As I spend a good deal of my photography time at conventions taking photos of people in a multitude of lighting conditions, often that means utilizing add-on flash to add fill light or just fully light a scene.
I’ve primarily been a natural light photographer for years. Although, I’ve always recognized the positive benefits adding my own light to a scene can bring. Most of my reluctance is due to portability, added components (more to carry around and bring to a shoot), and difficulties I’ve had getting consistent results with the Pentax flash system before I found a few techniques that work well such as these.
Although, what brings me to write this article is two fold. I saw yet another posting on the Pentax Forums, which brings up the suggestion that Pentax should improve the on-camera flash to make it useful by adding things like tilt, swivel, and more power.
My response to this is a definite no thank you. Pentax is partly defined by their ability to make small yet powerful cameras. A built-in flash is the epitome of compromise and to make it less of one would require too much physical space and power requirements. There are physical issues like angle that a small flash can’t get around when using a lens like the 14mm f2.8 with a lens hood.
So, my response went like this:
I have no interest in a built-in flash on a pro-level body.
The only useful purpose the built-in flash provides is wireless flash control.
I think Pentax should switch to RF/IR (well I’d have to say it needs two-way RF, but both would be good for any situations that could interfere with RF signals) wireless to control external flash with full TTL/P-TTL. Having to use the built-in flash seems like a hack when doing wireless because it does put light on the subject at most working distances. I honestly don’t have much use for the built-in flash and I think the space could be used for something else.
– No need to have such a long snout at the top of the camera body.
– Space for something like the wireless transmitter, or even an internal GPS looking forward.
– Easier to weather seal the camera body.
– Slightly lower price, or at least it could offset cost of say the wireless transmitter/receiver.
In turn, Pentax should sell one or two small flash units. Similar to say a Nikon SB-400. Along with more powerful models.
That mentions quite a bit of my wish list. I realize that no built-in flash is probably a no-no from a marketing standpoint. It’s just the way most people think I guess. They feel like they have a need for something built-in (and limited) just in case. In my mind, if someone is willing to pay $1500 for a camera body, they probably have the intention of using an external flash or none at all.
Here is my full Pentax flash system wish list:
– In-camera radio frequency external flash control. This would be two-way communication to transfer all possible data between the flash and camera body. This way, things like the new GPS unit could still be connected to the hot-shoe port. Not to mention RF wireless is the best possible option for using multiple external flash units.
– Having RF wireless in the body should mean the camera can control the output of all flash units connected to it. I would suggest the capability to control up to 5 units in detail with the ability to also just send out a basic flash fire signal. In an external flash studio setting, the photographer should be able to control the intensity of their flash units from their camera.
– Bringing back a quality full TTL system. That means a sensor in the camera that measures light and not a pre-flash P-TTL uses. Both would be fine, just allow the user a choice.
– A higher sync speed. 1/180th of a second is not in line with the competition.
– High Speed Sync should be more integrated into the functionality of the system. There isn’t any reason to not have it automatically engage when the user sets their camera to a high shutter speed with a flash installed and active.
– Higher quality and variety of first party add-on flash units. I prefer small yet powerful, which fits in with the ideals of the Pentax system in general. First and foremost would be weather resistant sealing and next would be compact yet powerful.
– Put thyristor functionality back into flash units as an added bonus. My AF280T is really consistent on my new DSLRs in auto mode! I just with I had a camera body that could do TTL with it.