Accessories manufacturer Kenko has introduced a flash unit that automatically rotates and tilts its own head to bounce its output from ceilings and walls to provide the ideal soft lighting. The Kenko AB600-R follows the lead of Canon’s Speedlite 470EX-AI by using motors to move its own head into the ideal position to suit the room and the subject, as well as the orientation of the camera.

The new flash unit measures the distance between itself and the subject, as well as between itself and the bounce surface, and automatically calculates the best angle from which to direct its light. The user can also position the head manually and have the flash unit rotate itself when the camera is turned to be used in a different orientation or at an angle.

Where the Kenko flash differs from the Canon model is that it has a guide number of 60m/197ft at ISO 100 (using the 200mm setting) and it offers radio control for wireless operation as well as optical. In wireless mode the unit can act as a master or slave, and can be controlled additionally via the WTR-1 wireless transceiver.

The zoom head can track focal lengths of between 24mm and 200mm, and with the built-in diffuser lowered it will cover the angle of view of an 18mm lens. First and second curtain triggering options can be set, and strobe and high speed sync modes are also available.

The head is powered by 4 AA batteries, but can also be powered by the BP-1 external battery pack and comes with a two-year guarantee. At the moment it comes with i-TTL compatibility for Nikon users (though B&H is advertising a Canon version – but showing the Nikon one), and costs $400 / £400. It is expected in stores in November. For more information see the Kenko website.

Manufacturer information

New: AI Flash AB600-R

An electronic flash with Auto Bounce and Angle Lock functions.

The Kenko AB600-R is a high-power, 'Advanced Intelligence' flashgun which enables photographers to raise their game to another level, helping them automate the lighting process and get the best results every time.

Amongst its many features, the Kenko AI flash AB600-R incorporates an 'AI' Auto-Bounce function that takes care of the most difficult part in the shooting process: Bounce flash. By automatically calculating and moving to the optimum bounce angle, it enables the photographer to concentrate on the artistic part of the process, achieving better results in a more efficient way.

3D Auto Bounce function - The auto-bounce function of the Kenko AI flash AB600-R automatically calculates the most appropriate angle of light-bounce from the wall (left or right side) or from the ceiling. With the help of the auto bounce function, the photographer can accomplish a perfect shot with just a single shutter release; no more wasting time thinking and testing the optimal light path during the photo session. This function is invaluable for wedding photographers or anyone shooting portraits to a tight schedule, when the photographer has no time for failure. Auto Lock function - Allows the photographer to adjust the desired bounce angle, based on the automatically calculated one, in manual mode and lets the system remember this angle when the camera is turned from horizontal to vertical format. This allows the photographer to really focus on the artistic part of the shooting process, like composition and interaction with the model, making the process of getting the ideal shot so much quicker and easier.

Guide number: 60 - With a maximum guide number 60 (ISO 100 at 200mm), the Kenko AI flash AB600-R has all the power it needs to deal with wide range of scenes and situations.

Master to slave flash angle remote control - The built-in radio transmitting and receiving unit allows a master flash to control the bounce angle of the slave flash remotely.

Optical and radio (2.4GHz) wireless control - For off-camera and multiple flash shooting. Sync terminal is also supported.

Auto and manual zoom adjustment - Light coverage angle equal to the 18-200mm range (18mm achieved when used with the wide diffuser panel). External power supply - The optional BP-1 battery pack supports longer shooting sessions and delivers faster recycling times. Firmware updates - The Kenko AI Flash AB600-R firmware can be updated via micro USB port.

  • Zoom Range: 20-200mm (18mm using wide diffuser panel)
  • Flash Modes: i-TTL-BL / i-TTL / Manual / Strobe (1-200Hz), 1st/2nd curtain sync, high-speed sync
  • Power: 4x AA type batteries (alkaline / Nickel Metal Hydride), or external BP-1 battery pack
  • Recycling Time: Approx. 0.1-3.5 sec (using NiMH batteries)
  • AF beam assist: 29 point AF
  • Exposure adjustment: -3.0 to +3.0 stops (TTL mode), Full power to 1/128 power (Manual mode)
  • Wireless Communication Systems: Optical and Radio (2.4GHz)
  • Bounce Mode: AI Auto bounce / Manual bounce (both with angle lock function)
  • External Connections: Micro USB (for firmware updates) / Sync terminal / External power supply
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 196 x 80 x 62mm