Took the plunge

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Russell D., Jun 13, 2008.

  1. Russell D.

    Russell D. Guest

    It is not like I've been using "state of the art" equipment so I guess
    the change is greater than many who make the switch from film to
    digital. I've decided that it is time for me to retire my two Canon
    FTb's and take the digital plunge. After months of research and
    agonizing indecisiveness, I ordered a Canon 40D body and the Sigma 17-70
    mm f2.8-4.5 Macro lens. I should get them next week. (I really sweated
    the deciding between the Sigma and the Tamron 17-50 mm f2.8 with the
    extra 20 mm being the deciding factor.)

    Just a bit about me FWIW. I've been away from doing any serious
    photography for several years (since before digital age was really
    going) with just taking family photos as my only picture taking. I got
    my first camera at the age of nine a long time ago and fell in love with
    capturing images. I've never been more than a serious enthusiast but
    have been able to make enough money at it over the years to at least pay
    for my equipment.

    Playing with my wife's digital P&S (Canon 3.2 MP A75) brought home to me
    the some of the obvious advantages of digital photography.

    There is going to be lots of learning to do. That's where you guys
    (that's the generic version of the word) come in. I'm going to have some
    questions and will be picking your collective brains. I've been
    lurking here long enough to get a bit of a feel for the group and to
    know that Rita will be jealous of my new camera. ;-)

    A first question for starters. One of the pieces of equipment that I
    hate to retire is my trusty Vivitar 283 flash that I purchased in 1976.
    It has been a trusty piece of equipment and has never failed me. Can I
    still use this flash? I know it won't work with the auto modes of the
    camera but can I use it with the camera in manual the same way I did
    with my FTb?


    Russell D., Jun 13, 2008
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  2. Russell D.

    Peter Irwin Guest

    The usual worry here is the voltage. Older 283s have a high voltage
    on the flash contacts which most new cameras cannot cope with.
    There is a danger of frying some of the electronics in a new
    camera with an old flash. Check the voltage with a DVM or VTVM
    to make sure it is lower than the max sync voltage specified in your
    camera manual. There is a device available called a Wein Safe-sync,
    but you can probably by a more modern generic flash for not much more

    (If your 283 was bought in 1976 it is almost certainly not safe
    to be plugged in directly to most modern electronic cameras.)

    Peter Irwin, Jun 13, 2008
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  3. VTVM? Any idea where to find one in working condition? I know a museum that
    would love to put it on display.
    Happy Traveler, Jun 13, 2008
  4. Russell D.

    BobW Guest

    BobW, Jun 13, 2008
  5. Russell D.

    Nervous Nick Guest

    Kind of off topic, but good lord, an FTb? That, I think, was my first
    camera. IIRC, it has the simple needle/circle match-needle
    metering? Someone gave it to me way back in 1980 and I think that at
    the time it was somewhat outdated, but boy did I love that camera. It
    really got me started in photography, so your mention was kind of a
    blast from the past. I gave it to my GF some years later, maybe in
    1984, and she lost it (!) when she left it on a train somewhere in
    Spain (no kidding about the train in Spain).

    Anyway, about old electronic flashes: It might have been a dumb move,
    but a couple of years ago I attached my old Vivitar 5600 (an excellent
    flash, but quite larger than the 283s) to a little Olympus C-5000Z
    just because I wanted to see how stupid it really looks: That flash,
    loaded with four AAs, is about twice the size and three times the
    weight of the camera itself, but it worked on the camera. And it
    indeed looked hilarious. I should have taken a photo, with bounce
    flash, in a mirror just to show people.

    I took only a few shots with the flash on the camera (they turned out
    fine), and it's probably good that I didn't shoot more, as it appears
    from this thread that I could have toasted the camera by doing this.
    Nervous Nick, Jun 13, 2008
  6. Russell D.

    Focus Guest

    Can you explain how that can be done?
    Focus, Jun 13, 2008
  7. Russell D.

    TRoss Guest

    I'm pretty sure the trigger voltage is too high to use the Vivitar 283
    mounted directly to the hot shoe - I wouldn't risk it unless I had a
    Wein Safe-Sync in place.

    Me, I'd pick up a dedicated flash and an optical slave. The 283 makes
    a nice slave flash.

    TRoss, Jun 13, 2008
  8. Russell D.

    OldBoy Guest

    No, see:
    OldBoy, Jun 14, 2008
  9. Russell D.

    Paul Furman Guest

    Paul Furman, Jun 14, 2008
  10. I have two 283s and a 285. :) One of the 283s has a blown cap (the one
    I bought probably around 1973), but still works on AC (I have AC packs for
    all three). The 285 just died. It winks "Ready", but won't fire -- not
    even with the hot button. It's still got a year of warranty, but I can't
    get a response from Vivitar as to how to handle it, so I guess it's just a
    Blinky the Shark, Jun 14, 2008
  11. Blinky the Shark, Jun 14, 2008
  12. Power up your 283 and check the voltage across the flash trigger
    contacts with a voltmeter. If it's in excess 200V it's the old model
    and might blow a modern digital flash connection. If it's under 10V
    it's the later model and will be ok.

    But even if it's the old high voltage model you can still use it if
    you isolate the trigger voltage. You can buy a revoltingly expensive
    safe-sync device from Wein to do this, or if you can solder you can
    buy the few bits necessary and make one yourself for a few dollars
    using one of the many DIY articles on the web.

    Alternatively you could trigger it quite safely with an optical
    flash. If your camera can be told not to produce a pre-flash any old
    cheap optical trigger will do. If your camera insists on doing a
    pre-flash you'll have to buy one of the more expensive optical
    triggers which ignores pre-flashes.

    The 283 was a very reliable flash, a lot more reliable than the later
    285, and if you have the optional variable manual flash plug-in for
    it, just as flexible in use.

    I'm still using mine :)
    Chris Malcolm, Jun 14, 2008
  13. The first big thing is to study (not just read once through) the
    manual. Canon manuals are not necessarily the best, but they are not
    the worst, either. Also, consider buying another independent
    reference- something like the Magic Lantern series for the camera if

    Actually, this is not unique to digitals. Even new film cameras are
    highly computerized with LOTS of functions for which you have to
    search through endless menus and such, lots of buttons on camera, etc.
    Don Stauffer in Minnesota, Jun 14, 2008
  14. Russell D.

    Roy G Guest

    I have a couple of old, but still working, 283s. The trigger voltage on one
    is 310volts, the other is 240 volts.

    To be safe on a modern camera with electronic innards, they should only be
    used via some sort of slave switch.

    Roy G
    Roy G, Jun 15, 2008
  15. Russell D.

    Russell D. Guest

    Yeah, FTb! I love my FTb's. Bought my first one in 1974. They have been
    great cameras. They are work horses and are built like tanks. The only
    repair I have ever had to do was to have a small light leak fixed on one
    of them.

    Russell D., Jun 16, 2008
  16. Russell D.

    Russell D. Guest

    OK, I tried this but got confusing results. Is this voltage level
    supposed to be constant or just at the moment the flash is triggered? I
    didn't get anything even close to 200V in either case. In fact I got
    very little voltage at all. Could be my DVM. It is a cheep Radio Shack.
    I'll take the flash to work an try a better meter.
    This is probably what I'll do to be safe unless I can determine for sure
    that it is safe. It appears that the 40D can handle up to 250V.


    Russell D., Jun 16, 2008
  17. Russell D.

    Russell D. Guest

    Good advise. I've already download a PDF version of the manual and have
    gone through it. Will go through it a couple more times with the camera
    in hand. I ordered some highly rated (on Amazon anyway) manual for the
    40D. Lots of reading to do.

    Russell D., Jun 16, 2008
  18. Check the documentation for your newsreader; the methods vary depending
    on reader.

    I use "trn" on a UNIX system to read news. I put the following lines
    into the file ~/News/KILL:


    These lines automatically junk any articles that contain the strings
    "" or "" in the Message-id header.

    Since these are in my global kill file, they apply to all articles in
    all groups that I read.

    Dave Martindale, Jun 16, 2008
  19. It's a constant voltage once it's fully powered up.
    Chris Malcolm, Jun 17, 2008
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