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

OM-D Flash Slow Limit for freezing motion

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by chicago8c, Jun 24, 2015.

  1. chicago8c

    chicago8c Mu-43 Top Veteran

    650
    Mar 9, 2014
    This is an amateur question, for which I apologize, but I was wondering if I could get some advice on what to set as my OM-D's Flash Slow Limit. I just picked up an FL360L - the cheaper but identical Panasonic version of the Oly FL600R - because my baby is now starting to get much more active; rolling, trying to crawl, etc. My ISO is creeping ever-higher to try to freeze action, and natural light will get rare when the autumn hits in Chicago, just in time for him to start crawling and eventually walking.

    The default is 1/60 and I don't know if that is too slow for freezing motion, or whether the "best" setting is depends on the ambient lighting situation. The options range from 30 seconds to 1/320, so there's a lot to choose from. I haven't done much with flash before, and I know I have a ton to learn, so any suggestions would be really valuable. Thanks!
     
  2. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Hmm ... I shoot Panny equipment but I think I understand your question. Let me try:

    When shooting with flash, there are two light sources that combine to produce your image: the flash which is very short duration and ambient light whose duration is controlled by the shutter speed of the camera. In many/most cases, the flash is so much stronger than the ambient light that it is only the flash that determines the exposure, hence the duration of the exposure is very short (milliseconds). Short enough, in fact, to freeze most human-scale motion. Said another way, fast enough to freeze any baby's motion.

    In some situations, usually deliberately, the photograph will be partially affected by ambient light. This might require reducing the flash intensity. When this happens, it will look like a moving subject is streaked or smeared during the ambient light exposure, then the subject will be "frozen" by the flash. If the shutter opens and the ambient exposure occurs then the flash is fired as the shutter closes, you get the typically attractive streaking trailing the subject and conveying a sense of speed. This is called second-curtain synchronization. If the flash fires as the shutter opens, then it will look like the streaking is ahead of the subject because that portion of the exposure happened after the flash fired. Usually this is less desirable.

    For your purposes, you probably do not want any significant ambient light exposure, so I would suggest that you use as much flash power as you can and your maximum 1/320th shutter speed. I rarely/never shoot TTL flash, but I am sure that someone familiar with the FL360 will chime in here to tell you how to set this up.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    ^^^^^^^^^oldracer beat me by 2 seconds, but I had already typed pretty much the same thing:



    The answer to this depends on the ambient light you are allowing in with your exposure settings. This has as much to do with aperture and ISO as it does shutter speed.

    If your flash is the primary light source, then the shutter speed is essentially irrelevant in terms of freezing motion. The shutter will be open 1/60 or 1/200 or even 1 second, but the flash only illuminates it for a fraction of that time. A flash from a speedlight happens in somewhere around 1/500 to 1/10,000 of a second depending on power output setting. So this becomes your effective shutter speed.

    However, if you have your exposure settings such that the scene still shows fairly well without flash, then the shutter speed of the camera is important. Typically if you have slower shutter speeds with too much ambient, you will see your subject sharp where the flash froze it, but then some ghosting blur effects around the subject where the motion blur from the ambient lighting occured.

    So I guess the easy answer for photographing kids around the house is to set the ambient exposure so that the scene is nearly black without flash and then use the flash as the primary light source. The camera will do this automatically in Auto or Program mode. I typically shoot flash with Manual mode and set the camera to f5.6, ISO 400 and 1/100 shutter speed. The E-TTL in the flash will automatically expose it right despite the camera being in manual mode.

    Hopefully that made sense. I don't use the OM-D, but I can't see why you'd want to change it from default unless you have a good reason.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. chicago8c

    chicago8c Mu-43 Top Veteran

    650
    Mar 9, 2014
    This is really helpful - thanks so much to both of you.
     
  5. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I've won races with less than a 2 second lead. I'll take it!

    chicago8c: Here is an article: http://www.shutterbug.com/content/flash-tips-page-2 that explains the situation much better than either of us could using words alone.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    I just checked my cameras and they are set at 1/4sec. I also keep 2nd curtain sync set.

    Following Oldracer’s or tkbslc’s advice, you’ll stop motion but end up with photos that look like they are shot with flash – but that makes a great opportunity to play around with bouncing flash to lessen the flash effect.

    I much prefer blending ambient light with flash so for inside photos I’ll start with ISO 400 or 800 and slow shutter speeds, often starting at around 1/30 sec. using the flash to balance out the exposure. Surprisingly this is often enough to stop action of even people walking fast. And sometimes I end up with interesting exposures of a persons trail from their movement while the flash freezes them solid just before the shutter closes – hence the 2nd curtain sync.

    I would highly recommend starting with manual flash, manual camera settings, with direct flash on camera, pick a distance to keep from your subject and once you have the lighting you like, continue to shoot and just keep your distance to the subject the same. With a little experience you can start playing with bouncing the flash and, adjusting your flash lighting to fit the shot just by changing apertures or flash power level. You can start with TTL – but TTL can be frustrating for people as it may not act the way they expect.

    The good thing with digital is you can see an instant review of what you just shot and can then adjust settings accordingly. So set up your camera and just play!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I never said to use the flash directly facing the subject. I generally bounce.

    Mixing ambient and flash often results in odd color balance issues unless you have a pack of color gels and experience in which ones to use. Using the flash as the sole light source and filling the whole room with bounced flash, or creatively directing it generally provides more pleasing results for casual photography.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Clint, like tkbslc my answer was in response to an OP who was a novice. "I haven't done much with flash before."

    Years ago I was doing some instruction at a racing school and the old bear that ran it gave me some advice that has stuck with me. He said "It is always a temptation to open these guys' skulls and pour in everything we know. That's too much. Remember how little you knew when you started racing? And it worked out just fine, right?"

    chicago8c, you'll find that few of us are fond of TTL or camera-mounted flashes despite the fact that we all started there. When you are ready to move beyond that point here is a good place to start: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    I forgot to include some important items in my post above. And I should have mentioned with the Panasonic FL-360L or the Olympus FL-600R the selection of things you want to change can be a little problematic. Read the manual and it make take a little playing around, even seasoned photogs have to deal with this GUI!

    Some people like to see distance in meters and others in feet. This can be changed in custom settings.

    When using the flash in Manual mode, the default display shows guide numbers instead of power settings of 1/1, ½, ¼, etc. But using GNs is way too complicated, so change the display to turn guide numbers off. How to do that is on pages 14 & 15 of the Panasonic manual.

    Then when you want to change the Manual power setting press the Mode part of the dial and make sure the ‘M’ is flashing, then press on the bottom of the dial where it says “Zoom’. You’ll then be able to change the power setting by rotating the dial with the dial.

    But the best of these flashes whether shooting in TTL or manual - you don’t even have to guess at what distance to the subject whether changing power settings or aperture – the flash tells you the distance or range right screen of the flash, just stay close to that distance and you should be good to go. (This used to be the complicated part! - Now not to worry.)