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Dedicated TTL flash pinouts and circuit for Pentax and Minolta Dynax (Maxxum)

Carl Williams , Nov 23, 2002; 04:59 p.m.

Hi - I've searched the web (and photonet forums) for info on this, but drawn a blank (more or less).

My question is whether anyone can point me to pinout and/or circuit diagrams for the dedicated TTL flash systems on Pentax (Super-A (Super Program), MZ5N (Z5N)) and Minolta Dynax (Maxxum) cameras (The Minoltas with the funny inside-out hotshoes).

I just bought, very cheap, a Cobra 440AF dedicated to the Minolta Dynax system - Dixons were desperate to get rid of it because they consider the Dynax obsolte, so I bought it for GBP 7.90 figuring that I could just use it as a reasonably powerful dumb remote slave with an optical slave sensor, if nothing else. My cameras are Pentax...

Does anyone know, or know where to find out, what pin does what on the peculiar Minolta hotshoe, and likewise on the Pentax Super-A and the later MZ5N shoes. The SuperA has a TTL flash sensor and the MZ5N does TTL flash metering with the same Pentax flashguns as the SuperA, but with extra features like flash-selectable trailing curtain sync (the superA might do this too, for all I know, I've long since lost its manual having bought it new in around 1980...)

I'm not a total novice with electronics, and I've found a circuit diagram for a Pentax LX dedicated flashgun so I have some ideas, but (a) the LX's TTL flash system isn't as capable as the MZ (or the Minolta) and (b) the circuits I have offer no clues about hotshoe pin-out, only a kind of extension lead plug (the flash in question is intended for underwater set-ups).

As Cobra offer the 440AF dedicated only to Nikon, Canon or Minolta (according to its manual) I'm guessing that the way the quench circuit operates is different on Pentaxes, or perhaps it's just that the camera uses different means to control the AF illuminator and standby wake-up etc etc. I don't need the AF illuminator, especially for the non-AF bodies :-).

I don't mind building some kind of adapter circuit and using the flash off-camera, and I don't mind taking the flash itself to pieces and attempting to work out which contact does what in its Minolta hotshoe, but I can't easily do the same with the Pentax.

Although I have had the SuperA apart to fix a broken spring (the only fault in 20 years' use!) the flash dedication signalling must be fairly subtle on the MZ5N, and I don't think I have the time, patience or ability to reverse-engineer it. Any Pentax engineers out there? (He asks, with pitiful optimism...)


Carl Williams


Hal Bissinger , Nov 23, 2002; 11:47 p.m.

I Think that you will have better luck (if any) with Cobra than with the camera manufacturers. That's because camera manufacturers treat this information as proprietary. They do so in an effort to prevent, or at least hinder, third party manufacturers from making lenses and flashes that will compete with theirs. Third party manufacturers then resort to reverse engineering to get the information, not always with complete success.

I know nothing of that Minolta hotshoe but at least the trigger is usually pretty much standard among flashes. Don't expect the TTL and other information to be anyway near compatible. I think that the most you could expect is to have a manual triggered flash assuming you could come up with a hotshoe adapter.

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