1. Reminder: Please use our affiliate links for holiday shopping!

Olympus RC Flash query with EPM1 / FL36R

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by sokar, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    I am hopeful that the experienced members here can assist me with some advice on settings with off camera flash. I own an EP1 and an EPM1 & FL36R flash. Instead of staying on the gear upgrade bandwagon, I want to learn more about the gear I currently have. I wish to start using the flash off the camera for portraits and own the Oly 45mm lens. From what I have seen and read on the net the biggest step for me to improve my portrait photography would be to learn the concepts of off camera flash and the use of some tools such as diffusers and reflectors etc.

    I understand that with the EP1 I will need to trigger the FL36R flash by a TTL cord and I should be able to set the flash in manual mode to fine tune the lighting effects. I have been experimenting with the EPM1 with the RC functions and have a question about this.

    I have been able to trigger the FL36R off camera either in TTL or manual mode, but I do not understand whether it is better to turn off the onboard clip on flash. Is the onboard flash required to fire to trigger the FL36R? If so, what intensity should the onboard flash be set at to minimise the impact of the flash from the camera?

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. I have reading the olympus school pages online and cannot understand the concepts.

    One other query would be relating to which body is better for most conditions. Am I correct in assuming that the EP1 with the base ISO of 100 would be slightly better than the EPM1 for portraits when conditions suit to use a cable?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. BarefootPilgrim

    BarefootPilgrim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    517
    Dec 23, 2009
    Westchester, IL
    Bob
    If you're using the Olympus flash cable to fire the FL-36R, you don't need the E-PM1 clipon flash, so don't even bother to mount it.

    If you're using the clipon flash to fire the FL-36R, then set the clipon flash intensity to the lowest power needed to reach the sensor of the FL-36R... usually 1/64 power will be enough unless you place the FL-36R at an extreme distance from the camera.

    [EDIT]... here's a link to a discussion on the FourThirds photo forum that you may find helpful. Most of it applies equally to Olympus m-4/3 cameras as well as regular 4/3...

    English Bob's Fl-36/FL-50 Flash settings...

    Enjoy!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    Thanks Bob for your input.

    Edit, I have just downloaded the pdf version of the guide. Thank you again.
     
  4. thearne3

    thearne3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    807
    Jan 28, 2010
    Redding, CT USA
    Actually, this is not correct. If the clip-on is being used in RC mode, the flash is ONLY being used to trigger the FL-36R - it's actually a 'pre-flash' with no direct effect on the exposure (it's just communicating the TTL instructions).

    Hope this helps...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    Thanks Tom. That was a little confusing for me as I assumed that if the clip on was firing it was not set up correctly.

    Do you have any ideas on whether the EP1 with a base ISO of 100 would be a better body to use over the EPM1 (ISO 200)? It is probably not a big deal, but if there is no advantage then I may as well stay with the wireless system and not bother with TTL cable.
     
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    If you are using manual mode on your flash (which I do suggest using), then you don't need a TTL cable! All you need is a PC Sync cable or a Radio Trigger. You could probably get a cheap radio trigger for the same price as a TTL cable, which will allow you to shoot at any reasonable distance with no wires in the way. TTL cables are also very short (average of 5') and inappropriate for real off-camera flash. It'll get your flash onto a flash bracket, but it won't get it up to a light stand. A PC Sync cable on the other hand, can be purchased in lengths like 5', 16', and 30'. A radio trigger will give you even more space, and is also a lot more convenient to use. All you need for manual flash triggering is that big single contact on the hotshoe, nothing more.

    With one of these triggering methods, just turn our FL-36R to regular Manual mode (not SL) and set the power from there. I like the traditional display of 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64 power, but the default setting is by Guide Number. Your flash manual will teach you how to switch between the two.

    If you get one of the triggers mentioned above (which will work on the E-P1 as well as the E-PM1), then you won't need the clip-on flash anymore. However, you can always use the clip-on flash to trigger your FL-36R from the E-PM1 irregardless.

    There are two methods you can use with the clip-on. First is to use RC Mode and control the FL-36R with full TTL or manual control through the camera's menu. This uses a pre-flash and may cause a bit more lag than the next method...

    The other method will only work in manual mode (which you should learn anyways), and will require you to adjust the power setting on the flash itself instead of through the camera's menu. That is to turn your FL-36R to SL mode, turn off the Remote Commander, and set your flash to 1/64th or 1/32nd power. How much power you need depends on the ambient light, distance, and direction between you and the FL-36R's optical trigger (turning the red sensor in your direction will help, as the FL-36R has a swivel head for that purpose). In a controlled studio environment, 1/64th power is generally all you need, and will not have much effect on your image.

    I would personally use the E-PM1 always when given the choice, as the image capture is much sharper. Base ISO doesn't make that much difference, but the weak AA filter of the E-PM1 does. That's a personal preference though... if you are phobic of noise, then the E-P1 does produce "cleaner" images even if they don't have as much fine detail as the E-PM1. Both are fantastic cameras at any rate. The E-P1 gives you a better hold and easier to use controls. That could be the tipping point as well on which body to choose. ;)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    Thanks Ned for great information and your detailed response. Since starting with M43 cameras I have checked in on this site most days. I must say that this site has a great vibe and the information posted is always educational to me.

    Thanks again
     
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    No problem... Oh yeah, and if you decide to use a PC Sync cable, you will also need a Hotshoe-to-PC adapter (usually just called a "Hotshoe Adapter") and a Flash foot-to-PC adapter (usually just called a "Flash Adapter"). They only run about $15-$20 each. I suggest looking for a radio transmitter and receiver set first, but they might be more expensive if you don't order online.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    Thanks again Ned. I will follow your advice and purchase a radio trigger set up. This seems the most logical and flexible solution. Off to eBay to start searching...
     
  10. starlabs

    starlabs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    856
    Sep 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    First you need to learn the difference between TTL and manual flash (you may already know this).

    TTL is basically assisted flash. The flash fires one (or more) low power flashes and then the camera meters the scene accordingly. It then fires the flash "for real" at whatever power it thinks is appropriate based on the pre-flash and opens the shutter.

    With manual flash you set the power of the flash. All the camera does is say, "hey I'm taking a picture, fire off the flash" and the flash fires. This is a more methodical way of taking photos as you will have to iterate the flash power, location, and distance from subject to get the exposure to your intended result.

    So now that you know the differences between the two, realize that you can do either/both with WIRED or WIRELESS connections. :smile:

    A wired connection (usually a TTL cord) gives you the benefit of TTL. The downside (if any, as Ned mentioned) is the shorter distance.

    With wireless there's 2 options: optical and radio. Olympus has the RC system, which is optical and supports TTL and full manual. The on-camera flash does it's TTL thing (if you enable TTL) and then sends a signal to the remote flash to fire at whatever power.

    Radio is similar but most of them don't support TTL. And the cheapest ones don't support manual either (ie you set the power on the flash itself - all it does is trigger the flash). Radio usually has a wider range and doesn't have possible line-of-sight issues that optical does.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    Thanks starlabs,

    I think I have an understanding now. I have recommended this site to a number of amateurs starting the hobby all over again in their later lives regardless of whether they own M43 or another system. Always informative and those less experienced can always ask what some would consider a basic question and receive valuable input in return.