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Old Apr 23, 2010, 12:51 AM   #1
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Default Flash Recommendation?

Hi everyone, sorry for being such a noob. I'm looking to do some "strobist" type portraits and headshots with flashes off camera. I'm buying a pentax 360fgz flash to use as the master. I'm looking for 1 or 2 slave flashes to supplement my lighting. Any recommendation for a slave flash that is readily available and cheap?

Does anyone have experience with this vivitar 285HV flash?
http://www.mpex.com/browse.cfm/4,4616.html
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Old Apr 23, 2010, 11:24 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shubonker View Post
Hi everyone, sorry for being such a noob. I'm looking to do some "strobist" type portraits and headshots with flashes off camera. I'm buying a pentax 360fgz flash to use as the master. I'm looking for 1 or 2 slave flashes to supplement my lighting. Any recommendation for a slave flash that is readily available and cheap?

Does anyone have experience with this vivitar 285HV flash?
http://www.mpex.com/browse.cfm/4,4616.html
I've had one since the early 1980's and it is still my favorite flash. Mine is the 285 HV Zoom thyristor. They are being produced again and sold under the Vivitar name again as well. It has a low enough trigger voltage that it is not a danger to the camera's electrical system. Price is about the same as it was when I bought mine...around 86 dollars US I believe. I also have a Vivitar D200 Digital slave flash and must say as a slave setup I think it is very easy to use as it keys and operates by seeing the main flash and using it as the trigger. No wires needed. For regular every day use I like the 285 HV zoom thyristor better. Motorman uses several of these to take cave photos. He has a wireless trigger setup to actuate them. Seems to like them (the 285 flashes) as they are very rugged and inexpensive to buy.

As a side note...the 285 HV Zoom Thyristor is one of the most used and most sold of any flash in history. Vivitar sold a ton of them before they stopped production and since that Name (Vivitar) is back in use again they are producing this still great flash again. I'm glad as I may have to replace mine in another 30 years or so when it is 60+ years old....Did I mention durable???
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Old Apr 23, 2010, 11:49 AM   #3
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First let me say, I have no real experience in studio photography. But, from what I've been reading, you might be better off with a couple Mono lights. Adorama has some low cost lights starting at $49.95 and some starter two light kits as low as $199 and three light kits at $299. you can add umbrellas, reflectors and soft boxes as you see fit later on down the road. just my 2cents.
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Old Apr 23, 2010, 1:01 PM   #4
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Hi shubonker,

I'm not a very sophisticated flash user, but I have used a Sunpak 383 Auto Thyristor flash in the past, and it's very competent. The Viv 285HV that Dawg mentions is also a highly regarded unit.

I don't know how you plan to trigger the off-camera flashes, but if I were looking for high quality units, I'd look at some used Nikon and Canon (and even Pentax or Olympus) pre-digital models. The high end professional models that don't do the digital preflash can often be found at pennies on the dollar at the original cost, and are probably the highest quality hotshoe guns you can find out there for the money. Do some research to look for features like auto thyristor sensors and built in optical slave triggers -- it would probably be worthwhile.

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Old Apr 23, 2010, 11:11 PM   #5
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If i had a multi-sync adapter like this one:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc....html#features

Would i need a master or commander flash unit to control these on my k-x? Or would i be able to set them off and manually set power on a vivitar 285?
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Old Apr 24, 2010, 3:45 AM   #6
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If you're looking to do Strobist-like portraits, you're going to be much much happier using a wireless trigger. There are many RF-based flash triggers that work decently for relatively cheap. Furthermore, this places the flash off-camera, so you don't risk blowing up the camera using a flash that has a high trigger voltage. The disadvantage is that you lose P-TTL, which automates the metering for you; but if you're doing Strobist-like portraits, you'll be on manual anyway. I personally use the FlashWave 2 system. It's more expensive than eBay triggers, but it's also more reliable; it is also cheaper than the more mainstream offerings, such as Elinchroms, PocketWizards, etc. The US distributor sells it via Amazon: http://amzn.to/9s1fjL

The Vivitar 285HV is a good option, but its price has increased due to the Strobist movement. I own the following flashes, which I trigger with my FlashWaves: Metz 48 AF-1, Nikon SB-24, Nikon SB-26, Sunpak 433D. I also own the Pentax AF 360 FGZ, but I don't use it with the triggers unless I have to; the 360 and 540 don't play well with some wireless trigger systems.

Again, if you're going to go wireless, make sure the flash you're going to get has a manual mode. Dedicated-only flashes won't cut it.

- Jason
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Old Apr 25, 2010, 8:25 PM   #7
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Thanks for the tips guys, i picked up a Vivitar 285HV (new) and a Flashpoint 16 RF transmitter and receiver system. They work REALLY well. I also tested the voltage on my 285HV and it was less than 5v, so i'll be using it on my k-x's hotshoe occasionally as well!

Have also picked up an older Vivitar 283 from ebay for 26 bucks which has a GN of 140 or something like that i believe.
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