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03-25-2011, 04:49 PM   #1
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AF-540FGZ Not Flashing

Hello everyone, long time lurker but first post... my wife and I have been Pentax users since we dived into photography about 5-6 years ago. What was at first a hobby is now a (semi)-successful photog business.

Anyway, title of the thread says it all. A bit more detail though... the flash comes on just fine, everything else appears to work as it should, but it just doesn't flash, either on camera or off camera using the "test" button. You can hear it charging, the test button lights up, and nothing. My wife mentioned it had been acting funny for a few weeks, but she chalked that up to batteries or it not sitting on the shoe contacts well enough... taking longer than normal to charge, seemingly lower flash power than expected (sometimes photos were a bit underexposed).

This has been a great flash; it's been in steady use since 2007 or 2008 (can't remember what year exactly)... so 3 or 4 years. What's the lifespan of this piece of equipment? Is it just on its last leg? Do the flash bulbs burn out? Is it worth it (financially) to send it in for service vs. picking up another flash?

Thanks anyone for your help.

03-25-2011, 09:20 PM   #2
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Welcome in from the sidelines.

I'm afraid I don't have any good answers for you.. Does the flash behave this way in all modes? Can you Change modes? Is it in wireless mode by chance? Does it ever Stop charging? Does it recharge after pressing the test button? How about the Modeling light strobe?

03-26-2011, 05:48 AM   #3
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Alright, another symptom which I didn't realize yesterday (and my wife failed to tell me)... apparently after not being used for a significant period of time, overnight in this case, after turning on and charging, it will emit a single flash using the "test" button. After that, nothing. I can turn it off and back on, wait for it to charge, and no flash.

To answer your other questions:

- I can change modes and it behaves this way in all modes.

- It is not in wireless mode.

- You can hear it recharge after pressing test (but no flash) and it does stop charging as expected.

- Negative also on the modeling strobe.
03-26-2011, 06:18 AM   #4
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Send it to CRIS and let them tell you the problem and the cost to repair. They just did my AF360FGZ and it's like new again (for less than replacing it with used). Digital Camera Repair| C.R.I.S. A+ BBB Rating

03-26-2011, 08:25 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by 251todd Quote
Alright, another symptom which I didn't realize yesterday (and my wife failed to tell me)... apparently after not being used for a significant period of time, overnight in this case, after turning on and charging, it will emit a single flash using the "test" button. After that, nothing. I can turn it off and back on, wait for it to charge, and no flash.

To answer your other questions:

- I can change modes and it behaves this way in all modes.

- It is not in wireless mode.

- You can hear it recharge after pressing test (but no flash) and it does stop charging as expected.

- Negative also on the modeling strobe.
It sounds like the firing capacitor is near dead or leaking (not holding a charge). I agree with calicojack, it should probably be sent for service.

03-26-2011, 09:42 AM   #6
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Try new batteries. I've had this happen with nikon flashes in the past... rechargeable batteries (I assume everyone uses) just get old, and despite being able to charge the ready light - it's not actually enough power to fire.
03-26-2011, 01:32 PM   #7
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It's definitely not the batteries. Tried a few sets of rechargeable and regular AA's.

Hmm... I've never heard of C.R.I.S. but granted, this is our first time dealing with a possible repair. Anyone else deal with them before?

We've already ordered a replacement and my wife is using her backup flash in the mean time. If the repair cost aren't too bad, we'll likely go ahead and do that as well.

Thanks everyone for your help so far!
03-29-2011, 04:58 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by 251todd Quote
Hmm... I've never heard of C.R.I.S. but granted, this is our first time dealing with a possible repair. Anyone else deal with them before?
They are THE Pentax Warrantee repair outfit (in the US)

06-14-2011, 03:35 PM   #9
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Hi 251todd,

I have a very similar same problem with my AF 540 - the modeling and test light do not work (only one flash is emitted once, that's it), while in P-TTL flash the pre-flash is emitted but not the full flash (which has confused me a lot at first since I am new to flash). The flash work fine in A and M modes.

Do you know what was the faulty component in the end? How much did CRIS charge you for the repair?

Thanks.
06-15-2011, 02:31 AM   #10
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I need 2 posts to be able to send a PM to someone... this is the 2nd one. Sorry, it doesn't really add much to the discussion.
08-11-2011, 10:00 AM   #11
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The same thing happened to me this past weekend on a shoot in NYC. I've never had an issue with my 540, but now it will flash maybe once, and then just sit there... I've tried many sets of batteries, and I get nothing. However, instead of the flash charging noise that you usually hear, I'm hearing a light click every few seconds....
08-11-2011, 11:02 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kcjacoby Quote
The same thing happened to me this past weekend on a shoot in NYC. I've never had an issue with my 540, but now it will flash maybe once, and then just sit there... I've tried many sets of batteries, and I get nothing. However, instead of the flash charging noise that you usually hear, I'm hearing a light click every few seconds....
Does the zoom head work?

08-11-2011, 11:13 AM   #13
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Yep, the zoom head still works
08-11-2011, 11:16 AM   #14
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Well that blows my theory. I had mine get stuck once and it had a similar behavior afterwards.

08-11-2011, 11:56 PM   #15
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To add to the discussion, I went to C.R. Kennedy to repair the flash (as C.R. Kennedy is the distributor and repair centre for Pentax in Australia).
One trigger piece had failed and needed to be replaced. If I don't forget I'll post the references and a picture of it here when I get back home. The piece cost $50 and the repair $90 (i.e. total of A$140). The flash is working fine now.
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