Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Nikon dSLR

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Dec 21, 2007, 9:17 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 2
Default

I just purchased the Nikon D40x and would like to use my old Vivitar 283 flash with its auto thyristor sensor. Can I use this flash without hurting my camera? If so, what do Ineed to know in order for it to work and for me toget the most out of it?

On my old Minolta SLR I used this flash off camera (within cord range), with the sensor mouted on the camera's hot shoe. In this manner I was able to better choose my flash angle, including bouncing it when preferred.

Thank you.

MartyMart is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Dec 25, 2007, 7:57 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 131
Default

What you need to be concerned about is the trigger voltage that the flash presents to the sync circuit in the camera. Unfortunately, the trigger voltage of the Vivitar 283 and 285 reportedly can vary from safe to dangerous depending upon the age and place of manufacture of the flash unit.

You can measure the trigger voltage and ask Nikon if they consider that accepable, or you can use a product like the Wein Safe Sync (I think it's called) between the camera and the flash unit to buffer the trigger voltge.

I've been using a 285 with the Safe Sync on my D80 with good results using the off camera cord as you describe to place the flash on an umbrella.

--------------------- Bill
BillP2R is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 25, 2007, 1:14 PM   #3
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

See this "sticky" post at the top of the threads list in our External Flash Forum:

Trigger Voltage Limits with modern Digital Cameras

Nikon's hotshoe is rated a bit higher than most for trigger voltage limits. But, for an older Vivitar 283, I'd probably use a safe sync anyway, unless you're positive it's trigger voltage is low enough, using a high impedence digital volt meter to measure it carefully)

It would probably be cheaper just to buy newer flashes with a lower trigger voltage. That's what I did a while back (even giving away one Vivitar 273 to my brother-in-law to use with his SRT-101).

For example, I spent a total of $48 for a flash system to use with my Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D (and that included two flashes and a hotshoe adapter with a PC Sync Port).

* $16 for an adapter from a Hong Kong based vendor to give me an ISO standard hotshoe and PC Sync Port.

If you wanted to use one off camera via a sync cord with your D40x, get a Nikon AS-15 to give you a Sync Port (note that some of the Wein Safe Sync units have one built in already).

http://www.adorama.com/NKAS15.html

* a Sunpak 222 Auto with tilt and two aperture ranges for a smaller flash unit (GN of about 72 feet at ISO 100) for $7 from KEH.com (and they even threw in a nice, coiled PC Sync Cord with it).

* a Sunpak 333 Auto with tilt, swivel and zoom head with multiple auto aperture ranges, as well as better manual settings (full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16). GN runs from 86 feet to 120 feet at ISO 100, depending on the zoom head setting. I got this one for $25 (like new in box in 10 condition from the used department at B&H).

Total Flash System Investment: $48

So, my entire investment going with newer used flashes was less expensive than a Wein Safe Sync. :-)

Like your Vivitar 283, these Sunpaks are Auto flashes (in the sense that the flash is capable of throttling it's own ouput, based on how much reflected light it sees for the aperture range selected).

My Sunpak 333 Auto has 3 auto ranges. These ranges have different distances from short to long they can be used at. For example, one of the ranges probably runs around 3 to 22 feet at f/5.6 and ISO 200.

So, I just pick a range and set the camera to the same aperture and ISO speed shown for it on the strobe, and let the flash control it's own output within the range selected.

Shutter speed makes no difference for the amount of light the camera is seeing from the flash. That's because the flash burst is very short (my Sunpak 333 Auto will use a flash length of between 1/1200 second and 1/20000 second).

The only reason to vary shutter speed with a flash exposure is either to allow more or less ambient light in, or to make sure shutter speeds are fast enough to prevent motion blur if there is a lot of ambient light contributing.

That's why many cameras simply set the camera to a fixed shutter speed of around 1/60 second when you use the built in flash. It's a compromise setting. The flash burst length is then varied to control the actual exposure.

If you set it to around 1/100 second, that will be fine for the majority of indoor conditions where you'd need a flash if you are using something like ISO 200 and f/5.6. If you're like me, you wouldn't be changing apertures a lot indoors anyway.

In a newer non-dedicated Auto Sunpak, the 383 Super has roughly the same specs as my 333 Auto (except the 383 Super does not come with a zoom head). The 383 Super runs around $70 new.

Basically, these types of flashes work the same way as your Vivitar 273 does with it's Auto mode (you have to set the camera and flash to match for aperture and ISO speed). The newer 285HV models usually have a lower trigger voltage, too.

If you want to go off camera, you can also get inexpensive radio triggers. Just make sure to get a receiver that supports the falsh you want to use (many won't work with the Vivitar 283).

For example, this inexpensive receiver (which only works with the matching transmitter) will fire the 285HV, but not the 283 unless using the PC Sync connection). Older Vivitars like your 283 tend to have more compatibility issues compared to newer models.

Receiver:
http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...274&page=1

Transmitter:
http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...274&page=1

Or, buy a newer dedicated flash instead. That way, you don't have to worry about using manual exposure (setting the flash and camera to match for aperture/iso speed), compatiblity quirks, trigger voltage problems, etc.

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 26, 2007, 9:49 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 131
Default

While all of Jim's suggestions are good, I don't think (and I could be wrong) that any of the combinations he suggests would allow the flash unit's exposure sensor to be left on the camera when the flash is moved off-camera as happens with the Vivitar set-up Marty is used to. This does have some advantages with umbrella set-ups, etc..

-------------------------- Bill
BillP2R is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 26, 2007, 9:53 AM   #5
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Sure you could. Those methods (PC Sync Cord Connections, Radio Triggers) are just triggering the flash, just like a hotshoe would trigger one.

You could leave the flash set in any mode desired, including the Auto modes that use their built in sensors to measure reflected light during the exposure, terminating the flash burst when they see enough light for the aperture and iso speed set.

Edit:

Oops... I missed the part about the flash sensor being left on the camera.

Nope, not the Sunpaks (they have a built in sensor that is not removable). So, you'd need to make sure the flash is "looking" at the subject, without too much difference in distance to the subject compared to the camera for best results.

Some of the Vivitars have a removable sensor so you could position it better (and these could also be used, as the newer 285HV models have a relatively low trigger voltage).

But, if you're in a studio environment anyway, you could tweak the settings as desired (either changing Auto modes, opening up or closing down the aperture after test shots for correct exposure, using manual power settings, etc.). So, I wouldn't consider a removable sensor to be a big deal in that setting.

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 27, 2007, 7:23 AM   #6
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 2
Default

Thank you both. It looks like I've got a lot of reading to do.

Marty
MartyMart is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 2:44 PM.