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11-30-2007, 03:14 PM   #1
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rediculous flash units-poor customer service.

Let me begin by saying I love my Pentax. I never thought I would even contemplate another brand, mostly because I am so confortable with my Pentax bodies, and they've never let me down. I say bodies, because the Pentax flash units are the biggest pieces of junk I've ever seen. My 540 and 360s have failed time after time. Three broken flash feet, stuck zoomhead multiple times ( lost count), 540 stuck on the camera, then failing to communicate with the camera. There's some more, but I can't recall off the top of my head.

OK, now I'm a reasonable guy, but I'm also a poor photojournalist struggling to make a living! I shoot Pentax an email and ask if they can help me out here. I can't really afford to be without my camera. I list who I am and what I've done, how I'm the only pro Pentax shooter in my sport, how I've been a lifelong fan and consumer, and how these flashes have let me down again and again. I then ask if there's anyway they will warranty my flash, and if it's possible to get a loaner body or something so I don't miss out on income during this time (I have a shoot the following day, and the 540 won't come off my body and won't work).

The response? We suggest you send it to us for repair.

I again email them, and re explain teh situation and point out this isn't helping me at all. They respond that they are looking into a loaner program for pro photographers, but it's not available.

Absolutely freakin' rediculous. Now, as soon as I have an extra grand I fully intend to get a back up body, but I"m hard on equipment and just haven't had the cash yet. My last backup body suffered a horrible accident (long fall...poor lil bugga'). BEN, who do you get ahold of to help you out?

IF this continues I am going to HAVE to switch brands (shiver...).

Eh, sorry about the rant. I'm just so frustrated. Oh, and the end result? Postpone the shoot, take the K10 and 540 to the shop, leave the camera, they get the 540 off, but it's fried, and they're sending it back to Pentax. Luckily a 360 just came back from Pentax so I have a unit and a body again. Thanks only to my shop, not Pentax.

If you're from the NW visit Advanced Camera! They really take care of ya'.

11-30-2007, 06:10 PM   #2
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May i suggest Nikon may be the way to go for you.
I shoot equestrian sports for a living, and when one of my Nikon goes down, i can never get hold of the service manager, nor can i get anyone to call me back when i send in my camera.

Loaners, HAR, I need to borrow one form a competitor half the time when in service.

Hey count your lucky stars Pentax actually answers you my friend.

Dave
12-01-2007, 01:36 AM   #3
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You should have gotten something different long ago.
12-01-2007, 02:23 AM   #4
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I am quite happy that Pentax actually does respond to e-mails, even though they could not fix the problem through e-mail. Other companies sometimes just don't respond to you and leave you to hang dry. Pentax seems to be quite responsive.

The AF540FGZ flashes are a hit and miss in my opinion. My first copy was a bad copy with a jamming zoom motor. I replaced it at the store I bought it from with a new one and it's been perfect so far. I know what you mean with flash options being limited and having your flash fail on you last minute... it can be EXTREMELY frustrating...

12-01-2007, 04:38 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcleoud151 Quote
Let me begin by saying I love my Pentax.

I then ask if there's anyway they will warranty my flash, and if it's possible to get a loaner body or something so I don't miss out on income during this time (I have a shoot the following day, and the 540 won't come off my body and won't work).
Why not buy from Ritz Camera and buy the you break it we replace it policy? I think there is a Ritz Camera store in every state in the US and you only have to walk into the store. It will cost you but every business has insurance costs.

Thank you
Russell
12-01-2007, 07:31 AM   #6
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How about those sigma dedicated flashes? How reliable are they?
12-01-2007, 07:55 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcleoud151 Quote
... I am so confortable with my Pentax bodies, and they've never let me down. I say bodies, because the Pentax flash units are the biggest pieces of junk I've ever seen. My 540 and 360s have failed time after time. Three broken flash feet, stuck zoomhead multiple times ( lost count), 540 stuck on the camera, then failing to communicate with the camera. There's some more, but I can't recall off the top of my head....
I'm not sure whether I'll stay with Pentax in 2008 or not. If I switch to something else, it will be partly because of the problems I've had with Pentax flash units. And if I stay with Pentax bodies and lenses, I do not plan to buy any more Pentax flashes. I had a Metz for a while early on and sent it back because it didn't do P-TTL. Now I think that was a mistake. P-TTL does not seem to work very well. I get too many photos with people whose eyes are drooping that Nikon and Canon photographers don't get. So for me, the problem isn't just that the hardware is cheaply built, but also that the whole Pentax flash system doesn't work very well.
12-01-2007, 07:58 AM   #8
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Sounds like you need some pocket wizards.

Or Cactus V2s triggers.

Midwest Photo Exchange New and Used Photographic Cameras, Lighting, Printers, Medium and Large Format

12-01-2007, 09:23 AM   #9
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The *istD to the rescue, coupled with one of the old Pentax TTL flashes which you can get for a song (just got he AF 280T for $65 - like new condition)!

No pre-flash, no drooping eyes, works with any lens, bellows, etc!

I sincerely hope that Pentax will give us true TTL flash back with the next model.
12-01-2007, 02:13 PM   #10
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Could they please upgrade this flimsy operating manual

It seems all photo mfgrs use the same low quality newsprint and glued/or-not spine. Pages are already falling out of my K100 manual and it's only a few months old. Just plain document stock paper with a spiral binding would be ideal.

Anne
12-01-2007, 02:36 PM   #11
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Sorry - meant to post this under 'Dear Pentax'

Somehow I lost my way. Sorry about that
12-01-2007, 08:20 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcleoud151 Quote
(snip) the Pentax flash units are the biggest pieces of junk I've ever seen. (snip)

Based on my own experiences, I just cannot agree with that premise. I now have three (3) Pentax AF 540FGZ flash units and all three have performed flawlessly both on-camera and off. They're obviously mounted on the camera occasionally for normal flash pictures (rotated randomly), but also used off-camera as a portable studio lighting system with three battery packs (TR Power Pack III). Actually, "occasionally" probably isn't the right word in that sentence since I now use a flash on the camera quite often now that the darker winter months have arrived. Anyway, in my opinion, the build quality for these Pentax flash units are about average for flash units offered by camera manufacturers - not any better, but certainly not any worse.

stewart
12-01-2007, 08:54 PM   #13
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Pre-flash is here to stay.

QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
(snip) P-TTL does not seem to work very well. I get too many photos with people whose eyes are drooping that Nikon and Canon photographers don't get. (snip)

Virtually all modern digital SLR cameras use a pre-flash, Will. Older Nikon digital cameras (D100, etc.) used D-TTL and newer Nikon digital cameras (D50, D70/s, D80, D200, D2x, etc.) use iTTL, and both of these flash modes (D-TTL and iTTL) use a pre-flash to determine exposure. Older Canon digital cameras (T90, etc) used A-TTL, newer Canon cameras (most of the EOS series) use E-TTL, and the very latest Canon cameras (EOS 1D Mark II, EOS 1D Mark III, etc) use E-TTL II, and all three of these flash modes (A-TTL, E-TTL, and E-TTL II) also use a pre-flash. In other words, you are not going to get away from pre-flash by simply switching from P-TTL on Pentax cameras to either a Nikon or Canon.

stewart
12-01-2007, 11:26 PM   #14
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Not sure how yours broke, but Pentax hotshoe is made smaller and thinner than Nikon hotshoe. Perhaps this was the reason? I personally am not fond of the Pentax 540FGZ either, but perhaps you might give Metz 58 AF-1 a try. Unfortunately, Canon & Nikon are the only brands which you might loan in a hurry (not neceassily through the distributors). If you cannot afford to have your own backups for the worst situations, Pentax might not make sense to you. There are reasons that most working pro are using either Canon or Nikon.
12-02-2007, 12:15 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcleoud151 Quote
but I"m hard on equipment and just haven't had the cash yet.
No offense mcleoud, but this might be the problem

I'm not the easiest on my gear either, so I'm talking from experience here.

I've learned the hard way that there are just some things you don't do with a flash on or even a long lens
While in confined areas I take off anything that might get caught, and more or less hope for the best.
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