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Flash for beginners - start small or go for gusto?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by D@ne, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    I don't know much about flash photography, but would like to learn.

    In the opinion of the pros, would a non-pro be better of buying something inexpensive with no features, or skip that step and get something that does it all?

    ps - debating between the metz 24 vs 44. only thing the 24 can do is tilt, 44 appears to do most things...about $100 price difference. typical use would be indoor party settings, casual outside fill-in shots, etc.
     
  2. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    639
    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    I am not a "pro" nor do I play one on TV, though you may wish to read what I had to say on that topic in a different thread.

    It never makes sense to buy something you will soon outgrow, or which limits your initial exploration. That is only frustrating. For any reasonable on-camera flash use you need tilt and shift, IMO. Don't buy anything without.

    I hate flash but like my Metz 58.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    If you really want to get serious about professional quality flash results, you're going to need a flash with professional features. And probably more than one. If you buy a cheap flash the doesn't have multiple power settings, bounce, multiple flash control, etc., you won't be able to experiment with them and learn how to use them.

    OTOH, if all you really plan to do is single, on-camera flash for when it's too dark to get good results with available light, then you probably don't need to spend a lot of money. Get one of the less expensive units that offers both horizontal and vertical bounce, and support the Oly / Panasonic automatic flash features, and don't worry about it.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    Thanks to you both...I added a little poll for future visitors.

    I guess the large units scare me a little...hence my apprehension.
     
  5. mclarenf3

    mclarenf3 Mu-43 Veteran

    243
    Nov 23, 2010
    Canada
    There were to pieces of advice that my photographer friends gave me when I first got into photography:

    1. Buy a good body, but put the majority of your budget to your lenses
    2. Get the best flash you can afford

    I went and bought the FL-50 which is Olympus' best flash and I don't use it all that much, but when I do it is extremely helpful and I'm glad I didn't get the FL-36 or something smaller. When you need a flash, you want to have confidence in that it will have enough power and a fast enough recycle time to keep up with your needs.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    The Metz 36 actually looks like a good compromise in terms of size, power and cost...but flash units really have to be selected with your specific needs in mind...
     
  7. Aegon

    Aegon Mu-43 Veteran

    334
    Nov 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    I don't see a problem with getting, for example, a simple Olympus FL-300R. It is well suited in size when compared to an average ยต4/3 body. It does direct and ceiling bounce flash. And it supports remote operation, which is useful immediately with most Olympus bodies and useful later when you get bigger flashes too.

    The advantage is that you can see if you like using the flash before committing too much.
     
  8. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    I only shoot medium-format digital camera in the studio and on location, so I am probably not the right person to ask, but I would go with the small unit. First, the reason for the m4/3 camera is it is compact. Why throw something huge in the bag. Second, flash photography is not that complicated. For things outside the studio, I have a $16 dollar flash unit which does not even tilt for my Pentax 645D for bright sunny days as a fill light. Save some money, go with the small unit.
     
  9. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    Now things are getting more interesting! It's a tie...
     
  10. Aegon

    Aegon Mu-43 Veteran

    334
    Nov 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    Another consideration is that I like to use flash to "bump up" from slightly underexposed to proper subject exposure (generally providing a slightly underexposed background).

    Put another way, I use a flash to go from -1EV to properly exposed. I don't like using a ton of flash.

    So for me, a small flash is generally good enough.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    There is a class of things where, when you buy the first one, it just teaches you what you really want. I wouldn't agonize over the decision. Just pick a good quality unit (Metz, Oly, Vivitar 285, etc.) and buy it used here or on eBay. Then, after you've used it and learned from the experience, sell it and buy what you really want. Or, maybe, you will find that it is the right thing for you and you want to keep it.

    With the liquidity that the internet provides us, it is cheap and easy to buy and try, then sell if necessary.
     
  12. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    Good advice.

    I bought a Nissin di466 on ebay, which, for $100, seemed to offer the most bang-for-the-buck.

    Alas, I later found a thread on the darkside forum mentioning several people are having issues with it not being recognized on an e-m5. Doh.
     
  13. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    So you sold it or will sell it and your net cost will be maybe $20-25. Cheap tuition. I wish all of my lessons were that cheap! He11, I wish a tank of gas was that cheap. :)
     
  14. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. Plus only some were negatively affected.
     
  15. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    859
    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    "It never makes sense to buy something you will soon outgrow, or which limits your initial exploration."
    Don't think of this component as something that your will "outgrow." I have the grossly-underpowered, but quite useful FL-14 for my LX3. I have the bigger DMW-FL360 that is still underpowered, but has more features and is my main carry bag unit. I have the big, powerful Metz 58AF-1 in my accessories bag that I rarely carry. On occasion, I will rent several Nikon SB900s or a couple of the Quantum units for a paid shoot.

    Just because I use those bigger units does not mean that I consider that I have outgrown the FL-14 of DMW-FL360. These smaller units have features that remain useful to me.

    The FL-14 is when I wish to remain as low-profile as possible but still want to capture better-quality photos than those with P&S models.

    My FL360 is when I wish to add a bit of "oomph" to images when the light level really diminishes to a point where the shutter speed is forced to go below 1/30.

    With each of these two smaller units, I need just a bit of light that they can adequately provide and in a package that is so easy to carry.

    It has been stated that the best camera is that one that you have with you. Well, the best flash is the one that you can use and not be avoided because you look like the camera geek, the annoying pro, or worse yet, the one with the super large-looking flash that blinds everyone in a small room.

    There is a fit for everything. A bigger flash does not, necessarily, equate to more capability; particularly if you cannot use it for some reason.

    Think about your needs first. Draw an analogy with the use of a knife. Are you able to adequately use a 3.5-inch model to complete the task or is a 12-inch, machete-like blade needed?

    I not suggesting that you NOT buy those large, full-featured models. There is a time and place for them. If that is what you need, then acquire one or more. Nothing wrong with starting with the smaller flash units as well. Their limitations will allow you to know what works for your needs.

    If you acquire a big flash unit after having used the smaller ones, you may discover that you may not desire the weight, power, and features (as I have found). I prefer to invest in the best glass for their ability to gather light.

    Having a smaller flash unit to aid fast glass is will also mean that you will not need as much power and the recycle times will be faster.

    One of the main reasons that I use a smaller flash unit is that it is easier to carry and for far longer periods.
     
  16. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    Question/follow-up:

    I ended up with a Nissin di466. I works great...af illuminator doesn't work, but that's okay.

    Question is this - when using the nissin wirelessly, I can't figure out how to get the pop-up on the em5 to NOT fire. I set it to off in the RC menu, but it still fires. Is this just a short-coming of using an off-brand flash?
     
  17. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    You must set the mini flash to RC to so the remote flash can decipher the flash code. If you want the mini flash to be part of the exposure, go to the SCP flash menu and make your selection, it's the very bottom selection below flash group C.
     
  18. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    That's my issue...I have it set to off in the menu, but it still fires.
     
  19. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    What exactly do you have set to "OFF"; RC, the mini flash, or both. You realize that without the mini flash being used as the commander, you can not use RC wireless.
     
  20. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    593
    Feb 23, 2012
    Toronto
    The mini is set to off within the RC menu (beneath Group C, as you mentioned). The Nissin fires, and the mini fires as well. I only want the Nissin to fire...is that possible?