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Featured Converted Olympus T-10 and T-8 Ring Flashes

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by Bytesmiths, May 31, 2017.

  1. No one has made anything like the Olympus T-10 and T-8 macro flashes, before, or since.

    The Olympus OM-System T-10 ring flash had an incredible crossed polarizer, that you could use to shoot right through glass, with no reflection. It was also very useful for shooting mineral samples without reflection.

    The Olympus OM-System T-8 ring flash fired radially ("sideways") into one of two parabolic aluminum reflectors, creating a huge (from the perspective of the subject) light source, and even, flat, shadowless lighting. For those who use studio lighting, think "beauty dish for bugs."

    These guys died with the film OM-System, as they were dependent on the T-Power Control macro flash controller, which provided TTL exposure control with either of these rings for the OM-System automatic film cameras (OM-2, OM-4, OM-10, and variants), or with a pair of lens-end-mounted twin lights.

    While providing infinitely-variable TTL exposure control with the OM-System automatic film cameras, the T-Power Control was incompatible with modern digital cameras, and only had two manual settings, and so was pretty inadequate for any modern digital camera use.

    Since the advent of the 4/3rds system, I've mourned the loss of these unique macro flashes, and began scheming ways to resurrect them. First, thanks to John Hermanson of OMTech, I managed to get the special cable/plug assemblies that mate with the FC-1 Macro Flash Controller for 4/3rds and Micro 4/3rds cameras. But then I took a look inside the RF-11 ring light that goes with the FC-1, and my heart sank: it had a trigger coil in it, but the original T-10 and T-8 ring flashes did not.

    After years of searching for the proper trigger coil (and buying the "wrong" one on more than one occasion), I found the same trigger coil that was used by the RF-11 ring flash with the FC-1 flash controller for TTL macro flash control with Olympus digital cameras. Then it took me several years to get around to ordering the proper coil and installing everything. You'll see why!

    Here's the trigger coil, sitting atop Queen Elizabeth's image on a Canadian dime:

    S5302615.JPG
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    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-System Zuiko 90mm ƒ2.0 Macro lens, Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube at full 116mm extension, Olympus FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, modified OM-System T-10 Ring Flash.

    As you can imagine, sticking that tiny guy in there was a bit of a challenge! My tiny butane soldering iron was much too big, so I wrapped some #16 copper wire spiralled around the tip, and sharpened the end to make an even-smaller tip, suitable for soldering SMD components.

    S5312647.JPG
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    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-System Zuiko 135mm ƒ4.5 Macro lens, Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube at about 90mm extension, Olympus FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, modified OM-System T-10 macro ring flash.

    Unlike the original T-10/T-8, which required a separate 6 VDC power supply for modelling lights, adapting to the FC-1 flash controller provides modelling lights via the controller's "LAMP" button, by soldering the blue and green wires to either side of the modelling lamps. (This also allows an OMD camera to automagically use them as autofocus assist!)

    The black wire goes to the flash tube end that is nearest the trigger terminal, and the yellow wire goes to the other end of the flash tube.

    The tricky part is triggering the flash, as the OM-System T Power Control had its own trigger transformer, but the FC-1 flash controller does not. (As it should not — the T Power Control was a bad design, passing a short 6,000 volt pulse through a long, coiled cable! Can you say, "distributed reactance?")

    The trigger coil common is connected to the blue modelling lamp lead, and the secondary goes to the trigger terminal on the flash tube, leaving the trigger coil primary to be connected to the FC-1 cable/plug red wire.

    To give you an idea of scale, the added yellow wire is 28 gauge, teflon-coated "wire wrap" wire, about 30 thousandths of an inch thick! This was the smallest wire I could get hold of. (I'm embarrassed at the red wire's soldering job, which was done prior to making a new "tip" for the soldering iron, as shown above.)

    S5302604.JPG
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    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-System Zuiko 90mm ƒ2.0 Macro lens, Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube at full 116mm extension, Olympus FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, Olympus RF-11 Ring Flash.

    Soldering to the Surface Mount Device (SMD) trigger coil was a bit of a challenge, as was connecting the primary-secondary common to the modelling lamp blue wire. Here's a step back, showing the trigger transformer and the other connections.

    S5302607.JPG
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    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-System Zuiko 90mm ƒ2.0 Macro lens, Olympus FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, Olympus RF-11 Ring Flash.

    Re-assembled, the T-10 with crossed polarizer, looks like this:

    P5309554.JPG
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    P5309557.JPG
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    Olympus E-3 with 12-60mm ƒ2.8-4. Desk lamp illumination.

    So, how does it work?

    Well, to my eyes, a lot better than the RF-11 ring light, which has a large diffuser over it, but is otherwise not easily modified as a light source—not to mention Olympus's horrible design decision to make it physically incompatible with all but a select few lenses! (Why, oh why, did they make the RF-11 mate with the "1.0" 50-200mm 3/4rds lens, and then change the bayonet mount so the newer, faster "SWD" 50-200 doesn't fit? Why, oh why, did they make it work with the 4/3rds 50/2 macro, but only with the addition of a $100 special part? Why, oh why, did they not simply put a filter thread on it, so any lens could fit it, via adapter rings? The RF-11 fiasco almost soured me on Olympus macro!)

    The following was shot by manually holding the RF-11 with the 90mm macro poking through, which might be the reason for the uneven lighting on the raised portion of the dime. Regardless, it produces relatively harsh, high-contrast light:

    S5302608.JPG
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    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-System Zuiko 90mm ƒ2.0 Macro lens, Olympus FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, Olympus RF-11 Ring Flash.

    The T-10 with crossed polarizer produces a strange effect on the dime. I didn't have time to contrive a situation where the crossed polarizer really shines, such as shooting through glass or shooting mineral samples. But you can clearly see the effect the polarized light has on the trigger coil plastic packaging, which must have some polarizing properties. Note that the cardboard in the background has about the same hue as it did with the RF-11, so all the colour artifacts must be due to polarized light.

    S5302609.JPG
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    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-System Zuiko 90mm ƒ2.0 Macro lens, Olympus FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, modified OM-System T-10 Ring Flash with Olympus Ring Cross Polarizer.

    But the real love comes with the marvellous T-8 with its large reflector, providing totally flat illumination. The fuzziness to the right is a different trigger coil I put on the dime for scale. (My second "correct" trigger coil was by this time in the T-8 flash that is illuminating the scene, and so it was unavailable for a modelling gig.)

    S5312636.JPG
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    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-System Zuiko 90mm ƒ2.0 Macro lens, Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube at full 116mm extension, Olympus FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, modified OM-System T-8 Ring Flash with 20cm Reflector 1.

    It's even more fun with the OM-System Zuiko 38mm ƒ2.8 Macro lens. Again, the fuzziness is a lead from a different trigger coil, illustrating the razor-thin depth-of-field. All these shots were hand-held, and were not aligned perfectly with the dime, as evidenced by the uneven focus from top to bottom.

    S5312644.JPG
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    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-System Zuiko 38mm ƒ2.8 Macro lens, Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube at full 116mm extension, Olympus FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, modified OM-System T-8 Ring Flash with Olympus 20cm Reflector 1.

    Ever wonder what common cardboard looks like at that scale?

    S5312640.JPG
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    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-System Zuiko 38mm ƒ2.8 Macro lens, Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube at full 116mm extension, Olympus FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, modified OM-System T-8 Ring Flash with Olympus 20cm Reflector 1.

    This is what the T-8 with large reflector looks like on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. You can just make out the added trigger coil inside the flash head through the transparent cover.

    P5309560.JPG
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    Olympus E-3 with 12-60mm ƒ2.8-4. Desk lamp illumination.

    P5309562.JPG
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    Olympus E-3 with 12-60mm ƒ2.8-4. Desk lamp illumination.

    The love is back! I really miss the incredible T-8 for its totally shadowless, flat light. I think it will be getting a lot of use, now!

    The FC-1 provides TTL flash power control for fully automatic macro flash operation, but it does not allow focus stacking or bracketing. On the other hand, the newer STF-8 macro flash does do focus stacking/bracketing, but is hard-wired to the flash head, and so is not well suited to adapting the T-10 and T-8 unique ring lights. It appears Olympus chose water resistance over versatility.

    Anyone want one of these? I'm for hire… :) 
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017
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  2. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    Like, The Valley
    Nice... do those modelling bulbs ever burn out? I guess the next step could be replacing them with LEDs...

    I do think a laterally-firing ring light is probably the only kind I could ever love... but of course I'd want mine to only be a 2/3 arc so I could get the bottom of the lens flat against surfaces. ;) 
     
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  3. I'm not terribly concerned about that. They don't burn very hot or bright. There's an incandescent light bulb in New Jersey somewhere that has been glowing for 80 years! Don't hit them hard, and they last much longer than if you try to get every last lumen out of them.
    You can do some interesting things with straight-on ring lights. The crossed polarizer available for the T-10 is a case in point. That would be my #1 choice for flat copy-stand work.

    But yea, I'm with you. I have a Profoto 2400 joule ring in the studio, but almost always use it with its 40 cm (16") reflector. I've hacked a couple octagon soft boxes so I can shoot it into an 80 cm (32") reflector. Talk about a "beauty dish!" Wonderful for portraits.

    But regarding your LED idea… I converted the Profoto ring to work on my Speedotron packs, which means it has modelling light juice going into it, currently taped off. I'm currently waiting on "LEDs on a reel" from China, which will go inside the Profoto ring, if I can find a 12 volt power supply small enough. (It doesn't have modelling lights.)

    Sounds like you're looking for an excuse to not want one. Guess we could always take it over to the table saw… :) 
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
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  4. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    Like, The Valley
    Yeah, I do like that feature... cross-polarization does seem like it has some creative potential beyond copy work and dental imaging... I'm still trying to get a feel for what things it might apply well to. This shot was taken with a polarized source imediately to the left of the lens, and an unpolarized diffused one to the forward upper right, giving less shadows than the diffused source alone, but less "shiny" than using another unpolarized source - Show: Decay
     
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  5. I've used it to good effect photographing jewelry.

    It doesn't do anything useful with metal, but it does interesting things to semi-precious stones.

    Although you can't change the relationship of the two polarizers to each other in the crossed polarizer, you can rotate the pair, and with the modelling lights, you can see interesting reactions to the polarization angle in polished stones. Many semi-precious stones have semi-polarizing qualities, and by rotating the crossed polarizer, you can turn different facets lighter or darker, or observe subtle colour changes. (See what the crossed polarizer did to plastic and a dime, above!)

    If you're a nature photographer, the crossed polarizer may open other creative avenues. Although I haven't tried it, I know a lot of natural and even organic structures have polarizing qualities. It might have interesting effect on (for example) butterfly wings or iridescent bird feathers. And of course, it will block reflected flash light from reflective flowers, such as buttercup, which is notoriously difficult to photograph in sunlight because of reflections.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
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  6. insectmad

    insectmad New to Mu-43

    7
    Oct 16, 2017
     
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  7. insectmad

    insectmad New to Mu-43

    7
    Oct 16, 2017
    Sorry - messed the reply

    The T-Power Control has in fact got 5 manual power options. If you remove the Calculator Panel you will find that the switch that it controls has five positions giving, I believe, from the left, full power, 1/4 power, 1/3 power, 1/2 power, 2/3 power. By using these, together with vayring the ISO and aperture, you can control the exposure at least in indoor set-ups.

    I have just started experimenting with stacked micro and macro images of insects, using a T8 flash from my OM collection, bellows and 20mm, 38mm, and 80mm macro lenses from that era.
    The shots below were all taken using the T8, bellows, 38mm macro lens @ f/5.6 or f/8, 200 iso, with the Power Control mounted directly on the E M5 Mk1, to give some idea of what is easily possible.

    17 10 22_4293_edited-1.jpg
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    T8 flash full power
    17 10 22_4297_edited-2.jpg
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    T8 flash 2/3 power
    17 10 22_4296_edited-1.jpg
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    T8 flash 1/2 power
    17 10 22_4295_edited-1.jpg
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    T8 flash 1/3 power
    17 10 22_4294_edited-1.jpg
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    T8 flash 1/4 power
    2017-10-15-18.37.07 ZS PMax_edited-2.jpg
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    Head of a Common Earwig (Forficula auricularia), 2.6x on sensor, a stack of 103 images, lighting T8 at 1/3 power.

     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
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  8. Interesting… I just verified the extra three positions on my T Power Control.

    I wonder why Olympus chose to keep them hidden? When I get some time, I'm going to use my flash meter to measure the output power in each position.

    Based solely on flash recharge time, I don't think any of these mystery positions have as much as the 1/4 power option, which takes the most time to return to "Ready" after a flash.
     
  9. The Grumpy Snapper

    The Grumpy Snapper Mu-43 Veteran

    267
    Oct 9, 2017
    I used to tape over part of the ring to get some modeling. I liked the T10 in the studio but the T28 twin flash got used a lot more in the field.

    I really must dig out the 38mm macro and test it properly on digital.
     
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  10. The Grumpy Snapper

    The Grumpy Snapper Mu-43 Veteran

    267
    Oct 9, 2017
    Thanks for that. The 38mm macro is the only lens I kept when it stopped earning its keep but it has hardly been used in the past couple of decades.
     
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  11. Since macro benefits little from auto-focus, I managed to hang on to almost all my OM macro glass when I switched to 4/3rds. (Sold the OM 50/2 and got the ED 50/2, which seems its equal optically, although the lens feels too "plasticy" for my taste.)

    Now that focal reducers are in vogue, I regret selling my OM fast wides… still looking for the legendary 21/2 to use with a focal reducer, at a reasonable price…
     
  12. The Grumpy Snapper

    The Grumpy Snapper Mu-43 Veteran

    267
    Oct 9, 2017
    I know exactly what you mean about the plasticy ED 50mm. I have a slide copying attachment that screws onto the front of a macro lens. I use it with my OM 50mm because I don't trust the build of the ED 50mm.
     
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  13. Cool! Which one? Do you recommend it?

    I've been playing with a bellows, OM 80/4 Macro, and slide copier, only to find (duh!) that I can only shoot 1/4th of the slide that way.

    My solution is to tear apart a different bellows and use the expanding part on the slide copier, to put it further away from the lens, but a simpler solution would be nice.
    PC149587.jpg
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  14. The Grumpy Snapper

    The Grumpy Snapper Mu-43 Veteran

    267
    Oct 9, 2017
    I made my own years ago. I had one of the cheap commercially available zoom slide copiers with lenses in lying around redundant as it wasn't good enough to use. I gutted it, shortened the zoom mechanism and swapped the T2 mount for a filter thread mount.
     
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  15. Good for you!

    I sometimes get more pleasure out of hacking equipment than I get from actually using it.

    The Nikon PS-4 above is a good starting point. I'm putting a longer bellows on it, but perhaps I'll just attach the proper length of black ABS pipe and a way of attaching it to the OM 90/2 Macro.
     
  16. The Grumpy Snapper

    The Grumpy Snapper Mu-43 Veteran

    267
    Oct 9, 2017
    I've always thought that the OM 80mm macro would be ideal for slide copying being optimized for x0.5x to x2 magnification. I never owned one but have used one with both the auto bellows and telescopic extension tube. From what I remember it was a very good performer.
     
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  17. insectmad

    insectmad New to Mu-43

    7
    Oct 16, 2017
    Going back to the T8 and T10 flashes I have found that they can also be used with RMS mount lenses on an OM bellows. If you bore out a 43 to 49mm filter adapter to 42.7/43.0mm, and remove any traces of the 43mm thread remaining, it can be clamped between the two parts of a OM - T2 adapter. The RMS part of this adapter is small enough to leave the 49mm female thread available for the flashes. I have used this set up with 4x and 10x microscope lenses and OM 20mm/f3.5 and 40mm/f4 Zeiss luminar lenses, which all have RMS threads.

    As you may gather I am all in favour of using outdated equipment if it can give useful results.
     
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  18. Cool!

    I don't have a vertical mill nor metal lathe (well, I have a drill press and cross vice), so this is a bit beyond my capability.

    I do snatch up Olympus OM 7mm extension tubes and OM —> 4/3rds adapters from evilBay when cheap, which I then use as mounts on various things.

    The Nikon PB-4 conversion above uses an OM —> 4/3rds adapter with the body mount removed. I then temporarily removed the lens mount, and clamped the centre aluminum ring of the adapter to the PB-4 lensboard, and drilled the proper tap holes through the pair for 2mm x 0.4 screws. Then I removed the ring and tapped the holes in the lensboard, and over-drilled and countersunk the holes on the adapter ring to fit 2mm screws. I put the whole thing back together with some Loktite™.

    The other end was a bit more challenging. Using a belt sander, I ground the Nikon flange right off the mount, leaving a smooth surface. I then took a µ4/3rds —> 58mm lens reversing adapter, and ground the 58mm threads off in a similar manner, finally attaching the two together in a manner similar to doing the lens mount, above. I did this because I didn't want the additional length nor the wobble of a Nikon —> µ4/3rds adapter.

    The µ4/3rds —> 58mm reversing adapter is cheap on evilBay and makes a good stock part for custom adaptations. I also got a cheap, non-electrical set of µ4/3rds extension tubes for custom adaptor stock parts, but the mounts on those were pretty sloppy and crappy. I got some 62mm lens-reverse adapters, too, but they proved to be too big to fit on the E-M1.2, due to the protruding EVF. I suspect other OM-D bodies have a similar problem.

    Next project: making the Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube "native" on the body end, and using the stop-down mechanism from a defunct OM bellows to engage the automatic diaphragm lever on OM macro lenses, so you can compose and focus at full brightness, then "stop down" before taking a picture.
     
  19. insectmad

    insectmad New to Mu-43

    7
    Oct 16, 2017
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
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