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Olympus Pen Mini PM-1 and flash

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Stephen, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. Stephen

    Stephen Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Jan 2, 2013
    Have Olympus badly blundered on the PM-1 with flash, as I cannot see any way of using the electronic viewfinder with flash, as the hot shoe, which appears to be the only flash connection, is occupied when the ELV viewfinder is in use.

    Obviously the back screen can be used, but I have just spent more on the viewfinder than the camera body only to find no flash can be used with it attached, an incredible blunder.

    Are there any known workarounds to this very serious problem? The camera remote fires on the switch lead via the port, so could it share the firing with the remote firing flash units, or external sensors?

    This is a very serious issue, as the camera may have to be returned to Olympus, and another make or model sourced that can fire a flash gun!

    Stephen.
     
  2. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Dan
    I believe that I read in a review of the E-PM1 on DPReview that you can use the viewfinder or a flash, but not both at the same time.
     
  3. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Dan
    Yep, that's what I thought.

    The following is from the DP Review.


    The PEN Mini comes with a clip-in flash, just like its near-twin the E-PL3. It's a compact unit that slides onto the hot shoe and draws its power from the accessory port.

    The benefit is a smaller camera body when you're not using flash, but the down-side is that you can't use flash alongside any other accessory, such as an EVF or the PENPal Bluetooth unit.
     
  4. atmo

    atmo Mu-43 Regular

    110
    Jan 11, 2013
    Ireland.
    You're using a €150 camera for studio work and are surprised that it lacks features?
     
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The OM-D E-M5 or Pen E-P3 would be your best choices (depending on your choice of size and style), with the old E-PL2 Pen Lite being the next step down, if you want to use EVF and flash at the same time. The E-M5 is your best choice, allowing a completely free hotshoe to mount any kind of trigger or direct on-camera mount. The other two options will require the use of optical triggering of off-camera flash in order to be used alongside an EVF (if you want to be mobile with on-camera flash, just use a flash bracket).

    Personally, I've learned to use one or the other and am very happy that way. In the studio I want to free myself from the eye-level finder, and find the LCD use to be extremely liberating. When I want to use the EVF I find myself shooting without flash, such as shooting outdoors or shooting action (ie, like sports). I've actually found little use for requiring both at the same time, though I of course thought for sure I would need that before I tried it for myself and simply changed my style to suit.

    If you still think you do need it however, there are still plenty of other options to choose from. The Mini is not one of them. Besides the Olympus options I mentioned, there are also Panasonic options as well such as the GH3, GH2, G3, G5, or GX1. Judging from your choice of a Pen Mini however, I would guess the most appropriate Panasonic alternative would be the GX1, which will allow you to work in the same way as the E-P3 Pen or E-PL2 Pen Lite with removable viewfinder and small body. The Pens however, will allow you to remotely control flash guns with TTL via the Remote Commander. The GX1 does not have that option and will only allow you to trigger flash guns as dumb slaves.

    Just be glad you didn't buy a Panasonic GF-3. You would lose all option of hotshoe flash and EVF altogether, nevermind choosing between one or the other.
     
  6. Stephen

    Stephen Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Jan 2, 2013
    It is most certainly not studio, or pro-work with the Olympus PM-1 camera, simply that I have never come across any digital reflex type that cannot use any flash with the ELV viewfinder in use, and the main reason for the camera choice is simple, lower cost. My nine year old 4900 Fuji can use the ELV and fire external flash, no problems.

    It looks like the only option with the ELV in use is to set the camera to bulb and fire the ring flash manually. The lenses are set at small apertures, and low ISO, where ambient light will not be recorded much.

    Most of the intended shots are close ups of flowers and cacti, where lamps are not used due to heat. Where you can get behind the main screen and use the magnifier function, the Olympus is excellent. The model with the flip up screen is better, but more costly. lt is all solved with the OM-D, but at a massive increase in cost.
    Stephen.
     
  7. atmo

    atmo Mu-43 Regular

    110
    Jan 11, 2013
    Ireland.
    Well I'm sad that I can't use the SEMA-1 microphone adaptor and an EVF at the same time, but it was something I was happy to go without for the price I paid for the Pen Mini. I don't understand your indignation when it is something that is plainly obvious from a cursory look at the camera: no flash, no viewfinder, one hotshoe.

    Perhaps you could get an LED ring-light instead? They are meant to be good for the macro style photos you describe, and are mounted on the lens rather than the camera.

    Edit: an example http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0032LSHE0/ can't attest to its quality.
     
  8. Stephen

    Stephen Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Jan 2, 2013
    Found a possible cure, the port is independent of the hot shoe and there is a maker of the port plug with a lead for the viewfinder to be removed off camera and still leave the hot shoe exposed. It only fires the flash, no TTL connection for Olympus's own flash, but seems to solve the problem that Olympus designed into the camera.
     
  9. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Dan
    Stephen, just some friendly advice. In the future, if a certain feature is so important to you, it would be wise to ensure that the product you are buying has it. I am honestly surprised by your so angry reaction to the lack of a feature that Olympus chose to leave out. It is really not a flaw or problem, it was a design choice and was not hidden in any way.

    I am glad you found a work around and I hope it works for you, but I think the problem was more with your lack of research than with the camera itself. All cameras are compromises of one sore or another and the E-PM1 sacrifices some features for the sake of size. Perhaps the E-PM1 is not the best camera for you and you should return or sell it now and find a more suitable replacement so you can better enjoy your hobby.

    Good luck to you in whatever you decide.
     
  10. Stephen

    Stephen Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Jan 2, 2013
    Well, I sold cameras for many years in specialist shops, and did pro camera work for 30 years, and the camera was expected to the same as any standard camera. The lack of flash in the ELV mode is odd, it is not mentioned in basic sales information from Olympus, only in independent reviews.
     
  11. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    This is not uncommon at all on the smaller mirrorless ILCs. Most come without an eye level VF and only have a single accessory attachment point, usually the hotshoe with an extra port right behind. If folks seem surprised at your reaction, it's because most of the current class of MILCs work like this. Just go look through the specs on a review site like DPR.
     
  12. Stephen

    Stephen Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Jan 2, 2013
    Worked out a very simple complete solution, the remote lead can be modified to take a second button to fire the flash guns a fraction after the shutter is fired, as soon as shutter is open. I'll fit a small microswitch to the remote extension lead, (independent make from Ebay, cheap to modify and play about with).

    Same principle used to be used as a variable flash synchroniser with the old style push extension releases.

    Dependant on layout of the duel switch it should be possible to use say 1/15th second or 1/30 with fully synced flash. Higher sync would be difficult to get accurate enough.

    Modifying the port proved impossible, the plugs are Olympus's own design, and not available, it would need the small flash gutted to obtain them, and the wiring is far more complex than seems at first glance, and the firmware recognises the state of the port, making it difficult to use it for two items at once.

    Stephen.
     
  13. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Dan
    Glad you were able to solve your problem.
     
  14. Stephen

    Stephen Mu-43 Regular

    28
    Jan 2, 2013
    A bit more sophisticated, modify the switch to input a microprocessor that will generate the signal for the remote firing and precision sync for the flash. The inside of the remote control switch is empty, and can take a battery and micro controller, with sync buffer circuit and socket on the side.
    In the meantime the plain switch works, just tried it out at 1/30th and it works perfectly. At least there is no worry firing older type electronic units which have higher trigger voltages with a plain switch. one note, the micro-switch should really be a passing contact type, no permanently one/off, as this would give multiple firings till released. It does not matter if you release the extension push button straight away, after firing.
    A lot of bother about a minor problem that Olympus should have addressed themselves in the design.
    Stephen.