Pentax AF360FGZ II Flash

Construction and Handling

The Pentax AF360FGZ II gives a solid impression. The hinged battery door is sturdy and there is a seal protecting the battery chamber from dust and moisture (click image to enlarge).

The flash is also sealed on the back so that dust and moisture doesn't get in around the many buttons. Those seals are not visible, of course.

Another area that shows that the construction has been beefed up compared to the predecessor, the AF360FGZ, is the foot, which now is made of metal. And the lever above the foot that locks the flash in place in the hot shoe has also been redesigned and is more solid. We like the metal foot because it glides more smoothly into the hot shoe making the flash a easy to mount.

Zoom Flash Head

When used in connection with an autofocus lens the flash head adjusts the angle of the flash light to match the field of view (FoV) of the lens, within certain limitations. The benefit is that the light output is utilized optimally within this range. The flash can of course be used with lenses having a longer focal length than what the flash can adjust to. Some of the light just "goes to waste" in that case. If, however, the flash is used with lenses with a shorter focal length than what the flash can adjust to, vignetting (dark corners) will occur.

The zoom positions of the flash head are as follows:

APS-C Q-System 645D 24 x 36 ** Vertical
Coverage
Horizontal
Coverage
13 mm* 3 mm* 25 mm* 20 mm* 85 degrees 98 degrees
16 mm 4 mm 30 mm 24 mm 60 degrees 78 degrees
19 mm 5 mm 35 mm 28 mm 53 degrees 70 degrees
24 mm 6 mm 43 mm 35 mm 45 degrees 60 degrees
34 mm 9 mm 62 mm 50 mm 34 degrees 46 degrees
48 mm 13 mm 87 mm 70 mm 26 degrees 36 degrees
58 mm 15 mm 106 mm 85 mm 23 degrees 31 degrees

* This setting is achieved by pullig out and flipping down the wide angle diffuser (click image below to enlarge):

 

** We couldn't help but try the flash on our Pentax MZ-S film camera which supports P-TTL. The flash works, the zoom head adapts to the focal length of the autofocus lens or autofocus zoom. The range of the zoom head in this format matches lenses from 24 mm to 85 mm (20 mm with the panel), and the display shows the focal length set for the 24x36 mm (aka full frame) format.

This information is not available from Pentax, but we can say that should Pentax market a full frame DSLR in the future, the AF360FGZ II is ready for it.

 

Button Layout

Click to enlarge

The interface is simpler than on the old model. We have fewer buttons and the buttons do not perform double duty. The buttons are well laid out and easy to locate also in dim light or darkness.

The buttons have a nice tactile feel and the dial and switch feel solid.

We will describe the function of the buttons on the next page where we look at how to operate the flash.

LCD Display

The information on the display is uncluttered and easy to read, but only from a limited viewing angle. When using the flash on a handheld camera there is no problem, but if the flash is held just a bit lower than your eyes for example on a low tripod, the information on the LCD becomes invisible. This happens sooner (at a lower angle) when the display is backlit than when unlit. This is not satisfactory in our opinion - it makes the flash cumbersome in many a wireless set-up where the flash would be placed on its stand on a table or on a low tripod.

LCD becomes invisible when viewed a bit from above

LED Light

The LED light has taken the space on the front where the infrared autofocus assist light was located on the earlier model. The LED light serves four purposes:

  • AF assist light
  • Illumination during movie recording
  • Illumination for still photos (as an alternative to using the flash light)
  • Catch light when using bounce flash 
 

Tilt and Swivel

The flash head tilts 10 degrees downwards and up to 90 degrees upwards, i.e. vertical pointing straight up. It can turn up to 180 degrees to the right so that it can point backwards, and up to 135 degrees to the left.

In order to tilt the flash away from the locked zero degree position a weather sealed  lock button must be pressed in.

 
Click a thumbnail to enlarge and browse

Verdict on Construction and Handling

This flash is of sturdy construction and it was particularly pleasing to see that the battery door has a metal hinge and won't break off or drop open in the field as was the case with the old model.

The controls are well laid out.

Taking away from our otherwise positive impression is the LCD display which can only be viewed from a somewhat narrow angle. With the flash mounted on a tripod (with or without camera) the information on the display simply cannot be seen at all if your eyes are just a bit above the flash.


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