Flash system recommendations for upcoming OM-D

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by recasper, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. recasper

    recasper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2012
    Alameda, California
    Greetings everyone,
    I've been pulling together my "want list" for my upcoming OM-D system and wanted to reach out for some advice on flash gear.

    Bear in mind, I am completely green to using flash in my approach and I want to get into it for my street work. But I'm not sure what direction to go. I'm looking to use a remote flash trigger and flash unit (hand held quick shooting and for backlighting shadows in urban alleys).

    Knowing that I am going with the OM-D system, does anyone have any suggestions for a trigger and flash system that together run less than $200. I'm not really looking for anything "pro," since I really don't care to do anything overtly fancy.

    What do you great photographic minds out there recommend?

    My sincere apologies if this is a common question. I'm rather ignorant of flash compatibility with Olympus :43: cameras. Most of the threads I found in search just talked about their own flashes with their Pens or similar. Didn't want to plan a purchase that won't work for the upcoming Oly cam. ;-)
  2. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    A used FL-36R will run you less than $200. It's compatible with Oly's wireless flash system.
  3. recasper

    recasper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2012
    Alameda, California
    Checking that one out now...

    With the Oly wireless system, I'm seeing that the main flash adapter need be attached to work. Is it possible to trigger an off-camera slave flash and not the on-camera flash?

    Lol... yeah, its shameful, but thats how little about flash I know... ;-)
  4. FastCorner

    FastCorner Mu-43 Veteran

    May 28, 2011
    FP sync is an important feature to me, so I'd stick with one of the newer, more powerful Olympus, Panasonic, or Metz flashes. Kind of spendy, but you should be able to find a Metz 48 or 50 for less than $200. These all have TTL with a cable, and wireless TTL with the Olympus and Metz.

    If you don't mind the manual settings, you can get a Lumopro LP160 and use it as an optical slave for cheap, even new. Output is supposed to be on par with the high-end brand name flashes. No FP sync, though.
  5. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    Panazonic flashes are NOT wireless capable. Stay with an Olympus FL-36R or FL-50R, FL-600R. Some of the Metz flashes are also wireless ready. If you don't want to use the E-M5 accessory flash as the commander, you will have to go with a radio set-up. I suggest using the included accessory flash as a commander.
  6. recasper

    recasper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2012
    Alameda, California
    Yeah I thinking thats what Fast Corner meant with the one of them is cabled. The Olympus ones are looking nice. Especially the recently announced 600R, but that is far out of my price range. Even edging up to $200 for the flash alone is a bit steep.

    EDIT: While desire is certainly strong to go big, I am wanting to merely dabble in flash at the time. So $200 was more an "absolute most" for flash and trigger system (receivers etc)... At the same time, the further below $200 the better, if you know what I mean.

    That in mind, and my desires held at bay... I'm not looking for the best of the best, but if I could pick up a hotshoe receiver and a basic flash for a hand held main flash... that would be ideal, if at all possible to do. Maybe down the line, the 600R may find itself firmly in my day bag. But let's say for now, what would you note as a decent economy flash unit?

    Also, if I am to use the accessory flash as a commander, is it possible to fire the hand held flash without flashing the accessory flash?
  7. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Promit Roy
    Amazon has these wireless flash receivers and transmitters by CowboyStudio that seem to review quite well. Now I do believe that the clip-in flash on the OM-D can control the FL-36R using infrared without firing. But one of the wireless radio systems plus a cheaper flash (say, the older FL-36 without remote) might be a more effective choice.
  8. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    Flash for street work? Not sure if I'd use flash when trying to be inconspicuous. OM-D comes with it's own small flash. I plan on using my Nikon and Vivitar flash units for off-camera flash with my OM-D.
  9. recasper

    recasper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2012
    Alameda, California
    This is what I was thinking as well. Slap a radio remote on the cam, and fire a cheaper flash such as the YN560 in hand or from a distance. Might be the most economical option.

    Certainly, while not the most "inconspicuous" manner of street photography, it does have its perks in image quality. Also, I don't necessarily mean 100% people in when I note my intent of street work. I meant it also literal, such as using the flash to drop in a dark corner when shooting alley work.

    Something like this:

    I didn't use flash in that one. But for similar work, it would be handy to drop the flash in a dark corner, step back and fire to illuminate nooks and crannies from a distance.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. thearne3

    thearne3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2010
    Redding, CT USA
    What's your concern re the trigger flash?

    The 'trigger' flash has no impact on the lighting of the resulting photo. It merely creates an information exchange with, say, the FL36R. This 'pre-flash' is then followed by the actual flash by the slave.

    The advantage of the wireless approach like CowboyStudio is that the receiver flash can be anywhere in a 100' range or so. Trigger flashes have a range of 10' or so and the receiver must be oriented appropriately.

    The disadvantage of the wireless approach is that is Manual only - no Auto TTL.

    You might want to check out Strobist for free tutorials on all kinds of 'strobe' techniques...
    • Like Like x 1
  11. dre_tech

    dre_tech Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 31, 2012
    And this should be at the top of your decision tree, whether TTL is important to you.

    Your best bet would be an Olympus compatible TTL flash you can trigger via the E-M5's bundled flash and at the same time or later get the radio triggers you want.

    On my Canon system I've skipped radio triggers to keep costs down and got myself a reasonably long TTL cable to my 580EX II (which in turn can trigger my 430EX wirelessly). Some super cheap triggers will be the same price as a decent TTL cable. Some info on the forum here:https://www.mu-43.com/f67/ttl-cords-19494/

    I'll guess you're aware of the Strobist blog if you're considering lighting up parts of your scene, off-camera flash in general. Strobists' run-down for moving your flash off-camera is very good, although he does favor manual flash more than others.
  12. recasper

    recasper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2012
    Alameda, California
    Thank you for the reply thearne3. I may have been misapproriating my terms as I asked the question, as I did not initially realize there was a difference between "trigger flash" and "wireless receiver flash." I had assumed Trigger merely communicated with the "wireless receiver".

    I've haunted Strobist a couple times recently, but still trying to get a feel for how the site is structured. Difficult to navigate really.

    Quick question, when you say "This 'pre-flash' is then followed by the actual flash by the slave,"... are you referring to an act of the flash accessory for the OM-D signally the slave to fire, by way of its own visual flashing action. Thus leaving you limited to the 10'? Or is it engaged by way of a "signal" sent out, allowing the onboard flash accessory to be "mutable," per say? I guess I can't figure out if the receiver flash is engaged because it senses the light from the flash accessory, or because of a wireless signal the flash accessory sends it. I think I am just simply on the wrong page and need my metaphorical light bulb to come on in my head. :)

    I did run across an interesting article here regarding cheap triggers/receivers and the benefits and pitfalls of their use.
  13. recasper

    recasper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2012
    Alameda, California
    Thank you everyone for your help. I apologize again for my ignorance and I am sure its frustrating saying what you have said and receiving my dumb responsive questions. For the first time in a while, I have ran into an area thats simply not clicking with me mentally.

    I think I'm gonna just grab a couple devices and just approach it head-on with a hands-on test. I always learn better by doing.
  14. starlabs

    starlabs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    With the Olympus RC wireless system, the on-board flash sends out a pre-flash signal. This signal tells the flash slave at what power to flash at. It also does TTL, so the on-board flash actually flashes a couple of times; first to meter the scene and then send out the signal to the slave flash.

    You will need a flash that supports RC - obviously the Olympus "R" branded flashes (50R, 36R, 300R, 600R). Some 3rd party brands also support this I believe, notably Metz flashes.

    The disadvantages as Tom mentioned is that it's an optical signal. So in outdoors in daylight for example, the slave flashes might not sense the trigger flash. In your case it's not a super big deal since you're shooting at night.

    If you use radio triggers they're manual; no TTL support. You will have to manage your slave flash power settings yourself.
  15. recasper

    recasper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2012
    Alameda, California
    BAM!... Thank you... the light bulb has now went off... Thank you everyone for your assistance. Some reason it took the right words in the right order for my hard-head to open up to understanding. haha

    This seems a bit clearer now, and I can visualize what exactly is happening when either method is used.

    Gives me a great jumping point. Thank you so much and my apologies again.

    Tonight will be a long research session, on all the flash unit recommendations that have been mentioned here. EDIT: It's looking like manual might be my best option. So its time to start brushing up on my old college math courses again ;-)
  16. thearne3

    thearne3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2010
    Redding, CT USA

    Actually, with digital forget the math - just do a couple of tests and look at your playback. One of the advantages of manual flash is that you actually develop a strong sense of 'what's right' - so only one or two tests are necessary - and faster than any calculations...

    Re: Strobist

    I suggest doing the series in the right column, the first of which is 'Lighting 101 Archive' and follow sequentially (or skip around - your choice, but they are well organized for building your skills). The recent stuff is hard to navigate for sure!

    Have fun and post!
    • Like Like x 1
  17. recasper

    recasper Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 12, 2012
    Alameda, California
    Thank you so much for that.

    Learn by doing... thats definitely the outlook I have derived from this discussion. I think to start out, I will be picking up the Cowboy Studio system and a YN-560 to get a feel for the technique. Who knows a 600R and higher quality transmitter/receiver combination may be in my future.

    Just don't want to get heavily invested if I find that its not a path I wish to continue.

    Now for a long night of Strobist studying.... ;-)
  18. dpj

    dpj Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 20, 2011
    Get 2xYN560's and a set of RF603's. Great flashes with more than enough power, and the triggers will see you good for over 100 feet. DIY some clamps using spring loaded clamps and a cold shot attatched to them, mine are bonded using resin, and you are good to go. Stick the flash wherever you need it, set the power and shoot away. Allthis will also fit in a reasonably small rucksack for easy transport.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes, with off-camera flash you should have at least two of them to be able to control your lighting evenly.