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Old Dec 26, 2008, 11:22 PM   #1
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I've got a flash that I used on my old ME Super and Super Program. I believe I've had it for about 8 years or so. It's an Achiever 632LCD, and I've attached a picture of it. I've seen a few flash models for my camera but haven't seen any with the bracket set-up like my old one. It works with my DL but it's trial and error and takes a few practice shots. I'd like to find something comparable to my current flash that will work properly with my camera. Does anybody have any input / suggestions? Thanks.

David
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Old Dec 27, 2008, 2:39 AM   #2
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B&H Photo sells a number of flash brackets, most of which thread onto the bottom of the camera. What I would do is buy one of those brackets, get a cheap third-party P-TTL off-camera flash cord from eBay, and use a P-TTL flash, such as the Pentax AF-360 FGZ.

Alternatively, instead of the P-TTL off-camera cord, you could also use a hotshoe-to-PC sync adapter, PC sync cable, and a PC sync-to-hotshoe adapter; you will lose P-TTL functionality if you use PC-sync, however.

- Jason
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Old Dec 27, 2008, 7:11 AM   #3
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Hello,

Metz has their flash units (with pretty much the same set-up) (I think it starts at their Metz 45 CL-4 series?) with adapter modules that "dedicate" the flash unit to each SLR platform (ie. Nikon vs. Canon vs. Pentax.)

http://www.metz.de/en/photo-electron...ash-units.html

It's kinda pricey & I'm not sure what advanced features are supported and what features are not.

These are professional units & I used to see wedding photographers use these units all the time. (I got my sisters old 45 CT?, but it doesn't work. Other wise I would have gotten a Wein Safe Sync and been playing with that one long ago.) But now, I mostly see wedding photographers just using the OEM flashes with the Gary Fong dome.

I tried to look into this platform via. their more conventional Metz 54 MZ 4i to use between my Nikon and Pentax, but ended up getting the Pentax AF540FGZ. [Which I like the menu system a lot better and since its suppose to work with the Pentax camera, I can get back to learning about taking pictures instead of wondering if the flash unit is going to work with my camera. <grin>]

I like Illuminati's idea.

Get a Pentax Flash unit and then mount it on a flash bracket with a Pentax flash chord to preserver P-TTL functionality.

Instead of a flash bracket, I'm going to try out the Gary Fong Lightsphere Universal Cloud. I tried to pick one up today. Had the camera store hold one for me, but when I got there, it ended up being the Clear.

Take care,
Glen


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Old Dec 27, 2008, 2:37 PM   #4
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What functionality would a hotshoe-to-PC sync adapter give? Would there be any sort of automation? I wonder if it would be any better that what I'm getting now with the adapter that slides onto the hotshoe and connects to the flash. It works like that, but I pretty much set it up like I did on my old ME Super... shutter speed 1/125, etc, take a couple of pictures, change settings, and try again.

I like the idea of the Metz that has modules that adapt the flash to various cameras (that's how my current one works), but I wonder if it would be more economical to try one of the Sigma or Pentax P-TTL flashes. The other camera I'd like the flash to work with is an Olympus C-5060. It may be better in the long run (cheaper) to just buy two flashes. I'm curious as to which dedicated flash is better - Sigma or Pentax. Thanks for the replies.


David
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Old Dec 27, 2008, 3:05 PM   #5
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Hi David,

I'm just guessing here, but it looks like the flash gun that you have is an Auto thyristor model, and might work in Auto mode with your DL. Apparently, these flashes were made in a number of "dedicated" models to match the different camera brands. If yours is Pentax dedicated, then you should see a "ready" symbol in the viewfinder when the flash is charged, but this and the camera telling the flash to fire would be the only ways that the flash and body communicate, so there would be some settings that you would have to make manually (ISO speed and aperture, with the shutter at slower than 1/180) to get reasonable exposures. If all this is the case, then it should be pretty easy to get the flash to work properly with your DL.

There are a ton of flash brackets for different purposes. Some just relocate the flash, giving more distance from the lens, others allow the flash to be repositioned to allow bouncing the flash from both landscape and portrait orientations. These can get pretty sophisticated and expensive, but now there are a bunch of knockoffs being made in the orient that give these capabilities at very reasonable prices. For just about any bracket, you'll also need at least a hotshoe to hotshoe cord, and this will have to be a dedicated 5 conductor cord with Pentax P-TTL hotshoe contacts if you want P-TTL compatibility.

Flash for DSLRs can get very involved, depending on just how far you want to go with respect to the lighting that you want.

Here's a link to Jens R's site which explains the different kinds of flashes, and how they might work with a Pentax DS (except for TTL, which the DL doesn't do, this would all apply)

http://www.jr-worldwi.de/photo/ist_D...rnalflash.html

Here's a link to a lot of info about currently available P-TTL flashes for Pentax

http://pttl.mattdm.org/

If you can give more specifics about the flash you have (is there a chart on the back of the flash, or LCD panel, and if the latter, what does it show when you turn it on) and your expectations for using flash with your DL (do you want to just attach the flash, and have it be totally automatic, or would you be willing to make a few manual settings to get automatic exposure with some distance limitations), I think that we can probably collectively give you some better ideas about how to get where you want to go.

Scott
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Old Dec 27, 2008, 3:16 PM   #6
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I just got my Pentax AF540FGZ and I might be skirting the whole cable issue for now.

From the sounds of it, the cable set-up you have does not support any sort of TTL flash exposure.

If you want P-TTL on your set-up, then that is when the Pentax cable set-up comes into play because it has 5 conductors to let the camera communicate with the flash unit.

I think there are two parts to hooking up the Pentax AF540FGZ to a Pentax body with a cable.

1) The hot shoe adapter. Which plugs into your hot-shoe. I've read there are two types. the [Hot Shoe Adapter F] & the [Hot Shoe Adapter Fg]. From the sounds of it, the Fg is better, because even when the hot shoe adapter is in place, you can pop-up the built-in flash unit. So if your body can support it, the flash can contribute to the shot as well?

and . . .

2) The cable itself. Which plugs into the Hot Shoe Adapter and the flash unit? (Part # F5P or F5P L) Which I have no clue about.

Using this type of combination should provide P-TTL support, so you wouldn't necessarily need to set the Shutter / Aperture manually. But you could do this if you really wanted to.

Then again . . .

Certain bodies can fire the Pentax AF540FGZ wirelessly. Such as the Pentax istD, K10D, K200D & K20D? But it sounds like it is more finicky than just getting the cable, if you know you are going to use it off-camera on a handle most of the time anyway.

As for two flashes, I abandoned researching the Metz. Even if I was able to figure out the parts I needed and was certain that most of the features I wanted were there, the chances of me finding a store with a set-up that I could try would be extremely low.

So I opted to get the Pentax AF540FGZ.

And Nothing for my Nikon . . . for now . . . <grin>

I don't envy you with the Olympus.

I burst my brain going back and forth in my mind deciding between the Nikon SB800 or the Pentax AF540FGZ. (They were both the same price.)

Take care,
Glen


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Old Dec 27, 2008, 4:25 PM   #7
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David_NC wrote:
Quote:
What functionality would a hotshoe-to-PC sync adapter give?* Would there be any sort of automation?* I wonder if it would be any better that what I'm getting now with the adapter that slides onto the hotshoe and connects to the flash.* It works like that, but I pretty much set it up like I did on my old ME Super... shutter speed 1/125, etc, take a couple of pictures, change settings, and try again.*

I like the idea of the Metz that has modules that adapt the flash to various cameras (that's how my current one works), but I wonder if it would be more economical to try one of the Sigma or Pentax P-TTL flashes.* The other camera I'd like the flash to work with is an Olympus C-5060.* It may be better in the long run (cheaper) to just buy two flashes.* I'm curious as to which dedicated flash is better - Sigma or Pentax.* Thanks for the replies.
Hi David,

The hotshoe to PC sych cord would give you no automation, it just allows the camera body to signal a remote flash to fire. BTW, The AF 540 FGZ has a 5P socket, so the remote flash hotshoe adapter F is not needed when using the Pentax remote cord setup.

If you were to get one of the larger Pentax P-TTL flashes (360 or 540) or the Metz 58 AF P-TTL, then you could use it as a P-TTL flash with the DL, and use the Auto Mode with the Oly (I assume it has a hotshoe). The Sigmas don't have Auto mode, IIRC.

The Sigma 530 Super has almost the same feature set as the 540 FGZ, and has more power and a tilt/swivel head compared to the 360FGZ. The Sigma 530 ST has considerably fewer advanced features (most notably High Speed Synch and wireless remote TTL), but has the same power as the Super and the same tile/swivel head, so is more economical if you don't want/need the advanced features.

One of the biggest advantages of Pentax branded flashes is that Pentax seems to be improving the P-TTL protocols with just about every model, and it's done in a way that there's been no need to update firmware in the flash guns. Sigma reverse engineers the protocols, so if they change significantly, they have to update the firmware via a chip replacement at the service center, so you might have to send in your unit if you buy a newer body in the future (whether they charge for this or not, depending on how old the flash is -- is up to them -- most upgrades have been free so far not including shipping charges). Metz uses a USB connector in the flash to update firmware via computer, so it would be possible to update for a newer model body without sending the gun in.

It's generally conceded that the Pentax branded flashes have better build quality, and many have said that the menu system on the Pentaxes are better, but I can't speak for the Sigmas -- I have only the 360FGZ and 540FGZ in P-TTL, and can recommend either.

I'd first see if your current flash will work acceptably on your DL and OLY -- there might be something that you're missing here. If it is indeed capable of Auto Thyristor mode, you shouldn't have to guess that much on exposure.

Scott
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Old Dec 27, 2008, 7:33 PM   #8
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I've attached a pic of the back of the flash. I've found a few settings that work somewhat consistantly. I ran into problems whenI went into a room which was significantly darker thanthe first. The following settings are the ones that seem to work mostly OK:

Flash: Auto, ISO 400

Camera: Auto Pict, Exposure comp +1.5, ISO 200 (1/30, F3.5, 18mm)

I tried setting both to the same ISO without compensation (or with less),and the pics were too dark. At least it's working somewhat better and is a bit easier than full manual, which I don't mind sometimes, but it'd be nice to have the external flash work automatically like the internal flash... at least some of the times! Thanks for all the info.

David
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Old Dec 27, 2008, 9:20 PM   #9
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Hi Dave,

Okay! It appears that this flash is TTL compatible, but that doesn't work with your DL, so you have to go to Auto thyristor mode to get any exposure automation. You'd slide the switch that's just under the LCD (marked "Auto Full [then fractions]") all the way to the left to "Auto". I'm guessing that the scale at the bottom of the LCD will change and you'll see a range of numbers in each line -- these are the distances that the flash will automatically give you reasonable exposures at the ISO and aperture given. You can shorten the range of distances by using a slower ISO (ISO=ASA BTW, but you probably knew that!) setting or a smaller aperture (larger f-number) or extend the range by doing the opposite -- only change one setting at time to keep the confusion down.

I'm guessing again, but I think that you can change the aperture setting with the "F" button, and the ISO (ASA) setting with the button with the lightbulb on it. The idea is to get the range of distances that you anticipate you'll be shooting at, then match the ISO and aperture in the camera to the settings shown on the LCD. You should be able to get reasonable exposures within the range of distances shown on the scale. The choice for most people would be to use the lowest ISO setting that you can get for the best IQ (at least noise wise), however, by raising the ISO, you can get more range out of the flash if needed.

Since the camera and the Gun don't really communicate (except for the flash charge state -- lightning bolt in viewfinder flashes when charging, and steady when "ready" -- and then to fire the flash when you hit the shutter), you have to tell the flash how the camera's set so both are working on the same page. The little round window on the flash body is a sensor that will meter the exposure.

As the flash is currently set (assuming that it will stay the same when you switch to Auto) -- using a 35mm lens (@24mm on the DL with the crop factor), ISO 100 and f5.6 should give you good results (I can't tell you the distance range since the flash is set for TTL, so the distance scale just probably tells you the max distance that it will give you good exposures in TTL mode -- this should change when you switch to Auto and give you a series of distances -- measured by the meter on top and feet on the bottom -- which will give you the working distances at these settings).

You can compensate for overexposure by stopping down the lens a bit, or by lowering the ISO setting without changing the flash settings, and for underexposure, open the lens up a bit or raise the ISO setting, again without changing anything on the flash. You may find that you want to stop down a little at the closer distances and open up at the longer distances in the range, but that will come with experience.

Don't use Auto ISO. P mode is useable if you have the e-dial set to control aperture, but realize that you need to control both the aperture and ISO with hard settings. Manual mode is probably the most common with the shutter set at 1/180 or slower, but I usually have my camera set to Av mode which should work fine since the camera will default to 1/180 or slower (synch speed) when you mount the module in the hotshoe and the e-dial will default to control the aperture.

Any metering mode on the camera should work fine since the metering is being done by the flash. You might want to use CW or spot if you want to "drag the shutter" or use some more advanced techniques.

This probably sounds complicated, but once you get some experience, it's really easy. Try it out and post again if you have some other ??s. I'm guessing that it'll work pretty well on average.

I realise that I might not have been too clear in my explanation but I really did make an attempt to give enough pertinent information while trying to keep it simple :-). There's actually a lot one can do with an Auto flash -- and there are even some advantages over TTL and P-TTL.

Scott

Also, from the looks of the hotshoe adapter, you might get a focus assist beam from it in very low light situations, and it looks like the flash's reflector will zoom according to lens FL automatically.
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Old Dec 29, 2008, 9:56 AM   #10
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Thanks for the info. Just a correction... I didn't use the flash on TTL; it just defaults to that when the batteries are removed and reinstalled. I used it on M and Auto. I guess it's just going to take a bit of practice if I want to use this flash, which is not a bad thing. There's a reason that we had to use manual SLR's inphotography class back in the '80's - to learn how it all works and be able to take better pictures. Besides, havingthe abilityto see the resulting photoafter adjustment makes it not so bad. I imagine I will eventually go ahead and get a Pentax flash, but for the moment, this is doing the trick... with a bit of work. I've got to go through the same learning process with this flashfor the OLY, which has turned out to be a fun little camera. I don't use Auto ISO on either of these cameras; I'd rather know I need more light oran adjustment instead of having the ISO automatically go up. As much as I enjoy totally automatic cameras, I think I still prefer at least some manual control. My old ME Super took many hundreds of great photos without benefit of immediate viewing; I know the DL (and 5060) will do the same!

David
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