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Old Sep 9, 2007, 11:37 AM   #1
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I am about to buy a Pentax AF-360FGZ flash for my K10D. However, some ads I see on that flash say that only MZ-S and MD cameras have full function when off camera.

I may want to use the flash I buy off camera as a slave at times. What difficulties might I encounter?

Is my K10D an MZ-S or a MC-SD camera?

I will appreciate any knowledgeable answers on these topics.


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Old Sep 9, 2007, 8:02 PM   #2
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Hi OE,

I'm no film body expert, but the MZ-S was a late model film body (made up to 2005), and was P-TTL compatible. I've never heard of a MC-SD. The only other MZ series film body that I know of that was P-TTL compatible was the MZ-6. Both of these allowed wireless TTL metered remote with the AF 360FGZ.

In the DSLRs, only the *istD and the K10 (with firmware 1.10 or later) allow wireless remote with TTL metering using the onboard flash as either the master or controller. The body and the flash both must be set to wireless mode to achieve this.

The AF360 FGZ also has an optical slave sensor, and can be fired remotely by another flash. This won't work correctly with the K10's onboard flash because the slave sensor in the 360 will fire on the preflash instead of the main flash used for the exposure, and although it fires, it won't effect the shot since the preflash is before the shutter opens. For this mode, only the flash needs to be set for optical slave mode.

What's the difference? In wireless remote mode, the camera body communicates with the off-camera flash with a series of flash bursts before the exposure is taken, allowing the remote flash to be controlled for output power and duration, and is truly metered through the lens of the camera. You can also choose whether the onboard flash will contribute to the flash for exposure, or just communicate the camera's settings to the remote flash and tell it when to fire (master and commander modes respectively).You can also control the ratio of light contributed by each flash in master mode.

In optical slave mode, the 360 doesn't communicate with the camera at all regarding exposure information ("dumb" slave), and fires at full power. The only "connection" is that the flash senses another flash happening, and it fires when it sees a burst of light. You can use this mode with the K10, but you have to disable P-TTL flash and have the flash only fire once for the exposure. IIRC, you can do this for the onboard flash by using fully manual lenses, using the aperture ring to control aperture (not the "A" position), or using a non-P-TTL external flash on the hotshoe on the camera. In any of these cases, both flashes fire at full power (unless set otherwise manually before the shot), and it takes some knowledge of manual multiple flash exposure, and a good flash meter, or a lot of luck or test shots to get it right the majority of the time.

Confused? Join the club -- it takes some playing to really understand how this works, but it does work, and pretty well. This is one of the most misunderstood features of the Pentax DSLRs (mainly because the manuals are really confusing in this regard). Once you get used to wireless remote TTL flash, it's pretty brainless -- set it up an start shooting, letting the camera make most of the decisions.

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Old Sep 9, 2007, 8:51 PM   #3
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Scott, Thanks for the excellent description of the TTL functionality. I have read a lot of stuff telling me what it is, but you told me what it does and how to do it. You have my high regards for your explanation. Old Engineer
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