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01-12-2008, 03:43 PM   #1
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AF-540 FGZ vs AF-360 FGZ

I have never used an external flash. I recently purchased a K10D and would appreciate some guidance on choosing between the dedicated Pentax flash units for the K10.

I will be taking pictures of my, soon to be 4 year old, son during his various indoor and outdoor adventures. I am also interested in macro photography and I plan on getting a 100mm macro lens in the future. Would either of these flashes be of any use for macro or would another type of flash be necessary?



Thank you for your help

01-12-2008, 04:02 PM   #2
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For macro the preferred flash is definitely ring-type. It mounts onto your lens and illuminates all of whatever's directly in front of the lens equally. Macro shots using a hotshoe mount flash would be a great deal of trouble, as the top portion of your macro shot would always be hotter than the lower portion. Not to say it can't be done-it'd just be tricker. I can't really comment on the 540/360, sadly as I'm still using my old 285HV and doing the math myself !
01-12-2008, 06:23 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Suggest you go to the following site for excellent info on using flash with your camera:
Strobist: Lighting 101. It's a real treasure trove of information.

Whichever flash you choose (I have the AF360FGZ) my suggestion would be to purchase either a set of the Gadget Infinity radio triggers (see here: Gadget Infinity) or else an off camera TTL flash extension cord such as this: FITS PENTAX, OFF-CAMERA SHOE FLASH TTL EXT CORD - eBay (item 190188919669 end time Jan-15-08 11:20:46 PST). Either of these options will allow you to get the flash off camera for better photos. My understanding is that the "experts" don't prefer ring lights for macro photography for the same reason they don't like on-camera flash for taking portraits: the straight-on light lights everything facing the camera evenly, and therefore produces a very flat appearing image with no contrast and therefore no 3-dimensional effect. Most of the ringlights are either very high-priced or under-powered. When shooting macro you're generally going to need a very small aperture, say f/22, because of the extremely shallow depth of field, and this calls for a flash with plenty of oomph. Obviously either of the dedicated Pentax units is capable of providing that. The 540 has a larger guide number than the 360, and also has a swivel head which is lacking on the 360. As far as I am aware, these are the two main differences. I think either would serve your purposes quite well. Yours FWIW

CN

Last edited by Clem Nichols; 01-12-2008 at 06:35 PM.
01-12-2008, 08:13 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by wiseman Quote
(snip) would appreciate some guidance on choosing (snip) I am also interested in macro photography (snip)

Of course, we can't decide which of these two flash units are best for you. You'll have to study the differences and decide yourself based on your own projected needs. The obvious differences are the power levels, swivel, external power pack, and price.

As for macro photography, either of these two flash units (combined with home-made or purchased table-top reflectors) would serve very well when used off-camera in the wireless mode (indoors) or wired (outdoors) with cables and hotshoes.

stewart

01-13-2008, 12:53 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clem Nichols Quote
Suggest you go to the following site for excellent info on using flash with your camera:
Strobist: Lighting 101. It's a real treasure trove of information.

Whichever flash you choose (I have the AF360FGZ) my suggestion would be to purchase either a set of the Gadget Infinity radio triggers (see here: Gadget Infinity) or else an off camera TTL flash extension cord such as this: FITS PENTAX, OFF-CAMERA SHOE FLASH TTL EXT CORD - eBay (item 190188919669 end time Jan-15-08 11:20:46 PST). Either of these options will allow you to get the flash off camera for better photos.

CN
He won't need extension cords or triggers. If he has firmware version 1.30 he can use the built in flash wireless feature to trigger the off camera 360 or 540.

Rusty
01-13-2008, 01:26 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rusty Quote
He won't need extension cords or triggers. If he has firmware version 1.30 he can use the built in flash wireless feature to trigger the off camera 360 or 540.

Rusty
This is true, but considering that the built-in flash has to be used to activate the strobes, and this, of course, means that the 360 or 540 has to be able to see the flash, either of my options gives a bit more freedom. I've read that if you use a short piece of 35mm film (which has been developed without exposing it to light) as a shield over the built-in flash you can trigger the off-camera unit without adding additional light to the scene which, for artistic reasons, you may not want to do.

CN
01-13-2008, 01:29 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Greg, I don't agree with some of the advice given here. So sorry for all your confusions when you are looking for guidance .

Since this is your first external flash, either 360 or 540FGZ will work fine for you. Once you get the flash, you should just shoot and experiment until you are comfortable with it.

The main difference between 360 and 540 is that 540 can swivel and is more powerful. But 360 is lighter and smaller and easier to carry around. So there is a trade off. My advice is that if you don't mind the extra weight and money, go for the 540. But if you do decide on the 360FGZ, it will work great as well.

The main advantage of external flash is bounce flash. I use one of the diffuser called StoFen Omnibounce; and it works great. Learn how to use bounce flash and your flash shot on your kids would look so much better than your built-in flash or P&S.

For macro, you should not need ring flash. Just use a reflector to redirect the light, or use wireless flash, which is easily accomplished using your K10D with either 360 and 540 (need to upgrade your K10D to firmware 1.10 or above, current firmware is 1.30). And wireless flash is also great for kids portraits, and it would make your flash shot very professional looking.

The Strobist web site is good, but only for manual flash and more advanced lighting technique. For your first external flash, I would stick with P-TTL, it is much more flexible. And I don't see the need for radio triggers, the built-in wireless flash works better in most of your needs (may only have problem in bright sunlight).
01-13-2008, 01:36 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clem Nichols Quote
This is true, but considering that the built-in flash has to be used to activate the strobes, and this, of course, means that the 360 or 540 has to be able to see the flash, either of my options gives a bit more freedom. I've read that if you use a short piece of 35mm film (which has been developed without exposing it to light) as a shield over the built-in flash you can trigger the off-camera unit without adding additional light to the scene which, for artistic reasons, you may not want to do.
But you lose P-TTL with radio triggers! For someone using external flash for the first time, it is just too overwhelming to calculate exposure manually. P-TTL wireless flash is so much simpler and intuitive. You can use any mode, any aperture you choose, slow sync, high speed sync, you name it, and the camera adjusts the exposure automatically for you. Don't like the result? Just dial in some exposure compensation right from the camera. As for 360/540 seeing the flash, in most cases, it is not a problem; as you don't need to point the flash at the camera, it works off reflections as well. Only in outdoor direct sunlight would cause problems.

And if you just want the wireless flash to illuminate the scene solely, you can set the pop-up flash in controller mode, and the pop-up flash would not contribute to the image exposure.

01-13-2008, 03:12 PM   #9
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I have the 360 FGZ and it’s a good flash. It is fairly feature rich, and is strong enough that I haven't missed the higher output that the 540 would give me. I just have to wonder why they didn't put a swivel head on it. With that said, it hasn't been an issue with me so far.

For macro, most people dislike ring flashes because of the flat lighting. Ring flashes were first made for dentists and other medical fields, and were adopted for macro work. They also tend to be rather expensive for something to be used only for macro work....that is unless you’re planning on doing lots of macro work (and you like the lighting), then I guess the expense could be justified.

Irrespectively, a lot of photographers are not happy about the lighting that a ring flash gives you. What they tend to do is place their external flash on a flash bracket that can be moved closer to the lens. If positioned right, the lighting looks a lot more natural then what a ring flash can give you. Quite a few macro photographers like the delta flash bracket. It has a moveable jointed arm that allows you to move the flash where you need it without the need of a mini ball head.

Here is my set up for my Canon gear to illustrate what I mean. Here is my 20D with some extension tubes and a Canon 100-300 lens. This was before I bought a Tamron 90 macro (a superb lens). The flash is mounted via a small ball head that allows me to move the flash around to my liking. I have a Lumiquest big softbox on the flash head. This does two things for me. It softens the light, and it also directs the light right where I need it. The flash is hooked up via a Canon off shoe cable.


I am currently looking into buying the Pentax off shoe cable F. It comes in 3 parts. So far, the local photo shop has the cable and the flash hot shoe. I have been waiting on the camera adapter for about a month+. It seems to be a hard part to get for some unknown reason. Once I get it, I will be allowed to use a Pentax flash for the same purposes.

Hope this gives you some ideas.
01-13-2008, 08:10 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clem Nichols Quote
This is true, but considering that the built-in flash has to be used to activate the strobes, and this, of course, means that the 360 or 540 has to be able to see the flash, either of my options gives a bit more freedom.

The only time I've had problems with the external flash units "seeing" the flash was on a very bright sunny day outdoors. This has only happened once or twice at the distances normally associated with macro photography, but it has happened. That is why I recommend also keeping the wired option (cables & hotshoes) available. With the AF-360 FGZ, this means the Hot Shoe Adapter F/FG, the F5P Extension Cord, and the Off-Camera Shoe Adapter F. With the AF-540 FGZ, the Off-Camera Shoe Adapter F is not needed since the extension cord can plug directly into the flash.

Indoors, at macro distances, there have never been any problems with the wireless option. Either of these methods (wireless or wired) is preferred over radio triggers since P-TTL metering remains available.


QuoteQuote:
I've read that if you use a short piece of 35mm film (which has been developed without exposing it to light) as a shield over the built-in flash you can trigger the off-camera unit without adding additional light to the scene which, for artistic reasons, you may not want to do.

Since he is using the K10D, external flash units can be triggered without the built-in flash firing at the moment of exposure. This is an option in the Custom Functions Menu. With the "Flash In Wireless Mode" option in this menu set to ON ("master"), the built-in flash will fire during exposure. With this menu option set to OFF ("controller"), the built-in flash will trigger the external flash units without firing during exposure. For more details, refer to the PDF file included with the firmware v1.10 update.

stewart
01-14-2008, 06:53 PM   #11
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Thank you all for the time you spent to help me. I will likely buy the AF-360 FGZ for the smaller size and lower cost (looks like I will be buying more than just a flash unit). The diffusers, reflectors and flash brackets are very interesting and are now on my wish list. Thanks for the photo Chako - it really helped to see what we are talking about. I will try the wireless at first and get the cables if I have problems.

I’m excited; this will be new territory for me and can’t wait to get at it.

Thanks again,
01-14-2008, 07:16 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by wiseman Quote
Thank you all for the time you spent to help me. I will likely buy the AF-360 FGZ for the smaller size and lower cost (looks like I will be buying more than just a flash unit). The diffusers, reflectors and flash brackets are very interesting and are now on my wish list. Thanks for the photo Chako - it really helped to see what we are talking about. I will try the wireless at first and get the cables if I have problems.

Iím excited; this will be new territory for me and canít wait to get at it.

Thanks again,
not to discourage yo but there is one drawback with the AF360. it has bounce but no swivel, this means for tall shots, you can only bounce off a wall not ceiling when camera mounted
01-14-2008, 09:13 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
not to discourage yo but there is one drawback with the AF360. it has bounce but no swivel, this means for tall shots, you can only bounce off a wall not ceiling when camera mounted
He mentioned he is going to get flash bracket. Not sure what type he is talking about. If he is going to get something similar to Stroboframe, that would solve the problem.
01-16-2008, 07:54 PM   #14
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Use 360 and 540 flash. Both work well for macro. Extra power isn't needed in that situation! For portraits more power can always be a benefit. Especially in large room or outdoors using some type of diffuser.
Use the Sunpak folding softboxes for macro. Rarely able to get the K10D builtin flash to wirelessly trigger either flash. The softbox gets in the way. Always carry the Pentax ttl cable. 540 has one other dvantage. It will take the Pentax ttl cable directly without the foot adapter. This makes the price of the two flashes closer - if you need corded P-ttl.
Usually prefer flash over ring flash lighting. You can't always get what you want, however. With extreme macro magnifications the working distance can be so small you don't have a choice. Have a 20mm macro for Olympus OM setup. It is upwards of 4X mag. Must use available light or ringlight in this case. Even if an external flash can be positioned to get light in there the angle is very steep. Ringlights can be masked off with tape to change the flat lighting. 100mm macro users won't have a problem with working distances this close.
thanks
barondla
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