Olympus E-M1 off-camera Flash+Transceiver, HSS

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Milko, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. Milko

    Milko Mu-43 Regular

    Hello again,
    Could you guys help me out with my flash dilemma, please?

    I need two Flash guns, mainly for outdoor off-camera use (E-M1)

    - TTL isn't priority
    - Wrieless/radio connection instead of optical(line of sight)
    - Full manual control preferably including zoom
    - Anything above Gn40 goes
    - HSS/HSS Sympathy is important as well
    - Portability, if possible there should be one controller/transceiver that talks directly to the flashes

    Here's what I came up with so far:

    Option A:
    1 x Yongnuo YN560-TX
    2 x Yongnuo YN560 III

    Pros: only 3 units, cheap, full manual wireless control
    Cons: bulk, no HSS (up to 1/500 if I'm not mistaken)

    Option B
    1 x Cactus V6
    2 x Yongnuo YN-568EX II (This could be Metz here, but it's more expensive)

    Pros: only 3 units, HSS Sympathy (I don't understand that completely), slimmer controller
    Cons: more expensive, smaller display, no zoom control

    Option C
    1 x Cactus V6
    2 x Cactus RF60

    Pros: only 3 units, HSS Sympathy, slimmer controller, full manual control
    Cons: even more expensive, smaller display

    Could you please help me understand the HSS Sympathy of the V6?
    How fast could the YN560-TX+YN560 III go?
    Does YN560-TX work with YN-568EX II without additional receivers, it should, the Cactus does, right?
    What other flashes/controllers should I consider?

    Also, feel free to correct me if I've made a mistake in the above mess.


    I just discovered the Lighting Forum, could someone move the thread please, I'm sorry.
  2. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    Real Name:
    rob collins
    While the Yongnuo 568EX and the Cactus RF60 both have HSS and TTL, these functions dont work with M43 cameras. In fact there are no radio based wireless HSS/TTL flash options available for M43

    This leaves you with the 'manual' 560s and 560TX which are excellent and incredibly cheap.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Real Name:
    For the OP questions - sorry I can't help. But the Cactus V6 and RF60 looks worthwhile to investigate.

    It appears that the Cactus V6 and RF60 does now work with m4/3 to include:
    - Metz 44AF-1, 52AF-1, 58AF-2;
    - Olympus FL-36R, FL-50R;
    - Panasonic FL360, FL500;

    And in some form of manipulation provides for TTL and HHS. Not sure how this works, they call it TTL pass through, and it looks for HSS you have to set the RF60 with a delay to work.

    Cactus has a note that the FL-600R, FL-300R; FL-580L and FL-360L will not be supported due to limitations of the flashes hardware design.

    After reviewing some videos this seems very promising. Here is a video of Matt Granger using a Nikon flash, a flash for Canon, and the RF60 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UReOfFadZ44
  4. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    I would be very surprised if Option B would work as you want. Cactus or YN, pick one. That long list of "compatible" flashes on the Cactus list is based on optical triggering, not radio.

    Option A is limited by your sync speed.

    Frankly, if you really, really need wireless HSS out side, 43 is the wrong camera system.

    There is a lot of info on the Cactus system here http://brianhurseyphotography.com/blog/
  5. Milko

    Milko Mu-43 Regular

    Thanks for the pointers!

    Well, I need flash guns, but it's just making the most out of the system, if some kind of HSS works - even better.
    I do a reasonable amount of mountain biking and I can imagine some nice shots which wouldn't be possible without HSS,
    but I'm not a full time pro sport photographer and I'd like to ride as well, which I imagine is no fun with DSLR gear.
    The EM-1 is as big as a spare inner tube :)

    Could you please explain where does the limitation come from, the HSS transceiver?

    Okay, if only optical triggering is an option, and I go for YN-568EX II, I need full TTL HSS flash on camera to trigger the YN-568EX IIs?
    How reliable is that? What flash options are there? Metz 52 AF-1 seems like a good option?

    If that works, in TTL master is it possible to use only the pre-flash, but not the actual flash of the unit, trigger only?

    And one last question Metz 52 AF-1 - Click for MFT Specs, what is the difference between master and controller?

    I think that might be it for now, I hope this is useful for other newbies around.
  6. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    Funny, shooting on the MTB is my big issue too. I use a Metz when I need HSS.

    HSS is complex. It requires the flash to fire multiple times to cover the image as the slit shutter crosses the sensor. There are some great youtubes on how HSS works, so I won't cover it here. The thing to know is that off camera HSS is only possible with Oly/Pany or Metz flashes and they will be optically trigger by either the on board flash or another flash on the camera. I'm ignoring Cactus until somebody says they have done it with a M43 camera.

    Optical requires line of sight and can be unreliable in bright sun. I can't speak from experience.

    OK, I lied about YN - they will not fire in HSS mode on camera, but in full power (only) they have a long burn time so they are on through the full shutter cycle. This means that if you use the on board flash (or a Pany/Oly/Metz mounted on the camera) to trigger the YN, you can be above sync speed, but you are still limited to opitcal triggering. The YN has to be in S2 mode, IIRC.

    Metz - master vs controller is just a question of what role it is playing - is it on camera firing to trigger others or is it being triggered.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. inkista

    inkista Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 13, 2012
    San Diego, CA
    This won't work. YN-568EXIIs only do TTL/HSS work on Canon cameras. If you buy one and put it on your E-M1, all you get is a more expensive manual-only flash.

    For HSS on micro four-thirds? Olympus, Panasonic, Metz, and Nissin are pretty much it, iirc. Forget Yongnuo if you want anything other than a manual-only flash for mft.

    If you're using the Olympus/Panasonic "RC" system (optical-based TTL/HSS-capable), yes. The flash will actually fire during the main burst, but at a power level low enough that, unless you're shooting at macro distances, won't register in the image. It has to fire to tell the remote flashes to fire.

    I don't think there is one.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. atnbirdie

    atnbirdie Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 13, 2013
    The TTL pass through is just for a flash unit mounted on a Cactus v6 on the camera. So the TTL passes through the V6 to the flash to give TTL capability. As robbie36 said, no wireless TTL capability.

    That said, the V6 works wonderfully with flashes in manual mode. It now enables you to remotely control the power setting of your flashes from the camera. While you can do this with Olympus compatible flashes now, the V6 enables you to roll other brand flashes into the mix too. For example I have a couple of Metz AF-58-2 units, a Cactus RF60, and an old Sunpak 433D. So instead of just having 2 flashes (the Oly compatible Metzs) I have 4 flashes I can fire with the V6 system and 3 of them (excl the 433D) I can remotely adjust the power levels. Very powerful and affordable system. Another advantage of the V6 vs using the Oly wireless system with my Metz units is the radio control of the V6. When I use my Oly wireless system, it doesn't fire a flash in my soft box with a grid in place as the light can't get in at high enough intensity to fire the unit. No such problem using the V6 system instead.
  9. inkista

    inkista Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 13, 2012
    San Diego, CA
    OK, to understand how HSS works, you need to understand about focal plane shutter curtains. Most digital interchangeable lens cameras use a focal plane shutter with curtains. The shutter speed of the exposure is determined by the gap between the curtains. The larger the gap, the longer the shutter speed. At a certain shutter speed (your maximum sync speed), this gap becomes smaller than your sensor height, and if you use a flash--because the speed of the flash burst is much faster than this shutter speed--you'll get black bars at the top and/or bottom of the frame, because one or both curtains will be cover part of the sensor.

    HSS requires precisely timed pulses from the flash so that as the curtain gap travels across the sensor, each pulse will illuminate part of the frame, so the whole frame is covered by even flash illumination. This typically requires much more energy than a normal flash burst, and sucks up about two stops of light from the flash, so it's a game of diminishing returns to use HSS, and why a lot of folks will tell you to freeze action with the flash burst, and just use a longer shutter speed, if the ambient light allows. It's typically not fast action that requires HSS, but trying to use a shallow DoF with fill flash in brighter light. (See also: Neilvn's tutorial on HSS).

    This timing requires camera/flash communication.

    This communication is going to take place in a brand-proprietary manner across the non-sync signals on the flash hotshoe foot. Triggers like the YN-560-TX/RF-603 really only communicate two signals: sync and wake-up. All the other signals simply aren't used, so they can't do HSS.

    Cactus V6's "HSS Sympathy" mode isn't actually doing the communication, but is merely echoing the pulse signals from a flash that IS doing the HSS communication. So you either need an HSS-capable flash on the hotshoe, or an HSS-capable radio trigger. And the HSS it speaks has to be the same HSS that the camera speaks. All the different brands use incompatible signalling protocols--nobody uses the same pin the same way for the same function. In fact, Canon/Nikon/Pentax still do analog signaling, while MFT uses purely digital signaling.

    There is one other way to use a faster-than-sync-speed with a manual flash that doesn't require pulsing, and this is "tail sync" (aka YN's supersync, PW's hypersync, etc. etc.), where the flash, typically at full-power, is fired a smidge early, so that the main energy spike of the flash burst is over when the shutter opens, and the more even "tail" of the flash burst is used to illuminate the scene as the slit in the curtains travels across the sensor. This, however, sucks up even more power than HSS, and has a very narrow window of opportunity between the shutter speed, the flash pulse duration, and the amount of power the flash can put out.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    Inkista, have you used the Cactus v6 to get off camera HSS? If so, which flashes are you using? And just to confirm that's still optical triggering, right? If it is optical, what does having the Cactus in the equation get you that the camera mounted flash doesn't do?
  11. Milko

    Milko Mu-43 Regular

    Oh wow, thanks! I wasn't clear on the 'Sympathy' bit, but the write up does clarify some other things as well!

    It would have been great if while echoing the signal the V6 could convert it to radio signals and trigger the RF60
    ...Cactus would have ruled over the world...but no.

    So, optical triggering it is then.

    Metz 52 AF-1 vs Cactus RF60 vs Nissin i40

    I was going to pull the trigger(hehe) on the Metz, but touch-screen, really Metz, really?
    ThomD, what's your take on the Metz especially from touch-screen point of view?

    How does the i40 compare to the rest, and the RF60?
    Has anyone played with more than one i40 yet?

    (there are reviews around but nothing m4/3 specific that I could find)
  12. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    The touch screen isn't bad. It is low resolution and only has a couple of touch points on the screen. I'm guessing it is resistive, not capacitive - old school touch screen.

    The font is big and it is back lit, so I find the menu much easier to use than the original Metz tiny LCD display font and the multi-button press mysteries.. OTOH, the YN menus and more buttons are even easier to use.
  13. inkista

    inkista Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 13, 2012
    San Diego, CA
    Nope, never even seen the Cactus gear in real life. It's just that I'm a professional technical writer with an EE/CS degree, and I'm really REALLY good at interpreting specs and reviews. :D

    No. The Cactus V6 triggers are RF/radio.

    Well, it's off-camera. It's radio-based, so no line-of-sight requirements and much better range. And in the case of the Cactus V6s, you can mix'n'match gear from different systems (mostly Canon, Nikon, and Pentax, but some Oly/Pana gear is now included). The V6s don't do TTL communication (aside from passing through TTL signals to a flash mounted on top of the on-camera transmitter unit). But they do allow for power control and their variant of HSS if you are using TTL-capable flashes in one of those systems--and the system of the flash doesn't have to match the camera's system (e.g., a Canon TTL flash with a Pentax camera).

    The way they do power control is mostly what is known as "the quench pin hack". Power control on a flash is actually a misnomer. What's actually being controlled is the duration of the flash burst. The longer the burst, the more power it has, but the longer it takes the flash capacitor to recharge from the batteries, because more electricity was used. The length of the burst (i.e., the power control) is often done with the use of a "quench" signal (i.e., the signal on that pin tells the flash when to turn off). If you can find this signal on a flash, you can then manipulate the power output by controlling that signal. Cactus figured out which signal it is on the Nikon, Canon, and Pentax hotshoes. I believe it's a different pin, and in the case of Nikon/Canon it's a different direction (i.e., one uses hi->lo, while the other uses lo-> hi voltage changes), and that's what the "profiles" are about: for each brand, that signal is this pin in this direction.

    However, for MFT, that signal isn't a simple voltage change on a single pin, because MFT uses a digital signalling protocol. It's probably a numeric code blipped out over multiple pins simultaneously, so Cactus worked really hard at sussing it out and reverse engineering it--but you'll note that so far they've only got it sussed for the FL-36R and the FL-50R--not the FL-600R. So they may not have it completely sussed. And this is also why they still haven't gotten the Fuji X protocol into their system.

    But with the Cactus V6, if, say, you had a bunch of Canon/Nikon/Pentax TTL-capable flashes, you could use them on MFT with remote power control.

    Suggest you take a look at the Flash Havoc writeup on the V6 triggers if you want more information:
    • Like Like x 1
  14. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012
    Sunshine Coast, Qld Australia
    Real Name:
    The YN560III's triggered with the YN560TX will sync at 1/320 on the EM1 (but must be in RF603 mode).
    You can squeak 1/400 out of it with a light shadow at the top. Manageable if you compose for it.
  15. Milko

    Milko Mu-43 Regular

    Oh, I take back my snappy comment then, I saw some video reviews and got the impression that it was touch-touch.
    So you can actually operate it with gloves on? In that case I would go for the Metz.

    By the way, how does the bundled flash play with the Metz? Can I get away with two units triggered by the bundled flash?

    Hey, how cool would it be if Olympus open-sources their flash protocols, so that third parties don't have to reverse engineer them.

    Wait, does that mean that they pass on the HSS signals via radio as well? I guess no, since they don't pass full TTL only power control,
    which is prerequisite for HSS , right?

    RamblinR, thanks, I saw guys managed to get away with that, I'm just thinking if I spend £160 for the 2x560III+560TX,
    might as well go all-in and get the HSS enabled deal.
  16. inkista

    inkista Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 13, 2012
    San Diego, CA
    No, TTL isn't a prerequisite. Full communication of all the pins/contacts on the hotshoe/flash feet is what's needed; and TTL is typically a good indicator of whether or not that's happening. :) As I said in an earlier post, the "Sympathy HSS" mode merely uses the flash signals sent from some HSS-savvy gear (e.g., an FL600-R on top of a Cactus V6 in the camera hotshoe) to the remote flashes. The Cactus V6 triggers still need HSS-capable gear to do the HSS--it can't do the HSS unaided all on its own.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Milko

    Milko Mu-43 Regular

    So, thanks again for everyone's comments!
    I've purchased 2xMetz 52's, amazing flashguns and quite compact compared to RF60 for example.

    Unfortunately, I have to part with them and you could find them in the Buy/Salle forum.

    Here's what I got from pretty much the only time I've used them, I was trying to figure out the whole flash thing (and still am),
    so prepare to be not blown away, haha:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]