FL36R vs. FL600R: Pennywise or Pound Foolish?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by exakta, Jun 14, 2015.

  1. exakta

    exakta Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 2, 2015
    I've been quickly building up my OM-D E-M10 system, have finished with lenses for now and next on the list is a strobe.

    I see that I can easily find a used FL36R for $100-150, which is a lot less than a new FL600R ($300) or the Lumix version ($230).

    I also have read many complaints about FL36R recycle times due to the 2-battery design.

    Paying the extra money is not going to kill me, but I don't use flash all that much so going with the FL36R is tempting.

    I'd like to hear both from folks who are 100% satisifed with the FL36R and those who had the FL36R but upgraded to the FL600R.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2015
  2. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I chose not to get the FL-36R after reading on the spec sheet that the recycle time was up to 8 seconds. That's an eternity for your subjects to wait. It is also not any smaller, so the only thing the 2 battery design does is make it slow. You could compensate by shooting ISO 800-1600 so the flash won't fire a full power burst, but is that why you got a flash? To shoot at ISO 1600?

    Fl-600R and Panasonic FL360L have a 2 second recycle time worst case at full power.

    I would highly recommend the Panasonic version here in the U.S. because it is literally 100% identical and available quite a bit cheaper (as you listed above.)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    I have the 36R. I don't use flash a whole lot but am starting to more.

    Anyways, I have no complaints other than perhaps size and recycle time.
    Being able to control the flash from the camera is nice. I've been told that Oly/Pana have the best interface for remote flash.

  4. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I have the 36R (and the little 300R). I'm not a big flash user, but they work well for me. Typical recycle times are a lot less than 8s of course since it's not usual to be using full power.
  5. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Have you considered the Nissin i40? It's a bit smaller and cheaper than the FL-600R but has the same or a little more power (GN38 at 43mm versus GN36, plus the option to go GN40 at 50mm). It takes 4 batteries so recharge time is good.

    I rarely use full power, I don't like the 3s recycle times for full power. Even at half power it's a lot better at about 1s. Also, repeated quick full power bursts will overheat almost all larger flashes - they're not usually designed to dissipate the heat from repeated full power output, so you have to be careful with their use. If you're not, they go into thermal standdown or cutback. Many pros will end up using more powerful flashes (or gang multiple units) at half power in order to shoot without worrying about recycle times or overheating.
  6. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    I have the FL-600R and FL-50R. I find the FL-600R very satisfactory, although I have not tried the FL-36R. Out of interest, Paul, what do you use the FL-300R for?
  7. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    I have the FL36r and I am happy with recycle time, but I is important to buy quality batteries. I bought some good rechargeable and they made a world of difference compared to cheap ones.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I use the 300R as part of an off-camera multi-flash setup and sometimes for macro. For multi-flash it's good for some fill or catch light. For macro use close up, you don't need lots of power and because it's so small you can hand hold it to get the best illumination (using wireless control from the camera driven from the little push-on unit acting as the commander). I took these with it yesterday in fact. It was a dark and very grey day in the UK, so the impression of sun is entirely the flash!

    May Fly by -Paul Kaye-

    Bumble Bee by -Paul Kaye-
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2015
    • Like Like x 6
  9. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    I've started using the remote capability of my FL-600R for macro as well (link). It's very effective.
  10. exakta

    exakta Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 2, 2015
    Here in the USA, the i40 is $40 more than the Lumix FL360L...not much incentive there!
  11. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Just to get an idea of what to even say - what do you want to use the flash for? Do you just want it to shoot at a lower ISO / higher shutter speed for general photography indoors, do you want it for macro work against static or moving subjects, do you want it to help with portraits at the beach, etc? Or a mix of all those? If you were doing static subjects or just want something to use to get more light for your ordinary photography I would think you would be fine with the 36r/300r class 2 battery units. For macro work on moving subjects (where you will rapidly get annoyed at slow cycle times and will be pushing aperture and trying to diffuse the flash as well), the 2 battery units won't be unusable, but maybe less ideal. It's to a point where I've been thinking about adding another flash unit to my FL600R, just to get both a controllable point and diffuse light and bring the cycle times down a little.
  12. exakta

    exakta Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 2, 2015
    Piggsy, it's just general purpose use. I used a Vivitar 283 for many years with my film cameras. No macro, mainly indoors both on camera with bounce or on a light stand with umbrella (where wireless will be very useful).
  13. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    Both of these use scenarios typically require higher power output. Those are my main usage scenarios, too, which is why the slow recycle on the 36 scared me off.
  14. exakta

    exakta Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 2, 2015
    Looks like the FL360L is the way to go. Thx everyone.
  15. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    With good rechargeable batteries (Panasonic-Eneloop) the FL-36R is much quicker to recycle, maybe 3-4 seconds at full power. It really makes a huge difference compared to normal alkaline batteries! I have been perfectly satisfied with my FL-36R. Actually there are two things that I would like it to do, that 600R can: Act as a master flash to remotely control other wireless TTL flashes (36R can only be a slave) and to be splash proof.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    I can't find any confirmation of the weather sealing on the flash (and the battery door is certainly not sealed AFAICT)? This would be cool though.

    (the master flash function is useful!).
  17. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    I stand corrected, I couldn't find any proof either about the weather sealing of the FL-600R. I'm sorry for the false information.
  18. Paul80

    Paul80 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 6, 2014
    Another option to think of is one of the older Auto Flashguns sold in the days of film.

    before the invention of TTL flash control we all used flashguns with the auto sensor built into the gun. This system was good enough to give correct exposures with slide film which needed a high degree of accuracy to get correct exposures, more than is needed for modern digital cameras.

    They are cheap as chips and some are well specified and as long as you pick one with an LED indicator light they will be safe to use on a modern digital camera.

    I have the Olympus FL-36R and panasonic FL-220 which I tend to only use for macro use, when TTL control is most useful, the rest of the time I us an old National PE-387s and that cost less than £10 on ebay.

    Give one a try you might surprise yourself.

    If in doubt about trigger voltages, as long as you stay away from the very old guns that use a Neon for the ready light you will be fine but if in doubt you can add a small safe trigger for under £20.

  19. I have the FL-36R, the recycle time has been an issue a number of times for me and a few times it's caused me to miss shots. Having said that I don't shoot with flash very often so I'm not convinced that I'd get value out of the FL-600R. I admit to using alkaline batteries in mine and given the earlier comments about using rechargables I'll have to give that a go and see how much difference it makes.
  20. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    Ok, I just made some testing with my FL-36R and it really is close to 8 seconds to recycle with full power. And that is with Sanyo-Eneloop XX rechargeables. So I was wrong with that too. It just doesn't feel that long in my kind of shooting style, maybe because I am the slowest part in that process anyway and also because I rarely shoot at full power.

    Here's a very nice comparison for different kind of batteries on FL-36R: http://www.shooting43.com/articles/FL36R/recycle-times
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
    • Like Like x 1
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