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Old Mar 24, 2010, 10:11 PM   #1
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Default New Toy! Metz 15 MS1 Macro Slave Flash

Hi All,

After convincing myself to get the Sigma EX 180 Macro, I decided to get serious about a macro flash, so started researching.

My criteria for choosing were:

1. Light weight. I chose the D FA 100 for its weight. . . this was obviously not the case with the 180. But with the 180, I need to keep the total weight down because the lens is so heavy. . . so light weight was a priority.

2. P-TTL. I seem to be in a minority about P-TTL -- I like it and have had no unforeseen exposure problems. . . and I like brainless flash.

3. It had to be at least as powerful as the popup -- I want to be able to use it for small room indoor flash in a pinch.

4. Some level of control over the light. I know I'll want this in the future, if not right away. I don't know enough about macro flash at this point, and how it will effect the image.

5. Cost -- I knew it was going to be expensive, but as much under $400 USD was something to shoot for.

Long story short, I chose the Metz.

1. It weighs 7 oz without batteries, and uses 2 AAAs, so the batteries are nothing extra.

2. It's a wireless remote TTL slave, so I can use P-TTL using the K-7, K20, or K10 popup flash as the controller. It has a USB port, so possible future compatibility issues can be cured with a download of new firmware. A bonus is that this flash works as a wireless TTL remote for all the major camera systems, and can be switched to Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Samsung, Sony/Minolta, Panasonic, and, of course Pentax -- with just a menu choice. This should keep resale value up, and offer a wider buyer market if I decide to sell it.

3. It has a Guide Number of 15 (m, ISO 100), so it's a touch more powerful than the popup for the K-7 which has a GN of 13 (m, ISO 100). As with the popup, if I need it to reach farther, I can bump up the ISO.

4. The relative power of the two bulbs can be varied in ratio from 1:1, 2:1, 4:1, 8:1, or 100%:0 to either side. the individual bulbs can be rotated from straight ahead to angled 10 or 20 degrees towards the middle. A diffuser is included to soften the light if wanted.

5. It's pricey at @ $400 from the major dealers, but I found an ebay dealer who was offering it for $329 shipped, and they had a 99+% rating, so I ordered it from them.

It comes with adapter rings for 52, 55, and 58 mm filter threads. I needed 72mm for the Sigma 180, and I also wanted 62mm for the DA 18-250, so I ordered these from Adorama. I already had a 49-52 step up ring, so I was set for the D FA 100. There is also a clip that blocks visible light but passes IR, so the popup flash doesn't accidentally add to the exposure. Everything fits in a very nicely made nylon belt pouch. The manual is pretty big, but it's multilanguage, and really only steps you through the various setups.

Setup was very easy once I read the manual and found out how to access the menu system. I set it to modelling light off and Pentax and was ready to roll.

Here are some quick shots to show you how it looks:

First the flash, clip on blocker, and diffuser


This is how it looks with the K-7 and D FA 100 Macro


This flash is not a ring flash though it looks like one. It has two flash tubes that are about 1" long instead of two semicircular tubes. This makes the light more directional, with nothing from the top or bottom. . .not too much different from the twin macro flash units on a bracket that some mfgs offer. If you're looking for max versatility for light positioning, this light's probably not what you want. If you want the Halo Shadow look, this light won't quite do it, but comes close.



I'll continue this in a reply with more samples.

Scott

Last edited by snostorm; Mar 25, 2010 at 1:27 AM.
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Old Mar 24, 2010, 10:36 PM   #2
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So far, So good. keep us up to date on how it works for you and how you like it.
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Old Mar 24, 2010, 10:38 PM   #3
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Default Metz 15 MS1 review Part II

Okay, so how's it do as a flash?

Pretty good, I'd say. I played around for a couple of days, just shooting junk shots to see how it works in P-TTL. I only got a few apparent misfires, and this flash, as all P-TTL flashes, will underexpose considerably if there's a direct reflection of the flash off a shiney object in the frame. I usually shoot center weighted, and haven't changed the metering mode since this is how I plan to use this flash.

I tried it at macro distances at everything from wide open (f3.5) to f22, and the flash did pretty well, but I had to use -EV comp for the widest apertures and +EV comp for small apertures, which I had expected. At medium apertures, like f5.6- 10, I could shoot at just about any reasonable distance and get a pretty good exposure. This is all at ISO 100 and the K-7.

Here are some of the junk shots around the house:

The eject/open button for one of my DVD burners (black on black)


This one was kinda funny. I've used this monitor every day for over a year, and never noticed the plastic film on the Logo until I took this shot


New watch-- probably not the best "product photo", but I liked the way the light played on the surfaces.


These last two of this series compare similar views of a small ceramic box. The first is with the D FA 100/2.8 Macro wide open, and the second is with the Sigma EX 180/3.5 Macro, again wide open.





The shot from the 100 is brighter, but I expected this -- remember I had to use -EV comp for wider apertures. The thing that stands out to me is the look of the bokeh. I'm a bit surprised that the Sigma seems to win here, but the DOF is thinner with the longer lens, and this might be a function of this. However, I've been struck with the quality of the bokeh from the Sigma from the first shot, and feel that this lens has some of the smoothest transitions to OOF of any lens I own.

I'll continue this with another reply with some shots outside.
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Old Mar 24, 2010, 11:08 PM   #4
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Scott - My other half was grumbling as he headed to bed. He wanted me to tell you that he's NOT happy you have got your new "toy" and showing it off. My first words on this subject were, "Look at the neat thing Scott got - I want one." (he knows I've been sort-of eyeing ring flashes for a while). He's in luck, though - I want something to cover the focal range between 24 and 50 more.

I'll be fascinated to see how you make out with this flash - it looks like it would work well with the Viv S1 macro lens I have.
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Old Mar 24, 2010, 11:21 PM   #5
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Okay, now some shots outside. It's still cold here, but not freezing -- I think that all the plants are afraid we'll get more snow, so there's hardly anything even budding, but I did find some signs of things waking up. . .

It was cloudy and pretty dim out, but I'm using a flash. . . I'm not good a plants, so I don't know what these are, but here goes:

There's a lady who keeps a small flower garden at the end of one of the buildings in the complex. I don't remember seeing any sign of life here last week, but today. . .


Some of the trees were starting to show some signs of life. This was shot upward with the sky and some branches in the background.


Some moss and lichen (?) on the bark of a tree


This is from the end of a branch of one of the various evergreens we have on the property. Most had something similar, but only a single bud -- from what I've seen, it's the bud for stem growth, but this might be the start of a number of cones (?)


This last one is just some dried up grass. It was a challenge (as most were) because of the almost constant wind. Not quite the composition I wanted, but I took what I could.


Some final thoughts about this flash. It has an AF assist beam, not too strong, but useful, especially at macro distances. It turns off at @ 9 sec, or when the flash fires. I can get a focus lock in AF in a completely dark room with it if there's any contrast at all at under a foot, but it's only good for maybe 3-4 feet max, and you'd need some contrast. If you actuate the modelling light, it gives you a continuous series of miniflashes like most Pentax models do for AF assist. If I need more light for AF, I'd use this, as I've never used the modelling light function of any flash. . . but I might with this one. . .

The flash can also be used as a manual optical slave flash for those cameras that can't use the popup as a controller. It has the capacity to learn the preflash behavior of digital cameras, and can be taught to ignore any preflashes and fire for the exposure only. There is a tripod socket in the base, so it can be set up on a tripod or light stand. There's also a synch cord socket, and it can be fires as a wired remote via PC synch. There are slave sensors on both the top and front of the unit, so positioning as a remote shouldn't pose too many problems

All I have as far as batteries are 6 old Nimh rechargeables and alkalines. Neither is good for a whole lot of flashes, so sooner or later, I'll get some slow discharge rechargeables, but in the meantime, I'll see how long my current batteries live, and will carry all six since they're so small and light.

The only quibble I have is that the ready light is on the right side of the back of the unit. This is great for left-eyed shooters, but I believe that the majority shoot with their right eye to the VF, and in shooting position, I can't see the light. Maybe I'll just learn to be an ambi-eyed shooter. There have been a number of times when I had to shoot with my left eye, and it would probably be a good skill to have. Edit: one more quibble - the ready light is very hard to distinguish if lit in daylight, and it was cloudy today. On a sunny day, I'd say that there's no way I'd be able to tell if it's lit.

All in all I'm happy with this unit. It might be a bit limiting for some, but I think that most enthusiast class shooters would be happy with it. With the D FA Macro, it's a very light package, and I could see shooting parties and family gatherings with this rather than a shoe mounted flash.

Scott

Last edited by snostorm; Mar 24, 2010 at 11:30 PM.
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Old Mar 25, 2010, 12:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldwinger View Post
So far, So good. keep us up to date on how it works for you and how you like it.
Hi GW,

Thanks for taking a look.

I'm sure you'll see more from this -- I really am going to try to shoot a lot of macro this year. I do find it hard to look at things from a macro perspective though. I can see small birds way up in a tree, but it's tough for me to spot insects and such critters. I'm hoping that this will give me a whole different way of looking at things. -- and then maybe landscapes or architecture. . .

Scott

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
Scott - My other half was grumbling as he headed to bed. He wanted me to tell you that he's NOT happy you have got your new "toy" and showing it off. My first words on this subject were, "Look at the neat thing Scott got - I want one." (he knows I've been sort-of eyeing ring flashes for a while). He's in luck, though - I want something to cover the focal range between 24 and 50 more.

I'll be fascinated to see how you make out with this flash - it looks like it would work well with the Viv S1 macro lens I have.
Hi Harriet,

I've long ago realized that I'm in a permanent doghouse situation with your hubby. . . and it's not likely this will change in the foreseeable future. It's a good thing we have half a continent between us, or I'd be in trouble. . .

I hate to suggest anything in a lens, but if you don't mind a 4mm gap, the Tamron 28-75/2.8 is really an excellent lens (I think I have to add "if you get a good one" after Kjell's experience). It uses aspherical elements to make it smaller, and takes 67mm filters compared to the 72-77mm of the comparable models from other mfgs. For me, that makes a significant difference. I can stick the Tamron into a pocket comfortably, but my Sigma 17-70 with a 72mm filter size just doesn't carry easily. The Tamron, for me is a great range for people and flowers and such.

I'll stop while I'm still alive. . .

Thaks for looking and tell your hubby I really didn't mean it. . . this whole thread's a hoax. . .

Scott
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Old Mar 25, 2010, 5:11 AM   #7
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Scott, many thanks, indeed for these photos. Really neat flash, would be interested to see more photos as you use this flash. And, thanks for sharing the information about the flash, your criteria. Good to know. Ned
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Old Mar 25, 2010, 11:31 AM   #8
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The gap isn't big, in fact one of the solutions I'm still seriously considering is to get the FA 31 or the DA 35 macro. If it weren't for my strong desire for weather sealing that's definitely the way I would go. I have so many other lenses with 77 mm filter size that it wouldn't make a difference to have one more (i.e., the DA*16-50). Now the DA 35 macro with this ring flash might be a really sweet set-up!

I think my K7's AF indicator is slightly off. I haven't done much macro since I got it, Saturday was about the first time. I found that I had a lower than normal success rate with the combination, but put it down to lack of practice due to the fact I now have some nice AF lenses. However, yesterday I went out with the 105 and a reversed 50 in front of it. It was too breezy for such things and I didn't have my flash with me, so it was hopeless, but it seemed like I wasn't seeing things as clearly as I should have when the camera indicted in-focus. I figured that the dioper was off, so I pointed the camera at a distant tree and adjusted the camera's focus to where it beeped, then adjusted the dioper to show it being sharp. Only problem is that the lens wasn't quite on infinity, but I thought perhaps the lens could go beyond infinity, like the A*300 does. When I looked at the picture on the monitor, it wasn't sharp - guess it's time to shoot more focus charts, and to change the dioper back to where it was.

I'm sorry we live so far apart - I'm sure that if you and Dan ever met, you'd probably become friends. I'd have some great photo equipment and lose weight because we couldn't afford to eat, too.
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Old Mar 25, 2010, 3:38 PM   #9
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Default He who hesitates

Scott, I think you sold three of these to pentaxians this morning! There was another seller who had a listing for 5 of these at $329.95, offers accepted, with 3 left and four hours remaining. While I was contemplating whether a $300 offer would be too low, the listing ended early, and the lowest offer accepted is now shown as $275! Oh, well, the O-flash works well enough, albeit a bit clumsily - and it is a LOT cheaper!
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Old Mar 25, 2010, 5:43 PM   #10
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You are on your way, Scott-

Those are impressive results and they are only preliminary.

Good going!

Sarah Joyce
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