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Old Aug 19, 2006, 1:10 AM   #141
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Sara (and others):

I might have missed the answer to this question, but here it is: I was in a Ritz camera shop today checking out the k100d, and asked questions about flashes. The sales person, who seemed fairly knowledgable, claimed that it is generally better to use the same brand external flash as the camera because the camera flash combination is often tweaked to work together best. How true is that? Why did you go with the Sigma vs. the Pentax external flashes? How do the features and performance of the Sigma compare with the top end Pentax flash? Can the Pentax external flash(or the Sigma) be used as slave flashes?
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Old Aug 19, 2006, 7:40 AM   #142
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me, i went with the sigma because of cost. the 540 at 350usd was just too much of a bullit to bite.. 228usd was a little easier. yes it can be used as a slave. features are similar and i'm enjoying it.

roy
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Old Aug 19, 2006, 11:57 AM   #143
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gf-

I was in the very same situation as Roy. The Pentax brand flashes are excellent, but they are quite expensive. I do most of my normal flash shooting with my Pentax DSLR cameras using a variety of slave flashes and that has worked just fine.

As I promised to to do the Flash Thread, I went ahead and purchased the Sigma EF 500 DG ST PA-PTTL flash from B&H, and a Promaster Flash on ebayso that I could completethe project as promised.

I had an older Pentax Flash but it dates back to Pentax Film SLR days and it was not fully operative with the DSLR cameras. So price was, at least for me, the determining factor. Keep in mind that whether the flashis a Sigma brand or Pentax brand flash, it will operate in the very same way. As this Flash Thread has seemed to disclose, most DSLR users only use their external flashes for only the minority percentage of their total photos.

In my workshops, for my flash sessions in the past, I have always used the Nikon D-50 or D-70 with the Nikon SB-800 flash which is quite a sophisticated flash or the Canon XT with the Canon EX580 Flash. Now I can also use the Pentax K100D with the Sigma EF 500 flash.

So, to aswer the balance of your question: Pentax Flashes are IMHO excellent, but not necessarily better than other flashes. Like Roy, the extra cost might not fit well with your budget.

I use flash a lot and feel that it is a very good light source. However, really getting the most out of an external flash do have a learning curve to it.

MT/Sarah
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Old Aug 20, 2006, 1:08 PM   #144
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I reviewed the compatibility table for the Sigma EF-500 DG super (PA-TLL) for the Pentax camera. Looks like there are 2 areas of incompatibility of the 10 functions listed.

One is wireless flash, where footnote 4 states: "Built-in flash cannot be used fo rwireless flash. It can only be set if two or more EF-500 DG SUPER units are used."

The other is normal slave flash, where footnote 3 states: "Built-in flash cannot be used. Please set Master unit to manual mode."

How significant are these incompatibilities? What situations would call for the use of these "incompoatible" functions, and what are the resulting compormises or workarounds?

Does the Pentax flash overcome these incompatibilities? What difference does this make? For the extra $100for the Pentax flash, how worthwhile is "total compatibility", if in fact the Pentax flash is totally compatible?
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Old Aug 20, 2006, 2:43 PM   #145
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gf-

I like Slave Flashes as you might have detected from the lesson within the Flash Thread. The exceptions that you are discussing don't matter at all to me. I will use the Sigma EF 500 as my camera mounted flash and add in cheap slaves, as necessary.

Why you might ask? Well, the last slave flash that I purchased on ebay cost $8.25+ $3.00 for shipping. I got a full tilt, full swivel head full powered slave. So that works well for me because I saved almost $200 by buying the Sigma Flash rather than the Pentax Flash.

But that was just my choice, your choice might be entirely different. The important thing is simply this: get the equipment that works well for you. The EF-500 and the Slaves work great for me, but perhaps not for you, unless you are used to working with Slave Flashes.

MT/Sarah
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Old Aug 20, 2006, 3:14 PM   #146
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I'm not used to working with slaves or indentured servants or even some types of employees:-). Which means that being somewhat of a novice with external digital flashes, if I'm going to spend $200 (Sigma) or $300 (Pentax) for an external flash, I want to avoid the situation where I think something is supposed to work and it doesn't because of some incompatibility quirk.

Maybe the situations that Sigma points out that limit the uses or require workarounds (footnotes 3 or 4)are entirely inconsequential - or on the other hand maybe they arecentral to the essential ability to use slave flash in a fully automated situation to achieve certain desirable results under some common circumstances. I don't know how important that deficiency is to the uninitiated such as myself.

I need to establish, 1) Do these deficiencies really matter to the novice flash user (to the experienced user they may not matter because their experience enablesquick adaptation and work arounds - to the novice, the work around might bea total frustration) 2) If they do matter, is the Pentax fully compatible in these areas where the Sigma is incompatible? and 3) If the deficiencies don't matter, what, in practical situational terms, would the Sigma user be missing in his photo taking endeavors if he didn't want to botherto overcome those incompatibilities - e.g. experimentation in manual mode?
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Old Aug 20, 2006, 5:26 PM   #147
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gf-

I honestly think that you have to ask yourself how many times you just might want to use a photo set-up requiring multiple flashes to take the photo. I could be wrong, but my guess would be that the answer would turn out to be somewhere around once a year or less.

I honestly don't believe that the footnotes and sub footnotes are going to affect you very much at all. Here is what I have found when conducting my DSLR workshops:

(a) Most users, particularly novice users, are most prone to use a single external flash.

(b) Few novice users will regularly use bounce flash or difussers.

(c) Users, both novice and experienced, will always take me up onmy offer to set-up a multiple flash photo environment so they can see how it is done, and to see the results.

(d) When we get to the actual shooting portions of our workshop, in the last two years, I have only had one student attempt to set-up a multi flash photo situation. The reason was he was experienced, and had been offered a photo job doing some catalog photos, and he just wanted to be sure he could do it. I was happy to help him out.

However, as I said in my earlier post, the decision is entirely up to you. I have done weddings, I have done advertising work, and I regularly use flash. Do what is comfortable for you. That is the advice, I always give to my students.

I did the lessons contained in the Flash Thread thread todemonstrate some new photo issues, to introduce some new equipment and techniquesand to help people in the forum.

MT/Sarah
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Old Aug 20, 2006, 5:54 PM   #148
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oh gawd?? where do i fit in??? i just spent the entire morning evaluating the s500 super with without diffusser. i must have shot a little over 150 shots. to date ALL my macros have been handheld at 1/180 when i used flash, which is usually. today i was experimenting with high speed sync at 1/250- 1/1000sec. i think i'm in love!!! to me the extra $100 for the super was well worth it. problem is i found out i left my flash grip in phoenix at the motel so i was unable to use off camera flash.. guess that means another 150 shots when it gets here..

get what works for you and test, test, test it until it's just a natural thing to use.. i've never used slaves(except for sex, hehe)but i have this idea about the humming bird feeder.. hmmmm

sarah, i know there are a lot of people that thank you for this article.. how about one that shows how shutter time/aperture/iso are so interrelated. this would also cover DOF as a by-product. this is an area that REALLY confuses people new to photography. like, how can f16 @ 1/125sec, iso 200be the same exposure as f5.6 @ 1/1500sec, iso400??? and why you would choose one over the other. did i get that right???

roy
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Old Aug 20, 2006, 10:12 PM   #149
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Roy-

You got it exactly correct. The only problem is that I am deep into writing a new and updated syllabus for two of my workshops. I will need to stay with it until the end of the month to get it completed. ThenI have to pack, as we will be gone for nearly 4 full months.

That is why I finished up the Flash Thread first, as I had made a promise that I felt that I really had to keep to the forum members. It is not an especially difficult topic, Roy. Why don't you take it on. I know that you could do a good job with it.

MT/Sarah
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Old Aug 21, 2006, 1:38 AM   #150
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mtclimber wrote:
Quote:
It is not an especially difficult topic, Roy. Why don't you take it on. I know that you could do a good job with it.

MT/Sarah
are you kidding?? it's one of the most difficult topics there is. i'd have no way of putting something like that together. i don't have the typing skills for it, nor any idea of a format..

roy
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