Flash won't sync

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jswingchun
Posts: 29
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 4:20 am

Flash won't sync

Post by jswingchun » June 8th, 2010, 6:04 am

Suddenly my external flash won't sync. I have a Minolta 3600 flash on a Sony A100 camera. During my last trip, my photos were suddenly very dark. Flash was firing, but pictures were underexposed badly. I took a photo into a mirror and there was no visible flash pulse in the shot even though the flash fired. Pics taken in low light are solid black.

I have tried:
Resetting the camera to factory settings
Removing the batteries from the flash and replacing with fresh batteries
Using the pop up flash (works)
Setting the flash to wireless mode (doesn't work)
Cleaning the flash and hot shoe contacts

Anybody ever had an issue like this?

Here is the Exif data from a bad shot. Maybe that will tell someone something:

Brightness Value: 1.12
Color Space: sRGB
Compressed Bits Per Pixel: 8
Contrast: Normal
Custom Rendered: Normal process
Date Time Digitized: 2010:06:04 10:19:08
Date Time Original: 2010:06:04 10:19:08
Digital Zoom Ratio: 0
Exif Version: 2.2.1
Exposure Bias Value: 0
Exposure Mode: Auto exposure
Exposure Program: Aperture priority
Exposure Time: 1 / 125
Flash: Flash fired, compulsory flash mode
FlashPix Version: 1.0
FNumber: 16
Focal Length: 70
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 105
Gain Control: Low gain up
ISO Speed Ratings: 400
Light Source: unknown
Max Aperture Value: 3
Metering Mode: Pattern
Pixel X Dimension: 3872
Pixel Y Dimension: 2592
Saturation: Normal
Scene Capture Type: Standard
Sharpness: Normal
Subject Area: 2721, 1296, 329, 393
White Balance: Auto white balance
ImageStabilization: 3
Lens ID: 25
Lens Model: Minolta AF 100-300mm F4.5-5.6 (APO D)

jswingchun
Posts: 29
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 4:20 am

Re: Flash won't sync

Post by jswingchun » June 8th, 2010, 6:20 am

Oh yeah, also tried various lenses and turning HSS on and off on the flash.

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chrish
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Location: San Antonio, TX
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Re: Flash won't sync

Post by chrish » June 8th, 2010, 10:21 am

Jim,

A couple of things to check.
Make sure the camera is set to Fill-flash and ADI flash control.
Make sure the flash is set to fill flash (not wireless). Actually, you could check the flash itself by trying it in wireless mode. If it works in that mode, you know the flash itself is functioning.

Also, check and clean the contacts. A pencil eraser is a good tool for this, although you may have to cut it to fit in the grooves on the flash mount. That is a very common cause of sync failure.

If those things don't work, and it won't work in Wireless mode, it may be the flash itself. It seems odd that it is pre-flashing however?

Are you sure it is a 3600 HSD not the 3500 flash (Stupid question I know, but had to ask)?

Try taking a picture using slow shutter sync. Set the shutter speed to a long exposure (2 seconds or so) in a dark room, turn on the flash and take a photo. Does it manage to fire during the long period the shutter is open at all?

What if you set the flash to rear-curtain sync (if you can on the Alpha 100) and a long shutter speed (1 second or more)? You should see two flashes - the preflash and then a second later the actual exposure flash. If the flash doesn't show up then it says it may only be pre-flashing. If it does the second flash, it should expose correctly.

Some of these things may help diagnose the issue.

Chris

Erik Williams
Posts: 100
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:57 pm

Re: Flash won't sync

Post by Erik Williams » June 8th, 2010, 8:47 pm

Does the flash have a charge/test button?

jswingchun
Posts: 29
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 4:20 am

Re: Flash won't sync

Post by jswingchun » June 9th, 2010, 4:30 am

Thanks for the replies...

I went to the camera store yesterday and tried a different flash and it worked fine. Something must be wrong with the flash itself. I think I am going to bite the bullet and just get a new flash.

Now I just have to decide if I want to go with Sony or third party. I have read good things (and bad of course) about the Sigma EF-530 Super DG and the Metz Mecablitz 48 AF-1. I am also going to look at the Sony HVL-F42AM. I would like to get the HVL-F58AM, but I don't know that I can justify spending that much money.

Both the Sigma and the Metz are supposed to support the Sony wireless mode, but I don't know if I want to spend the money and not be happy with how they work.

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chrish
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Location: San Antonio, TX
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Re: Flash won't sync

Post by chrish » June 9th, 2010, 11:18 am

I used to have some aftermarket flashes for my minolta gear. While they were nice, they never seemed to work as well as camera brand stuff. I would go for the 42. I think you might be happier in the long run.

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