TTL multiflash in the Pentax system

From Ralf.Engelmann@Medizin.Uni-Magdeburg.DE Tue Jan 28 17:04:16 1997
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From: Ralf Engelmann 
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 18:02:51 +0200
Subject: Flash FAQ + GIF attachment
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here is another revised version of the flash posting, which I have 
sent to Joseph Tsatskin for the Pentax FAQ. Since it's more 
structured than the old version, I think it fit's better to your page 
too. The picture is the GIF-picture you already have. I must say, the 
more I go into this matter, the more unsecure I feel. Please compare 
everything with your experiences, I don't want to lead people on a 
wrong route. This version should be more or less o.k., but there are 
still questions open, e.g. how good works an old SCA-300 flash with 
the 3701 adapter on a Z-70, or, will a Z-1P understood the SCA 372, 
like it understands an old Pentax 280T. The brochures of Metz or 
Cullmann are not really helpful in such special cases.

Here the guide (so to say version 1.1):

Pentax flash system guide and SCA alternatives.


1. Introduction and nomenclature
2. Pentax flash system
2.1. Components for off-camera use
2.2. Tricks for 330FTZ
3. SCA-flash system
3.1. Special versions of adapters
3.2. Mixing Pentax and SCA-system
4. SCA cable systems and wireless options
Appendix I: General recommendation
Appendix II: Pentax flash system overview

1. Introduction and nomenclature

Here's  an overview on the Pentax flash system, especially to
answer the simple question if and how original Pentax flashes can 
be combined with SCA-system flashes for off camera positioning.

For the nomenclature, Pentax calls all their flashes AF (automatic 
flash) so and so, but I will skip this to avoid confusion with the 
use of AF for autofocus. So all flash designations will begin with 
the number.

2. Pentax flash system

First, there are two Pentax flash systems, and since these have 
some similarities with the SCA-systems, I start here. The first 
system is the older 4-wire TTL-system, called T-flashes, used on 
cameras before AF was introduced. This is a full featured and 
professional TTL-system (I explain later why). Second, there is the 
newer 5-wire AF-TTL-system, called F-flashes, which was introduced 
with the SF-series of cameras and is more electronic and comfort 
oriented. Since both are TTL-systems, the only difference is 
functions like AF-aid beam or motorized reflector setting, which 
make sense only with AF-cameras and use of the flash direct on the 
camera. Important: the cameras are downwards compatible, but the 
flashes are not. This means, you can use an old 280T flash on a 
brandnew MZ-5 or Z-1P, but you cannot use an 500 FTZ on your old 
Super-A or LX. 

2.1. Components for off-camera use

Since there are these two flash systems, there are also two 
different cable and adapter systems for off camera use of the 
flashes. And here (despite of the camera compatibility) is one 
of the reasons, why the T-system is more professional: this system 
is configured to work with several flashes on and especially  off 
the camera and has cable lengths up to 5m. The F-system in contrast 
works only with one flash and has only cable lengths up to 1.5m; 
o.k., recently Pentax was so kind to expand to 3m. The components 
(for off camera positioning) are:

system			T-system		F-system 
flashes			T(SA/C)			FT/FTZ 
cables*			B(A/C)			F 
camera-adapters		none, fits direct	F or FG 
flash-adapters		grip (400T: direct)	none (330FTZ: F) 
flashgrip		yes			none 
distributors		yes, 3out		none

*cable A: LX front socket; cable C: K-1000, 6x7 and so on.

2.2. Tricks for 330FTZ

Thre are some nice tools for the AF-330FTZ to solve the typical 
fix-head - portrait shooting problem. First, activate the built in 
miniflash on your camera and set the 330FTZ to contrast control (the 
mark showing two flashes). Now the built in flash will contribute 
1/3rd and the 330FTZ will contribute 2/3rd of the whole lightning. 
This works especially good if the built in flash makes foreground 
and the 330FTZ makes background illumination. You can buy all these 
adapters and cables and a seperate flash holder to use the 330FTZ off 
camera for indirect illumination, or choose a much more simple but 
still effective solution: guide the light in another direction. two 
products will do this, both will be attached in front of the 
reflector of the 330FTZ: one is called OmniBounce from Sto-Fen, the 
other one is the Softbox Mini from LumiQuest. Both are in the $20.- 
to $30.- range. The OmniBounce is smaller and will not hinder the 
AF-aid beam. There are different sizes, so take the flash with you or 
measure the dimensions of the front part to find the right size.

3. SCA-flash system

Now, what about SCA-flashes? This system was introduced from 
independent flash manufacterers to adapt to the different camera 
brands with maximum compatibility. SCA means special camera adapter.
There are two systems, the old analogue 300-system and the newer 
digital 3000-system, and the differences are similar as in Pentax 
own system: 300 is basic TTL and 3000 is AF-TTL with focus aid beam 
and motorized reflector setting. The usual Pentax adapters are 
SCA 372 for the older cameras and 374 or 3701 for all new AF-cameras. 
SCA 374 is a large adapter for AF-bodies and comes with an AF-aid 
beam projector, but still doesn't support all functions, in contrast 
to SCA 3701. You may ask now: why 374 if there is the 3701 for modern
cameras?  Very simple: there are people owning an older SCA-300 
system flash, and with 374 they can combine this flash with modern 
AF-cameras and have nearly the same functions as with 3701.

3.1. Special versions of adapters

Note that there are older and newer versions of the same adapter, e.g. 
different 374AF (/2, /2-M1) models. Choose the latest one, since this 
is the one working with the newest cameras. Pentax e.g. has changed 
the flash system of Z-1P and Z-70 in some details, and older 374AF
don't know these. With 3701 there are no problems, 374AF/2-M1 will 
work on all cameras but not on Z-70. For Z-70 there is only the new 
3701, so with old SCA-300 flashes you have no possibility of using an 
AF-aid beam.

3.2. Mixing Pentax and SCA-system

Now, how to combine Pentax flash system and the SCA-system, 
especially off camera use of several mixed flashes? There are a 
number of possibilities, and since the T-system with the synchro 
cable B is Pentax professional system, there is a special SCA-adapter 
fitting direct into this system: The SCA 373. This adapter fits 
direct on cable B(orA), like the big Pentax 400T flash, and is 
designed to work with an additional SCA power grip. SCA 372 
works with cable B and the Pentax flashgrip as a connector, like 
the Pentax 280T. The modern AF-system, working with cable F, is 
primarily connected with SCA 3701, but here we need the aditional 
Pentax flash adapter F, like with Pentax flash 330FTZ, which also 
has no direct socket for cable F. Same with SCA 374. 

4. SCA cable systems and wireless options

Now for the real excess, there is also wireless (TTL-)flash and pure 
SCA off camera cable systems. These should not be mixed systems, 
since they will work only together by chance. The SCA cable system 
works with a special SCA intermediate adapter called SCA 3007A, 
which will fit between your SCA-adapter and the flash (with a cable 
inbetween, of course). With 300-series SCA adapters it's SCA 307A. 
There is also a distributor available for the SCA cable system, the 
305A. Now the kings class: some of the top class flashes have the 
possibility of wireless flash control. At Pentax it's the 500FTZ (only 
manual control), at e.g. Metz the 40MZ-3 or MZ-2 even with TTL 
control. It's unlikely that you can mix these wireless systems, but 
as long as you use the same kind of flashes, you can combine 
several ones with one as master and the other ones working as 
slaves, and all wireless. The basic principle hereby is servo sensors, 
but the master unit needs a connection to the camera for the (TTL-)
control. The master will flash, and all others will follow, till the master 
says: enough now. With Pentax 500FTZ it's a little bit difficult to 
calculate the effect, but if you use the built-in flash of the camera and 
an 500FTZ as slave, there is at least a kind of semi-automatic. With 
the Metz 40MZ-2 there is real TTL-control, the flash sitting connected 
to the camera will be the TTL-master controlling the whole story. 
The special slave SCA-adapter 3080 with sensor controls the other 
SCA-flashes. Every slave needs such a one instead of the camera 

Appendix I: General recommendation

There is one flash still standing out in the Pentax line; good
price - performance ratio, allows all important TTL-techniques, 
compatible with all cameras and connects with the professional
cable system: the 280T. This one is like the middle of the whole
system, and you can have more specialisation with the other flashes, 
but not more versatility. If you don't want to go for an off-brand 
SCA-system flash and have several Pentax bodies, I strongly recommend 
the 280T.

Appendix II: Pentax flash system overview
chart showing the various possibilities
Have a lot of flashes,