|AF-360FGZ Dedicated Flash|
|Pentax AF280T TTL Flash|
Pentax has made a bunch of flash units over the years. They are in 3 classes. The really old ones date to prior to 1981 and are essentially manual units. These old one required you to do some calculating. In 1981 Pentax introduced the fully dedicated flashes that only required that you slip them on the camera and turn them on. They used a TTL system that read the light off the film and shut off the flash unit when enough light had arrived. The lower flash unit is actually one of those, but all the slides and the like on the back make it easy to use in it in the then manual mode for pre 1981 camera bodies.
Beginning with the second generation digital bodies, Pentax has abandoned the TTL mode, meaning that all the flash units made since 1981 will not work on second generation digital cameras such as the Pentax K10D, unless you set it back to the manual mode. The Pentax 280T shown here is a classic of the TTL mode flashes made for around 20 years beginning in 1981.
The latest and Greatest is the AF 360 FGZ model. In Pentax speak, the number in the model has something to do with the power of the flash. Larger numbers are more powerful. Of the letters following the 'F'tells you its a flash model, the second letter tells you of the type of flash it way. Pre-1981 dedicated flashes had an S here to tell you that it would 'sync' the camera with the Flash. A 'T' here tells you that it is a TTL mode camera, and finally if you see a 'G' in the model, that is a code for the current P-TTL technology. Finally a 'Z' in the model tells you it is a zooming flash, which will detect the focal length of the lens and adjust itself accordingly, though there were some manual zoom models as well. The FGZ is backwards compatible and can be set to the TTL mode for TTL cameras, and can even be put in a manual mode. This means that effectively the flash can be used with just about any camera with a hot shoe. This means that if you have an old pentax camera you can buy a new flash, if you wish, and there will be some mode that works with it, as long as it's a camera with a hot shoe.