Pentax DSLR Models & Flash Options


McGregNi

Link Posted 22/03/2017 - 19:49
I am currently preparing a new 'Supplement' Document, an addition to my 'Pentax Flash Guide'. When writing the Guide I posted some material in advance onto the forums, for peoples interest, discussion and to help find out anything new myself. There's been a lot of talk recently of the latest camera models released, and so I will share now the new section of my 'Supplement' on 'Camera Models & Flash Options'

The final PDF when released soon also includes new sections dealing with the AF 160 FC & AF 201 FG, extra material on Wireless technologies, Slave Modes, Extension Cord working, and automatic flash best practices.


Camera Models & Flash Options

The current Guide version (Oct 2015) describes the standard flash options and functions found on Pentax DSLR models over a number of years, from the K10D through to the K3. This is generally a standard flash offering including a built-in flash unit, on-board flash, Wireless Triggering and
P-TTL-only flash exposure mode. There were some variances between models in the flash modes offered, but in the main the flash choices remained the same across the range; (the K3 was the first to introduce a 2 step Manual Flash Mode, with Full or 1/128th power settings for the Built-in flash).

In recent years there has been a divergence in the Pentax DSLR range and what is offered with flash functions, and so there are now choices when considering the various cameras. Firstly there is the option for Manual Flash Mode with the Built-in unit, which is offered as an additional Flash mode to the standard modes (which are based on P-TTL automatic flash exposures). Then came the first camera to be made without a built-in flash at all, the K3II. This was continued with the K1 ‘Full Frame’. And finally there are models now that do not offer the Wireless Triggering from the Built-In flash unit.

The functions that are missing by not having a Built-in Flash, and the Wireless triggering omission, can all be replaced by fitting an accessory flash to the camera concerned, but clearly the need to carry extra flashes, or radio triggers, in place of the Built-in flash, needs to be seriously considered by the photographer and the right camera chosen for their own particular needs.

As well there are now variations in the appearance of, and specific items included on the different camera Flash Modes Screen. This is the control screen where the Flash Modes and Flash Compensation settings are made. I will explore these differences and the practical implications in this Supplement section.

Camera Models, Flash Features Listings

Wireless
Cameras that offer Wireless Triggering from the Built-in Flash:
K10D, K20D, K200D, KX, KR, KM, K7, K5, K5II/s, K30, K50, K500, K3, KP


Not Wireless
Cameras that do not offer Wireless Triggering from the Built-In Flash (Accessory Flash required for Wireless functions):
K100D/Super, K110D, K-S1, K-S2, K70


Manual Flash Mode
Cameras that offer an 8 step Manual Flash mode with the Built-in Flash in addition to the standard P-TTL Mode:
K-S1, K-S2, K3, K3II, K70, KP


No Built-in Flash
Cameras that do not include a Built-in Flash unit (Use a Hotshoe Accessory Flash or Radio Trigger for Flash Functions):
K3II, K1


Cameras With No Built-In Flash

As of the time of writing (March 2017) this was two models, the K3II and K1. We can presumably expect the continuations of these particular lines of flagship Pentax DSLRs to also offer alternative equipment such as Astrotracers and GPS units, in place of the Built-In flash. So here I will explore the implications for flash use without the Built-In unit.

Clearly flash photography with these cameras will now have to be carried out with either Accessory Hotshoe mounted flash guns, radio triggers and radio controlled flashes, or a combination of these types.

The cameras still have the capability to operate correctly with Pentax and other Dedicated system flash types, and this includes special functions such as :
• Wireless (Off-Camera) flash when using one accessory flash as the ‘Master / Control’ trigger on the camera and one or more ‘Slave’ flashes
• ‘Slow-Speed’ Sync, ‘2nd-Curtain’ Sync & ‘High Speed’ Sync Flash Modes
• ‘Multi-Flash’ Mode (with the AF-360/540 FGZII flashes)
• ‘Auto’ Flash Mode (Auto-Thyristor – with the AF-540 FGZ)
• P-TTL automatic flash exposures, both on and off camera
• Manual Flash Exposure Mode, both on and off camera
• Flash-Ready viewfinder indication
• Automatic Flash Head Zoom with autofocus lenses (on-camera only)
• Range & Distance indications (on-camera only)

Hotshoe mounted radio transmitters can be used to control off-camera radio controlled flashes, and there is a traditional ‘PC Sync’ socket for cable connections to Manual studio strobe lights.

Camera Flash Modes

The current version of the Guide (Oct 2015) lists 8 standard modes, on Page 29. These apply to the group of cameras listed within the ‘Wireless’ box previously here, and mainly relate to functions of the Built-In flash (the slow-speed sync and red-eye modes also apply to Accessory Flashes). Here is the screen from the K7; the actual modes displayed depend on the Camera Exposure mode selected at the time …. ‘P’ Mode will normally reveal all.




Without a Built-In flash, there is no need for some of these Camera Flash Modes, and so on these newer cameras without Built-In flash there is no Wireless, ‘Slow-Speed with Trailing (2nd) Curtain Sync’ or Manual Modes.

The modes that remain will now affect the operation of the camera or attached Accessory Flashes. The following modes are now standard on cameras with no Built-In flash :
• ‘Auto Flash Discharge’ - (available only in Auto ‘Green Square’ Camera Mode) uses the camera metering system to determine if flash is required, eg in low light or backlit scenarios. The flash will only fire if the system calculates it is needed under these circumstances
• ‘Auto Flash with Red-Eye Reduction’ – (available only in Auto ‘Green Square’ Camera Mode) the same automatic operation but with the extra pre-flash to close down open pupils and reduce the red-eye effect
• ‘Flash On’ – discharges the flash in all situations
• ‘Flash On with Red-Eye Reduction’ – as above plus the red-eye pre-flash
• ‘Slow Speed Sync’ – removes the limitation over the exposure time in P and Av mode to allow longer exposures for recording lower ambient light
• ‘Slow Speed Sync with Red-Eye Reduction’ – as above plus the red-eye pre-flash

Flash Compensation (FC)

The Flash Mode Screen includes the Flash Compensation setting, controlled with the rear E-Dial. This controls the exposure value of the Flash output, in ‘stops’ below and above the camera determined ‘0’ level. This applies to P-TTL automatic exposure mode only.

The Camera Flash Compensation setting will affect the flash exposure of a hotshoe mounted accessory flash when that flash is operating in standard P-TTL mode. The camera FC setting will combine with and accumulate its effect with any FC setting made on the accessory flash also. For example, if you set -1 FC on the Camera, and -0.7 on the flash unit, then the flash output will be at -1.7 stops below the metered ‘0’ level.

If using an accessory flash on the hotshoe as a Wireless triggering flash, then the camera FC setting will affect the total (global) flash exposure when the on-camera flash is operating in ‘Wireless Master’ mode. The camera FC setting will affect the ‘Slave’ flash unit when the on-camera flash is operating in ‘Wireless Control’ mode.


K1 – Extra Options

The standard Pentax ‘Flash Related Camera Custom Settings’ are described in the current Guide version, section 9, Page 50-54. The following still apply to cameras without Built-In flash, and appear in the standard Menu sections of the K1
• Memory – to recall the settings for Flash Mode and Flash Compensation (Rec. Menu 5)
• White Balance When Using Flash – to set the default WB setting whenever a flash is attached and activated (Custom Menu 3, 17)

The options for controlling ‘Release While Charging’ and ‘Flash in Wireless Mode’ no longer appear in the K1 Menu (and K3II), as they only apply to Built-In Flashes.

The following additional options are now offered on Pentax’s flagship Full Frame model
• Flash Sync Speed – The Flash Sync Speed can be customised (Custom menu 1, 7). This will affect the exposure time value fixed in X-Sync Mode, or the shortest exposure time that can be set in M, Tv, & Tav modes
• Button Customisation – Flash Mode Screen - The display of the Flash mode screen can be activated by a single press of either the FX1 or FX2 buttons (Rec. Menu 5)

Cameras With No Wireless Function, and Manual Flash Exposure Settings

As listed on page ii of this section, there are a few models now that do have a built-in flash, but where the Wireless capability has been removed. There may be valid debate about the reasons for the removal of this functioning, whether it is related to cost or the expected profile of users, but it is an important factor to consider when purchasing. For P-TTL Wireless operations with these Cameras then the user will have to use a dedicated accessory flash, or alternatively a P-TTL compatible radio trigger system.

Here are some examples of the Flash Mode screens from the K70 DSLR, a camera that falls within this category: {Thanks to Philip Byford (MrB) for kindly providing the K70 Flash Screen images}




The above screenshot , from the K70, shows the standard range of flash modes; Flash On (the selected mode) / Flash On with Red Eye Reduction / Slow Speed Sync / Slow Speed Sync with Red Eye Reduction / Trailing Curtain Sync / Manual.

The Rear E-Dial has set the Flash Compensation adjustment to -1.5ev (highlighted in blue). A press of the green button will reset the FC amount to 0.0, and the OK button will select any highlighted mode. The modes are cycled through with the left and right buttons on the 4-way controller.







Above here we have displayed the Manual Flash Mode on the K70. This is a relatively new development for Pentax DSLRs, the first time it was offered being on the K3, released in 2013. There are eight Manual power choices; Full Power (1/1), ½, ¼, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64, 1/128 . This does add to the versatility of the Built-In flash, not the least in enabling it to be controlled with manual focus lenses, and those without an aperture coupling. Greater degrees of flash fine tuning can be achieved by ISO and Aperture adjustments, or by changing the flash to subject distance (in this case the distance from the camera to the subject).
As can be seen on the photos above, the Manual mode is first selected with the 4-way controller, scrolling across to the far right M option, then selecting with the OK button. The power is then selected with the rear e-dial, and the setting is displayed in the centre box, highlighted in blue here.

OK, that's all for that Section ..... I hope it is useful, but please do feedback here on any experiences, questions or corrections you think of. I hope that this new supplement when published will help people with making the right choice between the various newer cameras and flash models now available.

Nigel McGregor
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver

richandfleur

Link Posted 23/03/2017 - 01:07
Your work here is simply great. Well done mate.

pschlute

Link Posted 23/03/2017 - 06:52
Nice work Nigel, thank you.
Peter



My Flickr page

Mag07

Link Posted 23/03/2017 - 09:33
Wow, soon I am going to have a little book assembled from your helpful posts Thank you!
'Photography...it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten....' (Aaron Siskind)

RobL

Link Posted 23/03/2017 - 10:40
Thought you had been a bit quiet recently Nigel! Excellent as always, have you thought of publishing? I remember I promised a photo of the cable attachment and haven't got around to it but I will.

Baffled by the omission of the wireless trigger option in the K70 pop-up flash, I have it on the K50 and to me is the best reason for the pop-up flash. Do you think Pentax is exploring a radio trigger option instead?

McGregNi

Link Posted 23/03/2017 - 16:35
Yes Rob, I've been quieter, and less able to take photos recently, but the Flash Guide project is moving onwards. It's an evolving resource, and whilst for now it remains an important part of the hobby for me, I keep an open mind about where it may head in the future.

This section I've posted here forms part of a new Supplement, soon to be offered as a new PDF for forum members worldwide, which builds on and expands the scope of what is already covered in the main Guide document.

I would still appreciate your images of the cables, so I'll PM you to discuss, thanks again.

Thanks also Richard, Peter and Maj07 for your encouragement's .... As always I appreciate knowing where the guide material has been a help, and please, if there are any further questions or suggestions for improvements /corrections then post away !
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver

richandfleur

Link Posted 23/03/2017 - 21:10
RobL wrote:
Baffled by the omission of the wireless trigger option in the K70 pop-up flash, I have it on the K50 and to me is the best reason for the pop-up flash. Do you think Pentax is exploring a radio trigger option instead?

Sadly no, I feel they're intentionally crippling lower level cameras in an effort to emphasise the points of difference between the higher level models.

It's sad when software is used like this, when the camera itself has the hardware required and is physically capable.

McGregNi

Link Posted 24/03/2017 - 10:48
I think there is some supposition there, in that without the technical/electronic diagrams we may not know for sure if there are only software, or physical, differences within the flash heads .... But it's a reasonable supposition I agree. And yes, I do think that it is most connected to a marketing /user profile sort of distinction (making models with less sophistications for a certain group of intended user), and creating upgrade paths for people to consider.

It's a new approach because as you can see from my listings above, it used to be that almost all models included wireless flash capability.... Now it is a distinguishing point within the range.
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver

microlight2010

Link Posted 26/03/2017 - 08:02
Nice job, Nigel, I look forward to your updated publication - who knows, it might inspire me to use the AF201FG more than I do now.
K-3II - HD DA20-40 Limited, HD DA55-300PLM, SMC DA10-17 Fishy, AF201FG Flashy

McGregNi

Link Posted 26/03/2017 - 19:15
Thanks! Yes, we need to get those flashes out far more often, that is all of our homework! There is a section covering the AF201 FG in the new supplement, so hopefully it will be useful to you and those thinking of getting I've themselves.
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver

richandfleur

Link Posted 26/03/2017 - 20:59
McGregNi wrote:
Thanks! Yes, we need to get those flashes out far more often, that is all of our homework!

Good advice Nigel!

Had a bit of a play with rear curtain sync recently. Was happy with how it came off.

Still struggle with 'normal' flash shots where very often the rear of the scene is nicely exposed and my subject is blown out like a bright ghost. Not entirely sure how to tell the camera to expose nicely for the front subject? Do I have to set the camera to spot meter with P-TTL enabled? This has traditionally been a bit risky and I typically use centre weighted metering to head towards this and ensure some consistency.

McGregNi

Link Posted 27/03/2017 - 16:04
Hi Richard, that 2nd Curtain sync example looks like a good bit of fun! Regarding the overexposures, this is perhaps a common enough problem. I'd say its often an issue with the minimum flash to subject distances being used (ie, you're too close) for the settings being used, namely aperture and ISO. Could you take a look at the post I made on my other thread about this issue, where another member was having the same problem ....

link

I don't know if the Shanny flash has the range/distance indicator, but if so its a very useful guide. Otherwise there should be flash to subject distance tables in the user manual. I think the Guide Number is similar to the Pentax AF-540FGZ, so those figures I quoted on the other thread should be near enough for you also.
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver

Algernon

Link Posted 27/03/2017 - 16:53
The most accurate method of using on camera flash is with a lens that accepts a GN and then opens and closes the aperture automatically to the correct aperture.

I wonder if Pentax could do this via a firmware update

A certain other company did produce one from around 1969..... Brillliant!

--
Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff

Algi

McGregNi

Link Posted 27/03/2017 - 19:48
Perhaps we won't hold our breaths Algi ....
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver

richandfleur

Link Posted 27/03/2017 - 20:09
McGregNi wrote:
Hi Richard, that 2nd Curtain sync example looks like a good bit of fun! Regarding the overexposures, this is perhaps a common enough problem. I'd say its often an issue with the minimum flash to subject distances being used (ie, you're too close) for the settings being used, namely aperture and ISO. Could you take a look at the post I made on my other thread about this issue, where another member was having the same problem ....

link

I don't know if the Shanny flash has the range/distance indicator, but if so its a very useful guide. Otherwise there should be flash to subject distance tables in the user manual. I think the Guide Number is similar to the Pentax AF-540FGZ, so those figures I quoted on the other thread should be near enough for you also.

Thanks, I'll go and take a look at this.

Must get used to a more manual way of thinking about exposing for the desired background and then bringing up the foreground with the flash.
Things in semi auto modes tend to go all over the place very quickly once the flash is included in the mix. Despite having the P-TTL ability I can totally see why a lot of people opt for fully manual settings, given the number of variables in play.
Add a Comment
You must be registered or logged-in to comment.