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PENTAX AF 540FGZ Review RSS Feed


Reviews Views Date of last review
25 68,888 Sat March 27, 2021
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
84% of reviewers $343.30 7.17


The most powerful flash in the Pentax line-up with a guide number of 54. The flash is compatible with all Pentax SLR and DSLR cameras (except the auto 110 series). The flash has a zooming flash head, which tilts and swivels for bounce flash, a built-in wide-angle diffuser and a built-in catch-light panel.

Optional accessories:
TR Power Pack 3
Flash nameGuide Number (meters ISO 100)Flash controlFlash exposure comp.Flash range
PENTAX AF 540FGZ45 in 50mm zoom position,
54 in 85mm zoom position
P-TTL auto,
TTL auto,
Auto flash,
Manual (7 power settings)
Yes, in P-TTL mode
(-3 to +1 EV)
P-TTL/TTL auto: 0.7 to 32m
at 50mm zoom position
with f/1.4 lens at ISO 100)
Flash coverage (24x36)Flash coverage (APS-C)Rotating flash headFlash durationModeling light
24mm lens,
20mm with built-in
wide-angle panel
16mm lens,
13mm with built-in
wide-angle panel
Yes, tilt and swivel1/20,000s to 1/1,200Yes
Autofocus spotbeamConnectionsHot shoe pinsBatteriesDimensions (W x H x D)
YesHot shoe, 5P cable,
external power
5 (incl. ground)4 x AA76 x 142 x 107mm
WeightIn production
380g (without batteries)No

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
Flash confirmation in viewfinderYes
Set aperture (Programmed flash)Yes
Trailing curtain synchYes
Contrast control synchYes
High speed synchYes
Slave flashYes
Wireless controlYes
In Production: Buy the PENTAX AF 540FGZ
Price History:

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Senior Member

Registered: August, 2013
Location: St. Gallen
Posts: 149
Review Date: March 27, 2021 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Works as it should be
Cons: Zoom isn't working correct at 85mm


I bought last year 2 pcs of the AF540 FGZ.

This because I wasn't able to use my Metz flashes in Master Flash Mode on the K-1 in P-TTL. For this purpose it works fine and I can use my Metz als Slave in P-TTL Modus!

One Issue I have with both flashes. It seems the mechanical construction isn't on a level which we expect from Pentax. Both Pentax can't use the 85mm Zoom. I can switch between 16, 19, 24, 34, 48, 58 but as soon as I switch to 85 your hear the gear making a noice and nothing happens.

The User-Interface is nice and better as most of my Metz flashes

Maybe other users have experienced the same issue with the zoom at 85mm?!?

Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 7,616
Review Date: January 23, 2021 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: P-TTL and TTL compatible cameras. Wireless control. High powered.
Cons: Expensive new.

Pentax released the AF540FGZ in 2005 as the second P-TTL flash designed for the new *ist Series auto-focus film/digital cameras. (It’s a bigger brother to the AF360FGZ that came out four years earlier).

I bought my AF540FGZ for use on my Pentax MZ-S & *ist film cameras and together this combo enables you to use all of the flash’s features in the P-TTL mode. (Along with a F, FA or FAJ Series lens) Note Pentax also indicates using A Series lenses with the P-TTL flash can result in incorrect exposure, so AF lenses are recommended.

The great thing about this flash is that it’s backwards compatible the older TTL flash 35mm/645/6x7 film cameras and will automatically switch to using that mode when mounted on a LX/645NII/67II or other TTL flash cameras. Note the older the film camera the less features are available on the flash. (Refer to the AF540FGZ flash manual for what functions are available for each camera “group”.

This is also the second Pentax flash to feature a wireless control option as well as a “format” setting to switch between 35mm, 645 and 67 camera formats.

The AF540FGZ has a tilting head for bounce flash and the head also swivels. The flash also has a built-in catchlight & wide-angle panel.

The build of the AF540FGZ is OK and if treated carefully you should not have any issues with the battery door either. This flash weighs 380 grams without the four AA batteries installed. Compared to its little brother, the AF3600FGZ weighs 270 grams without the batteries installed.

Overall an excellent flash if you have a mixture of TTL and P-TTL film cameras and if you are looking for a more powerful flash than the AF360FGZ.

I found my NOS “open box” AF540FGZ at a local store, it cost $100.00CDN.
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2011
Location: Brno
Posts: 275
Review Date: April 13, 2020 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Power, price of 2nd hand unit
Cons: Construction

AF540 is rather poweful flash, but has its problems. Mechanical construcion is horrible and certainly not comparable to competitors. Flash is also not sealed. Fits nicely in 80-90" era, but not in today's world.


Registered: December, 2017
Posts: 426
Review Date: July 22, 2019 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 


@ Tigrebleu,

Bouncing means use of a ceiling that can be closer or further away.
The flashgun can not see how far away the reflecting surface is.
In TTL mode the flash unit should register the amount of light and limit the energy.

Chances are some of the emitted light reached the subject directly.
This is likely to happen when the subject is close to the camera.

Inconsistent overexposure is a nuissance.
Hope this helps to understand the limitations of automatic flash control.

Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2017
Posts: 1,070
Review Date: May 17, 2019 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $182.40 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Works on 645Z similar to 500FTZ on 645N except P-TTL instead of TTL

This review is only intended to confirm that the AF540FGZ can be operated using the 330V provided by a Quantum Turbo battery pack using a JJC QTS-4 replacement for the Quantum CN3 cable, as has been demonstrated for the AF500FTZ flashes. Flash ready time is significantly reduced. Note that the AA batteries must still be used to power the electronics.

This flash also has a Pentax 5P cable jack allowing it to be operated as part of a set of compatible flashes without needing good optical communication. This hasn't been tested yet by this author as I have only one AF540FGZ and would normally set up Cactus flashes when a group of flashes are needed for P-TTL. Operation off-camera via 5P cable should also work.
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Lévis, Canada (Québec)
Posts: 144
Review Date: January 9, 2019 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $480.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Powerful, easy to use
Cons: Overexposes, especially when bouncing light off a ceiling or wall

Quick recycle, easy to use, I really wanted to love this flash.

But it kept overexposing my pictures when I bounced the flash off a ceiling, forcing me to constantly adjust the flash exposure compensation between shots. The exposure in this situation is very inconstant with the K10D and K-7, and still quite unreliable with the K-5. The AF360, despite having a similar problem, was at least consistent with the degree of flash exposure correction: if I had dialed a -2.0 EV compensation and this gave a good exposure, it would remain good unless the surrounding light changed. The AF540 is...all over the place, all the time.

Exposure when not bouncing the light was better (exposure correction wasn't needed as often), but it was still unreliable.
Senior Member

Registered: October, 2009
Location: Nis
Posts: 265

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 8, 2018 I can recommend this item: No | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: A lot of functions
Cons: Unreliable, bad electronic components, poor plastic, expensive ...

This is worst flashgun I have ever owned.
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2016
Location: Warsaw
Posts: 32
Review Date: May 1, 2016 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: P-TTL
Cons: Plastic shoe, battery door...

This is a very good lamp, probably better is Metz 64...
In my opinion this lamp is more than enough for semi-pro or amateur.

Price is good for example in Poland new model (540FGZ II) cost about 2-2.5 thousands PLN (about 465-500 EUR) this model from second hand cost about 250-300 EUR. This make a difference...

Generally this flash have a two problems :
1.Plastic shoe - Who have this idea ?!
2.Battery door - Give me this crazy enginer/designer !!! I have to send his to Pentax hell

Other problems ? I don't see.
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2013
Posts: 62

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: March 26, 2015 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $210.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: compact, powerful and versalite, has all thinkable modes
Cons: battery door needs to use carefully, as usual at ALL Pentax flashes

it is:
- body - as it needs to be
- head rotating/bounce/zoom - as needed
- recycling time ~ 5-6 sec - WOW
- power - enough.
- modes:
P-TTL (and remote/wireless P-TTL),
AUTO, (and remote/wireless AUTO)
MANUAL (and remote/wireless).
modeling mode - well.

more often I'm using AUTO mode - it is absolutely precise.

it has not real cons, but I will be happy to obtain AUTO mode not only from f/2 at ISO100 and lower, but from f/1.4 at ISO 100
it will makes me happy twice.

flimsy battery door? at PENTAX AF280T flashes the battery door also not to much well engendered, so :
- than You open it - NOT just slide it, PRESS-and-SLIDE it, and it will serve to You a long of time.
New Member

Registered: September, 2010
Location: Osijek
Posts: 2
Review Date: August 13, 2013 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Powerfull, lots of settings, good battery life
Cons: a little expensive

I'm very happy with what I've got in this Pentax AF-540...compared to AF-500 which I also have.
Everybody complains about that battery doors, but there's nothing to worry about...they are just a little bit flimsy, but I found that it's better than on AF500, which you need to aim in the dark and push back up..and of course, you can loose them every time just because they are getting completely off when you're changing batteries
I have used it on K10, Kx and K5 and I'm satisfied with results I've got..I think it can't be better
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2010
Location: Somewhere in the Southern US
Posts: 12,285
Review Date: April 20, 2013 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $235.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Powerful, versatile, actually works with K-01
Cons: no USB port, resets itself when it sleeps

I've got some older used Pentax Flashes (AF16 a& AF400) that I got with other gear that I have been able to use in addition to a Bell & Howell (rebranded Tumax) Z680-AF-P that is TTL and fairly versatile. I had debated getting an AF540 but the price put me off. Then a nice one came up on the Marketplace and I jumped on it because none of my current flashes will work on my K-01. There's a thread about his problem (it's not just me)

The AF540 works like it should on the K-01, despite other flashes - even Pentax Flashes - balking. That's a big plus.

I'm not even a journeyman strobist but I do know that when I mount the 540 on my K-5 I get better pictures with more natural looking lighting than with any of my other flashes. I realize that there are things the 540 doesn't do well, and I am sure I'll find out about them as I use it more, but so far its outperforming any other flash I have used. My first immediate negative, and its very picky of me, is that the case that it comes with is of no use in the field because it has no attachment points whatsoever. In this day and age why make a nice case, and it is a nice enough storage case, and not spend the extra nickle on a strap or d-ring attachment point? Is the battery door flimsy? Yes and there is no real excuse for that. Is the foot plastic? Yes. Could it be updated - absolutely. Does it work well for what I am doing, so far its been a joy to use.

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Quebec city, Canada
Posts: 8,941

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: March 29, 2013 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $240.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Powerful, offers just about every control possible
Cons: No standard synch port

My experience with flashes is as follows : Pentax AF280T, Vivitar 285HV, Pentax AF500FTZ, Yongnuo 460, Yongnuo 560, Sigma 530 ST DG and now the Pentax AF-540FGZ. I've tried a bit of everything.

This flash is the best I've owned.

It offers every control, setting, adjustment possible. controls are quite intuitive (I was able to get most things to work without reading the manual). In PTTL, the flash just delivers as it should. In manual mode, it has more power levels than any other flash I've seen. You can use it in auto thyristor, PTTL, TTL, manual, wireless slave, wireless TTL. You can trigger it with a radio trigger.

I like that you can disable auto-sleep. I love the catchlight panel. I like that, contraty to my previous Sigma flash, you do not have to press a button to swivel or tilt the head. I like the AF spotbeam, very effective. I like the recycle time and the long time it lasts with good batteries.

I have no issues with the foot, it's not worse than any other flash. I also don't have issues with the battery door, people complaining about it must not have used many other flashes. I feel your pain but it's not worse than any other flash. The 500FTZ had a sturdier door but no hinges (it simply came off), meaning you risked loosing it every time you removed it. I like that the batteries are in a vertical line, too.

The flash is a bit bigger than expected, and quite thick. Not an issue but a surprise.

I dislike that the synch port is proprietary to Pentax. You cannot use a standard X-synch cable (incidentally, the K20D has a port just for that, but you cannot use it). It means most radio triggers will need to attach to the hotshoe.

My unit has an intermittent issue with the wide converter, sometimes it seems it forces the zoom head to 16mm, disabling auto zoom. Maybe a false contact, I'll look into it.
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2011
Location: In the boonies (NW Penna)
Posts: 5,744

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 17, 2012 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $399.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Powerful - Easy off-camera P-TTL - Nice Controls
Cons: Plastic foot

This is the flagship flash for Pentax which for me has been worth the money spent buying it new ~1 year ago.

I always do a lot of research before buying any equipment including all the user reviews I can find. The two main negative comments I found were the plastic foot design and a weak battery door. I haven't had any problems with either issue, but I am always very careful how I handle all my equipment.

The first flash I bought for my Pentax system was the Metz 48 AF-1. The Metz was a very good flash and had most of the same features and power of the Pentax AF 540. But, 2 issues led me to sell the Metz and buy the Pentax. First were the controls of the Metz. I found them not intuitive at all and found myself going back to the manual many times to review how to set the flash to different functions. I know that possibly given some more time I might have learned it, but still found it difficult especially because all settings were done with button pushes - sometimes pushing 2 buttons together at the same time - and having to cycle through screens to find my settings. With the AF 540 this is not an issue at all. The controls are intuitive enough to find the setting you are looking for easily using a combination of slide switches, buttons, and a scroll wheel. Very easy to use and that alone made me very happy with the purchase.

The second issue was the wireless P-TTL performance. Just starting out with off-camera flash, I wanted to use this function while learning lighting techniques before I ventured into manual flash. The Metz was finicky on where the flash was placed to receive the control flash from the on-camera flash. Once in the proper position for the Metz to receive the signal, it worked fine. With my purchase of the Pentax unit I was hoping for some better performance in this respect and I was rewarded. The Af 540 picks of the signal of the control flash much better than the Metz had. I use it on a light stand shooting into an umbrella, and get the flash to fire in wireless P-TTL mode even when the flash is off to the side at a 45deg angle and behind the actual path of the control flash - very impressed!

I am now venturing into manual flash, and as expected the AF 540 works perfectly with my Cactus flash triggers and very easy to change the power settings on the fly. I guess the only short coming of the flash in this use is the minimum power level is 1/64 where some other manual flashes will go to 1/128. This has not been a problem so far as it is easy enough to move the flash away from the subject some or just add some diffusion of some sort.

I'm happy with the AF 540 for the versatility, power, and ease of use. It will remain as my main flash now that I will be adding a second flash in the near future. I was going to buy a Yongnuo 560II as a second flash unit, but I may just pick up a good second hand AF 540.
New Member

Registered: December, 2008
Location: winnipeg,manitoba,canada
Posts: 6
Review Date: November 28, 2012 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $399.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: lots of power,swivel head is great & battery life is very good
Cons: Battery door is flimsy

I purchased this flash on line about 2.5 years ago. I did not use it for a long time because i was ignorant on how off camera flash worked,& was intimidated by the technology. I realized i had to come terms with it, read all i could about flash photography.Started to use my old/new AF-540FGZ & lo & behold the flash synch switch is inop.I cannot use it to switch from "trailing curtain mode" which it is stuck at to any other mode.I will bring it in for repair but if it is to expensive i WILL buy another brand.
Does anyone out there have this problem????
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2012
Location: Sydney
Posts: 42
Review Date: October 18, 2012 I can recommend this item: No | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Easy access to settings, wireless mode, HSS etc
Cons: Cheap and nasty battery door cover

I've had this flash for about 2 years and in all other respects, apart from the flimsy battery door, it has served me well. I particularly like how easy it is to change settings & to use wireless mode, etc.

However a small piece of plastic has broken off the battery door cover and I am now stuck with a $600 flash which is more or less broken owing to a 50c piece of plastic. I will have to resort to wrapping tape around it to keep the battery door shut enough to make an electrical contact.

This should be an excellent flash, however Pentax screwed badly up with the battery door design. This silly design flaw has turned an otherwise excellent flash into a cheap & nasty little toy. I am not impressed & would not ever buy one of these again.
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