Olympus RC Wireless Flash Info (+Panasonic, more)

robzr

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The Olympus "RC" wireless flash system never made sense to me, so here is some information compiled with details on the system. Please post any additions/corrections and I'll integrate them with this first post, so we can hopefully have a sticky post with some decent info for curious folks.
  • Developed by Olympus (also used by Panasonic and Leica), the wireless system is called "RC" (Remote Control)
  • Requires an on-camera "commander" flash which controls one or more "remote" flashes.
  • RC is an optical system (uses data encoded in light pulses), and does not use RF (radio frequency).
  • The RC commander transmits data via low power strobing or "near IR" (depending on flash) means the signal is directional, and range is limited to line-of-sight or where the light can bounce.
  • While the controls for RC are built into the camera, it is only enabled when a built-in or external commander flash is attached directly to the camera.
  • RC supports up to 4 channels (1-4) and up to four groups per channel (A-D). Most RC flashes do not support all channels & groups.
  • RC allows for flash/no-flash, TTL and EV adjustment on a per-group basis.
  • RC was released in 2007 with the Olympus FL-36R & FL-50R, and was in development for approx 15 years.
Compatibility List
  • Olympus FL-900R - commander and remote
  • Olympus FL-600R - commander and remote (only groups A-C)
  • Olympus FL-300R - remote only (only Channel 1, groups A-B)
  • Olympus STF-8 - commander only
  • Olympus FL-LM1,2,3 - commander only
  • Olympus FL-14 - no RC functionality
  • Olympus FL-50R - command and remote (only groups A-C)
  • Olympus FL-36R - command and remote (only groups A-C)
  • Panasonic DMW-FL580L - commander and remote (only groups A-C)
  • Panasonic DMW-FL360L - commander and remote (only groups A-C)
  • Panasonic DMW-FL360 - no RC functionality
  • Panasonic DMW-FL200L - commander and remote (only groups A-C)
  • Panasonic DMW-FL500 - no RC functionality
  • Panasonic DMW-FL70 - commander only
  • Cactus (all) - no (?)
  • Meike MK320 - no
  • Metz Mecablitz 64 AF-1 - commander and remote
  • Metz Mecablitz 52 AF-1 - commander and remote
  • Metz Mecablitz 44 AF-1 - remote only
  • Metz Mecablitz M400 - commander and remote
  • Metz Mecablitz 26 AF-1/2 - remote only
  • Metz Mecablitz 15 MS-1 - remote only
  • Metz (Other) - no
  • Nissin Di466 FT - remote only
  • Nissin i40 - remote only (groups A-C)
  • Nissin (other) - no (?)
  • Yongnuo (all) - no (?)
  • Aokatec AK-TTL - bridges Olympus RC to proprietary RF protocol
Note that some flashes (ie: third party) support TTL when attached to a Pan/Oly/Leica, and may support their own wireless protocol, but do not support Olympus RC.

See Also
 
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Clint

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RC supports an on camera flash and three remote groups.

RC allows for Manual flash from 1/1 – 1/128, TTL +- 5 EV on newer cameras, Auto, and Off for each channel plus on camera flash. It also supports Super FP flash (HSS) manual and TTL.

You also have the choice of 3 power levels for commander signal – Lo, Mid, and Hi.

The Olympus FL-50r, Metz Mecablitz 58 AF-1, and 64 AF-1 will not support a commander function. For the Metz’s, they show RC Master but I have never got them to fire a remote flash.

It is actually very easy to use. Here are three portraits I took recently using Olympus RC -
Portraits only Thread -Share yours please
 
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Hypilein

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There is an underwater flash that is sold by Olympus (same build as Sea&Sea ys-01) that supports the Olympus RC system. would this work with a Panasonic gx7 or gx80?
 

Clint

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My Metz 52 AF-1 will command my Nissin i40 from the E-M1. I believe you may need to update the firmware of the various Metz flashes via their USB interface to get compatibility for newer bodies.
Thanks, I'd never given it a thought.
That's very possible for the 52 AF-1. It was probably 5 years ago when I had it and somebody thought they needed it more than me. However the 64 AF-1 I just checked, and even though I bought the flash last year it was still at Firmware Version 1.0 - now it is Version 2.3 - but I still cannot get it to fire a FL-600R or a FL-50R. Which is really OK with me because it is large for on camera use with a m4/3 camera and better serves as a remote flash.
 

Rob E-W

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I've read elsewhere that Metz have issued new firmware to fix a problem with the 64 AF-1 which prevented it acting as commander for some bodies.

Re list in the OP:

On some forums I've seen discussions which distinguish between "commander" and "master" roles, and suggestions that later models (FL-900R? Metz 64 AF-1?) can act as Master, whereas their predecessors (FL-600R? Metz 52 AF-1?) can act as mere commanders.

Does anyone know (a) whether this is so, and (b) what is the difference between these two roles.

(Might it be that a commander issues commands but doesn't contribute to the main flash, whereas a Master commands and flashes? Or perhaps even vice versa? )
 
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Rob E-W

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Found a partical answer to my own question in the Metz catalogue.

"A remote system consists of a master or controller flash unit on the camera and one or more slave flash units. The slave flash unit is wirelessly remotely controlled by the master or controller flash unit. Unlike a controller flash unit, with a master flash unit, the flash contributes to the exposure."

This also says that their models 52-AF1, 64-AF1 and indeed the M400 can all fulfill both master and controller fuctions.
 

Clint

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Olympus does not use either Master or Commander for their RC system. Olympus on camera flash for RC can contribute to the exposure even when the flash is set to off. Typically this is when the subject is close to the camera.

Metz's 64-AF1 for Olympus manual only mentions Master.

Nikon’s Master flash is either the one mounted in the hot shoe or connected to the hot shoe through a TTL cable connected to the hot shoe. Nikon’s Commander mode is when the Master flash is set so as not to contribute any light to the scene. With Nikon's CLS system the camera 's built in flash or an on camera flash will contribute to the exposure if your subject is close enough - despite what they say about Commander mode.

Yougnuo uses Master for the camera mounted flash controlling the slaves

Godox uses Master for the camera mounted flash controlling the slaves
 

inkista

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Cactus (all) - no (?)
Cactus gear doesn't do "smart" optical (no RC function).

The Cactus RF60 and RF60X are both single-pin manual-only flashes when used on hotshoe. Because it cannot receive TTL/HSS signals from the camera hotshoe (single-pin), it cannot be a TTL/HSS master. It does give you radio control over zoom and M power levels as well as group on/off over V6 receivers and other RF60 off-camera speedlights.

Yongnuo (all) - no (?)
Yongnuo flashes that are labelled "EX" only do "smart" optical for Canon and Nikon. There is no Olympus RC function.

The YN-560-TX and YN-560 IV/YN-560Li can be used as radio masters to give remote zoom and M power control and group on/off over radio. They do not to TTL/HSS.

Godox gear, btw, also has no RC capability; the TT685/V860II models only do "smart" optical for Canon, Nikon, and Sony (so far. The pre-release V1-O specs that are up on Adorama say differently, but it could just be copy'n'paste of the Canon listing). But their radio system can do TTL/HSS/remote power/zoom/group control for MFT with their "-O" flavored radio gear.
 

Mack

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I never have been a fan of optical triggers outdoors in the bright desert sun. System can misfire too often with either it not firing at all, or it never stops firing. Radio triggering seems better overall for me (e.g. Godox, PW, Odin, Buff radio triggers, etc.).

Even in some indoor studios with fluorescents the optical triggering system can act up. I had one where I could see each of three flashes fire sequentially which was entertaining, but I didn't need that amount of troubleshooting during a paid fashion shoot.
 

Ross the fiddler

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Olympus does not use either Master or Commander for their RC system. Olympus on camera flash for RC can contribute to the exposure even when the flash is set to off. Typically this is when the subject is close to the camera.

Metz's 64-AF1 for Olympus manual only mentions Master.

Nikon’s Master flash is either the one mounted in the hot shoe or connected to the hot shoe through a TTL cable connected to the hot shoe. Nikon’s Commander mode is when the Master flash is set so as not to contribute any light to the scene. With Nikon's CLS system the camera 's built in flash or an on camera flash will contribute to the exposure if your subject is close enough - despite what they say about Commander mode.

Yougnuo uses Master for the camera mounted flash controlling the slaves

Godox uses Master for the camera mounted flash controlling the slaves
The recent models (meaning M4/3's) can include the commanding flash as part of the lighting, but not with their DSLRs, as the RC flash was(is) done pre-shutter (as far as I know) but if the subject is close there can be some hangover lighting impacting on the exposure. If triggering to an off camera flash & the subject is close then the commander can have the flash directed away from the subject with the use of a shield as the reflected command flash signal can trigger the RC controlled flashes if there is a surface to bounce the signal off.
 

Clint

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My earlier post, almost 2 years ago, was about the terminology Olympus uses. From the E-3/E-30/E-620 era though the m4/3s Olympus system, Olympus has not used the terms Commander, Master or Slave (as in regards to controlling the flash settings)

Olympus’s slave is a flash set up off camera that is fired by light from another flash. All settings have to be set on the slave. Slave capable flashes have been around ever since the introduction of electronic flash.

Olympus’s RC Systems has always used “On Camera” flash which controls the flash units assigned to a remote Group.

This is really only important in understating Olympus's instruction for RC Mode vs other manufacturers systems terminology.
 

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