Olympus FL36 Performance

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by Boatman, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. I have an Olympus FL36 that I use with my Panasonic GH2 camera. I often hear that this flash is under powered and has horrible recycle times due to its puny two AA batteries. I’d like to say that this is not true if you know how to use the flash. The trick with this flash is to use it in AUTO mode, not TTL AUTO. With TTL AUTO, all the bad things people claim about the unit are true. With AUTO, though, it is a different deal.

    Last night I shot a party. Shooting distances were admittedly short, which saves power, but I was using a Peter Gregg bounce card, so some additional power was needed. The recycle time was negligible. I was essentially shooting burst mode at times with up to five shots and never getting a missed flash. By the end of the night I had shot 199 images and had three shots where the flash failed to fire or failed to get the exposure right – I think that’s pretty darn good. Also, after 199 shots the two Maha Immediaon AA batteries still showed to be in pretty good shape when I tested them before recharging them. I think they could have gone on for another 100 shots.

    The key is in using the AUTO mode, not TTL AUTO. TTL AUTO has a pre-flash that uses a lot of the charge and each flash essentially depletes the capacitor. AUTO mode does not use a pre-flash and therefore uses less of the capacitor’s energy. The difference is dramatic. The AUTO mode probably does not expose as precisely as AUTO TTL, but it is very good and handles all but the most radical situations very well.

    For using AUTO mode, put your camera in manual or aperture priority mode. I raised my ISO to 640 as the venue I was shooting was quite dark. In brighter venues I typically use 320 for flash photography.

    If your flash has both AUTO and TTL AUTO, check this out. AUTO mode will get you a lot more flash power, even from allegedly underpowered strobes.
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  2. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Not to burst your bubble on this, but while changing the mode from TTL AUTO to just AUTO may eliminate the pre-flash my guess is the huge increase in battery life was more to to do with your almost footnote statement that you shot at ISO 640 rather than your normal 320. THAT is what likely saved you all that battery life.

    While not in TTL mode, when you mate the FL-36 to a 4/3rds or micro-4/3rds camera, they still communicate with each other and that includes aperture and ISO which the flash then uses to determine what light feedback it needs to see in Auto mode before cutting off the flash. If you were firing a full stop higher in ISO this time, then you would need that much LESS flash output to light your scene. My guess is that decrease in flash duration was much more a factor than the elimination of the much weaker pre-flash you get in TTL mode.
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