Give me Flashes 101

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by Promit, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Okay, so my only experience with flash is on-camera popup and I've never been much of a fan. I'd like to start getting into lighting a little bit, but there are so many confusing pieces...oh, and I want to do this cheap. $200 for the FL-36R is not an option while I still don't know what I'm doing or what I want. I have a PM1 and a G2 will arrive shortly.

    I guess there are manual flashes, automatic flashes where you dial in settings to copy the camera, and TTL flashes that actually communicate with the body. It's only the last kind I'm interested in. It sometimes sounds like I have to get an Olympus to get TTL, but I'm kind of vague on the details...and apparently there's Super TTL also? I found this:
    Vivitar DF293 Digital TTL Auto-Focus Flash for Olympus | eBay
    And some mention of the Nissin di466 but I'm confused about what level of functionality you get.

    Then there's the question of wireless control. I guess Olympus has remote control, but some flashes also have slave mode. What's the difference?

    Last, how do I get into this whole lighting thing under a hundred bucks? I've been eyeing the LED panels with some curiosity, but they seem more studio oriented I guess. I was thinking of trying some high-speed photography but versatility is the main goal here.
     
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    P.S. are there any cheap flash units that allow you to fire off multiple flashes at tight intervals (ie 3-4 per second)? I'm thinking it would be handy for high-speed.
     
  3. drizek

    drizek Mu-43 Veteran

    492
    Aug 5, 2011
    I've been having the same questions. I bought a manual "computerized" flash on ebay for $6 that I have been using with my E-510, but it won't fire on my E-PL1. I've been wanting to buy something a bit better with TTL, but I really have no idea where to start, and I don't want to spend over a hundred bucks, if even that.
     
  4. nsd20463

    nsd20463 Mu-43 Regular

    116
    Apr 30, 2011
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I own the Nissin flash. It's fully automatic when it is connected to the hotshoe. Away from the hotshoe it can only be a manual slave flash (no TTL).

    Also it does not rotate, it only tilts, so bounce flash off the ceiling only happens in landscape orientation. For some people that's a problem.

    It as a plastic connector to the hotshoe. That's good in that it will break first before the camera gets damaged. That's bad in that it breaks more easily than metal would have.

    It has no FP mode. It will flash repeatedly but only if you set it to less than full power. Then it will flash until you've used up the equivalent of full power (so two 1/2 brightness flashes, or four 1/4th brightness, etc). This is how all the flashes I've used worked, btw.

    Lastly (and this is the one thing I would change if I were Nissin) the flash's zoom (beam width) is not settable manually. On the hotshoe the flash's zoom follows the lens's zoom like you'd want it to. But off the hotshoe the flash moves to its widest zoom setting. This knocks the maximum brightness down 1 unit (50%) compared to what you can get when it is on the hotshoe.

    When I bought the Nissin I was also looking at the Metz 4/3 flashes. The more expensive of which have more manual control than the Nissin. But then again they are even more expensive.
     
  5. drizek

    drizek Mu-43 Veteran

    492
    Aug 5, 2011
  6. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    Cheap or good. Pick one. I found a couple of metz58af2's on the bay for about $360 each. That's an absolute bargain. For your budget I'd stick with manual flash. While not as convenient as TTL is does also have some significant advantages, especially off camera. And it's not as hard to learn as most people think. I've done the cheap TTL thing several times. Never again. Either be prepared to spend the money or look in a different direction.

    The other option is to ignore flash altogether and look at LED video lights. Panels can be had for $60.00 that have 160 LED's and they work great, although without the pure stopping power of a flash.

    Gordon
     
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  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Wireless (through the Olympus Remote Commander) allows you to use TTL, just as if the camera was mounted on the hotshoe. An optical slave only triggers the flash, which requires you to dial in your power settings manually on the flash. An optical slave is triggered from any flash that is shot off in its line of sight. I often trigger numerous slaves around the studio using one flash mounted on a bracket with the camera.

    To use wireless TTL, you need an Olympus R-series flash such as the FL-36R or FL-50R. These flashes can be triggered through the Remote Commander with TTL, but can also be used as a manual flash and trigger off any flash that's shot off from any camera.

    In my opinion, you will do much better if you learn to use manual flash. Not only will it open up your options for lots of different types of flash from different makes (you can use any third party flashes like Sunpak, Vivitar, etc., as well as other brands like Nikon, Canon, Pentax, etc.), but it is also much more reliable and less frustrating to use with off-camera flash, multiple flash, and flash modifiers. It's a lot easier for you to just pick a power setting then to try to compensate the TTL for distance to subject, quantity of lights, amount of stops removed by the modifiers, etc. TTL can be pretty effective for a single flash on-camera with no modifiers... something I would never fire off, personally. ;)

    LED panels are continuous lighting. This can be useful for seeing how the shadows will lie before you take the photo, and not having to compensate for exposure. However, they generally can't put out as much light (strobes are only on for an instant so they can pack a lot of power into that instant) and they also won't freeze action like strobes do. Because of the short duration of strobe lights, most of the exposure is captured at that moment and the subject will be frozen even if the shutter stays open longer.

    Obviously, if you're shooting video you need continuous lighting and that's where LED panels are most needful. LED panels put out considerable light for continuous lights, and also run cool with little power drain. They will also produce some decent lighting power for your stills, though not as much as strobes.

    As for keeping it under $100... The best thing I would suggest is to get a flash bracket, a PC Sync cable, and a cheap manual slave flash. Add a good flash modifier to soften the light... and you might be able to get away with under $100 as long as you can get the manual slave flash for really cheap. Try used camera markets and thrift stores. Also get your bracket from one of these old camera exchange stores, or that itself will cost you $150 minimum from a retail camera store. My favorite bracket I bought for $10 after talking down the old man from $12, lol. My $200 bracket never gets used anymore.

    You'd end up with a setup like this (ignore the LED light, that's just an old-fashioned AF Assist lamp, lol)... this will allow you to safely trigger any kind of flash from any make, but beware that if you are using a flash made for film cameras that you will need a Safe Sync adapter on the hotshoe. A Safe Adapter will blow your $100 budget though, so try to find a digital-spec flash. ;)
    flash_bracket_web.

    PS, if you're using the EVF (VF-2 or VF-3), this setup will also allow you to trigger the flash using your on-board pop-up flash or Remote Commander. If triggering as a dumb slave then use 1/64th power from the pop-up, if triggering with TTL then just use the Remote Commander with an R-series flash on the bracket. Triggering optically like this will NOT require a safe sync.
     
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  8. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    Or you could build your own "SAFE SYNC" at a very low cost. i've built many and they work very well. Reduces high trigger voltage to low (<6VDC) voltage.

    http://olympus.dementix.org/Hardware/PDFs/FlashHighVoltTrig.pdf
     
  9. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    I agree with Ned that if you want to go super-cheap, forget TTL for a while and get a manual flash. You could get a generic bounce/tilt/swivel from Adorama for about 35 bucks if I remember correctly. Cheaper if you troll eBay.

    Then read this blog: http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/

    I shelled out the bucks for a Metz 50 AF-1 and I don't regret it at all, but I'm finding that I spend about half my time in manual mode anyway as I experiment with different techniques.
     
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  10. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
  11. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
  12. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Bookmarked. ;) Thanks.
     
  13. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Is zoom an important feature in a flash unit?
     
  14. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I'm using Vivitar 285HV and Nikon SB-80DX flashes in manual mode very effectively. The Nikon in particular is very fast to cycle using Sanyo Eneloop batteries. Both are very powerful, but the Nikon is certainly the more advanced of the two having electronic controls, tilt, and swivel.
     
  15. icy_se7en

    icy_se7en Mu-43 Regular

    70
    Apr 17, 2011
    Yongnuo flashes can be triggered from multiple wireless triggers but since Yongnuo don't make a wireless trigger for Panasonic camera's I had to modify one made for Canon camera's to work with my G1, click my name and go through my posts to see the mod :)
     
  16. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot Mu-43 Regular

    27
    Nov 28, 2011
    Yes. The zoom range matches the focal length, which with the 4/3 system, you have to double the focal length on the lens to equal the zoom on the flash.

    If you're shooting with a lens that's 24mm, which has a 48mm field of view, you'll need your flash with it's setting closest to 48mm. What happens if say you're using that 24mm lens and your flash zoom is at 100, the beam coverage won't fill the entire frame if the flash is on camera or close to the lens axis.

    Personally, I like OCF the best.
    Strobist: Lighting 101
     
  17. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    424
    Dec 13, 2010
    Chicago
    Do you know if my EPL1 would work with the FL36R's autofocus assist lamp?
     
  18. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    Yes it can, refer to pages 56 & 103 of your E-PL1 owners manual.