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11-06-2013, 02:38 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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540 FGZ II First Impressions and vs 540 v1

Just yesterday I received the 540 FGZ II flash that I had pre ordered a while ago when they were first announced, and took some time this morning to check it out and compare it to the 540 version 1 flash that I already own.

I currently own Pentax K-5 classic, Q and Q7 bodies that I use with my 540FGZ 1's periodically so am somewhat familiar with the operation of those units.

Pentax has improved a few points in comparison to the previous version with the II series, namely:
  • Weather sealing
  • More compact size
  • LED lamp that can functions as video light
  • Better battery door operation
  • Metal foot
  • Easier setting of functions with simplified buttons
  • Range of manual power down to 1/256 vs. old one only going to 1/64

Other changes include:
  • Omission of AC and Sync ports
  • Omission of catchlight panel, replaced by LED as catchlight function
  • The soft case seems cheaper with a drawstring design

Overall performance of the new flash is not markedly better than the old 540, since the range and power are similar.
In use the pictures of my stuffed animal target were not different from using one flash or the other, with direct or bounced flash as well as wireless.
Setting menus for wireless and manual controls was simpler with the new unit, the old one has different buttons to set different options.

My opinion is that the changes in the 540FGZ II are not worth the substantial increase in price over the previous 540.
The changes in the 360FGZ II I do believe are significant over the old version of the 360, with the addition of swivel functionality, and all the features seen in the new 540FGZ II are available in the 360FGZ II. The manual is a dual purpose manual for both the 360 and 540 units, and there is no difference in what they can do or how settings are made, except for the range differences due to power of the flash.

Do you even need to go with a Pentax brand flash? If you prefer manual setting and use wireless third party units then I don't think so.
If you want the auto capabilities of PTTL with wireless capability then you might consider a Pentax flash and the 540FGZ version 1 may be all you need as long as you are careful with the battery door.
As far as the WR construction of these II versions, it really depends on your usage - for dusty or damp environments it may be worth it.

Regarding the video light function, it did help in some lights out testing that I did in movie mode, but it is not spectacularly bright.
A separate video light panel would be more useful, but it is nice for the convenience of having it if you need it in a pinch.

Here are some pictures of the new and old flashes with explanations where appropriate, taken with a Q7.
Since the resulting lighting of the new and old units was virtually identical I only show one picture of my stuffed animal model to show the catchlight function.
There was no noted differences in light output of the new and old units, or change in operation once they were set to match function.

Size comparisons. Note the missing AC and sync port.




The battery door.



Wide angle panel, note missing catchlight panel.



Catchlight function
Off

On



Cases


Metal foot


11-06-2013, 02:46 PM   #2
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Interesting they've removed the sync and AC. I wonder if that means they will be bringing in a new top level flash.

Don't understand their pricing structure though.
11-06-2013, 02:55 PM   #3
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i guess the v1 are going to be discontinued, then the v2 will lower a bit in price.

For me, Ricoh is probably going longer term than we might think, and could have bigger picture in mind.

Which one ? i dunno !
11-06-2013, 02:58 PM   #4
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Thanks for the simple review.
Maybe there will be a higher spec flash coming along.
Maybe a re-do of the AF400T?

11-06-2013, 02:58 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pheo Quote
Interesting they've removed the sync and AC. I wonder if that means they will be bringing in a new top level flash.

Don't understand their pricing structure though.
The manual lists the Off Camera Shoe Adapter F as an accessory for cable sync, but nothing is listed for external power.
When I saw the port was gone I thought perhaps they were going to list some sort of AA compartment device but no such luck.
Yes I wonder what their plans are for studio use.
11-06-2013, 03:01 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by LaurenOE Quote
Thanks for the simple review. Maybe there will be a higher spec flash coming along. Maybe a re-do of the AF400T?
I'd hate to see what that would be priced at !
11-06-2013, 03:03 PM   #7
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Thanks for the comparison. It would make sense for Ricoh to bring in another level of flash.
But with all of this in mind, I think I'll pick up another V1.
11-06-2013, 03:04 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by twilhelm Quote
Thanks for the comparison. It would make sense for Ricoh to bring in another level of flash.
But with all of this in mind, I think I'll pick up another V1.
There is a used one in the marketplace right now

11-06-2013, 03:31 PM   #9
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How is WR?
11-06-2013, 03:45 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by i83N Quote
How is WR?
I did not test that feature
The battery door does have a rubber seal that sits around the batteries.
In general the flash feels more solid and I attribute it to the weather sealing as the swivel and angle adjusting feels more positive and damped than the older version.
11-06-2013, 04:03 PM   #11
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I like that the flash appears to be smaller. I wonder with the 360 now having swivel and bounce if it would be suitable replacement even for my 560 since I only use it for event photography.
11-06-2013, 04:05 PM   #12
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Great write up Larry - thanks for taking the time to share with us!

The physical size difference is quite a lot - never would have known that without your side by side pics.

Since I don't do any people shooting nor indoor shooting, I often wonder why I even have my 540 v1 - but I do use the wireless capability for some still life shooting with umbrella or soft box.

It's nice to see Ricoh upgrade the flashes albeit at a price - shows commitment to the brand which is a good thing!
11-06-2013, 04:09 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
I did not test that feature
The battery door does have a rubber seal that sits around the batteries.
In general the flash feels more solid and I attribute it to the weather sealing as the swivel and angle adjusting feels more positive and damped than the older version.
thanks Larry...now I don't have to worry about getting it...I really like the one I have!!
11-06-2013, 04:26 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pearsaab Quote
thanks Larry...now I don't have to worry about getting it...I really like the one I have!!
If the prices were more reasonable then this would be a good replacement unit.
It is too bad that the accessories and lenses don't follow the trend of cheaper and better DSLR's like the K-3 did.
11-06-2013, 04:27 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
Great write up Larry - thanks for taking the time to share with us!

The physical size difference is quite a lot - never would have known that without your side by side pics.

Since I don't do any people shooting nor indoor shooting, I often wonder why I even have my 540 v1 - but I do use the wireless capability for some still life shooting with umbrella or soft box.

It's nice to see Ricoh upgrade the flashes albeit at a price - shows commitment to the brand which is a good thing!
Built in wireless is a nice feature of the Pentax flashes, the V1 540 has pretty much all one would need.
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