Kenko AI AB600-R flashgun has a head so clever it could qualify for Mensa

Kenko AB600-R
(Image credit: Intro 2020)

Kenko - a brand usually associated with lens filters and teleconverters - is out to dazzle the flashgun market with this, its first ever flashgun: the AB600-R AI. We wrote about the arrival of this new strobe last year, but we are not told that the hotshoe flashguns have now gone on sale in both Nikon and Canon fittings.

The 'AI' part of its model name gives you a clue as to its standout feature - like Canon's trailblazing Speedlite 470EX-AI, it boasts an Auto Bounce head that automatically calculates and moves the head to give you optimal bounce angle for more flattering flash illumination. The feature works whether your camera is in landscape or portrait orientation, and it can bounce sideways off a wall, or upwards off a ceiling.

The head also incorporates an Auto Lock function that lets you fine tune the automatically calculated bounce angle and the system will remember the altered setting and automatically re-adjust the head when you move your camera between horizontal and vertical orientation.

Kenko AI AB600-R flashgun

(Image credit: Kenko)

It's not just the fancy new head that impresses. There's also plenty of lighting power thanks to a GN60 output rating (ISO100 at 200mm), and the trick head also incorporates a motorized zoom to adjust the flash burst to suit lens focal lengths between 18mm and 200mm.

Handy extras include TTL automatic metering, and a built-in 2.4GHz radio receiver in addition to an optical slave sensor for wireless off-camera and multi-flash shooting. The radio receiver can even allow a master AB600-R AI to remotely control the auto bounce angle of a slave AB600-R AI.

There's also the usual compliment of 1st and 2nd curtain sync modes, along with high-speed sync.

(Image credit: Kenko)

Power comes from 4x AA batteries that enable recycle times of 0.1-3.5 seconds, or alternatively there's the optional Kenko BP-1 Battery Pack, costing $129 / £119, which can be loaded with up to 8x AA batteries to further reduce recycle times and increase run-time.

The Kenko AB600-R AI is now available, priced at $399 / £399 in both Canon and Nikon variants.

(Image credit: Kenko)

Main Features

  • Guide Number: Max. 60 (ISO 100 at 200mm)
  • Zoom Range: 18-200mm (18mm using wide panel)
  • Flash Modes: i-TTL-BL / i-TTL / M (manual) / RPT (multiple flash)
  • Flash Frequency Range: 1~200Hz
  • Flash Test Function: Horizontal -180~180° / Vertical 0-120°
  • Wireless Communication System: Optical/radio (2.4GHz)
  • Supported Sync Modes: 1st/2nd curtain sync, high-speed sync
  • Bounce Mode: Auto bounce / Manual bounce (both with angle lock function)
  • External Connection Terminal: Micro USB terminal (for firmware updates) / Sync terminal / External power supply terminal
  • Exposure Correction: -3.0~+3.0 in 1/3 EV steps (TTL)
  • Power Output Adjustment: 1/1~1/128 1/3 EV steps (manual)
  • Temperature Warning Function: Yes
  • AF light beam assist: 29 point AF
  • Recycling Time: Approximately 0.1-3.5 sec (using NiMH rechargeable batteries)
  • Power: 4x AA type (alkaline / nickel hydride)
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 80 x 196 x 62mm
  • Weight: 470g (without batteries)
  • Accessories: Soft pouch case

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Ben Andrews

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys.