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Today was a good day, but need some legacy flash advice!!

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by José De Bardi, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    José
    So my Mother just mentioned she has a load of photography stuff in the attic, god knows why she has not said this some years ago knowing it is my hobby!
    Maybe only now does she think I'm worthy!

    Anyway, I got an Olympus OM 50mm f1.8 (for which I have posted here for advice... https://www.talkemount.com/showpost.php?p=50487)

    But also this Unomat P300TCT flash rig...
    qe2a2a2y.
    ege5ytu4.

    I am an absolute novice when it comes to flashes... I searched online for the instruction manual, but being 30 years old - no such luck! So I'm hoping someone one here can tell me what all the buttons do!
    I realise the top dial is to set the aperture/distance to subject... But beyond that have no idea!!
    I'm guessing the coloured segments mean you should set the switch below accordingly, but what does the switch do? And in M what happens!?
    It is a twin, but I can't get the smaller flash to fire...
    I have a hotshoe adapter on my nex-5 and the remote cable works great to trigger it, so if I can work the flash settings out I'm golden!

    The camera doesn't go into 'flash' mode like when the native flash is popped up. Not a biggy but I guess I will for point and shoot have to adjust the exposure to -1.5 or so, and for best results go full manual...? Anyone using a hotshoe adapter have any suggestions here?

    Thanks in advance!

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  2. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    This flash is probably dangerous for your camera. I hope your camera hasn't been damaged yet.

    Older flashes often have high so-called trigger voltages: between the two contacts (inner pin and outer rim) of the connector there is a certain voltage and the flash is triggered by shorting these two contacts. Your exact type isn't mentioned here, but a sister model Unomat P360TCT is listed to have a voltage of 160 V which has to be considered unsafe for modern cameras. A voltage of 6 V is generally considered safe, at least my NEX-6 survived that. I'm fortunate to have a suitable digital voltmeter so I can determine the trigger voltage of older flashes and more than once I have measured voltages of 150 V and higher. Flashes from the mid 70's or earlier most likely have high trigger voltages. The renowned Metz 45 CT-1 is unsafe for modern cameras, for instance.

    The only safe way to use your flash is with a hotshoe adapter that protects your camera from the flash's high voltage. I don't remember now what they are called, but they are readily available on eBay.

    The operation of the flash: first-off you may have to set the shutter speed yourself, I don't know if the camera does that for you. Set the camera in M mode, shutter speed at 1/60 s (this speed always works). The aperture has to be set manually as well, read on below.

    On the 4-position C/M switch M means manual, the flash outputs its maximum power all the time and you have to find out by trial and error or a separate flash meter what the correct aperture and ISO setting is. In C ("Computer") mode the flash measures the light intensity coming back from the subject and reduces its output accordingly. Set it to ISO 200 and the orange C setting and the scale says you have to use f/5.6 on the camera and the maximum distance is 11m with direct flash (straight ahead); with the red setting you have to set the aperture to f/11 and the maximum distance is 5.3m etc. I have used flashes with this type of automation successfully, they can work surprisingly well if you're willing to juggle with the settings on the flash and the camera.

    The 1/TWIN switch probably switches between main flash only and both flashes: the smaller flash is meant to give some direct highlight on the subject in case you direct the main flash upward to bounce off the ceiling, you often get much nicer indirect lighting that way (provided the ceiling is white :)).

    As a power source you can use alkaline batteries or rechargeables, the latter offer shorter recycle times and are more economical because a flash is a real battery-eater.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    José
    Thanks for the warning and the description - makes sense now!

    RE the trigger voltage, I am aware of this danger, I am pretty sure my hot shoe adapter has a voltage regulator - but you've made me worried now! I just put the NEX flash back on and it all still works...

    I think I might just splash out on a decent flash, the point of me getting the hot shoe in the first place was to facilitate the purchase of a flash at some point in the next few months. I've just been given my Xmas bonus in vouchers which work at Amazon so may use them for a flash...
    I am thinking Nikon SB-600 as have read it works well with the Nex range, and is safe, and you can get them for £150... Anyone have any suggestions for flashes that work in this price range? Ideally I would like one that would 'talk' to the camera like the little one that comes with does, but I couldn't find anything that did this??
     
  4. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    Better to err on the safe side, hence my warning about the trigger voltage.

    Nikon flashes don't communicate with the camera apart from being triggered; if that's OK, I'd also consider an SB-24/25/26, they're very good too and a lot cheaper. I used an SB-24 for a while on my Panasonic stuff and it worked brillantly. These days I have a Minolta 5600 HS-D which communicates with my NEX-6. And that's just as well because it only supports TTL automation, not automation by itself like the Nikon flashes mentioned. According to the Sony NL support site this Minolta flash isn't compatible with the NEX-5, maybe someone else knows more details. That only leaves current models from Sony and maybe Nissin or YongNuo (didn't check those) as flashes that integrate well with the camera. Sony really made a mess in their flash line-up, especially with the older/cheaper NEX models.
     
  5. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    José
    Yea, my Nex-5 only has the accessory port so Sony only offer the one hvl-f20s which is naff!

    I keep thinking I should upgrade my body, but wait to wait for the next nex size upgrade... Not into the a3000 baby slr look...


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