small changes in the contacts used so that a given camera model recognizes that a flash is attached, as some of the older film cameras did things like set shutter speed to 1/60 second when a flash was on the hotshoe.
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 11:41 AM   #5
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That might take me a while to digest, so I will say a big thanks for now, and re-read it a few times (I also have a stinking headache which doesn't help) until it sinks in!
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 12:02 PM   #6
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It's really pretty simple. My explanations are probably the issue. lol

All you're doing is selecting one of the Auto Ranges on the flash, then setting the flash and camera to match for ISO speed and aperture (using the pointer for the Auto range selected on the scale), shooting within the distances shown on the scale for that aperture range (for example, the blue line that shows 1.5 meters to 9 meters for the A1 setting).

Then, the flash controls it's own output based on how much reflected light it sees if you shoot subjects within 1.5 to 9 meters away. Note that bouncing the flash will reduce range.

Chances are, you'd use a modern DSLR at around ISO 400, f/5.6 and 1/100 second on one of those two auto ranges (for example, one of the auto ranges would let you do that) and let the flash worry about the rest in most indoor conditions. You'd set WB to flash, daylight or a preset Kelvin temperature if it's providing most of the light (most are around 5500k).

My long winded explanation was just an attempt to explain how the sliders work (for example, if you wanted to use a different aperture for the selected auto range, you may need to vary your ISO speed to do it so that the pointer is on the aperture you want to use).

Most Auto Thyristor type flashes work the same way. You just find some minor variation in the switches and scales between them, and some have more available Auto Ranges and multiple manual settings. Your flash only has two auto ranges and a full power manual setting. Chances are, you'd leave it on the A1 (blue) setting in most conditions (especially since your max distance will drop if you bounce) and leave the camera set to around f/5.6 and ISO 400 or f/4 and ISO 200, depending on the lens you are using. Just use the sliders to show you what you need to use for settings.

Once you get the hang of it, you could probably use most any of them with ease, and because they have an Auto feature (that allows you to use the same camera settings within a wide distance range from near to far), you don't have to worry about your exact subject distance the way you would with an older manual only solution. That's the benefit of a built in sensor that measures reflected light in this type of flash.

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Old Sep 15, 2007, 3:23 PM   #7
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It's not your explanation, I am just easily confused at times!

Hopefully I can have a play around with it tonight, I really want to figure it out so I can reduce the power noticably. I was taking some macro photo's of a watch earlier and it was hard because the flash was just that bit too bright for a metallic surface.

Thanks a lot again, it was the "O M/P N C" part that was worrying me the most, but now you mentioned the brands, it makes sense, I have seen it in a catalogue, and it does mention it's suitable for most brands. I was racking my brain trying to think of photographical terminology that fit in the context of the letters.
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 3:30 PM   #8
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You'll have to stop your aperture way down (higher f/stop numbers) if you want to try and get away with using a flash like this for closeups. It's not designed for that purpose and the manual power setting appears to be full power only.

So, I'd go with the red auto range and stop down your aperture (higher f/stop numbers) at your lowest available ISO speed and see if you can get proper exposure with some experimentation. You will probably want to try diffusing the flash some (milk carton, tupperware, or other type of light modifier) to help out. But, this flash was not really designed for that type of shooting. I'd probably use a tripod and another light source instead for something like a watch.


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Old Sep 15, 2007, 6:15 PM   #9
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Yeah it was diffused and bounced off the ceiling, but it did eventually give a better image than the built-in flash on the K10D, just had to get the angle and exposure right. Now I know what settings to use on the flash and the camera, it should make it a lot easier! :lol:

Still at least with the Sigma APO DG 70-300 Macro you have to be about two feet away from the subject, which helps a lot.
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