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Frustrated hunting for a flash, please help!

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by peripatew, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. peripatew

    peripatew Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 21, 2010
    We've got our third child due in about 2 weeks. We've been wanting a flash for a while, so this seems like a good time.

    Hunting around, budget minded people seem to aim at one of the Metz or the Nissin di466. BUT, I'm slightly confused. We've had a flash for an older Nikon, but it was the not-very-adjustable-baby-sized-one. I'd like to step up the flash power and adjustability.

    I actually already ordered the di466 from a company through Amazon, but they just emailed saying its out of stock.

    I'm to the point where I'm ok paying up to $300. What can you recommend? I'm just a family photographer, but I'm a gear head, so I want to buy something beyond my needs, and learn into it. I primarily use my GH2 for video, so haven't messed with a flash up until now.

    My confusion comes from the various Metz models. The 48, 50, and 58. Some say they are for panasonic, but the same model number costs quiet a bit more than the canon model. (The 50 on Amazon is $200ish for canon/nikon, but $350 for Panasonic).

    I know that certain models have pros and cons. I'd love fast recharge, flexible options, and off camera shoots (but I don't mind buying some type of adapter if necessary).

    I usually buy everything through Amazon, but it's proving to not be helpful in this search. If you recommend something, can you share a link to where it's in stock?

    My unborn child THANKS YOU!
  2. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 2, 2012
    The fl-36r is on amazon refurbished from cameta camera for $149.95 + shipping. Add the cheap diffuser that pops up with it.
  3. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Did you try getting the Nissin through Adorama or B&H or on EBay?
  4. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 30, 2011
    Research the FL600R. It uses 4 x AA batteries therefore recharge times are quick. I use both the 36R and the 600R and with there is a significant difference between the 2 units for time between shots. I am a stills shooter, but the 600 also has a LED that can be used for focus assist or video lighting.

    The power of this LED is adjustable and can be turned on manually. Maybe perfect for the GH2 video combo.

    I would definitely purchase a flash with high speed sync abilities, as it covers many more uses.
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    This is the best suggestion I can see. For full brand new price ($300 MSRP) you're better off getting the FL-600R which is better but the same retail price (since it's the upgrade to the FL-36R), but if you can pick up the FL-36R for half the price then don't miss that opportunity! It's a great, versatile little speedlight.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. jon595

    jon595 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2011
    In your situation, I would get an FL-600R. I had the Nissin Di-466, but sold it because the head doesn't swivel. This is important if you are shooting in a portrait orientation with the flash on camera, you can't bounce the flash off the ceiling or behind you. I also wasn't a fan of the manual settings on the Di-466. When using it off camera in manual mode, there didn't seem to be enough gradation in power settings.

    The FL-600R is a great size, recycles quick and can be triggered wirelessly. It's a great flash to start with. If you can afford it, I would pick it up. You can grow into it much more than the Nissin.

    I've heard the Metz flashes are really good as well, I just don't have any first hand knowledge of them.
  7. majordude

    majordude Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 28, 2012
    Dang! The FL-600R costs 1/3 of the OM-D body! It's a FLASH!
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Just to back up what Jon said, the (most practical) difference between the FL-36R and the FL-600R is recycle speed. The FL-600R uses 4 batteries and recycles much faster, but is still the same compact size. The FL-36R has always had one criticism and that is its slow recycle time... which is all due to having only 2 batteries. Don't know why they didn't figure out that solution sooner, lol. The next important difference is that the FL-600R has a video light (continuous light) which can be useful for somethings (ie, like focus assist in the dark). Other than that, any other differences are inconsequential. Both retail for the same price, but since the FL-36R is an old model you may find some discounts on it (such as the refurbed Amazon deal mentioned earlier). I doubt you'll get any breaks on the FL-600R, but at full price it's a much better deal than the FL-36R ever was (and the FL-36R was already a good deal... an OEM flash from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, or Sony at the time would run at least $600, until Canon finally made a small flash like Olympus, in the form of the 430EX).
  9. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Your basic choices are Panasonic, Olympus, Metz, Nissin and Yohungo.

    The Olympus and Panasonic branded guns are exactly the same. The "R" designation means the flash supports wireless TTL flash, which your GH2 doesn't. But it may be useful when/if you upgrade to a GH3.

    There are basically two power classes for the tilt/swivel hotshoe flashes. Those with a mid level guide number of between 35-45 (Oly 36R, 600R) and more powerful units with a guide number of over 50 (Oly 50R, Metz 50 and 58's). In real world terms the difference between the mid level and higher power units is about 1 stop. The FL600R and the Panny equivalent rate them selves at a guide number of 50. But they fudge the figures by using 200 ISO. They're mid powered units.

    The new FL600R and Panny equivalent (mid level power) have a built in video light and use 4xAA batteries. They're very compact and have fast recycle times. They're a really good flash for most people as they are a nice mix of power and portability. Don't get the FL36/36R as they only use 2xAA batteries and recycle times are slow. These would be my first choice for an enthusiast.

    The only real function of the larger units is more power. The FL50R Olympus has the same functionality, minus the video light, as the FL600R. If you're going to do a lot of bounce flash or off camera flash then the higher power units are definitely worth it.

    The Metz brand is a well known one for flashes and the guns are of and equivalent quality to the OEM guns. They do tend to use more buttons to get to the functions though.

    The Nissin and Yohungo brands are more cheaply made. But they seem to be quite reliable and offer a good bang for the buck.

    The Olympus/Panasonic/Metz units have an auto function and full manual built in so they can be used a dumb flashes on most cameras, if you think that might be useful.

    Just eliminate the things you don't want/need and you'll end up with a shorter list. Consider in order of importance:

    * power/size/recycle times
    * full tilt swivel
    * wireless capabilities
    * manual and/or auto flash
    * build quality
    * ease of use

    • Like Like x 3
  10. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    That's expected. Speedlights are not cheap, and are vitally important to a professional photographer. Photography is all about the capture of light. Lighting should not be skimped on, any more than lenses (which will cost more than your body, not a fraction of).
  11. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Good light is more important than a good sensor.

  12. majordude

    majordude Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 28, 2012
    Hmmm. I guess I am CHEAP! :p 
  13. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
  14. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Qld Australia
    Another cheaper option for those that don't use flash much is to pick up an old SB28 (choosing this one because it is smaller than the SB26) and use it in AUTO. Lots of power and the AUTO is pretty good. I have these flashes for strobist work and they are excellent. I didn't realise how AUTO worked until someone on a thread mentioned them so I popped one on the camera and the light was pretty spot on.

    Because it's not ETTL/TTL you just have to set the same ISO and F-stop on the flash that the camera is using. It's that simple. Change the camera, change the flash. If you find the light needs to be a little stronger (which can be the case as this is an Olympus camera and the flash is meant to be the companion for a NIKON body), simply pull the ISO back 1/3 of a stop as this will make the flash just a bit stronger. Need less light, go the other way. Can bounce with this as long as the body of the flash is facing what you are lighting so it knows when enough light has been sent out.

    I'm rather surprise at just how good this is and these flashes can be found for under $100.

    Light is Light
  15. ghetto

    ghetto Mu-43 Regular

    I think you mentioned other branded third party flashes? I'd have a thorough read on that before buying. I don't have first hand experience but read up when I was looking for a flash, some sites mentioned that the flashes for different companies use different voltages and can fry other cameras ( noting that panny and oly are the same though), i'd double check before putting a nikon/canon on a oly or panny body.
  16. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    ...which actually is okay too. :)  Yes, we said not to skimp on lighting but truth be told you can very easily skimp on cost without losing a thing in quality. What needs to change in order for that to happen though, is YOU the photographer. Your techniques, your methods, and your knowledge. Learn to use manual flash, and you can use almost any flash made. Any digital-spec flash (under ~6V trigger voltage) will be safe to use directly, and even older flash units can still be used with a Safe Sync adapter or optical trigger. Some of these units can be very cheap, and are just as powerful. I mostly prefer them due to their intensely long battery life. Take the same flash as a modern OEM digital unit, and it's astounding just how terribly it drains batteries. One old Vivitar I bought for $7 (+$35 for a trigger) will go on and on and on forever. In fact, I've never drained the batteries on it, I just throw them in the charger along with the rest of my units out of habit.

    So yes, lighting is key and you can't cut corners on it. You can however easily perform on a small budget. Also light modifiers... they are just as important, but it also happens that you can make much better light modifiers yourself with a little knowledge and ingenuity, than any of the overpriced commercial crap they sell in the camera stores. Again, improving performance while reducing budget. I can make light modifiers for $3 apiece that blow away the output quality of any $80 Fong Things or $40 Sto-fens.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    If you really wanna be cheap. A 3 light hot light set up can cost under 200. Will also freak the baby out less. pain in the butt though.
  18. ANRiley

    ANRiley New to Mu-43

    Dec 18, 2012
    near Chicago
    I second JustJim's note about a 3-light constant-light setup, except I'd recommend LEDs. Not hot, less electricity. I have 3 Adorama 58-LED bulbs (Adorama LED BULB 58LED) on lightweight stands and I like them a lot. And when the cats knocked one over, it didn't break (!!!).
  19. peripatew

    peripatew Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 21, 2010
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. I forgot to mention that I picked up the FL600. LOVING it so far, but still a lot to learn.

    I have quite a few light stands that we use in our studio for video, but I was hunting for something to use at the house with minimal setup.

    So far so good, just working on dialing in the settings.
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