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Old Feb 14, 2008, 6:59 AM   #1
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For those of you who have been dabbling in event photography, I'm interested in finding out what kind of a flash set up you use to enable rapid recharge of the flash as well as extended power supply. Standard shoe mount flashes (Sigma for .e.g.) suffer from longer re-cycling times as well as limited battery life on AA's. Is there a flash set up that comes with a power pack that is affordable?

I know that some have jerry-rigged their standard flashes to connect to an external powerpack--unfortuantely, I am not that DIY adept!:|

Jay
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Old Feb 14, 2008, 8:41 AM   #2
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Hi Jay,

I use an external 6V 14 AmpHr rechargable gel cell in a "fanny pack" as an external source to power my flashes. Recharge times are are as little as 2 seconds!

There are two ways to accomlish this:

1. open up the flash and solder a pigtail connector to the positive and negative connector inside thebattery case.

2. USe dowels with wires running down the sides to emulate battery connections and then attach a pigtail that comes out of the battery case.

Both scenarios involve drilling one small hole in the case. You can buy the pigtail at radio shack. YOu can also buy the connecting cable that connects from the pigtail to the battery (6 ft) also from Radio Shack.

One caveat though...you need to make sure that you undo the battery pack and keep it with the camera when you se tthe camera down. My DL has fallen on the floor twice because I forgot to remove the battery pack from my waist and I walked away dragging the camera with it.

The project is not difficult at all...just needs patience. I have several flashes wired and I posted pictures of these on the forum about a year ago maybe.

Feroz
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Old Feb 14, 2008, 9:01 AM   #3
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Quantum Batteries makes packs for flash units that I used when I did weddings which gave me almost instant recharge on the flash. I just checked their site and they have packs for all Pentax TTL flash units up to the AF500FTZ, but none listed for any Pentax PTTL flash units.

When I used their packs for weddings I could shoot flash at full power in less than a second and the pack would last for the entire wedding and never slow down.

http://www.quantumbattery.com/?res_s...4&resh=768

Tom
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Old Feb 14, 2008, 4:53 PM   #4
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Hi Jay,

I don't know how affordable it is, but I can give some impressions of the AF540 FGZ with the TR Power Pack III.

If you're looking for a P-TTL solution, this and the Metz 58 AF are probably the only alternatives (other than a DIY one). I don't know about what combos might be possible with the Metz, so I won't try to comment about it, other than a feeling that most pros would probably choose Metz between the two, but I'm also guessing that this might get really expensive.

With the TR PP III, you have to set up the 540 so it uses both the internal batteries and the PP at the same time to gain any recharge speed (something that's not mentioned in the sparse documentation of the PP), and the speed gain, while significant, is not quite as fast as I had expected from a HV battery pack. On another note, Pentax advises against using rechargeable C cells in the TR PP 3, but it specifically mentions NiCads, with no reference to NiMH. I take the safe route and use Alkalines.

A full discharge will take @ 6-7 seconds to recharge with the internal batteries alone -- and @4 sec with the PP. At my High School Reunion last year, I used this combo with my K10, Tamron 28-75 @ f4-5.6, and a Demb bouncer/diffuser, bouncing all the shots off @ 10 ft white ceiling, and using P-TTL exclusively.

I shot everything from full length body singles and small groups to head shots, so the distances were relatively short, and the average recharge times were an estimated 2-3 seconds. I took less than 200 shots so I can't comment on the 700 shot battery life that's claimed for the TR PP 3. BTW, I will say that I got well over 90% keepers with brainless ease, so I have to question those that have claimed that P-TTL implemetation in Pentax flashes is unsatisfactory. The only exceptions were a couple of shots where the flash was reflected directly back by a shiny surface, but I could easily see the preflash in the viewfinder before it blacked out, so I knew, even before chimping, that the shot wasn't going to turn out, and was already shifting my position to eliminate the reflection.

If I made my living shooting events, I would probably be a little frustrated by the recharge speed, but decided that it's adequate for my use -- I just have to get more used to it. On the other hand, having a dedicated flash with a silent and relatively innocuous auto AF assist beam can be a great help in very low light situations.

I didn't try this, but recharge times probably could be reduced farther by using Auto mode on the flash (which seems to work pretty well), which would eliminate the extra drain of the preflash, and have the added bonus of possibly preventing some of the blinkies that preflash can cause.

If I were serious about getting into this genre, I think that I'd look seriously at a used pro level Auto Thyristor flash gun (Metz and Nikon come to mind from their reputations) that can use a battery pack. I don'tknow enough about these guns to be more specific about individual models.

If you have a D or DS, you can also consider the TTL compatible AF400T with either the Power Pack 510V or the TR Power Pack, or the AF500 FTZ with the TR Power Pack II.

Scott
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Old Feb 14, 2008, 8:05 PM   #5
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Scott, Tom & Feroz,

Thanks for the information. I'd like to do what Feroz did and rig up either my Sigma or my Quantaray (Pro Master) Dual Flash--but I'm not sure I can do it myself Perhaps the old Quantaray may be a good one to experiment on. I get asked occassionally to cover a work function and would like the rapid recharge to take shots in succession.

Thanks again.
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Old Feb 14, 2008, 11:01 PM   #6
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jelpee wrote:
Quote:
For those of you who have been dabbling in event photography, I'm interested in finding out what kind of a flash set up you use to enable rapid recharge of the flash as well as extended power supply.* Standard shoe mount flashes (Sigma for .e.g.) suffer from longer re-cycling times as well as limited battery life on AA's.* Is there a flash set up that comes with a power pack that is affordable?

I know that some have jerry-rigged their standard flashes to connect to an external powerpack--unfortuantely, I am not that DIY adept!:|

Jay
Jay,

Given the fact that you are not that DIY ready, I have the following suggestions:

1. Use prime or the new DA* zoom at F4 which gives you sharp enough image of the subject. Say 20mm 21mm or 28mm for group shots.

2. Because you are using faster lens, you save you flash a lot of battery effort.

3. Because you are using faster lens and powerful flash, you can afford to use bounce flash (either to a ceiling or a bounce car). Avoid direct flash as much as possible.

4. Use powerful flash like the Sigma 500, 530, Pentax 540 or Metz 58. AF360 or Metz 48 are not deemed to be powerful enough for higher than average ceiling.

5. Because you are using less batt power (F4 or F5) you may skip using power pack . 2-3 sets of eneloop or hybrid plus 1 set of back up lithimum batteries will do the job.

Good luck

Daniel
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Old Feb 15, 2008, 9:06 AM   #7
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PM me and I will walk you thru it.
It take some patience. It is not difficult though.


Feroz
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Old Feb 16, 2008, 4:08 PM   #8
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I recently purchased a Metz CL4 digital flash and used it for fill flash at an event.

It allways seemed to be ready without any noticeable recycling time., certainly cokmpared to me sigma flash it seemed almost instantaneous.

Mezt also have an external power pack option for more battery capacity.


Phil
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Old Feb 17, 2008, 5:43 PM   #9
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Thanks all for the continued responses to this question.

Daniel: good idea to use a fast lens and avoid the flash altogether. The fastest lens I have is a M50mm f/1.7. Great lens but not the best for event photography (I think). The new *zoom lenses (16-50mm) would be good..but not quite in my spending plan.

Feroz, I may take you up on your offer to wak me through the surgical procedure of wiring a set of pigtails. It's too bad my Sigma 500 DG Super does not come with a power input socket. Sigma could make some money if they included one and also sold a power pack to go along with it. Advantage Pentax 540FGZ!

Phil: great to hear about your experience with the Metz. I'll take a look at their offerings.

Jay
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