Mini Review: Vivitar DF-183 Flash on Olympus E-P1

bigfoot

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Feb 19, 2011
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Here's a quick mini review of the Vivitar DF-183 Flash (for Olympus):

After trying the Olympus FL-14 and the Nissin di466, I thought I'd give this Vivitar model a try. I wanted something relatively lightweight, easy to travel with, and with a price that wouldn't break the bank. My primary usage for flash is for fill-in outdoors and occasional family photos indoors.

The build quality is not exactly top-notch, but I didn't expect that for the price (~$44 on Amazon). The only really questionable construction is the locking mechanism for securing the flash mount to the hot shoe. It locks via a small push-button with tiny teeth on the side. With enough use I can see those teeth wearing down and no longer being secure. Time will tell.

The front of the flash features an AF-assist lamp (useless on the E-P1), while the back panel has a "Test / Ready" button & light, On/Off switch, and an "Auto" indicator light.You can control the flash modes and flash exposure compensation via the on-board E-P1 control menu. The weight of the flash with two Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries installed is 6.30 oz. (179 g). It handles easily on the camera and even features an adjustable flash head for bounce capability.

View attachment 158793

View attachment 158794
 

bigfoot

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Feb 19, 2011
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Slower recycle time (2xAA) but much easier to handle on the camera than the di466, which felt like a boat anchor. Also not quite as much power as the di466, but for basic limited flash work that's okay by me.
 

PeterB666

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I didn't even know Vivitar was making dedicated flash for the Olympus digital cameras. Is the auto mode TTL auto? For $44 not too much to complain about. The bounce head with the fixed sides is unusual and means you cannot store the flash flat but it is quite small anyway.

I have the Olympus FL-14 and Nissin Di466 Four Thirds. While it costs about twice as much as the Vivitar, for me it is money money well spent. I am also able to use the optical slave mode with other brands of camera, e.g. my Nikon. In fact, I liked the Nissin Di466 Four Thirds so much, I bought the Nissin Di622 Mk II for my Nikon. Oh, and I can use the Di622 as an optical slave with the Olympus too.
 

bigfoot

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Feb 19, 2011
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TTL seems to work okay. I've noticed the same thing others have mentioned; the flash exposure seems to be hit-or-miss sometimes with the E-P1. I had the same problems with the FL-14 and di466 during the brief time I had those flashes.

The following photo was taken with the DF-183 set to "fill" flash and 0.0 flash exposure compensation. Camera was set to ISO 1600 and center-weighted metering (seems to work better with the dark fur).

View attachment 158852
 

bigfoot

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Feb 19, 2011
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* Here's a quick copy-and-paste of some more info I posted over on the E-P1 forums:

Yes, reminds me of the Nikon SB-400 or Canon 270EX flash units. Small footprint with the ability to do vertical bounce. Although, the Vivitar's build quality doesn't feel as good as those two flashes. So far I have been unable to get the "Auto" indicator light on the back of the DF-183 to illuminate. But, you are still able to access all the modes and flash compensation through the E-P1's menu system.

Getting a flash shot just right with the E-P1 definitely takes a little more work than with my previous cameras. In some cases you have to crank up the flash compensation, ISO, or use center-weighted metering to get the shot. But once you play with the settings it starts to look pretty darn good.
 
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