Olympus Twin Flash STF-8

leungw

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Has anyone gotten the flash? Any thoughts or comments? TIA.
 

retiredfromlife

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The only comment I remember seeing about this flash was that you could not turn off the sleep mode, and that may lead you to not getting the shot. Not sure if I remember correctly but it may be worth looking into the sleep mode if that concerns you.

But it does look like a good flash and for what it is not too expensive.
 
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You might be able to score the older 4/3rds system macro flash at a discount. It comes in three parts: FC-01 controller, which can connect to either TF-22 twin flash or RF-11 ring flash.
It seems more versatile, and TTL still works on MFT, but focus stacking and exposure stacking won't work, whereas the STF-8 does both of those.

The FC-01 seems more powerful, too, at least by Olympus naming conventions. The TF-22 has a guide number of 22, and the RF-11 has a guide number of 11. Doesn't that mean the STF-8 only has a guide number of 8?

That might not be important for macro work, but you can use the TF-22 for general-purpose flash work, to eliminate the typical "on-camera flash look" of one dominant shadow. I find it especially useful for product photography.

Here is a study of OM macro lenses adapted for digital, all lit with the TF-22.
 
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Vheissu

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I just received the STF-8 in the post. Build quality is superb. I have not had a chance to really test it out, it's still too cold out to find many insects :(
I remember reading the complaint about sleep mode but I can't remember what exactly the complaint was about and I can't really see sleep mode being a problem. On my E-M1 when the camera goes to sleep after 1min of activity so does the flash. As soon as I touch the camera both wake up and the flash charges nearly instantaneously (>1sec). I guess if the flash is low on power it might take longer to charge but I don't see that being much of an issue since battery life appears to be very good.
It is built primarily for macro/product work and isn't powerful enough to light up a room or take full human-body portraits but does work for faces.
It comes with a nicely organized travel case and diffusers that snap on and then can be swivelled out of the way if needed. The diffusers are really nice but I will probably end up making something that increases the apparent light size even more. I may try 3D printing something that mounts the same way that the supplied diffusers do.
The ring that the flash heads rotate about has female threading on the front so you can still use the lens cap without taking the whole thing apart. The raynox 250 can't be used with its supplied springy clip on adaptor but it does work with a 46>43 step down ring with no shading at all which is nice.
So now I just need to wait for the weather to improve and the insects to all wake up/come back!
 
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I just need to wait for the weather to improve and the insects to all wake up/come back!
Oh, c'mon, now... I'm sure there's lots of tiny things around that you could practice on!

Stamps, coins, house plants, fabric, electronic circuit boards, walnuts, sea-shells — the world is full of macro material!
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retiredfromlife

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From memory it was @piggsy ? who mentioned that you could miss a shot of a fast moving insect if the flash went into sleep mode. From the little I have seen if it took 2 seconds to wake you could miss shots of fast moving critters. Depends on what type of subjects you want to use the flash for I guess.
As long as you keep an eye on the sleep mode it looks like a nice unit.
 
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I enjoy shooting macro and am interested in this flash as well.

I too would like to see some sample images taken with it. Even though it is on-camera, how hard is it to light the subject in a way that looks natural? Is there a noticeable difference in results between a twin flash versus a full ring flash setup?

Lately I've been getting more into flash photography, learning how to control my FL-600R (still a work in progress). Are there differences in the way one would control the settings on a twin flash like this versus a regular, on-camera flash like the FL-600R? Is there a way to use only one light instead of both, if the shadow is only coming on one side?
 

Vheissu

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okay here's how it works (with my e-m1):
- when you switch on the camera you have to turn on the flash separately by pressing the power button on the back of the flash controller. If you switch off the camera the flash turns off and you will need to press the button again next time you turn the camera on again.
- if you use sleep mode on the camera then the flash automatically wakes up when the camera wakes up. It is charged and ready to fire faster than it takes the rear display on the camera to fully wake up which is well under one second. I've left the camera in sleep mode for over six minutes and the flash still wakes up automatically when the camera is woken.

So as long as I use the camera's sleep mode (which I already do) I don't see myself having any issues at all.

As for twin flash vs ring flash: I think the key difference is that the twin flash lets you adjust the power ratio to the heads to create more directional lighting and give a sense of depth while ring flashes create a more even, flatter lighting.

And here are some test shots all taken with the O60 macro (by pure luck I even found a house spider; the first one I've seen in five months). Please keep in mind that this is my first twin flash and am by no means a lighting expert, I'm sure I'll have some much better examples in a month or two.

Scrap emerald
View attachment 524036
An unexpected but wecome visitor, who posed for some photos and in return had his accommodations upgraded to the garage.
View attachment 524037
Pyrite and Quartz - taken using the in-camera focus stacking mode
View attachment 524038
Ammonite sutures
View attachment 524042
A poor plant's x-ray - one flash head was detached from the ring and held behind the leaf to show the internal structure.
View attachment 524043
 

leungw

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I caved and got one. :)

Haven't really used it, but here are some various thoughts. I have an EM10 II. Higher end OMD might behave differently.
  • The carrying case is nice, but somewhat bulky relative to m43 gears.
  • The flashes seem well-built, and are very lightweight.
  • The cables between the flash head and the flashes are undetachable. I guess it's done for weatherproofing.
  • Shutter speed is limited to 1/200s.
  • Works with focus bracketing (as previously posted by another member), but for me in manual mode only, with fastest shutter 1/20s.
I wonder if it's worth looking into adapting the flashes to other lenses. Many Oly Pro lenses have very short minimum focus distance.
 
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I wonder if it's worth looking into adapting the flashes to other lenses.
That was one thing I HATE about the RF-11: it was limited to just a few lenses, via proprietary bayonet mount or an expensive and kludge grip-mount for the 50/2 E-System macro. But I found a work-around.

I carefully threaded a 72mm --> 67mm adaptor into the plastic in the front of the light, then put a male --> male 67mm adaptor into the 67mm end. (These are normally used for reversing a lens and mounting it on another lens.)

Now I can put any lens on there that takes a 67mm filter, or smaller, with filter adapters.

Such an approach may work with the STF-8; don't know; haven't seen one.

Bummer about the hard-wired connections. I've used Olympus macro flashes since film days, and they've always had at least two choices that were pluggable. The OM-System "T Power Control" allowed a twin light and two different ring lights, one of which could be fitted with a special cross-polarizer for shooting through glass or limiting reflection from minerals, etc. The other uniquely fired sideways into one of two different sized dish reflectors, making lovely, creamy "beauty dish" light. The E-System TC-01 connected to either twin lights or the ring light mentioned above, that I adapted to filter threads.

I'm in the process of converting my old OM-System ring flashes to the FC-01, having procured the plug/cord from a repair shop.
 
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I caved and got one. :)

Haven't really used it, but here are some various thoughts. I have an EM10 II. Higher end OMD might behave differently.
  • The carrying case is nice, but somewhat bulky relative to m43 gears.
  • The flashes seem well-built, and are very lightweight.
  • The cables between the flash head and the flashes are undetachable. I guess it's done for weatherproofing.
  • Shutter speed is limited to 1/200s.
  • Works with focus bracketing (as previously posted by another member), but for me in manual mode only, with fastest shutter 1/20s.
I wonder if it's worth looking into adapting the flashes to other lenses. Many Oly Pro lenses have very short minimum focus distance.
Curious that focus bracketing would have a max shutter speed of 1/20th... Manual Mode kinda makes sense, I suppose, and I would probably want to do everything manually anyway.
 

retiredfromlife

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Curious that focus bracketing would have a max shutter speed of 1/20th... Manual Mode kinda makes sense, I suppose, and I would probably want to do everything manually anyway.
I suppose that takes into accounts, flash recharge time, lens focusing time, plus some sort of allowance so it all works with different supported lenses. I saw an article awhile ago when someone was stacking landscape shots so that may be time intensive, not sure.
 

leungw

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I believe the 1/20s limitation applies to focus bracketing with any flash. Not just the STF-8.
 

kbouk

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I believe the 1/20s limitation applies to focus bracketing with any flash. Not just the STF-8.
I think the limitation with any flash is 1/50s (as 1/20 on EM1) on EM1.2 and focus bracketing and this is a limitation with electronic shutter being used on this mode. I have to try the 4/3 TF-22 twin flash to see if it works at all and also the old OM tween flash.
 

piggsy

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The FC-01 seems more powerful, too, at least by Olympus naming conventions. The TF-22 has a guide number of 22, and the RF-11 has a guide number of 11. Doesn't that mean the STF-8 only has a guide number of 8?

That might not be important for macro work, but you can use the TF-22 for general-purpose flash work, to eliminate the typical "on-camera flash look" of one dominant shadow. I find it especially useful for product photography.
That's a good observation and I suspect you're somewhere close to it, because it looks a lot like slightly redesigned pair of FL-LM3s stuck together, which this says have a GN of 9.1.
 

leungw

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Guide number from the manual:
When using 1 flash: 6.0 (ISO100), 8.5 (ISO200)
When using 2 flashes: 8.5 (ISO100), 12.0 (ISO200)
 

leungw

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@Nigel, video showing recharge speed. First round was full power, then 1/2, then 1/4.
 
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