How to use flash?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by bellalee, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. bellalee

    bellalee Member

    Mar 23, 2010
    Hello apug,
    I have two flash units: an Achiever 321AZ and an Achiever multi dedicated TZ 250 and I am using them on my Minolta x-700 35mm SLR.
    I was wondering how I use the flashes? I've tried fiddling with the settings but I'm still quite clueless as to how I correctly expose and image with a flash.
    Also, which flash would be better for me to use? are they both equally as good as eachother?

    tldr: how do I use manual flash on a minolta x-700?
  2. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

    Jul 4, 2008
    Latte Land,
    Multi Format
    Good morning, Bellalee;

    It is surprising that no one has answered you yet.

    Having the manual for the Minolta X-700 is helpful, and they are available from several sources over the internet. In the English language form, flash photography is covered on pages 50 and 51. You did ask specifically about manual flash.

    The Achiever TZ-250 Dedicated Flash (sounds like a Yamaha road racer to me) should go right onto the standard flash mounting shoe on the top of the pentaprism. The TZ-250 should be designed or adapted to work with the contact arrangement on the X-700. Set the TZ-250 to "M" or Manual mode. Set the X-700 shutter dial to probably 1/60 second, which is the fastest setting that will work properly with an X sync or electronic flash unit. With the ASA film speed you are using also set on the dial of the TZ-250, you should be able to read from that dial the lens aperture setting to use with the distance the subject is away from the camera lens. Or, you can use the "Guide Number" for the Achiever TZ-250. The Guide Number should be in the specifications, the advertising brochure, or the owner's manual for the flash. If you do not have any of those, I can tell you how to use the dial on the back of the flash to closely tell what a Guide Number for the flash should be. Measure, note, or use the focusing scale reading on the lens when you have the subject in focus, to get the distance away from the camera lens and divide that number for the distance in feet or meters into the correct corresponding guide number for feet or meters. The resulting number you get from that division, the quotient, will be the aperture number to set on the aperture control ring on the back of the lens just in front of the camera body. Use the closest number or set the lens aperture ring to the half stop setting in between if that is closer. Compose and take your photograph.

    In the case above, we are using the flash with its full normal flash output. The Guide Number will stay the same for the flash unit and the same film speed you are using. The Guide Number will change with a different flash, or when you are using a different film, or if you put a filter on the front of the lens. We have a fixed amount of light and it will get less and less as the subject moves away from the camera and flash. That is why we use the distance and divide the distance into the Guide Number to come up with a lens opening or lens aperture number to set for that distance away.

    If you are using another flash unit that is not specifically dedicated and designed to go onto the Minolta X-700 TTL flash shoe, then you may need to check to see if the bottom of the flash has only one middle contact to connect with the large round contact in the center of the X-700 flash shoe. If it does, you may be able to use it directly on the X-700 flash shoe, if it does not have a flash trigger voltage higher than the ISO standard of no more than 24 VDC. There are lists on the internet forums that will tell you what other people have measured on their flash units, and more are being added to those lists. If the voltage is higher, then you may need to also put something like the Wien SafeSync onto the flash shoe to protect the internal camera flash command circuitry.

    If the other flash unit does not have a mating "hot shoe," but instead it has a "PC" (Prontor-Compur) cable and connector, then you will need to fit an adapter to the X-700 flash shoe that converts to a PC flash socket on the adapter for use with the PC cable and connector. Another one of the Wien SafeSync devices will do this also. There is also a Hama product that does this adaptation, but without the protective circuitry.

    And, there is another option with a flash unit that has a built-in liight metering circuit inside the flash unit. Usually this will be a small hole visible on the front of the flash unit down low on the front, and there will be an "A" or "AUTO" setting on the controls on the back. (This "A" label is also used with the TTL flash units that have electronic communications between the X-700 camera and the flash unit through the smaller additional contacts on the flash shoe. In that case, the camera will be telling the flash unit when to quit.) With the built-in "Auto" flash metering system on a flash unit, all it will need is a flash X-sync command to flash from the camera, and its internal circuitry will assume that the scene is a normal 18 percent gray scale, and adjust the amount of lighting for the flash to what it thinks is correct. This is a help with a camera that does not have built-in light metering circuitry. Not always correct, but it can be helpful.

    Finally we come to using the flash unit off the X-700. Without going to an exotic remote communication system using radio or optical systems, we can do this easily when we put the flash onto a flash bracket that holds both the camera and the flash unit. For this you will need the Minolta OC-1000 Off-Camera Flash Cable and the FS-1000 Off-Camera Flash Shoe, or one of the other accessory makers equivalent cable system. Plug everything together, and use just like you would with the flash mounted on the flash shoe on top of the X-700. Radio systems and the like are getting a little past the scope of a simple answer posted here on the APUG Forum for Lighting.

    OK. Now to the comparison of the Achiever 321AZ with the TZ-250. I do not have any information on either one of these at this moment. I will need some time to find some information on them. Then perhaps I can provide a suggestion about which one for you to use.