Pentax AF-540 Flash

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by c_wyatt, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. Now first off, I am 99% not a flash-using photographer, but I have used them in the Nikon system a bit. Never with my K-7. I'm looking at getting one for pro work (primarily reportage, not studio etc), which really means the swivel head is a must, as well as wireless. What I'm really wondering about is the quality to price of the AF-540. Would I miss much going to Metz or Sigma? Would you consider it the best option for a Pentax DSLR? (with mostly Sigma lenses).
    I have also read up a bit here:
    Thanks for thoughts.
  2. I can't tell you a bit about other brands.
    I CAN tell you about our experiences w/ the 540. Which have been good (other than the one I dropped which has become flaky. Go figure.)
    The swivel head has been invaluable.
    Honestly, I'm not sure about the POINT of the wireless on the thing at this point. I WANT to be able to use it, but I do NOT like it being a line of sight, flash trigger. It's been nearly impossible to get it to work exactly where we want it to. :0(
  3. Camus,

    Several years ago I faced the same choices and went away with the Metz AF -58-1 and had absolutely zero regrets. The Metz is considered one of the best flashes for any camera platform. I particularly liked its power for large spaces, and its configurability for PTTL, Auto, and Manual. The build quality was outstanding too. The ability to install downloaded firmware revisions via the USB port was also valuable.

    Now version 2 of the Metz is available and I would just go for that. I haven't yet seen one in person, but they have moved the sensor to the front of the body (instead of the side which was strange) a serious improvement, and made the foot metal.

    The only drawback is that the menu system take some learning (at least on V. 1).

    The Pentax AF-540 doesn't seem to garner much love out there.

    The Sigma may be a real bargain. I have their ring flash for Pentax and think it is well made and fairly easy to configure and navigate. But I'm guessing that the Metz has a markedly better build quality--and for traveling around that may matter a lot. I dropped my Metz more than a couple of times.

    I would recommend you also research the wireless capabilities and limitations of the Sigma, as cost-cutting may happen here.
  4. The wireless feature of the AF540 is fairly worthless. Do not depend on it. Otherwise, mine has been fairly good to work with (I use PWs). I bought used from KEH, so the price was right. Power output of mine is measured at about GN 115 ft, not the advertised 148.
  5. Hmmm, thanks for the helpful info and comments. I have heard some bad stories about plastic hotshoe attachments, and seen one broken off there.
    Having looked up the Metz AF-58-2, I'm struggling to find any downsides compared to other options. Even the recycle is meant to be a tad faster, and it covers wider I believe. Seems only very slightly more expensive.
  6. I've used the P-TTL wireless on AF-540FGZ and AF-360FGZ quite a bit and both have generally worked well for me, so I definitely wouldn't call that feature worthless. I have no problems with the AF-540FGZ flash, like having the swivel a lot. I imagine that if you're shooting events, etc. where competing with additional flash photographers, or need significantly more range/reliability you might want radio triggers instead, but then you give up TTL flash metering and HSS. If you're being paid for these events I'd think you'd want better (vs. e-bay 'Cactus') triggers e.g. PW or Elinchrom. There's nothing stopping you from using radio triggers with the AF-540FGZ on the occaisions you might need them.
    Recent review comparing the Metz vs. the AF-540FGZ.
  7. Camus,
    For the same price I would (and recently did) buy two Metz 50-AF1 flashes. They bounce, swivel and have all of the features that you could possibly want except - the 50-AF doesn't have a front highlight flash; it can't act as a wireless trigger in HSS mode; both Metz flashes have a fairly long flash duration in full power mode of one 125th of a second.
    My Metz units are better built than my Pentax 360 flash, however the menus aren't intuitive and take some getting used to.
  8. I think one notable difference for the Metz 48 and 50 vs. the Pentax units and the Metz 54 is that the Metz 48/50 can't function as a P-TTL wireless commander. For this reason I feel like in a multi-flash setup, you'll probably want at least one of the units to be capable of of commanding the others (in addition to the camera's built-in flash which is also capable of this).
  9. I recently got the Sigma because it was inexpensive ($165 at Amazon) and looked like what I wanted on paper. I'm still learning it but so far I like it well enough. I've only done a few test shots using wireless and so far it seems to work as advertised. The controls are kind of cryptic and I have had to keep the manual handy until I know it better, but I like the results. I was interested in the Metz but decided to spend less to figure out what I really wanted/needed in a flash by using it. Then if I wish I had a better one later I'll get a Metz or 540 then (but more likely the Metz).
  10. One feature of the Metz 58 that is very appealing to me, is the dual-flash capability with the secondary straight on fill flash, while the main flash can simultaneously be bounced. The old film PZ-1p camera has this feature built in, and I found it to be extraordinary in many circumstances, for instantly-available on-camera use. This can provide effects otherwise only obtainable with more elaborate, and time-consuming setups using multiple flash units. I have the Pentax 540, and it have found it to be a good flash, but I expect I'll wind up having the Metz 58 as well.
  11. I have found that the information in this link, can be very useful when considering a new flash.
  12. I've got both the Metz58 and the AF540, so:
    - Recycling times are about the same, actually the FPS with flash is limited by the camera, not by the flash. Don't know why.
    - Accuracy in metering is about the same, again depending more on the camera, plus see next point:
    - The Metz has an A mode that really works and meters correctly in normal indoors flash situations. This is useful if you want to prevent getting eyelids half-closed after the metering flash in PTT-L
    - The the UI of the AF540 depends on buttons, the Metz on menus. I find the AF540 better in this respect.
    - The Metz will remember the last used settings when waking up, the AF540 will revert to defaults and what's defined by the buttons. Choose your preference.
    - You can use both together in a wireless setup.
  13. Don't buy any new flash ! If you have a modern Nikon flash you can use it on Pentax camera with the sensor of the flash. Camera is set in manaul mode.
    Look at my page. I give some info about this combo and I list most of the Nikon flash working on Pentax DSLR.
  14. I can confirm that the Novoflex duo flash (in auto or manual mode) with the Nikon adaptor shoe works fine with my Pentax K10D in "M" mode.
  15. I recently picked up a used Pentax AF280T from Henry's outlet store in Mississauga for $30. Using it with my *ist-DL.
    Works great. Tilt, swivel and even a -15degree tilt down. Quick recharge from 4 AA batteries.
    Not huge power for long throws but if I need that I go to the Sunpak 544 which is able to wake a cat up at 50'.
  16. I have the 540 and love it mostly. I also have no problem using it in wireless mode. I do hate that it goes to sleep and I have to reprogram it. But if I could get two Metz for the price and get the same performance, I'd get the metz. I had the hot shoe break on my AF360 flash. Not just the hotshoe, but the entire bottom peeled off. It took 3-5 days to get the replacement part. Cost less than $50 bux (not sure of the price). And I fixed it in less than 5 minutes.

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