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Old Nov 28, 2007, 6:21 PM   #1
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Used to travel around the country shooting motorcycles for magazines using 700si bodies and five to seven mixed 3500, 5600 and 5600HS wireless flash units ... saved me hundreds of pounds of freight over my competitors and setup could, in fact, be transported on the back of a bike when necessary.

Would like to be able to use these flashes with the 5D, 7D or A100, but you obviously can't control wireless remote flashes in manual mode. Does anyone know of a workaround for using non-digital Minolta flash units with their digital bodies ... maybe via the old hot shoe flash trigger or some kind of black magic.

Thanks


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Old Nov 29, 2007, 5:19 AM   #2
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Are you sure you don't mean the older 5400 or 5400HS (D) versus the newer 5600HS (D)?

The older 5400 flash models are not compatible with digital. So, my guess is that's what you meant.

You need the newer 3600HS (D) or 5600HS (D) for use with KM or Sony DSLR models. Sony also has these same flashes rebranded with new model numbers. They're the HVL-36AM (same as the 3600HS (D)), and HVL-56AM (same as the 5600HS (D)).

There is no good way to trigger the old flash models that I'm aware of and control their output (they will always fire at full power with digital and I don't even know if you can trigger them via wirelss using the camera's flash with digital).

From a cost perspective, you'd probably be better off using non-dedicated Auto Thyristor type flashes (Sunpak 383 Super, Vivitar 285HV or equivalent) with radio triggers. These types of flash models are relatively inexpensive in the used market.

I spent a total of $48 for a flash system to use with my Maxxum 5D (and that included two external flashes).

* $16 for a third party adapter to give the 5D an ISO standard hotshoe (and a PC Sync Port).

* a Sunpak 222 Auto with tilt and two aperture ranges for a smaller flash unit (GN of about 72 feet at ISO 100) for $7.00 from KEH.com (and they even threw in a nice, coiled PC Sync Cord with it).

* a Sunpak 333 Auto with tilt, swivel and zoom head with multiple auto aperture ranges, as well as better manual settings (full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16).

GN runs from 86 feet to 120 feet at ISO 100, depending on the zoom head setting. I got this one for $25 (like new in box in 10 condition from the used department at B&H).

Total Flash System Investment: $48

You can get an adapter that gives these cameras an ISO Standard shoe. It's the Minolta FS-1100 (sold out at most vendors now). I use this third party adapter instead (I have a Sunpak 333 Auto and Sunpak 222 Auto I use with my KM 5D and Sony Alpha 700).

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/home.php?cat=275

You can also find radio triggers that you could use with non-dedicated flashes that have an ISO standard foot (put a transmitter in the hotshoe adapter, receivers on external flashes).

Then, either use the flashes with one of their Auto ranges, setting the flashes and camera to match for aperture and iso speed (that way, the flashes terminate their own output when they see enough reflected light for the settings you're using with their built in sensors), or just use their manual power settings.

This same vendor sells radio transmitter/receiver kits at very low prices. But, I have no experience with their radio kits.

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Old Nov 29, 2007, 5:57 AM   #3
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P.S.

You "might" be able to use an FS-1100 equivalent adapter in the camera's hotshoe with an FS-1200 with each flash (then, both would be ISO standard). The use radio triggers with them.

Third Party FS-1100 equivalent Hotshoe Adapter:

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/home.php?cat=275

FS-1200 Adapter for each flash (to give them an ISO standard foot):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...e_Adapter.html

This FS-1200 adapter is still available and was originally designed to let the original Maxxum 7000 type cameras (before Minolta changed to the new hotshoe) to trigger the newer type flashes. But, you'd have to try one to see if it actually triggers your flashes or not.

Then, use a radio transmitter in the hotshoe adapter on the camera, with each of the old flashes equipped with an FS-1200 plugged into receivers that can use flashes with an ISO standard foot, using manual power settings on your flashes. Not all receivers have a built in hotshoe (some only work with PC Sync cords). So, you could end up needing yet another adapter with each FS-1200 going that route. Here's an example of one with a built in hotshoe designed to work with some of the kits they carry:

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...274&page=1

But, I have no experience with this type of solution and don't know if it would work OK or not.

I think it would probably be easier just going with non-dedicated flahes versus trying to trigger the old Minolta flashes that way.



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Old Nov 29, 2007, 6:05 AM   #4
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One more possible solution. It's a modification for some of the older flashes (5400HS, 5400XI, 5200i) to let them work with digital.

http://www.voitzsch.net/flashconv_en.shtml

I have no experience with this type of solution. So, I don't know how much trouble it would be to get working.

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Old Dec 3, 2007, 8:33 PM   #5
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Thanks, Jim ... I appreciate the advice.

Just picked up my new Alpha 100 and am very happy with the performance ... it actually feels and acts like a "real" camera, which for $629 including a slow but adequate zoom and U.S. warranty, is fabulous.

(Only time will tell about reliability -- I work in consumer electronics and Sony QC and build quality has been miserable in most produdct categoies in recent years, I'm hoping the majority of the camera guts were assembled from the KM 5d parts bin.)

In any case, I am perplexed (and a bit horrified) by the wireless flash section of the owner's manual ... are you really limited to using only one off-camera flash even if you do shell out the big bucks for dedicated KM/Sony digital units? Or did they just forget to mention that you can control up to five or eight or whatever the number with the old 7 and 700 Minolta film cameras was?

Yes, I agree you can do much the same thing with traditional slaves from any maker, but through-the-lens metering and control of multiple off-camera flashes is a beautiful thing for those of us who've had the pleasure of using it.

In addition to shooting motorcycles professionally, I also used to shoot for some tattoo magazines ... the ability of the Minolta multi-wireless system to produce accurate (albiet bracketed) exposures of everything from a full backpiece shot from six feet and a detail shot from two feet without requiring any human exposure setting intervention was wonderful, particularly when dealing with twitchy amateur models.
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Old Dec 4, 2007, 7:04 AM   #6
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ekb606 wrote:
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In any case, I am perplexed (and a bit horrified) by the wireless flash section of the owner's manual ... are you really limited to using only one off-camera flash even if you do shell out the big bucks for dedicated KM/Sony digital units? Or did they just forget to mention that you can control up to five or eight or whatever the number with the old 7 and 700 Minolta film cameras was?
I don't know if there is an upper limit to the number of off camera flash units that can be used but I often use two, in wireless mode, with my A100. One as a main light and the other as a fill light. It works very nicely.
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Old Dec 4, 2007, 12:00 PM   #7
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Thanks very much, Frank. That's very reassuring to know.
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 4:14 PM   #8
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JimC wrote:
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One more possible solution. It's a modification for some of the older flashes (5400HS, 5400XI, 5200i) to let them work with digital.

http://www.voitzsch.net/flashconv_en.shtml

I have no experience with this type of solution. So, I don't know how much trouble it would be to get working.
Just installed this module on a 5400HSS (the only heritage flash it will work with for Sonys because of the change to 40-segment metering). The only limitation is that high-speed mode is not supported, max. shutter speed is 160 ... but I was primarily interested in wireless off camera TTL and Minolta never supported high-speed sync for that even in their film cameras so that's cool.

Meanwhile, you have all the power and versatility and wireless compatibility of your 5400 flash to use with your Sony for under $50 and a few hours work.

Actually, less than an hour's work if you're not as stupid as I am. I missed getting the release lever for the retainer peg seated exactly right when I reassembled the hot shoe and had to take the thing apart again to get it off the camera.

Oh, well, now I know why I've always wanted to find and throttle whoever decided to "retire" screw down hotshoe connectors.

But seriously, the conversion does work, exposures are spot on, recharge time is just as fast as it was on my 7si (note: the modified 5400HSS will not work on film bodies, fortunately I have a drawer full of 5200s and 3500s for that) and, if you've ever owned one, you already know that all the 5200-5400 flashes are tremedous, rugged workhorses.

I definitely recommend going this way rather than Mickey Mousing a wireless solution with third-party slaves and non-TTL exposures. (Note: There is a bit of circuit board soldering required so you will have to have a fine-point soldering iron available.)
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 6:58 PM   #9
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Congratulations on your success. :-)

So, after this modification does it function as a digital flash? i.e. is there a pre-flash to determine the correct flash exposure?


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Old Feb 12, 2008, 8:23 PM   #10
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That's an interesting question. I just did the mod last night and, frankly, haven't been aware of a pre-flash ... even though the exposures -- including bouncing off the cieling and using an on-flash diffuser -- have been perfect at ranges from about two feet to over 20 feet.

On the other hand, I haven't tried it with a "D" lens yet, just a Minolta 50mm 1.4 and 24-85, so it may be that without the distance contact on the lens the pre-flash metering is automatically disabled regardless of what flash you're using ... I do know that the built-in flash doesn't always trigger a pre-flash even with the "D" Sony kit lens.

It is also possible, and again, I haven't noticed that the camera is using the 5400's built-in AF illuminator in lieu of the pre-flash.

I will try the 5400 with the kit lens sometime in the next couple of days and let you know. Will also report on the wireless function now that I've got the flash separated from the camera again.
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