K100D, SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4, and AF-360FGZ


It’s been a while after my post about my Pentax K100D. I have updated the post to include some infos about using AF to help you manually focus the SMC-M 50mm F1.4, do check it 😀

The latest “toy” that came to my possession is the AF-360FGZ Flash unit, which is a quite versatile unit. It has the GN number of 36, and support P-TTL, TTL, Auto and Manual mode. It support High Sync function, so you can use it as fill-in flash. It comes with a built in diffuser, and a white card that can be used to direct some light forward when the flash is set to bounce. This unit can also be triggered wirelessly (in dumb mode) using the built-in flash unit of K100D. Sadly this unit can’t swivel, so it might be useless when using the camera vertically. Some of the folk at pentax-indonesia mailinig list claimed that this flash unit is too expensive, and not really worth the money. But hey, since they sell it on a bargain, I think it’s a good buy 😀

Anyway I’m not gonna write about using the AF-360FGZ with my digital lens, instead I’m gonna tell you my experience on using the unit with my SMC-M 50mm F1.4. I’m still pretty much novice in this kind of thing, so please bear with me if some of thing that I wrote is not right.

My novice experience in using the the M 50mm lens with the built-in flash unit on my K100D are mostly painful. Since I have limited power in controlling the power of the built-in flash, I compensate this by adjusting the aperture. This is fine when I need to use small aperture. But when the shot require large aperture (2-2.8) tight DOF, the built-in flash became useless, since at the lowest power setting (-3), it still gaves you too much light.

With the AF-360FGZ, I have a whole lot more control over the amount of light it produces. Since the 50mm manual doesn’t tell the body what aperture its currently set to, P-TTL/TTL is out of question. Also you can not use High Sync function, so you need other way to control the light produced by the flash.

So I switched the flash to use “Auto” by pressing the “MODE” button until “A” is displayed on the LCD. In Auto mode, you can setup 3 parameters. The first one is ISO value. When using the flash as fill in, you will want to set this as low as possible. Press the “S” button until the ISO value on the LCD flashes. Enter the desired value by scrolling the wheel around the “S” button. The second is the aperture value. Set is according to the F value that you use on the lens. Again, press the “S” button until the F value on the LCD flashes and set the desired value by scrolling the wheel around the “S” button. If the flash still produce to much light, you can put lower value in this parameter. Additionally, you can set the zoom level by pressing the “Zoom” button, or leave it on auto (“A-Zoom”).

This one is cropped out of picture taken using the 50mm on large aperture (2.0 if I’m not mistaken), while using the AF-360FGZ for fill-in. The light is further soften by bouncing the flash upward, and using the built-in diffuser

The use of flash is still evident as you can see some light reflection on the lens at the middle. As you can see from the picture above, the desired DOF can be acquired by using large aperture, and the AF-360FGZ provided additional lighting needed for the shot. This method is far from perfect, and if you have any input and advice, do share it here 😀

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