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How many M43 users use external flash on hotshoe? What modifiers?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by AlanU, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2012
    The reason for my question is that the small form factor we seek soon becomes quite bulky.

    My intention of purchasing my Oly em-5 was strictly to shoot available light. I've recently become tempted in purchasing an external flash. My only qualm is that it suddenly throws off the balance of the camera. Its already not desirable in weight distribution as I throw on my 14-140 mk1 zoom on the oly. On the gh3 the balance is marginally better.

    I am not a master of light but I have full understanding of bouncing flash in any environment and have shot many events for years using the joe demb flipit giving dynamic light. If I add my spinlight 360 or Joe demb flipit (old version and newer plexyglass base style) the external flash setup is ridiculous on a small em-5.

    Are most of you guys/gals available light shooters? The em-5 small flash they provided in the kit is utterly useless for me since that simple flash is based on max flash sync of aprox 1/250. Thats now that great if you want to balance the flash for fill in certain light conditions.

    The reason I purchased the gh3 is for my wife so that she can have an onboard popup flash for documenting my kids at school functions. The gh3 is used as a glorified camcorder and point and shoot. I use it more for documenting casual events for friends and work functions.

    With my dslr gear I've used basically speedlights (5 speedlights ranging from canon 580 exii, 600 exrt and 430exii) and use them with pocket wizard flex for quick nasty studio session or 5 paul c buff Einsteins. On run gun events I shoot with a spinlight 360 and joe demb flipits. Size camera body is comfortable and more balanced.

    Do m43 hobbyists go crazy with external flash? I've usually seen natural/available light only...usually anyways.

    Just curious......... your thoughts? I just trying to determine how far I want to grow my m43 platform.
  2. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    I'm a hobbyist.

    Strictly available light, unless I need the pop-up flash for fill in case of backlighting, or I need a little bit of light for high magnification hand-held macro shots. I've occasionally thought about getting an off-camera flash with a flash cord, but I don't think I'd ever use it enough to justify it.
  3. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    For portraits and stuff:
    I use a Sunpak 422Ds with two TR-PAK batteries that were modified to take newer RC car battery cells for power. If I need more power I add a 622Pro (wish I had a bare bulb head). Two umbrellas (silver and shoot through), stands, and cactus triggers from my old "strobist" kit from mpex.com.

    For regular shooting I choose:
    * single Sunpak 422D on a hotshoe cord and its zoom head. If I need a lot of pops, I will also carry one of the TR-PAKs.
    * single FL600R or FL300R wireless in hand. Its nice that our cameras a light in this case since I need to steady it with a single hand.
    * If I plan on 100-300mm, I will use the Sunpak 422D with a Better-Beamer to extend its range with a TR-PAK since most of the time it will be firing at full power.
    * Also use a couple Lumiquest Softbounce and mini-softbox when necessary.

    I like the 422Ds because
    * enough power for typical use.
    * small enough
    * takes external battery power
    * swivel and tilt head
    * optional zoom head.
    * "D" version has a low trigger voltage
    * Manual flash power control
    * Auto-thryster capable.
    * Replaceable lower module which makes replacing broken shoes a breeze.
    * Off camera lower module that allows the flash to be off camera while keeping the Thryster sensor over the camera.
    * Reliable; I've had an Olympus FL600R and a Canon 550EX both fail on me... Not a single 422D has yet to fail me (I have 5 available).
    * Can be found very cheap on Ebay.
  4. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nope. Retain the compactness and go off camera with wireless flashes! Pop up flash is for remote command of off camera flash (for me).
  5. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oh btw... FL300R get a bad rap at at times but I find them extremely useful. When I'm out the door with very little space, its usually an E-PL1 + 14-42ez + FL300R in my pocket. When used wirelessly, you can very creative with it. I even carry the shoe stand in case I set it down on a surface.
  6. stargate

    stargate Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 14, 2013
    Pany GX1 and 2 old external flashguns without TTL but with a wide selection of auto thyristor apertures. It is true that a big flashgun on a small camera is not comfortable. When I do it I support the flash so as not to strain the hotshoe. But this is very rare. I usually fire it via a cheap wireless transmitter and the flash sits either on a side bracket or on top of a monopod. When I also want to use my external EVF things get more interesting :)  Then I attach a light sensor in front of the built-in flash which in turn triggers the wireless remote which then triggers the external flashgun. Not a nice looking (or compact) contraption but it works. Untill I get my GX7 that is.
  7. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Absolutely! I carry two in the bag always 'cause they are so handy. Sure the FL300R is low power but when used properly they do get the job done. Fun to play with gel filters to modify the color.


  8. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I've not used any of my OCF on the m43 gear I have professionally. My Nikon kit is still front and center for that kind of work.

    However, I use all manual setup 99% of the time so, my equipment and techniques all would be the same.

    I have Alien Bees and an assortment of Nikon SBs (22/26/28/600). I use Radio Popper JrX Studio triggers, which when used with an "RPCube" attachment allow remote control of the power of all those units from the transmitter.

    I've got Lumiquest softboxes, shoot through umbrellas, umbrella boxes and a giant 7 foot softlighter knock off - all the regular stands and C-Stands that one might need to work comfortably.
    I do not have the expense of a brick and mortar studio, so all my items I get must be travel friendly.

    Even with my Nikon gear....if I can shoot available light, I will. Why complicate a shoot by introducing lights when you don't need them. Some people light the hell out of everything, and it is a common occurrence that new "strobists" get themselves into.

    The last wedding I shot - the ceremony was available light(no flash allowed, even if I wanted to/needed to use it) and the reception hall was shot with 2 bounced flashes, to illuminate the softly lit venue.

    I have a Standbagger grab and go bag that I have 2 light stands, 2 umbrella adapters, 2 umbrellas, 2 SB flashes and radio triggers. It is the same size if not smaller than one of those bagged up folding chairs that are ever so popular.

    It took quite a few years for me to vet out my lighting kit. It took the longest time for me to figure out what light mods I really wanted and use the most. When I do use light mods on the flashes, it is usually a softbox of some kind, bounced flash or grids.
  9. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    I use a Panasonic DMW-FL360L on my GX7 and GH3 with a Rogue FlashBender. This set up is also used off camera via remote control.
  10. Neftun

    Neftun Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 15, 2012
    Patrick Kristiansen
    Wow, high level of lighting-expertise on this thread, seemingly.

    Well, I use occasionaly a humble nissin i40 either on or off camera with my em1 or epm1. Size is so small it balances nicely on em1, good enough on epm1. Not great power I guess, but works a charm set to ttl and bounced to ceiling or whatever.

    I see i have alot to learn on the topic at hand, but this works for me:) 

    Patrick K
  11. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    The FL-14 can be a very useful flash on small cameras, for fill-in light and the like.
  12. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    It depends. If it is needed I can put up with the flash on my GX7 for however long it takes. If available light is good, I will always use that as it just looks better.
  13. I'm an amateur, shooting available light where I can. There are two main scenarios where I use flash:

    1) I happen to be somewhere, and need to take a portrait (typically for family), but the available light sucks. I probably don't have access to the rest of my gear, and there's not really time to set up or experiment much. Here, I use the smallest flash with decent power, tilt, swivel, FP, and TTL that I could find, the Nission i40. It's typically mounted on-camera bare (for outdoor fill), or with the Sto-Fen style diffuser that comes with it.

    2) A planned shoot, macro, etc, where I am in control of the lighting. For this I go full manual, off-camera, with YN560-TX and YN560-III, with light stands, modifiers, etc.

    The i40 is about the largest/heaviest I'd want to go with my E-M5 (no grip), and the YN560-III definitely feels uncomfortable on the hot shoe.
  14. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    I keep a FL-LM2 and a FL600r or FL50r with me all the time and use multiple FL-50rs when needed. I've found the Olympus flash system works better than I expected and have no issues with using the FL-600r or FL-50r in an Apollo softbox.

    I also use a Quantum D10W (for Olympus) Wireless QTTL Adapter with a Qflash on a flash bracket. Works great, even though bulky it stills weighs much less than using Canon or Nikon setups. When (???) Quantum Instruments comes out with the CoPilot for Panasonic (Olympus) I might forgo my Nikon equipment. Controlling the remote's light output from the camera is a major benefit.

    Since I started shooting with 4/3s in 2007 I've been waiting for someone to offer a radio wireless system that offers control of the remotes from the camera. It doesn't even have to be TTL.

    For using other systems I have Plus IIIs.
  15. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    The relatively new Godox TT850 can be remotely controlled with an on camera transmitter and dedicated receiver. The transmitter can control the power of up to 16 groups.

    It runs on a lithium ion battery rated at 600 full power flashes with a guide number of about 180 in feet at ISO 100 at the 105mm setting.

    It's also available branded Neewer. I just picked up a Neewer branded unit with a transmitter/receiver set for about $145 at Amazon.

    It looks like a well made piece of equipment. I'll be using it tomorrow on a bracket with a diffuser at a wedding. When I get a chance I'll report back on how it works out.

  16. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2012
    Great dynamic crowd here. I'm amazed how many people dont take advantage of using flash for the subject while exposing for ambient.

    Nice crew here utilizing tools :) 
  17. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    I didn't buy into µ4/3 for the small form factor, though it helped that it would be smaller in many situations. While a lot of casual users I'm sure did come mainly for size, I suspect most of the forum-type folks are less bothered by a little bulk and go with a "big as it needs to be" philosophy. There's always a time where you need a flash... ambient light just doesn't cover all the situations. I've yet to attend the indoor wedding reception where I thought "why don't I give this a swing without a flash."

    I use the Nissin Di466 which is larger than the i40, but I've never found it bulky or like something that interferes with shooting. I imagine that the Nissin i40 would feel almost invisible to me.
  18. Zee

    Zee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I don't like using flashes on the hotshoe - I do like using them off camera, though. I have an old Canon 580EX that I plan to use with my E-M1 once my kickstarter flashcube things turn up, hopefully they'll work kinda as claimed...

    Also look at getting one of those Nissin i40's at some stage...

  19. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    As a photographer, I use everything that I need to get the required shots.
    • Like Like x 2
  20. estarkey7

    estarkey7 Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 27, 2014
    Good question @AlanU, and I am having the same issue. When I'm shooting run and gun, I have always depended on wireless triggers to speedlights. I have alien bees for studio work, but I prefer bounce flash for events. Just did an event today, my first since selling all my Canon kit. All I can say is, I'm not happy. I'm surely not happy!

    The shoot want horrible, but not to my standards.
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