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Photography Question 
Charles E. Orcutt

Flash Problem: Camera or Flash Unit?

When taking pictures with my Olympus OM-10 and my Vivitar 3500 Thyristor flash, the flash does not always go off when I press the shutter. When it does flash, the pictures are fine. Am I looking at a flash problem or a hot shoe problem? Thanks.

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4/18/2005 10:52:12 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  "Am I looking at a flash problem or a hot shoe problem?"
Yes. ;-)

Things I'd check:
(a) That the contacts in the hot shoe and on the flash's shoe are clean;
(b) That the flash is fully and firmly seated in the shoe;
(c) That the flash has fresh batteries, and that you are allowing enough time for the flash to cycle before taking the next photo.

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4/18/2005 12:29:02 PM

Charles E. Orcutt   Thanks for the quick response. In response to your suggestions: (a) Last night I did clean the the contacts on the hot shoe and the flash with rubbing alcohol before trying it again. (b) I know the flash is firmly screwed on because I have used this flash unit for a long time. (c) The indicator light does come on signaling the flash unit is ready.

I have used these two pieces of equipment together for over twenty years. This is a recent problem and I am trying to figure out if the camera needs to be repaired or whether the flash is bad.

Thanks for yor help.

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4/18/2005 2:03:54 PM

Gregg    Both are outdated but my guess it's the flash. Send it to flash heaven and get a new one. Make sure the new one is digital compatible as you may some day want to go that direction.

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4/19/2005 6:20:33 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings Charles: My vibe is don't guess...isolate. To eliminate the hot shoe issue, try triggering the flash using a PC cord. You can start by shorting out the end of the cord. If you know the cord is good and the flash doesn't fire, it's probably the flash trigger circuit and not worth the cost of fixing, although Vivitar could give you a cost.

If the flash works with the cord, next try the cord to camera and make sure the camera is set at flash speed (usually about 1/60th or below). If it works consistently, then it's a connection to your hot shoe.

If it's still not working, then go to a local camera store or just borrow a different flash and try that one. If the different flash works consistently on the hot shoe, then again, you know your 3500 flash is kaputzsky.

If the different flash fails to fire consistently (when fully recharged) then you it's likely the camera needs some work. A local repair shop should be able to fix it for a reasonable price, or at least less than a replacement OM10 would cost ya. The OM10 is still a good camera. It might just need a good cleaning, lube and adjustment, along with a minor fix for the flash circuit. Take it light.

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4/19/2005 8:28:59 PM

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