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Old Jun 15, 2006, 2:37 PM   #1
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Started to research a flash for my 5D and have become quite surprised by the possible cost of the investment.* I need an inexpensive flash for indoors with the subject at a 50-100 feet in my church.* Second condition would be more common with taking pics like family get togethers with use of a tripod and timer setting.* It sounds like the Minolta 5600HS D would be nice, but the price on the used market is crazy.* Should I hold off and wait for a Sony announcement?* How effective are flashes indoors with 100 feet of distance from camera to subject?* How about a Sunpak 433D with Minolta FS -1100?
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Old Jun 15, 2006, 3:37 PM   #2
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What lens are you using?

100 feet is a pretty good distance for a strobe.

To compute flash range at ISO 100, you need to divide the GN (Guide Number) by the aperture you want to shoot at.

For example, if a strobe has a Guide Number of 120 feet at ISO 100, and you're shooting at f/5.6, your maximum flash range would be approximatley 21.4 feet.

If you were shooting at f/2.8 with the same strobe at ISO 100, your maximum flash range would then be approximately 42.85 feet (120/2.8 = 42.85).

Then, each time you double the ISO speed, flash range increases by 1.4x.

The Auto Ranges on most strobes are not really designed to be accurate at distances that far. So, you'd be taking your chances.

I've got a Sunpak 333 Auto that has a Guide Number of 120 feet at ISO 100 with the zoom head extended, and it's distance scale only goes through 60 feet with the Auto Ranges. Playing with the settings, one of the Auto Ranges gives me 9 to 60 feet if I shoot at ISO 400 at f/4.

If I were using a slower zoom, I could also shoot at ISO 800 and f/5.6 and reach out that far (60 feet), even though the scale shows ISO 1000 as the next step on the strobe).

That's not to say it wouldn't work OK at further ranges if you made sure the ISO speed and aperture selected were within the tolerances of the Guide Number. But, exposure may become more unreliable as ISO speeds get too high and distances get further.

The built in sensor is just looking at total reflected light, and terminates the flash burst when it sees enough for the selected aperture range. Of course, if any obstacles are between you and your subject, it could fool the sensor from reflected light (which is probably one reason seeing strobes with Auto ranges further than around 50 or 60 feet is rare, even when they're powerful enough to handle it).

Some of the dedicated Metz handle mount units have auto ranges that extend pretty far (for example, I see some of the dedicated Metz 60 Series Handle Mounts showing Auto Ranges up to around 98 feet, and some of the 70 series Handle Mounts have GN's that go even further (but, these are not inexpensive strobes). ;-)

You could also use a strobe in manual power mode (for example, selecting between full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 or 1/16 power), so you'd take the built in sensor out of the exposure equation if you want to compute the aperture/ISO speed needed that way (the distance scales in manual mode don't go that far either on my Sunpak).


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Old Jun 15, 2006, 7:19 PM   #3
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I would be using a Minolta 70-210mm f/3.5-4.5 to zoom up to the platform from the rear of the church.* Lighting is pretty good in the church, but it would need some extra from the flash.
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Old Jun 15, 2006, 8:18 PM   #4
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What's your budget?

I paid a whopping $25 for my Sunpak 333 Auto (as new in the box in 10 condition from the used department at B&H). You can probably find one for less on Ebay.

The hotshoe adapter to give me an ISO Standard hotshoe was $16 delivered (but, the vendor I bought from in Hong Kong is sold out now).

If you search Ebay for FS-1100, you'll find the same adapter I've got (another vendor in Hong Kong sells them, so give it about 10 days to reach you). This is the identical adapter I've got:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=7629886269

Would I try to use this setup in a church like your're describing? Yes... But, I'd make sure to do some test shots ahead of time in the same lighting, to see what my best bet was for camera settings, as I have not tested this strobe in those conditions yet.

I'd probably end up shooting at around f/4.5 to f/5 and ISO 800, letting a bit of ambient light into the image, keeping shutter speeds around 1/30 to 1/60 second using Manual Exposure to help with motion blur from ambient light exposure (provided light wasn't too bright for that, which it probably wouldn't be in most low light indoor conditions). RAW will improve your odds a bit for for adjusting exposure if you're off any.

This adapter also has a PC Sync Port. So, you would not be limited to hot shoe attached strobes. If budget permits, you may also want to look around for a Metz 45CL1 (sometimes you can find them for around $100).

It's trigger voltage is low enough that it should work fine on a third party adapter's sync port (these adapters have NO voltage protection built in, so I would be careful about using older strobes without checking trigger voltage to make sure they're no more than around 6 or 8 volts).

My first choice in a budget strobe for conditions like you're describing when I was comparing them would have been the Metz 45CL1 (handle mount). It's one of the least expensive Metz strobes around with similar features, with lower trigger voltages compared to some of the other Metz Handle Mount strobes.

My second choice would have been the Sunpak 544 (another handle mount that's less expensive). These can easily be found for under $100 (they are not a lot more than that brand new).

My third choice would have been a popular hotshoe mount strobe (like the Sunpak 333 Auto I bought).

If I really wanted to splurge, I'd go for one of the more expensive Metz strobes that can "talk" to the camera via one of the SCA3302 type adapters (but, I didn't want to splurge). lol

The handle mounts get the flash further away from the lens, and also have a slightly higher GN compared to the popular Sunpak models (333 Auto, 383 Super, 433D, etc.). But, you'll need a PC Sync port to use one, and the Minolta FS-1100 doesn't give you that (the PCT-100 does, but it's more expensive). The third party adapter I'm using also gives you one (without the voltage protection the PCT-100 provides).

But, if you're not comfortable with with making radical exposure changes "on the fly", or willing to practice a bit ahead of time to nail down your settings, you may be better off with a dedicated solution (which will cost you).

You will probably get some redeye at distances that far away too (just as a warning since you may need to correct it in software). It's tough to avoid when you're that far away from subjects using a flash, even if it's hotshoe attached.

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Old Jun 15, 2006, 9:50 PM   #5
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My budget would be rather low considering the flash would only see limited use.* I appreciate the very detailed info Jim.* It looks like a Sunpak would be the way to go.* Any specific details I should pay attention to when buying a flash (Sunpak) for compatibility with the 5D?
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Old Jun 15, 2006, 10:58 PM   #6
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I'm no expert on the Sunpak models... I only bought one because I wanted an inexpensive unit to work with my 5D, and the strobes I've got have trigger voltages that are too high (for example, I've got a Vivitar with a trigger voltage that's almost 300 volts).

I decided on a non-dedicated model (my 333 Auto), so I wouldn't need to worry about the extra pins you have with some of the other strobes around.

The main things to look for are Guide Number (and most of the similar units like the 333 Auto, 383 Super and 433D) have GNs of around 120 feet at ISO 100; trigger voltage (you want one with a lower trigger voltage), and the ability to be used via an ISO standard hotshoe (which you'd get with an FS-1100 or equivalent adapter). One with tilt and swivel is also a good idea (some of the cheaper units only have tilt).

At the distances you're talking about, you couldn't bounce a flash anyway (you'll need every little bit of power you can squeeze out of one shooting straight on at higher ISO speeds). But, it gives you the flexibility to do so in other conditions.

You'll want a unit with multiple Auto Aperture Ranges (and the 333 Auto, 383 Super, 433D and similar Sunpak models have 3 Auto Aperture Ranges as well a manual power settings). The less powerful units only have 2 ranges.

If budget permits, I'd consider a handle mount solution like the Sunpak 544 Auto. They're about $139 brand new at B&H (less used), or a used Metz 45CL1.

In a newer shoe mount unit, the 383 Super would make a good choice (around $79 new, and less used).

But, the newer units like the 383 Super really don't offer any advantage over a unit like my 333 Auto (and it was less expensive).

Checking the used departments, it looks like keh.com has some Metz 45CL1 handle mount strobes in stock for under $100 now. They've got one that's engraved now for $59 (and their bargain condition products are usually in pretty good shape). This strobe is around $200 new (it's $199.95 at B&H).

That would probably be my first choice if I knew I needed to shoot from the distances you're planning on shooting from. It's got a slightly higher GN compared to the Sunpak shoe mount strobes I've mentioned, and it's got a low trigger voltage (some of the other similar units have higher trigger voltages).

The Sunpak 544 would also make a good choice (and it's a bit lighter compared to the Metz). I don't see any right now at keh.com though.

For a handle mount solution like that, you'd need an adapter like I've got to get a sync port to use with one (or a Minolta PCT-100 which is more expensive).

With any of these solutions, you'll need to use manual exposure (the flash won't talk to the camera and won't even know you've got a strobe attached). So, you'll need to take some time to learn a strobes behavior and the best settings to use in the conditions you'll be shooting in.

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Old Jun 16, 2006, 9:30 AM   #7
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What would be your recommendation for a flash that would "talk" to the 5D and be a little more friendly for the inexperienced?* I am wondering if for a little extra, this can be achieved, or basically the price will double?
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Old Jun 16, 2006, 10:10 AM   #8
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Well...

The Metz 40MZ3 (or 40MZ3i) would probably be a good choice.

You'll need the latest SCA3302M5 (or new M6) shoe to go with one if you wanted it to "talk" to the camera. It does not support HSS (like the more expensive 54MZ series strobes). But, everything else works fine according to users I've seen comment on it (it's aware of the camera settings for aperture and ISO speed in it's auto mode with a newer SCA3302M5 or M6 foot on it).

I don't see one right this minute on Ebay or at KEH though.

Sometimes you see them at bargain prices (under $200). I was considering one at one point.

I've seen some users mention the Promaster 7500DX. But, I don't know much about one, or how well it would work. It's apparently a fully dedicated model and will rely on a preflash to judge exposure (like the KM strobes) versus using a built in sensor.

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Old Jun 16, 2006, 10:35 AM   #9
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Adorama has a 40MZ3i in their used department now at $134.

Metz 40MZ3i at Adorama

You'd need to find an SCA3302M5 or M6 foot for it to work with your Maxxum.

I see one on Ebay now (search for SCA3302 and you'll see it) But, it's the SCA3302M4. You'll need the later M5 or M6 version to work correctly (if you want the camera to talk to the flash for aperture and ISO speed). But, Bogen Imaging (the Metz distributor in the U.S.) can update an older foot.

Depending on what the foot ends up selling for, you may be just as well off trying to find the better 54MZ3 or 54MZ4 on the used market with the SCA3302 foot already on it. Then, let Bogen update the foot to the newest version. The 54MZ4 sells for around $350 new (with the foot). So, sometimes you can find them for under $300 used.



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Old Jun 16, 2006, 5:18 PM   #10
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gobucks

Check your PMs.

I found a cheap solution for sale ($23.95) and I sent you a link to it if you don't mind doing some tweaking.

It's basically the same thing you'd have with a Sunpak 383 Super, only with a Zoom Head.

At f/4 and ISO 400 on it's most powerful Auto Range with the zoom head extended, it would automatically adjust flash exposure for subject distances between 9 and 60 feet.

Your lens only loses 1/3 stop to f/4.5 on it's long end, so if you need to use f/4.5, exposure wouldn't be too far off.

If you need to go further than 60 feet, exposure would get trickier. It's probably just as easy to switch it to the full power manual setting at that point (take the sensor out of the equation).

Then, after 60 feet, go to ISO 800 and vary the aperture to get it where you need exposure. Basically, you'd stop down the aperture to f/5.6 at ISO 800 for 60 feet, then open it up 1/3 stop at a time as you moved between 60 and 84 feet (max range at f/4 and ISO 800). These distances won't be on the flash scale (it only goes through 60 feet).

After 84 feet (as long as it isn't too much further), I'd probably just leave it a bit underexposed and fix it in PP versus switching to ISO 1600.

You'll want to make sure to test the exposure ahead of time, in case any further tweaking is needed at distances that far.

It would require an FS-1100 or equivalent adapter. The third party adapter I mentioned earlier in the thread you started asking about a flash would work fine with it.

Check your PM and let me know if you want it or not (I won't post the link for anyone else until you let me know).

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