How standardized are hot shoes?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by pbromaghin, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    I'm looking for a hot shoe cable to get ttl metering with off-camera flash for my Minolta system. I see that the electrical contact on a Pentax ME Super is different from that on the Minolta X570 and x700 which is still different from my 3-year old digital. It looks like there are 2, 3, and 4 contacts respectively. I'm using a Minolta flash made for the x-series.

    Just how careful do I need to be choosing a cable to correctly pass all the information?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    They are very specific so you need to choose carefully.

    Ian
     
  3. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

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    Basically, for full TTL, the connection pattern from the camera's hot shoe
    to the pins on the foot of the flash must conform exactly.

    Unfortunately, few of the camera manufacturers have collaborated and/or adhered
    to [one] set standard, except for firing the flash; (center pin positive, and side foot ground).

    The folks at Paramount Custom Cords may be able to fix-up a solution for you.

    http://www.paramountcords.com/faq.asp
     
  4. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Hey thanks you guys. It looks like I'll have to search a mid-80's Minolta cord.
     
  5. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I believe your'e on a wild goose chase because neither the ME Super, the Minolta X570 or the X700 cameras had TTL flash metering capability's, whatever flash lead you use the best they could manage was a flash ready indication in the viewfinder, TTL flash was a development in later models.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2012
  6. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Benjiboy - both the x570 and x700 have it. The x700 was the first Minolta that did. The flash I have was made specifically as a piece of this system. I've used them together, on camera, for a few rolls and am trying to figure out how to get more flexibility and better quality light without carrying around a lot of equipment.

    You're probably right about the Pentax, though. But I'm not planning to use it for this, it was just an example of the hot shoes being different.
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I'd check with B&H first, to see if they have a new one, then KEH for a used Minolta TTL cord. I would suspect these things are rather rare, as I cannot recall ever seeing one in the store during the four and a half years I worked at Coopers Camera Mart. Most of our X-700 sales were to high school and college students getting something to use in their photo 101 class. And the Maxxum cameras used a completely different proprietary flash shoe, so they were not backwards compatible. Your best bet might be to look for a Promaster flash unit with detachable module for your specific camera - they made some of their higher-end flashes with bounce and swivel that could snap on and off different feet with the appropriate matching ttl hot shoe, and some of them had an accessory off-camera sync cord that would go between the module and the flash head.
     
  8. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    The only standard contact is the "hot" one, the central one. All the rest is proprietary and is not guaranteed to remain the same even within the same maker products.

    There is a solution to your problem.

    Many, many years ago German flash producers (Metz, Braun, Agfa and others) agreed on a standard for dedicated flashes which is called SCA.

    You buy a SCA-compatible flash. Then, you would buy a SCA adapter which would adapt your SCA flash to work as a "dedicated" flash with your camera(s).

    The first generation had 3 figure numbers. E.g. SCA 310 was the adapter for Canon A-1, SCA 311 was the adapter for Minolta dedicated flash (including TTL function for X-700 and family) etc.

    Subsequent SCA flashes using 4 figures were adaptable to new-generation AF flashes (which dose light emission based on autofocus, or assist AF with a red light, etc.).

    Somewhere on the internet you should find a diagram with all the SCA codes.

    So you could buy a SCA flash and an adapter for Minolta TTL system and an adapter for ME Super flash system (not TTL if I remember well) and, by only changing the adapter, you can have a dedicated flash which will work just like the "original" one.

    You can also find an extension cord. You place the adapter on the camera hot shoe, the extension cord on it, and the other end of the extension cord to the flash. You only need to buy one extension cord and you can use it with whatever SCA adapter and SCA flash.

    Fabrizio
     
  9. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Vivitar mid 80's made a family of flash with a dedicated minolta module (DM/M I recall). The module would clip onto the bottom of the flash, and had the shoe to interface to all the right camera hot shoe pins.
    They also made a module to allow you to 'split' the flash. It allowed the head to be extended up to 1m beyond the camera.

    The only place I have ever really needed off film metering using the above rig was when using a slide duper backlit by the flash head somewhat diffused

    As long as the flash shoe has it's own sensor, you come close to off film metering by putting the sensor at the top of the camera.

    Once you move into using multiple flashes you buy a flash meter, and forget all the hype about TTl flash, and wonder why it was such a big deal to you at the time.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The off-the-film flash metering is really handy when you are shooting extreme close-up or macro work.
     
  11. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Hey, thanks for all the great advice. I sure didn't expect this to be so complicated.

    I was specifically hoping to set up a portrait with short side lighting by holding the flash (with diffuser) out at arms length to one side with a reflector on the other. This would be intended to be used at little family get-togethers with impatient subjects who are mildly annoyed but indulgent of the crazy uncle with the ridiculous old camera. The key drivers would be simplicity, quickness and having little to carry. Basically, I want to get something much better than those typically gawdawful phone shots.

    Edit to add: I want to keep the use of ttl metering which seems pretty reliable. I'm just not confident enough yet to be calculating flash exposure on the fly in these kinds of situations.
     
  12. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

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    You may find great success with any of the many flashes employing Thyristors in their circuitry.
    Very simple, and these thyristor equipped flashes work very well.

    All you need do, is place the flash at an indicated distance from the subject (taken from the distance scale guide on the flash unit), and then using the guide's shutter and aperture settings based on your ISO/ASA speed.

    When enough flash reaches the subject, or reflects-back into the thyristor sensor, the flash (specifically, the thyristor) automatically kills/shuts off the power to the zenon flash tube.
    When positioned at proper distance and settings, these units also work well as fill-flash units in daylight.

    There are many used brands of these thyristor flash units available on the *Bay. Vivitar 2800, 265, & 273 units could be inexpensive entries (to test the waters), as well as offerings from Sunpack.

    Go to Butkus Manuals; read the owners/operators manuals for the above mentioned flashes.
    You will learn a lot about the capabilities of these flashes.

    Here's one:
    http://www.cameramanuals.org/flashes_meters/vivitar_265.pdf
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    and don't forget the venerable Vivitar 283/285. They are true workhorses.
     
  14. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The first SLR, coming after the Minolta CLE rangefinder, which used the same TTL flash electronics and flash units. The Metz SCA 331 adapter shoe works with the X-700 and the CLE, and the Metz SCA 307A extension cord allows TTL flash metering with the flash off-camera as the OP wants to do. I've done that with both the X-700 and CLE.

    According to the chart, the SCA 331 shoe works with the following Minolta camera models:

    X300S / X370N / XD / XG / X300 / X370
    X500 / X570 / X700
    CLE
    5000 / 7000 / 9000 / MAXXUM 5000 /7000 / 9000

    (The Maxxum name wasn't used outside the US)

    Lee
     
  15. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Oh, so they used the same hotshoe all the way through the maxxums? This shouldn't be that hard to find then.

    I am unclear on just what I will need. What does the SCA 331 adapt to? Would I need only the SCA 307A, or both in combination?

    Thanks, a lot for posting.
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    All the post 5/7/9xxx Minolta Maxxums used a proprietary hot shoe.
     
  17. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Ok, I've looked around and understand a little more. The SCA 300 is a Metzflash and the SCA 307 adaptor allows it to attach to this range of Minoltas.

    However, I would be using a Minolta flash that is already compatible with the camera so I would need a cable that is compatible at both ends. I have been unable to ascertain whether the SCA300 is compatible to mount directly on the camera.
     
  18. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The SCA 331 is the shoe that slides onto the Metz flash units and adapts from the Minolta hot shoe to the contacts on the flash unit. The SCA 307A is a cord that slides into the flash unit and replicates the flash unit contacts at the other end of the cable, then the SCA 331 slides into that end of the cord and is used in the hot shoe. None of this will get you the use of a Minolta flash unit off-camera.

    This page should help finding out what you need. Probably the Cable OC (OC = Off Camera).
    http://www.rokkorfiles.com/TTL Flash.htm

    Lee
     
  19. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Thanks for the link. Rokkorfiles.com is just full of info.