GH2+FL-36, Initial Look

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Boatman, May 24, 2011.

  1. A week or so ago I asked about flashes for a GH2. The Panasonic FL500 was recommended along with the FL360, their Olympus sisters or a Metz equivalent. I was thinking of getting a Metz Mecablitz 48 when a nearly new Olympus FL-36 turned up on eBay at a very desirable price. I grabbed it and tonight got my first chance to try it out. I happened to be playing with my Takuamar 28 at the time and thinking that using the flash with a manual lens would probably present the most challenges anyway, I decided to give it a shot.

    I haven't read the manual carefully yet so I kind of guessed at the settings. What I've seen is astounding. Nearly every shot is perfectly exposed and the only ones that aren't right are off color, probably due to shooting before the flash had fully recycled. This ain't flashbulbs kids.

    I set the flash for FP-TTL-Auto, Mzoom 10mm, +/- neutral and the diffuser door down. The camera was set for flash-arrow-down, flash synchro 1st and flash adjust +2/3 EV. The camera settings were not all diliberate, it was just how they were. The lens was set at f8 and pre-focused to 6.5 feet, ISO1600. I set the flash for a 45 degree bounce flash.

    I shot about twenty photos all in the 4 to 15 foot range on a number of dark and light items. Perfect! Clearly I don't fully know what I'm doing with this device yet, but is seems to provide outstanding results. How I'm getting the exposure right with a manual lens is beyond me. Just lucky, I guess. I would have figured that all the shots would at least be evenly over or under exposed demonstrating a need to adjust the f-stop or the flash power EV adjustment. But nope, it was right on the money.

    I made a few notes for future reference and I'll need to play around with this unit using both the manual lenses and the Panasonic 14-140. But overall, I am very impressed. This is a sweet little unit.
  2. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Great! I'm thinking about getting a flash too, and would love to hear more experiences with the GH2 and external flash.
  3. The FL36 is a nice enough flash in that it performs the role of providing extra illumination very well and has all of the tilt, swivel, diffuser, zoom, etc options that you would reasonably expect, but when it comes to startup and recycle times it is a right PITA. An extra two batteries would have made the world of difference, especially when you consider that there are much smaller flashes available in different brands that take 4x AAs.
  4. I would agree that the unit is slow to recycle. Certainly not fast enough for professional work. I read that using MiNh batteries improves the cycle time. I don't know if this is true or how much they help, but I think I have some I could try out. Of course with MiNh it's charge and use. Charge and put in a bag for later and they will be flat when you need them.

    I'll probably keep an eye out for an FL-50 or its Panasonic equal. If I find a good deal, I'll step up. But I think the FL-36 will work well for now. I will play around with it some more so that when I need to use it for some shots that count I'll be ready.
  5. Sad to say that my assessment above is from using NiMh batteries.
  6. Yes, MiNh don't do shelf life well, though some are advertised as "slow discharge". Regular batteries are 1500mah. I would imagine that any battery that provides more than 1500mah (MiNh can provide up to ~2500) would provide better performance, at least for the number of flashes. Would this also improve recycle time?
  7. Sorry, I meant my assessment of the startup and recycle times of the FL36 are based on using NiMh batteries
  8. I added some more test photos this evening. How this flash works is very mysterious.

    Still using the manual 28mm lens demonstrates that the camera and flash are very able to figure out the necessary flash strength up to about f8. At f11 it starts getting confused and at f16 severe underexposure sets in. (As you might expect.) It seems to deal with varying distances very well.

    The images posted seem to indicate that the flash does not to respond to adjusting the EV dial, in fact it seem to create underexposure as you increase the EV value. The camera, on the other hand, responds exactly as you would expect, increasing the exposure as you increase the EV value. At +5 EVs it wigs out and goes into a very long open shutter instead of the 1/30 shutter speed it seems to prefer normally. Further testing did reveal that the flash increases and decreases the using the EV adjustment as you would expect.

    Overall the best settings appear to be f4 +1EV.

    Regarding the recycle time, I've seen some interesting results. When shooting the tests listed above, I noticed a distinct increase in the recycle time; starting at about 3 seconds at wide open and increasing to over 15 seconds at f16. Clearly the brighter flash is using more power and draining the system. Later on I tried a Pentax 18mm 110 lens. These are fixed at f2.8. I set the flash for auto-TTL and the zoom range to 18mm (direct, not bounce flash). The recycle times were remarkably better; sub one second! I was able to shoot five shots in rapid order before the flash started to lag. This was with a ~7' subject so a lot of power probably wasn't needed. Nevertheless, I did not see any 1 second or sub 1 second recycle time using the 28mm lens. This is rather curious. Exposure levels with the 110 lens were just as good as with the 28mm.

    Next family function I'll give it a good shake down.
  9. village-west

    village-west New to Mu-43

    Sep 11, 2012
    my experience with the FL-36

    no problem with the GH2 . The recycling can be fast enough using the new eneloop XX . The difference with the old eneloops is substantial, and much faster recycling compared to all the other rechargeable that I have.
    The other nice surprise was using the FL-36 on a Nikon D300 and Canon G9 : it goes in auto (thyristor) and works even better than the TTL dedicated flashes for nikon and canon . (ISO must entered manually in the flash of course)
    Great little flash, indeed. with 2 eneloop XX is almost as fast as a nikon SB600 and if used in auto (thyristor) instead of TTL then it will be even faster (recycling).
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