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on December 6, 2006
This Pentax flash offers all stuff you'd expect from a basic AF flash (power zoom, bounce, AF illuminator), plus a bit more.

Like most of the camera companies, Pentax offers a basic and more advanced (or powerful) flash. As basic flashes go, this one only lacks "swivel" (side-to-side adjustment) from ranking 5-stars. In terms of exposure accuracy, this flash ranks equal to the best.

Useful features included that aren't typically found in cheaper flashes are:

1) Built-in wide angle diffuser. Need a bit more width in the coverage? A pull out panel is located in the top of the flash;

2) Built-in "catch light". This small, white card is in the same space as the diffuser. If using bounce, this will help elimate shadows caused by the bounce, and puts a little gleam in the eye;

3) High-Flash synch. Most useful for outdoor portrait photography, this allows you to set the shutter speed to faster than normal, allowing you to control the depth-of-field;

4) "Spot Beam" function. In low light situations, the AF illuminator in the flash fires to help the AF system of the camera. The SB features allows the illuminator to work even when the flash is not used for exposure (such as in a museum);

5) Command functions. Unlike the Nikon SB-600 or Canon 430EX, this flash can be used to control and trigger multi-flash operations.

A very good basic flash, only a swivel away from 5-star perfection!
0Comment91 of 93 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 12, 2007
It is a terrific flash! Before I converted to Pentax, which is in my view is the only brand at a moment that is driven by photography and not by marketing department; I was HUGE fan of Minolta before it ended in Sony's hands. And at a time Minolta had really cool (even by today's means) flashes. But even that Minolta is far, far from of what this Pentax's baby can do!
First of all for all K10D owners, this flash will work as intelligent remote flash controlled by your camera's flash or in combination with it. It does it simply AWESOME! You have now two flashes and possibilities are endless. For the money I ordered two of the flashed instead of one of their more expensive model and I have complete professional three point lighting solution for about $360!!! In wireless mode it supports advanced functions, allows all adjustments etc. This flash supports superb Hi Speed Sync and I mean it is superb! The flash is so precise it capable of preserving the most delicate shadows if you need it. The wide angle adapter along with white board is so nice to have handy!
One more thing to mention, this flash is very frugal too! It is for a first time in my life that pro level flash with all these belt and whistles was keep going all the day long on four cheapest AAs from Walgreens! My previous Sony's flash simply refused then instantly! This thing was firing and firing and firing and the recharge times were just tip top.
Absolutely awesome flash as I said, really photography tool!
11 comment62 of 64 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 30, 2007
It is a very compact flash with outstanding built quality.
Some people complain about lack of horizontal movement.
I do not have any problem with this, as I can always use it off-camera with my K10D in wireless mode.
I have also the Pentax AF540FGZ flashgun, so I can compare both units.
Unless I really need the power of the AF540FGZ, I prefer the 360 over the 540 for the reasons below:
- design and built quality is superior to the ones of 540 (changing batteries in the AF540FGZ is a nightmare due to poor design of the battery compartment cover - difficult to open and especially to close it)
- it is compact and fits in my smaller bag
22 comments47 of 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 20, 2009
If I could, I RATE THIS PRODUCT 3.5 Stars.

I agree with an earlier review in that this Pentax flash unit is mechanically very disappointing and certainly not worthy of the Pentax name. In no way does this product represent the Japanese Quality and Solid Designs of the 80's that we have all become sentimental about. With this flash unit, Pentax has taken the low road to profit in place of working towards brand loyalty by producing a quality product, and making sure their dealers stand behind the product without sniveling.

The Pentax flash I received was assembled in the Philippines and judging from the rough mold quality of the battery door and surround plastics used to secure the battery door are reminiscent of parts that come from a place with little QA. With the unit I have, when all four AA batteries are out, the battery door is difficult to open. With all four batteries in place, the battery door is easily knocked ajar, leaving a 1.5-2 mm gap at the top of the battery door (see photo). From this slight open position, the battery door can and does with little force, pop open letting the batteries to spill out. I had the flash in my hands for just 3-4 minutes before that event happened and when I need my flash the last thing I want happening is for the batteries to fall out into my camera bag or on to the floor.

If you are right handed like myself, because of the natural area where a person tends to grab the flash, to release the flash head position lock button, by default causes the battery cover on my flash unit to pop partially open. Only once in 3 attempts was I able to till the flash head without disturbing the placement of the battery compartment cover and knocking the cover partially open. I have been using flashes of this similar design and nature since the old Vivatar 283 days of the mid 70's and never have I seen a case where the act of tilling a flash head could cause a battery compartment to open.

The second area of concern is the flash shoe. Like another review stated the shoe uses a small metal pin to help keep the locking mechanism align while the user moves the compression collar. The compression collar on my shoe is not well registered mechanically. I can see this device failing and perhaps cracking in the field.

Also the flash unit, with hot shoe locking collar released, fits much too tightly in the camera hot shoe. For this reason, the flash unit is difficult to remove from the K20D hot shoe and always requires close attention during the process as I need to hunch over and use both hands, one placed near the flash hot shoe, and one placed near the camera hot shoe. Then I have to wiggle the flash unit back and forth till I unseat the flash.

If not, I get the impression that over torquing during this process could lead to serious mechanical damage to both the flash unit and camera body. I'm use to using just one hand to perform this task, of seating and unseating a flash unit atop a prism housing, and this is the most difficult flash unit I have ever mounted.

In fairness, I thought I should make sure that the mounting issue was with this Pentax flash, so I tried to see how a backup Vivatar 2000 flash unit would sit on the K20D camera hot shoe, and I was able to seat and unseat the Vivatar flash on the camera hot shoe with a single hand. Hence the fitting (mechanical tolerance) issue rest with the Pentax flash itself. From feel, I estimate the Pentax flash hot shoe pad to be about 0.005" of an inch too think.

In terms of illumination control, the flash works well under most situations. I have at times have had some difficulty getting the flash to expose properly when used with a K20D camera in AF mode for object further than 20 feet away in very dark situations. This seems to be a function of the K20D camera as the camera tends not to be able to properly determine the correct distance to the object as the K20D is without an AF assist illuminator.

For objects at close distance, it is possible to get very precise illumination control in most situations and especially helpful, the wireless function when capturing macro images. Note in the posted image of the moth that the working distance to the object was ~2 inches from the lens.

Today, all of my photo shooting is done for fun, but that does not preclude my desire to still use and operate equipment that is reliable and robust enough that I can operate in the field and not be overly concerned about the state of my equipment or if the equipment will even survive little more than casual use. From what I have seen of the Pentax 360 Flash, makes me wonder if an investment in other Pentax gear is such a wise move. If Pentax is incapable of doing the very basic mechanical functions well like keeping a simple battery cover closed tight, then how can they be trusted to be any better with the more complex tasks?

From this product if not already, Pentax needs to initiate a Technical Lessons Learned (TTL) database, so this sort of fiasco in elementary mechanical design does not surface in a future product.

This sight unseen purchase, should I return the item will costing me $35 dollars for a 180 dollar sale. Beach Camera wants to charge a 10% restocking fee to take what I see as an inherent design and manufacturing flaw plus cost to return ship. Maybe, Beach Camera should not sell what they are not willing to stand behind, or they would take a defective product return without conditions. Also, why would you need to restock a defective item? Because of their return policy towards Amazon customers and the fact that they are not open on Saturday, I give a neutral recommendation for Beach Camera.

Minus 0.25 for battery door design & quality of parts used.
Minus 0.25 for battery door function.
Minus 0.25 for hot shoe design.
Minus 0.25 for hot shoe function.
Minus 0.25 for hot shoe material selection.
Minus 0.25 for casual use & field reliability.
review image review image review image
33 comments38 of 42 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 20, 2008
The AF 360 FGZ flash is a hard-working, no-nonsense flash for Pentax DSLR P-TTL enabled cameras. It will work as a Master or Controller on camera to control other P-TTL flashes off camera (for K110D, K100D, K200D users). I use it with others in P-TTL mode wirelessly and cabled with a Pentax Pentax F5P 9.5-Foot Extension Cord for Pentax Flash Units cable and Pentax F adaptor. I also use it extensively in manual mode, both on and off camera (as an optical slave).

The flash is well designed. For the most part it is pretty solid. I've dropped it several times and it still works! I have an issue with the battery door - it looks good but is somewhat flimsy and can dislodge with rough handling, which turns the flash off. The door latches but I wish the latch were a little more robust.

I have found that in general, P-TTL mode issues are that of camera operator and not the flash. A lot of people report under exposures in P-TTL. Care must be taken as to what is selected for exposure or, yes the area may be under exposed. If care is taken, exposures are pretty much spot on, even for two and three flash set-ups in P-TTL.

The flash is very consistent in Manual mode. Light output doesn't vary cycle to cycle. In optical slave mode, the flash goes off even at very low initiating flash power - works like a charm.

I wish that the flash swiveled. I wish the battery door was a little more robust. Other than that, I am a very happy photographer!
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on March 21, 2009
I've been using this flash for almost three years but it is not what were written in those review. I am a long time user of Pentax cameras and flashes. When I bought my fisrt Pentax digital SLR "Pentax Ist DS" I also order this flash because it got High speed synchro, trail curtain synchro etc. But when I used it I've always got underexposure photos unless I have to compensate +1, it's not convenient because each time I shut off the flash when turn on again I have to set again. When I try to use in manual mode, calculate the distance acording to the flash guide everything is fine. I could not use slave flash because of the pre flash trigger the slave and there was very wrong exposure. When I bought K20D This flash got the same problem. When I used this as slave in wireless mode with the built-in flash some time it works some time it not. Now I rarely use this flash, I bought the Pentax AF 220T for only $40 at B&H It doesn't have many features as this AF360FGZ but it works nicely (maximim angle for 35mm lens only)I can use seral optical slaves flashes without any problem. I wished that I had not bought this flash.
11 comment10 of 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 3, 2008
I have been an amateur SLR shooter for a while now. This past summer I picked up the AF360 after taking many disappointing shots at a wedding and crushing my K100D's batteries using the pop-up flash.

My initial impression was shock - the manual for the flash is about as big as that of my camera!! There is an astounding number of settings in this little package, but fortunately the camera and flash work together perfectly in 'auto', so immediate reading is not necessary.

My photography has changed drastically since I started using this flash. It is terrific both indoors and outdoors - for bouncing and direct light. The range is pretty decent, and the built in wide angle diffuser and white card are both very useful.

Battery life is fantastic, and obviously saves your camera's batteries as well.

The only real complaint I have is the plastic foot for the hotshoe.. no real issues with it but it does not look like the sturdiest choice for materials.

Beware, too, the added weight!! One-handed shooting is much more difficult, but the flash is phenomenal.

I debated getting the 540, and really there have only been a few instances where I really wanted to bounce the flash sideways. For an amatuer, this flash does it all.
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on September 9, 2007
I use this unit on K100D , Great value for day to day use. I use it with 18-250 Tamron lens.
I have found 2 things can
"can be improve" 1. The on/off the hot shoe can be easier 2. The LCD display screen does not have DSLR translation of the lens zoom setting.
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on June 15, 2008
This flash is far better than the on-camera flash, in that it does extend the range a little, and adds an enormous amount of versatility and control over lighting the subjects. My problem is it's range - although it is a basic flash, I tried shooting subjects no more than 16ft away and it had problems lighting them up properly.

At first I thought it was my camera or my partial inexperience in using flash photography, but then I allowed a friend to try it out on his, and he being one who has more experience than I, he found its range capability to be unexciting and disappointing. I have put mine up on EBay for sale, with the hopes to recoupe enough out of the sale to upgrade to the larger model, with the hopes it will do better for me.
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on February 27, 2008
The Pentax AF 360 FGZ flash is an excellent choice for the photographer on a budget. It integrates well with the Pentax K 10D digital camera. The power and adjustments of the flash unit provide opportunities for creativity. Although there are better units out there, all of them are more money and some of them do not integrate with the Pentax body.

The construction of this unit is above average. The adjustments are average. The power is above average. The ease of use is above average. The number of flashes per battery charge is above average.

I would buy this unit again.
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