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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Des Plaines, IL

    ISO flash issues (ala Minolta 4000AF use)

    One of the fellow SONY users called me, today, asking about the use of the older 4000AF electronic flash, which he had acquired quite cheaply and in relatively great condition. This flash was the mainstay telescoping unit for the Minolta Maxxum 9000 system. Very powerful and, of course, the precursor to the current SONY 56/58 designs. Unfortunately, it suffers from having an ISO-style flash foot. The Minolta FS-1100 Hot-shoe adapter takes care of this issue, if you can locate one.

    Anyway, the 4000AF still lost favor with the future Minolta users, as it did not have the infra-red pre-flash recognition, and, in short, it screws up the flash timing all to hell.

    In other words, the Minolta 4000AF flash will NOT optically sync with the SONY flashes (36, 42, 43, 56, 58) because of the infra-red pre-flash built into them. SONY/Minolta purposely put this in their NEW design (1995), so that other photographer's non-SONY flash systems would not interfere with the SONY flash isolation. Hence the timing issue: The 4000AF does not properly synchronize with this post-4000AF era pre-flash. As such, there is a timing delay that does not allow the sync between the two flashes and the camera will miss any light coming from a remote/slave ISO-type flash, because it 'went off' too soon. I know this sucks and I fought with it, a couple years ago, in the studio, when I realized I was not getting all the light I believed I had. I had two 4000AF strobes... and never saw the illumination from either one, with them pointed right at the camera, because the mirror was still down, when they went off. The villain: Pre-flash! Over the course of the past eight years, I have three entirely different flash systems coupled with the possibility of using three different wireless triggers that I have... and it gets a little tough to remember all these timing issues between them.

    Now, with my hot-shoed Metz 76 MZ5 flash (which is not a SONY product, but which is set up for SONY use with its proper TTL hot-shoe adapter), it DOES optically sync (using a standard ISO-optical trigger adapter) on the foot of the 4000AF flash, so there are no pre-flash timing issues built into it. All is well. You then have so much light, you go blind. It's amazing. Now, admittedly, having to buy a Metz 76 to do this is kind of self-defeating. It is not an inexpensive device, but since I have one... it's nice to know what I can do with it. It marries right up to the two 4000AFs... and like I said, you can get these powerful "now-slave flashes" relatively cheap. But, what this expensive flash introduces is a way that you might be able to use ANY standard ISO flash on the SONY hot shoe (using the FS1100-type adapter) as your flash sync source for the 4000AFs to trigger remotely and at the proper time. What I am saying is that you will not be using any of the standard SONY electronic flashes (36, 42, 43, 56, 58) or the Alpha's "pop-up flash" as the trigger source, because of their inherent pre-flash timing issue. I mean, the flash duration speeds we are talking about are 1/6000th of a second. Their business is long done before that shutter ever opens.

    I mean, it really is a can of worms, because most people are just learning about flash timing, when they add these devices, and then SONY/Minolta throws this infra-red pre-flash crap in the works. To be honest, I'm not really sure there are that many people that actually understand the true difficulties, if you even tried to explain it to them. It took a while to write this and get it to read straight. You are dealing with the "Mind of Don Schap." and my personal interpretation of these flash events.

    Any other solutions are invited. Thank you.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 01-03-2013 at 06:28 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

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