Aftermarket vs. Name Brand Flash. Opinions?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Jeremy Z, Jan 13, 2007.

  1. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm debating which flash to get for my Pentax K100D.

    I'm mainly considering between these two:

    Sigma EF-500
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...107&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation
    [​IMG]



    vs.


    Pentax AF360-FGZ
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...172&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation
    [​IMG]


    First of all, will the Pentax flash be of higher quality? My instinct is yes, but I don't know from experience.

    Second, how useful is a swivel head? (which the Pentax doesn't have) I assume it is mostly for use when I'm shooting vertically, but still want to bounce off the ceiling.

    Which one would you get. (the Pentax is $45 more, after rebate)

    Why?
     
  2. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    Not neccesarily. Sigma makes a nice product. I would search out some reviews.

    Yes, it is used for boucing upwards when shooting vertically, which I think you'll be doing quite a bit of. I don't know about you, but I pretty much only use a speedlight when doing portraits, and I'm shooting an awful lot of vertically composed shots. I use a homemade diffuser with mine, which works best when pointed straight up, so honestly, I can't be without the swivel head.

    Oh and btw, I bought a promaster 7500 for my Canon 20D.
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    It's a dilemma. The Sigma is more powerful and can swivel. The Pentax allows for more manual control over flash power. These are all very useful features for me. I think I'd skip both of them, and find something with lots of power, a swivel/bounce head, and fine control over manual power. The Sigma only allows for full power, and 1/16th power in manual. I'd like a variety of one or half stop steps. If it had that I'd get the Sigma.
     
  4. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Grrr, they apparently only make it for Nikon, Canon, and Minolta. I will search more for reviews on the Sigma flash unit.

    One thing I was wondering specifically is whether the IR autofocus assist beam can be accurate from camera to camera? I assume the Pentax will be aimed properly for Pentax cameras. Is it a wide enough angle beam that the aim isn't that critical?
     
  5. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Can anyone tell me the difference between TTL flash and P-TTL? I notice some of the cheaper Vivitar & Sunpak flashes are TTL instead of P-TTL.

    Does P-TTL mean that the flash knows what metering mode I'm using and TTL doesn't?
     
  6. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    OK, after a little further searching, Sigma also makes a "Super" version of the flash I mentioned above:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...100&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation
    [​IMG]


    Also, Pentax's AF-540 FGZ has all of the above, plus wireless triggering as a remote flash. (from the on-camera flash) But the darned thing is $100 more than the Sigma, at $340. (its $50 rebate brings it down to $290 vs. the Sigma's $240)

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...856&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation
    [​IMG]
     
  7. PNA

    PNA TPF Noob!

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    I'd consider the fact that the Pentax flash was made specifically for Pentax products and may work best with their cameras. That's how I judged my purchase of a Nikon flash.
     
  8. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I think that the "P" just stands for Pentax. P-TTL may be like Canon and Nikon's E-TTL.

    I've used Pentax flashes on Pentax cameras, and Canon flashes on Canon cameras, and aftermarket brands on all of my cameras. No matter how much I paid for the flash, no matter how fancy the technology (I'm using a 550EX and 580EX with my Canon DSLRs), they all do a much better job in manual than in auto. I paid extra for the Canon flashes to get the high speed sync, and the built in remote features, but they really don't do much of a better job in ETTL than my old Vivitar 285HV does in auto.

    For me the important features are:

    lot's of power
    bounce/swivel head
    being able to manually select the power level
    low price

    If I was using bodies that didn't include second curtain sync, that would be a nice feature.

    I do like the little flash modifiers built into the Canon flashes (and maybe others?). I'm finding the white card thing on the 580EX to be surprisingly useful. I stuck a piece of white reflective tape over the built in wide angle diffuser on my 550EX so it has one too. Of course you could do the same with any flash with a rubber band and an index card, but it's handy to have it fold down into the camera, so I always have it.
     
  9. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You said that you find you do a better job with the flash when you set it manually. Why do you suppose this is? It seems that if you spot metered your subject, the camera knew this and sent that information to the flash, it would expose properly.

    ...or are you specifically referring to slow sync flash, to allow natural light to burn in the backgrounds while you have the flash illuminate your subject?

    I think that is the main thing I need to learn how to do in order to improve my wedding photography.

    If that turns out to be the case, I don't even need a $100 flash. All I need is an auto thyristor flash with manual power adjustment in the manual mode. Oh, the IR focus assist would be handy too...
     
  10. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What feature were you referring to when you said this, Matt?
     
  11. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    Second curtain sync is used during a long exposure. The first curtain is when the shutter opens. You can have the flash fire then, or just before the shutter closes (second curtain)
     
  12. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I believe the 'feature' he's referring to...is 'second (or rear) curtain sync.

    Normally, the flash is fired at the start of the exposure...but some cameras and/or flash units allow you to set the flash to fire at the end of the exposure instead.

    This can really make a difference if there is any movement when you are using flash (and a slower shutter speed). A front curtain flash will have a somewhat sharp subject with motion blur out in front of it...which looks really awkward. With rear curtain flash, the motion blur is behind the moving subject...which looks more natural and give the impression of motion (in the correct direction).
     

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