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04-01-2009, 03:46 PM   #1
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Wanting opinions on Pentax AF-540 FGZ Flash Attachment

I'm in an external flash purchase mode right now. I've been considering the purchase of a Pentax AF-540 FGZ Flash attachment. My problem is that I've read some really bad reviews on product quality, not functionality, on the Amazon site. Functionality always seemed to be acceptable.

Most of the negative reviews centered around the mounting shoe and a plastic pin that engages the flash shoe on the K-10D and the battery cover door. Additionally, some complaints as to the flash head not rotating properly and the zoom feature getting locked on the 16mm position.

Does anyone on this forum have experience with the 540 and can you give me some advice concerning it? Additionally, If the 540 is not the best choice, does anyone know a third party flash manufacture that makes a good "clip-on" flash for the K-10D that is better than the 540 FGZ?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you.

JimH

04-01-2009, 04:26 PM   #2
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I have the 540 for more than 2 years now. I also have similar Canon and Nikon products.

I think the 540's quality is comparable to those of Canon and Nikon, even though to me Nikon products appears to be more solid.

QuoteQuote:
"the mounting shoe and a plastic pin that engages the flash shoe on the K-10D."
The foot on the flash is plastic. But I think that's a good thing. When you have the flash attached to the camera and accidentally bump the flash, you want the mounting foot on the flash to break, not the hot shoe or the top plate of the camera to.

The locking pin is metal. It does not get stuck if you raise (unlock) the pin before attaching the flash onto or detaching the flash from the camera body. Accident happens when the user is in a hurry and pull/push the flash when the pin is still engaged. The pin is not unique to Pentax. My Nikon flash also has one. It's very easy to disable the locking pin (I did because my 13-yr son is also using the flash, and he's not known for being careful). It takes 5 minutes and the operation is fully reversible.

I don't like the battery door. It's easy to break if you are not careful. But the battery door on my Nikon is of the same design and thus is not any better. The battery doors on my Canon and on my Vivitar are better.

QuoteQuote:
some complaints as to the flash head not rotating properly and the zoom feature getting locked on the 16mm position
I'm not sure about "the flash head not rotating properly." Mine seems to work find, not better nor worse than products from other manufacturers. The problem of "getting locked on the 16mm position" in most cases is caused by the wide-angle panel and/or the catch light panel are inadvertently pulled out and not pushed in fully.

If I were to do it all over again, I'd consider the Metz 58. It's firmware-upgradable and can communicate ISO and aperture settings with the camera body in Auto mode (Pentax 540 can do that only in P-TTL or TTL mode).
04-02-2009, 05:03 AM   #3
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Your choices are Metz, Sigma, Promaster, and a generic chinese-make flash sold under many different brand names (like Sakar/Digital Concepts).

I think the AF540FGZ problems get overemphasized since the majority of people, with no problems, don't ever say anything. The Sigma and Promaster flashes seem flimsier in construction, but I haven't heard nearly as many complaints. (Possibly because people have differerent expectations? Or maybe it's just a superficial thing.) The Metz flashes are still plastic but feel pretty well built and don't seem to have the hotshoe problem either. The issue with the zoom head getting stuck seems relatively common to any brand of motorized zoom flash, unfortunately.
04-02-2009, 10:26 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by SOldBear Quote
I have the 540 for more than 2 years now. I also have similar Canon and Nikon products.

I think the 540's quality is comparable to those of Canon and Nikon, even though to me Nikon products appears to be more solid.



The foot on the flash is plastic. But I think that's a good thing. When you have the flash attached to the camera and accidentally bump the flash, you want the mounting foot on the flash to break, not the hot shoe or the top plate of the camera to.

The locking pin is metal. It does not get stuck if you raise (unlock) the pin before attaching the flash onto or detaching the flash from the camera body. Accident happens when the user is in a hurry and pull/push the flash when the pin is still engaged. The pin is not unique to Pentax. My Nikon flash also has one. It's very easy to disable the locking pin (I did because my 13-yr son is also using the flash, and he's not known for being careful). It takes 5 minutes and the operation is fully reversible.

I don't like the battery door. It's easy to break if you are not careful. But the battery door on my Nikon is of the same design and thus is not any better. The battery doors on my Canon and on my Vivitar are better.



I'm not sure about "the flash head not rotating properly." Mine seems to work find, not better nor worse than products from other manufacturers. The problem of "getting locked on the 16mm position" in most cases is caused by the wide-angle panel and/or the catch light panel are inadvertently pulled out and not pushed in fully.

If I were to do it all over again, I'd consider the Metz 58. It's firmware-upgradable and can communicate ISO and aperture settings with the camera body in Auto mode (Pentax 540 can do that only in P-TTL or TTL mode).
Thanks SoldBear, for the very comprehensive resolution to my questions. I really appreciate it. I need an external flash and I want to purchase the best one for my situation. Thanks again.

Jim

04-02-2009, 10:33 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattdm Quote
Your choices are Metz, Sigma, Promaster, and a generic chinese-make flash sold under many different brand names (like Sakar/Digital Concepts).

I think the AF540FGZ problems get overemphasized since the majority of people, with no problems, don't ever say anything. The Sigma and Promaster flashes seem flimsier in construction, but I haven't heard nearly as many complaints. (Possibly because people have differerent expectations? Or maybe it's just a superficial thing.) The Metz flashes are still plastic but feel pretty well built and don't seem to have the hotshoe problem either. The issue with the zoom head getting stuck seems relatively common to any brand of motorized zoom flash, unfortunately.
Thanks for your response mattdm, I will check out the guide that you suggested. You are possibly correct on the issue of only the people with problems voicing their concerns. It's the old saying "The squeeky wheel that gets the grease". Thanks again.

Jim
04-02-2009, 07:45 PM   #6
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I went with the Metz 58 AF-1 since it has a 40$ rebate going till the end of April, and it's a little better for distance.
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