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Old Jul 17, 2008, 11:59 PM   #1
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I own a Nikon D40 and was planning to purchase a Nikon sb400 or 600 sometime in the future and still probably will....but....yesterday circuit city had a sunpak PF30x flash reduced from 99 to $14(!) They do make one for Canon as well.

http://www.sunpak.com/sunpak/flashunits.html


PF30X
• Number of flashes: approx. 100 at full manual (Alkaline batteries)
• Auto effective range: 4.9 feet to 49 feet
• AF assist effective range: 3.5 to 16 feet
• Flash speed: 1/800 second
• EV adjustment: 7 steps (-1.5, -1, -0.5, 0, +0.5, +1,+1.5)
• Guide number: 100, ISO 100/feet @ 35mm
• Recycle time: approx. 10 seconds at full output (Alkaline)
• Compatibility: Nikon i-TTL: D40, D40x, D50, D70, D70s, D80, D200

Of course this gives me some time to use my first external flash for a DSLR. Some questions have come up.

1) I used the flash snapping ten shots, (with a newly charged NIMH battery)....one snap every ten seconds...I repeated this several times...on the average, in only 6-8 of the 10 would the flash fire

2) when I have the camera in continuous mode and snap 10 quickly, the results are about the same.

all of the shots where the flash did fire looked great....the flash did it's job!

Is this a normal hit rate for an external flash....say 70%? Would this go up considerably with the Nikon sb400 or sb600?

oh...settings were, A preferred, 1/60, f3.5, 800 iso, 18mm, center focus, center weighted metering, Nikon kit lens, dark living room...cont. focus, moving camera while I shot

thanks again!

gregg
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Old Jul 18, 2008, 9:45 PM   #2
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Gregg, Hi, its been awhile. Still mulling over the SBX00? I don't have a definitive answer for your problem, but you're not alone, it seems... check this out--

http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00LrRU

I just did google using the name of the unit, and got a number of hits. Hopefully, someone will have an answer for you. Of course, one answer the guy got was- get a nikon. Seriously, if it's advertized to work with i-ttl nikon, then it should. Good luck, Robert
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Old Jul 19, 2008, 12:13 AM   #3
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Hi robert...

On a tight budget, I put the flash on hold when...I had the opportunity to pick up a quantaray 18-200mm OS lens for my D40. It is a re-branded sigma and does get some fair-good reviews in so much as an "all-in-one" lens can. It is different from sigma's non-stabilized 18-200 lens (which received more negative reviews as being much too soft overall). This one, they added two elements. It also has a HSM motor (auto focus) and a lock switch to prevent creeping. Admittedly, the pics do get sharper between f7 and f13, but that's certainly no problem with image stabilization and the florida sunshine. It is sold I believe exclusively at Ritz Cameras for $529. I managed to get a used one for $190!!!!

I only saw this flash by accident while wandering through circuit city...I figured for $13.96...why not give it a try

If I would get a higher "hit" rate then 70%, I would be happy with it.

But not having owned an sb400/600.....I wish I knew what % can I expect on either of those two flashes. Is 70% an acceptable number?

I have to say the sunpak people are great at emailing me back...they had me run a test to see if mine had the latest firmware...it does and also wanted to know if the light does flash every time I hit the test button when it is off the camera...it does

I am also wondering that if get fresh batteries (my 2500's have been re-charged many times) if that would make any difference in it's firing ability

gregg
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Old Jul 19, 2008, 8:39 AM   #4
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As I am not familiar with either your camera or flash, about all I can offer is some generic advice.

First, make sure the flash is solidly on your hotshoe, and that contact surfaces on both are clean. If the contacts are not making as you move the camera, this could cause missed flashes.

Secondly, check your camera's menu settings for one which allows or prevents shutter operation when flash is not ready. This would be my first suspected source of the problem, actually.

The recharge times given for the flash are approximate, and if you are using full output, with less than full capacity batteries, it may be taking longer. Try it with a set of Energizer Lithium AAs, which should cycle it about as fast as it is able.

Good luck.

brian
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Old Jul 19, 2008, 12:11 PM   #5
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thanks brian.

although I have made sure the flash is on tightly and even tried this with no movement at all....same results.

even changing various settings A,S, P...same results

what I also find interesting is that even when the AF Beam works from the flash, the flash may not fire. when the flash is attached it disables the internal AF Beam.

I am going to try better lithium batteries, as that will eliminate the batteries as an issue

It may all come down in the end, that third party companies just can't make a flash that works well with nikon's i-TTL cameras

kind of a shame since my only complaint is the hit rate. When it does fire it works well. Colors look great. It fills in a nice area and isn't as "harsh" as the internal flash
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Old Jul 19, 2008, 5:05 PM   #6
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Do you have a 'ready' indicator on the flash? Some cameras also have one in the VF info. If so, you could try using it with a tripod, or just place on a counter, and cycle it, waiting for the 'ready' indicator each time to see if it fires consistently.

There is also a procedure for 'forming' the HV capacitor in the flash, which amounts to setting it manually to full-power, and triggering it 6 or so times consecutively. This helps reduce votage bleed-off in the capacitor, and can improve charging times somewhat.

brian
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Old Jul 19, 2008, 8:54 PM   #7
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how can sunpak make a flash and market it to the Nikon i-TTL crowd with disappointing results like this? This flash is sold by many reputable dealers

I tried some new energizer AA lithiums...the results were actually worse. No matter what I tried I got a 20-60% rate of good shots when I took 10...even if I waited 10 sec between shots! When it did fire it did produce some great results. But what good is a flash that i can only count on a little more then half of the time?

I waited for the test/charge light to stop blinking as well...no better

What I also discovered was that many of the shots that I thought didn't fire, actually did but barely (very low flash output and useless)....very strange

I also have to wonder if the fact that my camera is not list on the paperwork but is on their website...on the package it lists the d50 (my d40 replaced that), d70, and d200)...it does say "for nikon digital dslrs"

oh...the worst % is the first shot...I'd say almost everytime...the first or second in the set wouldn't fire

HMMMMMMM...I just tried the camera in full manual...very strange...same results...that shouldn't happen with any flash if it is truly compatible with nikon
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Old Jul 21, 2008, 11:54 AM   #8
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From Sunpak:

"We do have a firmware update if you need it. To see if you need it : while you are pressing the -ev and +ev buttons at the same time turn on flash and then let go of buttons. If the +0.5 lights up then you are upgraded already but if the +1.5 lights up then you need to send it in for upgrading. Once we receive it it should only take a day or two to complete and then we will ship back to you. We hook it up to a special machine to upgrade firmware."


I guess I do need the upgrade. I can't wait to see if that changes everything. I'll post the results here
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Old Aug 9, 2008, 1:40 AM   #9
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WOW!!!!!!

The firmware from sunpak did the trick!

This flash is great. I used 2 lithium AA batteries and fired the flash randomly around my living room and kitchen...some shots consecutive, some with a 2 to 5 second wait. Then went into the bedroom took off the kit lens and put on the quantaray (sigma) lens. Did the same thing again in the bedroom. Only after about 130 total shots did it start to have trouble recycling, at least quickly anyway...started getting some where the flash wouldn't fire at all. That's ok. I shut off the flash at that point.

All of the 130 shots that I took were perfect! The iTTL worked perfectly with this flash in both A and S preferred in low light, bright fluorescent kitchen light and almost no lights. The AF beam (in the flash) worked with my zoom lens and even focused in almost a completely dark room at about 50mm...f13 (iso 400)!

I highly recommend the sunpak PF30x flash

http://www.sunpak.com/sunpak/flashunits.html


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Old Aug 9, 2008, 7:37 AM   #10
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Happy to hear you are fixed. Sunpak is very good and one of the older companys. I did not think you would have any problems with them doing the right thing to get you going.

Ronnie
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