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PENTAX AF 080C Ring Light

Reviews Views Date of last review
4 14,276 Tue November 3, 2015
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $133.33 8.50
PENTAX AF 080C Ring Light

A professional ring flash optimized for close-up work.

The AF 080C offers TTL auto operation with the PENTAX LX and Super Program/Super A cameras as well as with any later PENTAX cameras with TTL support up to and including the *ist DS2 DSLR. It offers manual operation with all other cameras having a hot shoe.

The guide number is 8 (ISO 100 in meters). Besides TTL auto the flash has two manual settings: Full power (guide number 8) and 1/4 power (guide number 4).

The flash can be used with lenses with a filter size of 49mm or 52mm and a focal length of at least 40mm. Wide angle lenses can be used but in reverse position only.

Optional accessories: TR power pack (uses 6 C batteries), 510V battery power pack, and AC Adaptor II.

Flash nameGuide Number (meters ISO 100)Flash controlFlash exposure comp.Flash range
PENTAX AF 080C8TTL auto,
Manual (full and 1/4 power)
NoClose-up and macro
Flash durationModeling lightConnectionsHot shoe pinsBatteries
1/15,000 to 1/1,000sNoHot shoe4 (incl. ground)6 x AA
Recycle timeDimensions (W x H x D)WeightAccessories includedIn production
8s (Alkaline)Control pack:
70mm x 70mm x 82mm
Ring flash:
93mm x 122mm x 22mm
Control pack:
235 g (without batteries)
Ring flash:
135 g

Dedicated camera functionsActual availability depends on the camera, exposure mode and flash settings
Set synch speed when flash is chargedYes
Flash ready signal in view finderYes
Price History:

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Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 6,370

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: November 3, 2015 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Easy to assemble and use, powerful enough at close range
Cons: TTL metering incompatible with many DSLRs

I obtained mine used from another forum member, with original pouches and instructions. Putting it all together and screwing it onto the front of the lens is a breeze - the ring flash itself fits directly to the 49mm threads of my 35mm DA Limited Macro and 100mm D-FA WR Macro lenses and their front filters. The flash unit then plugs into the power and control unit on the camera's hot-shoe. The owner who had it prior to me had been using it without problems on his DSLR, so I had no qualms about doing the same on my K-5.

The major problem I find with this unit stems from two issues that could not have been anticipated by the designers - first, that the camera it was mounted on would not have TTL support (this is the fault of the K5's designers; I believe some earlier Pentax DSLRs did have it) and second, that said camera would not have any sensitivity slower than 80ASA. If I were able to go down to 50 or 25 ASA, I would have no problem with setting the flash to one-quarter power and having room to move on the aperture spectrum. As things lie, for various reasons connected with the things I photograph, I am usually taking pictures VERY close to the subject with the 35mm macro, and even operating on one-quarter power I have to dial all the way down to ISO 80 and f/22 in order not to grossly overexpose the subject. Those with DSLRs that don't go down this far may find themselves regularly overexposing very close subjects - even ISO 100 was just too much. Seriously consider a 49mm ND filter of at least two stops.

The upside of all this, however, is that I know there's no way I can run out of sufficient light, and I will always have massive depth of field (good in my line of work) at low ISO and consequent high IQ (not to mention better battery life, not running at full power all the time). Right now I can just operate without the need for a neutral-density filter if I turn the ISO down all the way on my K-5.

The 49mm filter thread issue is not critical for me - all three of Pentax's current DA or D-FA macros use this thread size; however, some others (e.g. FA-50, FA-200) do not, and owners of older macro lenses, or those wishing to expand their macro lens range who already have the DA/DFA lenses, should bear this in mind. It may also affect those with close-focus non-macro lenses who want to use a ring flash at somewhat extended ranges to brighten up their work.

Beware if taking pictures of eyes - the red-eye effect is avoided, but the double-arc of the ring flash is clearly visible in the pupil. To what extent this is better or worse is a subjective thing.

In spite of the difficulties I've encountered, I have to give the AF080C a very high rating - it isn't the flash's fault that DSLRs over 20 years more sophisticated than the cameras it was designed for don't support its full function, and are literally too sensitive to use it without potentially needing ND filters. Prospective buyers will find it will need some "tuning" through personal experience and experimentation to get the settings right. For very short distance work I dial in ISO 80 1/180 sec and f/22, manually select 1/4 power on the rear of the power/control unit, and go for it.

When I get it right, though, it works spectacularly well.

EDIT: I have since bought an *istDS, with full support for the analogue TTL protocol, to use with this flash, and that opens up a whole new world. With that, this flash is outstanding for all close-quarters work on inanimate subjects with all lenses, including Takumars, on which the flash will fit. I do not have sufficient experience with its use for close-quarter portraiture.

Registered: February, 2008
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
Posts: 4,461
Review Date: March 31, 2011 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $110.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Failry simple to use, well made, nice light quality
Cons: Must be used in fully manual mode on digital comeras

I only recently purchased the AF080C on EBAY and this review is just a quick first impression. I donít do a lot of macro work but when I do I have long felt the need for a ring light to get some even shadow free light on the subject. I used manual flash for many years in my film days so the fact the AF080C would have to be used manually on my digital camera didnít really scare me. I donít do enough macro work to justify spending the amount needed to purchase the latest Pentax ring light so this model seemed like a good fit for my limited macro flash needs. This was especially true as I got it for a reasonable price. That being said if you are not comfortable working in a fully manual mode this is probably not the ring light for you.

My first impressions are the AF080C performs as advertised. It gets the light where I want it in a relatively painless manner. The flash features both full and ľ power settings which adds some versatility. After half a dozen trial shots I was able to get the settings to produce the results I wanted. The AF080C comes with a 49mm filter attachment which mates well with my SMC Pentax M 50/4 macro lens. I also have an Pentax A series 100/2.8 macro which I havenít been able to attach. It takes 58mm filters so Iíll have to find a step down ring to make it work. I donít anticipate any problems here. Potential buyers should make note of the 49mm filter issue.

Iíve yet to try this flash with my bellows unit but I anticipate good things. Iíll update this review in a month or so with further impressions. At the time of writing the AF080C looks like a good buy for those of us who occasionally shoot macro and donít mind working in fully manual flash mode. Did I mention if you must have PTL/TTL this is not the flash for you?

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Registered: January, 2011
Location: The Canadian WetCoast
Posts: 377
Review Date: March 18, 2011 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Design & color temperature
Cons: Power, non-PTTL

Used this flash for many years since the MX film camera era & love it. Excellent design and handling plus nice (warm) color temperature. Non-PTTL could be a drawback for AF + dSLR users but I use MF Macro lenses & manual exposure mostly. Sold it just to upgrade to AF160CF which has higher output - but with the price to match!
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Registered: July, 2008
Location: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Posts: 3,948
Review Date: May 9, 2010 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very useful for the price
Cons: Metering doesn't work with P-TTL systems

If you are interested in macro photography and need a ring light, and if you find a used unit like this for a decent price, grab it. It's operation is pretty simple and the option of 1/4 output setting greatly helps. Use of these is pretty much assigned to Manual operation, but for macro work, you're there anyway.

The specs don't identify, but the thread is 49mm.
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