Pentax AF280T Flash and Pentax K-x

Pentax AF280T flash and superprogramI am so glad to get a copy of this flash from my good friend SOldBear. He sold me his flash with both wide and tele-adapters, which usually sold separately. And my friend gave me a wonderful discount. I normally see this in $40 to $70 range. To me, it is well worth the money. It can't replace the more powerful PTTL as in the Pentax AF540. But one thing is for sure, its recycle time is much faster in this flash and it is easier to handle.

I am still learning to take flash pictures. With the AF280T, I mainly use it in close distance as in 5 to 10 feet and I use the auto flash setting and exposure seem decent and it works quite reliable on K-x.

Pentax AF280T flash
Ricoh xr-p next to Pentax AF280T flash
Pentax AF280T flash

The flash has both adjustment for swivel and bounce features. In terms of metering mode, so far I have only tried the Auto mode and rely on the flash internal sensor. Unfortunately, the flash does have one drawback in its simple design as it only has two settings as in the Auto Green and Auto Red settings where the green setting goes for less power and the red setting goes for higher power. It would have been better if it has power strength setting to adjust from to 1/16 to full power or the like.

Pentax K-x and AF280T
My photo buddy
photo with pentax k-x and AF280T

My friend and co-worker

I am yet to explore more with the flash. It seems a good low budget auto flash to go with the AF540 flash as a secondary flash.

  • Pentax Flashes online PDF menu from
  • In indoor setting, I mostly set ISO to be fixed in 200, 400 and 800
  • In Av mode, I estimate the focal distance
  • I check against the back panel, adjust ASA to be the same, and examine the distance range in the Green Auto and Red Auto mode.
  • I dial in the aperture suggested in the scale for starter
  • In bounce position, I usually have to adjust with trial and error on aperture counting about 2-3 stops in loss of lighting in bouncing instead of straight on flash.



Yael DeFaye said...

I have the same flash... without the adapter though. I'll be happy to follow your review on that one this I really want to learn how to use flash. Right now, I just try a several settings until I find the one I like.
Thanks for you great blog!

Richard64 said...

Hin, I liked this flash so much that I have two ;-)

As you mention it is very cheap, but it is powerful and the Auto mode makes it very usable (not quite PTTL, but stioll usable).

I use mine off camera with a cable (or sometimes with the cheap radio triggers). Using it with a cable makes the Auto mode even more useful because you just point the flash in the direction you want to use it and it does the rest!

Also note that one of mine lost the "click" adjusting the bounce angle. The flash is easy to take apart if you have small screw drivers and I fixed the problem easily (a spring had come out of place).

Hin Man said...

@Yael, thanks for the support. I bought it knowing that you also recommend it too.

@Richard, thanks for the comment. I will look for the off-camera shoe setup. Thanks for the tips.

Anonymous said...

I have the same flash and am using it with my *istD. As you say it's great, relatively compact and with fast recharge times, and the bounce+swivel are very usueful.

On my *istD I can use it in TTL mode, the only problem with it is it seriously underexpose, and I almost alway shave to set +2 EV correction on the camera.

Hin Man said...

Ludo, thanks for the visit. Someone in forum mentions about 280T working to some degree in TTL with the latest pentax digital bodies which only support PTTL. I usually use it in the Red/Green auto mode. Will keep trying.

Species: Cheekius_Geekus said...

I wondered if this flash would have a problem with the trigger voltage when used on a K-x. This is a terrific little flash. I have the flash and today got the original manual for it. I think it has mislabeled the wide angle/telephoto lens adapters however. It looks like they have the big wide one labeled AFT1 (T is for Telephoto) and the smaller one labeled (AFW1) (W is for Wide). That's backwards, right?

Anonymous said...

I know this is old but I'd suggest using an auto thyristor flash like this one in M mode.

If you're using it in Av mode the camera cannot "see" the flash so it will lower the shutter speed to expose as if it was without a flash.

So, use M in the camera, set the ISO to 800, shutter speed to 60, or even less for better light on the background, and find the sweet spot of Av in green and red modes.

Careful though, if you need to shoot something further away, open up the aperture, if it closer, stop down. This way you'll have a proper exposure even when range changes.

It does take some experience but at the end it does really pay off.

Happy shooting.


Hin Man said...

Thank you for the tips, it is very useful tips. I have been trying to stay away from Av mode when I shoot with flash. The Pttl has the p for 'pathetic' for me sometime and when I have ample time to experiment, I now prefer to go with M mode as you have suggested.

Much thanks for the visit and comment.


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