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Photography Question 
Russell & Floyd Long

Flash units for digital cameras

Will a "standard" flash unit such as a Vivitar 283 work on a digital camera with a hot shoe. I'm not concerned about the "auto" features as I would use it on "manual flash". I have a Canon Powershot G1 and it's unclear in the owner's manual if I can use a "standard" flash unit or not. Can someone help me with that?

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3/27/2002 3:48:52 PM

doug Nelson   A 283 on such a small camera will be an unwieldy package, but it should work. For safety's sake, never mount a flash with the flash turned ON. It could fry the circuitry in the camera.
A camera of the caliber of the G1 MAY have a PC conector for a flash. If so, your problems are over. Use a bracket to mount the camera and the flash. The flash would then be off center, avoiding "red eye", and you'd handle the whole package with the handle on the bracket.

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3/28/2002 8:20:24 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  If this is an *old* Vivitar 283, don't use it on any electronic camera, digital or film. The flash's high trigger voltage on its sync contacts will fry the camera flash trigger electronics. They were designed when cameras used electro-mechanical and mechanical relays for flash triggering.

If this is a *new* Vivitar 283 (made within the past few years), its circuitry was redesigned for a very low trigger voltage on the order of about 3 to 12 volts that's safe to use.

If you're experienced in using a voltmeter and have a high impedance one (1 Megohm or more) with a 1kv scale, you can measure it yourself. One contact is the center one on the bottom of the foot and the other is along the side of the foot. BE CAREFUL when measuring it and ensure you keep your hands insulated from the metal tips on the probes! Measure for the high voltage first after the flash is turned on and has fully charged.

Vivitar is not the only manufacturer. Most old flash units have high voltages on the trigger contacts of 300 to 600 volts. I've got an old Rollei and an old Sunpak that also have high trigger voltages. I use them *only* on my older cameras from the same era (or earlier).

If you're in doubt, contact Vivitar Customer Support directly via email. They can tell you based on flash markings (where made, etc.) whether it's an old or new one:

-- John

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3/30/2002 12:28:01 AM

Russell & Floyd Long   Thanks guys,
I really appreciate your help. I'll contact Vivitar immediately.
R. Long

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3/30/2002 10:01:31 AM

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