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Old Aug 13, 2008, 3:48 PM   #1
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I've bought a Pentax 360 flash for my Pentax K10D DSLR. I have just started trying it out and I note that I'm not happy with the flash coverage. Even simple pictures eem to have light fall off .

I'm used to my old Pentax K1000 and Vivitar HV285 flash from the 35 mm days. I must admit that I find the K10D flash setup and the 360 flash setup confusing.

By confusing I mean, all the electronic adjustments in both camera and flash.
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Old Aug 13, 2008, 8:49 PM   #2
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I have the AF360 flash for my K100D.

I assume what you mean by light fall off is that the AF360 just seems to under expose or under illuminates the scene?

I had the same problem. I returned my first AF360 thinking it was defective but the replacement did the same.

I got a tip from another forum. On your K10D on the Custom Settings Menu go to the second screen and the second item is called "Link AF Point and AE". Try changing this option from 1 to 2. It made a big difference for me. Also tryusing spot exposure metering. Finally, boost the flash exposure compensation on the AF360 to the plus side or the flash compensation on the K10D to the plus side. I find + .3 to +.7 works pretty well.

The K10D and AF360 defaults to P-TTL flash. Where it uses a pre-flash to determine the exposure. If there is any reflective surface in the scene thatreflects the pre-flash illumination back to the camera lens you will end up with an under exposed scene. You can change the AF360 mode to "Auto", which I think you will find works more like your K1000 and HV285. Instead of using the pre-flash P-TTL technology through the lens of the camera, the Auto mode determines flash intensity without a pre-flash through use of a sensor on the front of the AF360. I find I get much more consistent results using Auto mode.

The downside of Auto mode is that you have to manually set the Aperature - F, and ISO on the AF360 to match what you have the camera set for. So I put the camera in AV mode and select an aperature like F4 and an ISO of 400. Then using the display controls on the back of the AF360 set the flash unit to the same F stop and ISO. Finally, in Auto mode the AF360 doesn't automatically set the focal length so you also have to set that manually. As I said, I find that I get better results in Auto mode.

If you want to go completely manual, you can also do that with the K10D and AF360.

I found that the AF360 instruction manual isn't of much use, how about you?

Jim
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Old Aug 13, 2008, 9:50 PM   #3
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Thanks Jim, for the very detailed answer. I will try your recommendations and let you know how I fare.

Like you I have not found the 360 manual of much use.

I purchased the 360 because it was made by the same company....Pentax and I find it amazing that the K digital camera and the 360 seem to have to have so many tweaks just to get a decent picture

If I had known beforehand, I doubt if I would buy the 360. Would you do it again?

To be honest I wanted to continue to use my Vivitar 285 HV, but I was scared off by hearing and reading how digitals could be fried by powerful, old fashioned flashes.

I've had a few flashes over the years, but I have to say the old Vivitar 285HV is my all time favourite....powerful, accurate, nice rendition, red eye not a problem.
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Old Aug 13, 2008, 10:32 PM   #4
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Lesmore-

In all honesty, every external flash requires a bit of tweaking to get the very best performance from that external flash. It has a lot to do with the selected ISO setting, the flash head position, and even whether your are above, level with, or even below your subject. Those factors all can make a measurable difference in the finished image. There are more variables involved in using an external flash than some folks might realize.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 14, 2008, 1:11 AM   #5
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mtclimber wrote:
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Lesmore-

In all honesty, every external flash requires a bit of tweaking to get the very best performance from that external flash. It has a lot to do with the selected ISO setting, the flash head position, and even whether your are above, level with, or even below your subject. Those factors all can make a measurable difference in the finished image. There are more variables involved in using an external flash than some folks might realize.

Sarah Joyce
A couple of days ago when I was trying to figure it out, it seemed to me that the flash coverage improved a bit with raising the ISO. I wasn't far from the subject, as I was experimenting with the 360 flash in a regular sized room.

If I recall I raised the ISO from 100 to about 400. I don't know if I should try to shoot with flash at 400. I do prefer 100 ISO, when shooting, as I like to get pictures as sharp and clear as I can.


I don't know much about the history of the 360, but it appears from reading the manual . I'm guessing that it was initially designed in the film era, to work with Pentax 35mm SLR's, 645 and 6 X 7. I have a feeling it was pressed into service, with I'm sure some mods or evolution, when the digital age came upon us.

In the end, I just want to have a flash that provides good, reliable exposures and I'm willing to do tweaking.

The recommendations from the first poster seem excellent and I'm looking forward to trying them ASAP.

I've read some of your posts in the past, Sarah and realize you are quite knowledgeable. You mentioned flash head position and in the past (35mm days with 285HV) I generally used the typical head position on my flash.

Do you have any hints regarding using the 360 flash head at different positions, using the diffuser or the pull out white card ?

I want to be able to use this flash to it's maximum and any suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks,
Les
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Old Aug 14, 2008, 7:03 AM   #6
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lesmore49 wrote:
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If I had known beforehand, I doubt if I would buy the 360. Would you do it again?

To be honest I wanted to continue to use my Vivitar 285 HV, but I was scared off by hearing and reading how digitals could be fried by powerful, old fashioned flashes.

I've had a few flashes over the years, but I have to say the old Vivitar 285HV is my all time favourite....powerful, accurate, nice rendition, red eye not a problem.
First off, no, I wouldn't buy the 360 again. After finding that it functions best in Auto mode, I think I would have found a better price value in a non pentax auto flash. Although the 360 isn't all that expensive, you can get an auto flash with better range for half the price.

Regarding your 285HV, it just might work. This link shows information regarding trigger voltages of almost any flash you might come across. http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html

High trigger voltages are what can fry a digital camera. Some old ones are upwards of 300 volts. Rule of thumb on the link is not use anything in excess of6 volts. There has been a lot of discussion on the Pentax SLR forum about maximum flash trigger voltages for pentax digital SLR's. Those that claim to have spoken to Pentax Tech support say 30 volts is the max. The link I gave you above says that the older Vivitar 285 is over 200 volts, but the HV version is down in the under 10 volt range.

I'm not telling you to try the 285HV on your K10D. But you or someone that knows how to check trigger voltage could check out your 285HV and see what it is. Also you could posta question here on the Pentax SLR forum to see if anyone is using the 285HV on their Pentax digital SLR's. And I think there is a hot shoe adapter available that protects the camera from high trigger voltage flashes,I think it's called a Wein Safe Sync. adapter. Check this link http://www.ok1000pentax.com/2006/05/...e-adapter.html

Jim
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Old Aug 15, 2008, 12:04 AM   #7
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I use an older model Vivitar 285, not the HV, and have measured its trigger voltage at 6V. Have not had a problem with it or my camera, after extensive use with *istD. The only difficulty with it is that it does not communicate with the camera, and one has to remember to change flash settings when camera settings are changed. Not usually a problem, but at times, when taking lots of shots in a busy setting, such as a wedding reception, it is one more thing which can go wrong.

It is interesting, reading of your difficulties with the AF360FGZ, as I had been thinking of one myself. Didn't care for the price, though. I decided to try the Digital Concepts 945 instead. It communicates with the camera and the auto zoom works with lenses which report their focal length to the camera. I have found that it does tend to overexpose close range shots a bit, though the included diffuser helps with that. (*istD is ttl exposure, so I can't say how it would work with the K-series) My biggest disappointment with it is that in the slave mode, it is triggered by the first part of the on-board flash pre-flash. I did try it using the Vivitar as main flash, and it works OK that way. Would have liked having the wireless ttl, though, and the high-speed sync would have been handy at times. Guess you can't have it all.

brian

edit: the correct model is 952AF. After reading camera manual again, I find that the *ist D uses P-TTL with A-lenses, so if I manually set the aperture, the pop-up flash is forced into the TTL mode, with no pre-flash. Allows the 952AF to work as slave, though it still has to be manually set.



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Old Aug 22, 2008, 9:46 PM   #8
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a200user wrote:
Quote:
I have the AF360 flash for my K100D.

I assume what you mean by light fall off is that the AF360 just seems to under expose or under illuminates the scene?

I had the same problem. I returned my first AF360 thinking it was defective but the replacement did the same.

I got a tip from another forum. On your K10D on the Custom Settings Menu go to the second screen and the second item is called "Link AF Point and AE". Try changing this option from 1 to 2. It made a big difference for me. Also tryusing spot exposure metering. Finally, boost the flash exposure compensation on the AF360 to the plus side or the flash compensation on the K10D to the plus side. I find + .3 to +.7 works pretty well.

The K10D and AF360 defaults to P-TTL flash. Where it uses a pre-flash to determine the exposure. If there is any reflective surface in the scene thatreflects the pre-flash illumination back to the camera lens you will end up with an under exposed scene. You can change the AF360 mode to "Auto", which I think you will find works more like your K1000 and HV285. Instead of using the pre-flash P-TTL technology through the lens of the camera, the Auto mode determines flash intensity without a pre-flash through use of a sensor on the front of the AF360. I find I get much more consistent results using Auto mode.

The downside of Auto mode is that you have to manually set the Aperature - F, and ISO on the AF360 to match what you have the camera set for. So I put the camera in AV mode and select an aperature like F4 and an ISO of 400. Then using the display controls on the back of the AF360 set the flash unit to the same F stop and ISO. Finally, in Auto mode the AF360 doesn't automatically set the focal length so you also have to set that manually. As I said, I find that I get better results in Auto mode.

If you want to go completely manual, you can also do that with the K10D and AF360.

I found that the AF360 instruction manual isn't of much use, how about you?

Jim
I tried your recommendations. I've got good flash in P-TTL and manual. Thanks.
Les
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Old Sep 25, 2008, 11:24 AM   #9
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Hello All,

I just picked up one of the newer (digital SLR safe) Vivitar 285HVs (Cost me $80 or so) because I didn't want to shell out the extra money on a 360 or 540 & also wanted to start using the flash in manual mode like they talk about on Strobist (http://strobist.blogspot.com/). (If figured the amount I saved by going with the Vivitar 285HV, I would have some money left over to buy a light stand, umbrella & bracket.)

From what I'm reading here, I'm glad I steered clear of the Pentax Flashes.

If you like the Vivitar 285HV, you should visit B&H or Adorama's website and check out the new "digital safe" versions.

Take care,
Glen

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Old Oct 1, 2008, 11:55 AM   #10
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Lesmore49 & a200user,

I'm glad I've seen your comments re. the Pentax 360, I was considering treating myself to this item for Xmas. ... Your comments here have made me revise my ideas

... I'm looking for alternatives, one that has come to light is the Metz 48 AF-1 Pentax version which I can get at a reasonable price, another is the Sigma EF-530 DG Super

which is considerably dearer, there are probably others ?. Ideas, thoughts anyone?. Comments are welcome. ... Jack
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