Flash frustrations - need quick help/advice.

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Lanimilbus, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. Lanimilbus

    Lanimilbus TPF Noob!

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    I just bought a Vivitar DF200 digital flash (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...=08-2429110-2&sku=293955&srccode=cii_13736960) for my Panasonic Lumix FZ20, because my old external flash, a Quantaray QB-350A (http://www.ritzcamera.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&productId=30239) exploded after I put new batteries in it, and is now toast. I bought the new Vivitar DF200 flash from B&H Photo online last Friday for $75.00 and paid an extra $10 in shipping to get it here in time, as I need a new, functional, external flash for my camera for a concert this Saturday, the 19th.

    I just got it today, took it out of the box, read the instruction manual, put batteries in it, attached it to the hot shoe mount on the top of my camera, turned it on, turned the camera on, made sure the camera had all of the external flash settings correct, and took a picture. The flash didn’t go off. I tried about 40 more pictures, the flash never went off. I read the instructions again, and it said to attach the camera to the “bracket” which is a long piece of metal that came with the flash (it can be seen in the picture in the link above to the DF200 flash), that has a sliding screw and a flash mount on it, then to attach the flash to the mount on the other end of the bracket, and to take a few pictures with the digital camera with the built in flash on, so that the DF200 flash can “learn” how it goes, and to synchronize with it. So I did that, and this time both flashes went off. I thought that now that it had learned how to synchronize with the digital camera that I could put it back on top of the camera on the hot shoe mount, and take another picture with the camera and the DF200 flash would go off. Wrong. I slid it back into the hot shoe mount on top of the camera, turned it on, and still nothing.

    Does this mean the flash can only function when it’s not attached to the camera? I.e. holding the flash separate in your hand away from the camera, having the camera’s built-in flash on, taking a picture with the camera, having the built-in flash go off, and then the separate flash in your hand mimic it? Is that the only way it operates? I definitely did not buy the flash under the impression that it would operate that way, especially since the description said that it was compatible with all digital cameras.

    The problem I have with it working that way is that at concerts, specifically the kind that I’ll be at this Saturday, I’m going to be close to the bands performing, and with the Lumix FZ20’s built-in flash on, every single picture comes out either completely washed out, with red-eye, and/or full of dust specks that that flash captures in the air. So even if the other flash is working and can be angled upwards as to not be so direct when the band is so close and wash everything out/catch all the specks of dust in the air, it doesn’t do me any good because the built-in flash still has to go off for the other one to go off as well, which means the pictures will STILL be washed out, with red eye, and/or full of dust. So; is there any way for me to use this DF200 flash on top of my digital camera in replace of the built-in one, like my original Quantaray QB-350A did? Or do I need to return this one and buy another external flash tonight and get it overnight mailed here in time for the concert this Saturday? I really hope the latter is not the case, as that would cost me something like $40.00 in shipping to get another flash overnight, plus the flash will most certainly be more expensive than the DF200, I can’t get my money back for the shipping I paid for the DF200, and it’ll cost me another $10.00 in shipping to send the DF200 back to B&H photo, at which point it will take 6-8 business days for them to refund my money, which will be $35 less than what I had to pay for it, with the subtraction in shipping and the restocking fee.

    But, I have a sinking feeling that that the latter IS the case. So, if that is the case and there’s no possible way for me to use the DF200 flash without the built-in going off, I need to order another external flash tonight…but what I do NOT want to have happen is to get another flash on Friday that I paid an obscene amount of money for and have it be the same as this one, only able to operate outside of the camera, when the built-in flash goes off. So, my question to someone here more wise than I is this; how can I tell if another flash I order is like this one, or if it will work in REPLACEMENT of the built-in flash, by going into the hotshoe mount on top of my camera, like my old Quantaray? Is there some specific term used for those kinds of flashes that I can look for? Is there some specific term used for the kind that the DF200 is, that will only work in addition to the built-in flash, that I can watch out for? It’s all very frustrating, and if someone could help me along in any way by making this any clearer for me, it would be greatly appreciated.

    It’s also pretty important that I get a quicker reply rather than a later one, since I need to know which kind of flash to buy by the end of the night at the latest. Thanks in advance,



    -Alec
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Sounds like the flash has an optical trigger...that's why they say it will work will all digital cameras.

    Does the flash have a metal contact point on the bottom of the shoe? That's what it will need to be triggered by the camera while on the shoe.
     
  3. zedin

    zedin TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    It doesn't have TTL capabilities so it sounds like it might not acutally work via the hotshoe. If the flash won't work you can always look into renting a flash unit from a photo store. There is typically at least 1 store around most cities that rents photo gear.
     
  4. Lanimilbus

    Lanimilbus TPF Noob!

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    I checked, and no, it does not appear to have any sort of metal contact point at the bottom of the shoe. Flat black plastic.

    I would rent one, except the nearest photo store is 2 and a half hours away, and they only have one flash to rent, and it wasn't anywhere near strong enough, even on full capacity, at a direct level. I already rented it and tried it at the last concert, and got nothing but black with it, even though the flash was going off.

    So I've looked now, and I've found three flashes that I'm considering buying...however, none of them will do me any good if they're like the Vivitar I just got in the mail, or if they won't work with my camera, or if they aren't powerful/high-quality enough to take any sort of decent shots at a dark concert venue.

    The three I'm looking at are these:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?A=details&Q=&is=REG&O=productlist&kw=SUPZ40XSCAF&cpncode=09-2798329-2&sku=307872&srccode=cii_10043468
    This is the first one I'm looking at; it looks pretty decent, powerful, and high-quality, but I'm not sure if it would work with my Panasonic Lumix FZ20...it says, "Works with Digital SLR cameras" and I'm not sure if the Panasonic Lumix FZ20 would qualify as one or not. Would this work with the Panasonic Lumix FZ20? And in the way I want it to? (Being able to be a replacement for the built-in flash?)

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=273082&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation
    This is the second one I'm considering; the problem here is that it seems pretty expensive for a flash that looks pretty basic and cheap, from a brandname I've never heard of. Would it work the way I wanted it to? (Being able to be a replacement for the built-in flash?)

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=101640&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation
    This is the third one. The problem with this one is that it looks pretty cheap. As in, I'm questioning what kind of a picture I could get with it. Especially since I used one better, bigger, and more expensive than that one that couldn't light up the picture even close to enough, while on full power, direct angle, and only 5 feet away at a concert. And, would it work the way I wanted it to? (Being able to be a replacement for the built-in flash?)

    Thanks again for any help/advice.
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    The first one says "for Canon"...might work as an auto flash on your camera though.

    The 2nd one is "Manual only" so I think you would have to use the guide number and subject distance to calculate the F-stop setting to use.

    The third one will work in auto mode....at F2.8 and F4, not bad for the price.
     

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