Firefly...it's making me nuts!

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Firefly...it's making me nuts!

Postby VACaver » Jun 14, 2012 6:45 am

I bought a Firefly 3 last December to use with my Vivitar 285HV. My camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3.

Using the flash in my basement, it fires every single time. Set it around the corner out of view and it fires. Set it in front of me, it fires.

In the basement it fires every single time.

Take it into a cave and I'm lucky if it fires 25% of the time...if that. It was so frustrating yesterday that I was ready to throw the damn thing away.

I have no clue what is going on, other than it's really making me nuts.

HELP!!!!
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Re: Firefly...it's making me nuts!

Postby icave » Jun 18, 2012 12:57 pm

I'm not sure about your camera, but mine seems to change the pre-flash sequence when I set it to manual and use it in low light. (I have a lousy Canon A540). It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but now I always teach my Fireflys the pre-flash sequence in the cave. It works almost all the time now. Hopefully your experiencing a similar undocumented camera "feature.
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Re: Firefly...it's making me nuts!

Postby NZcaver » Jun 18, 2012 3:07 pm

icave wrote:I'm not sure about your camera, but mine seems to change the pre-flash sequence when I set it to manual and use it in low light. (I have a lousy Canon A540). It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but now I always teach my Fireflys the pre-flash sequence in the cave. It works almost all the time now. Hopefully your experiencing a similar undocumented camera "feature.

One of my cameras is also a "lousy Canon A540." An in-cave shot with this camera even made it onto the cover of the ACA. Did you know that by setting the camera to manual shutter/aperture, the pre-flash is disabled? In addition, you can actually set the flash intensity by one-third increments. Personally I usually set it to 1/3 and use a regular slave trigger on my handheld flashgun. Still have to adjust the aperture sometimes, but it works pretty good especially with an auto-ranging flashgun. Small exposure issues can easily fixed with a little quick and dirty post-processing.

Not sure if the Panasonic Lumix thing has the ability to override (and eliminate) the pre-flash like the Canon does, but if so that might offer a possible solution if re-learning the flash sequence in-cave doesn't fix it. If you can eliminate the pre-flash, you'll also save a lot of money on slave triggers. :wink:
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Re: Firefly...it's making me nuts!

Postby VACaver » Jun 19, 2012 8:31 pm

I appreciate the replies.

I agree that teaching the firefly at the beginning of the cave trip may be in order. I'll give it a shot.
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Re: Firefly...it's making me nuts!

Postby icave » Jul 3, 2012 12:24 pm

Let me clarify. By "lousy" I meant it's not in the same class as some of the more expensive SLRs. I have specifically bought two A540s for the manual settings. I use my A540 with the manual setting on a regular basis, use the flash similarly and have taken what I think are many nice pictures, and even some good in-cave video with it. Unfortunately the A540 didn't like the 100 ft water crawl between Higginbotham #1 and the entrance to #5 during convention. My backup Canon SX120IS did fine in cave, but I still like the A540 better. I bought my last A540 on ebay (after my first one died) and will be looking for another one, or a "waterproof" camera. I have found the A540 (ignoring the automatic lens cover issues) to be a fantastic, inexpensive, in-cave camera.

I didn't mean to be bashing my A540, but was trying to illuminate on some of the things I have found that work with the FF3s.
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Re: Firefly...it's making me nuts!

Postby NZcaver » Jul 4, 2012 2:07 am

icave wrote:Let me clarify. By "lousy" I meant it's not in the same class as some of the more expensive SLRs. I have specifically bought two A540s for the manual settings. I use my A540 with the manual setting on a regular basis, use the flash similarly and have taken what I think are many nice pictures, and even some good in-cave video with it. Unfortunately the A540 didn't like the 100 ft water crawl between Higginbotham #1 and the entrance to #5 during convention. My backup Canon SX120IS did fine in cave, but I still like the A540 better. I bought my last A540 on ebay (after my first one died) and will be looking for another one, or a "waterproof" camera. I have found the A540 (ignoring the automatic lens cover issues) to be a fantastic, inexpensive, in-cave camera.

I didn't mean to be bashing my A540, but was trying to illuminate on some of the things I have found that work with the FF3s.

Oh, right. I see what you mean about the A540, and I agree. Not really in a the same class as any DSLRs. Like you I've shot half-decent in cave video with mine but there are certainly point and shoots around now with better image quality and build. Incidentally, did you know Canon makes a waterproof housing for the A540? (I got a near-new one on eBay cheap, and it's been very useful.)

As for the automatic blade-style lens cap, yes it sucks. Even non-cavers who find themselves around a little dust/grit/sand etc seem to have issues. After a while it started sticking when I powered up the camera, so I found a fix which mostly seems to work. Tried brushing and blowing it out with air (which didn't help much) and then took a fine flat blade jewelers screwdriver and gently pried up on the plastic edge around the lens, working my way around and creating slightly more of a gap for the lens "cap" blades to retract into. Not exactly perfect, but it helps. This isn't the only camera plagued by this type of problem, and I probably won't buy one of this type again.
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Re: Firefly...it's making me nuts!

Postby harrym » Jul 7, 2012 10:59 am

Sell your Fireflys and get some radio slaves.

Do it now, and never look back.

http://www.forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=10638

You'll need a flash hotshoe for the radio slave trigger.
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Re: Firefly...it's making me nuts!

Postby NZcaver » Jul 7, 2012 5:18 pm

harrym wrote:Sell your Fireflys and get some radio slaves.

Nice idea, but as you pointed out this requires a hot shoe. The DMC-TS3 has no hot shoe, so other than setting a slow shutter and manually triggering the remote I think anybody with a point and shoot will be limited to an optical flash trigger.
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Re: Firefly...it's making me nuts!

Postby VACaver » Aug 11, 2012 8:11 am

While taking the cave photography class by Peter Jones at convention, I figured out what was going on with my Firefly.

Turns out that with other people taking pictures around me, the firefly was getting confused and out of sync with my camera. Once I got away from others, it worked just fine.
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