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Panasonic or Metz for G3

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by littlefish, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. littlefish

    littlefish Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 22, 2011
    Glos., UK
    I'm enjoying the G3 but miss the integration of my old Canon 580Ex on a 20D. So any advice on a flash, please?

    Currently I'm eyeing both the Panasonic DMW-FL360 and the Metz 50 AF 1 with a leaning towards the latter in case I add / switch to a different make of body. Reviews of these flashes are few and far between so any help / input / warnings would be much appreciated.
  2. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    I don't have a G3, but I do have the Metz, which I use with the GH2. Haven't used it extensively in real photo situations, but my impressions are here in my blog:

    What Blog is this?: 50 AF-1

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    I scored a LN 48 AF-1 on eBay for about $100 a while back and I have been very pleased with its performance. It's the predecessor of the 50 and AFIK virtually identical.

    Power is impressive. I wanted a little bit of fill in an outdoor full-sunlight-backlit situation and I had to crank it down to 1/128 power, which is its lowest setting, to keep the fill from being obtrusive. Years ago I shot weddings with Strobonar and Sunpak handle-type flashes and this one gives up nothing to them.

    Cycle is very fast with lithium AAs.

    In TTL automatic mode, it underexposes about one stop (another forum member has reported this too) but it is a trivial matter to crank it up 1 EV.

    The hotshoe foot on the 48 is plastic, which is not good. I believe that the newer units are metal, however.

    You can use it off-camera in a dumb slave mode where it just watches for a flash. Unfortunately, my G1 provides a preflash which triggers the Metz prior to the "real" flash with the shutter open. I have a very small & dumb hotshoe flash inbound which I expect will solve the problem, as would a radio trigger I think. It also has a slave mode that works with the Olympus slave flash system. But I think we Panny owners are out of luck with any manufacturer's dumb slaves.

    Compared to the FL36 I think this one delivers more power and IIRC the 50 a little bit more yet. Possibly the FL36 is smarter about slaving to a Panny camera. If so, that would be an advantage.

    I'd suggest you go with whichever one you find at the best price. That was my plan, as I am not a heavy flash user, and it has worked out fine.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. littlefish

    littlefish Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 22, 2011
    Glos., UK
    Many thanks for the quick responses. I've been caught out with third party kit not quite working as I'd like but I've also suffered Canon's truly awful and, at times, inaccurate documentation of its 580 / 430 flash system. As much as I'd like to invest in the Metz to move from one camera make to another, my inclination is to go with the Panasonic to get the best chance of a hassle free system. Hmmm, time for some online shopping.
  5. I previously used a Canon 430exii with an SX10is. It worked adequately, except that I could not get TTL flash with the camera in manual mode (unlike I believe is the case with Canon dSLRs, which can do this). That was a significant weakness from my point of view, but not fatal.

    I recently moved to a G3 and purchased a Metz 58 AF-2 to go with it. I haven't used it a lot, and I am not highly experience with flash usage, but when I have used the Metz it has seemed to play very nicely with the G3, including TTL in camera manual mode, and also including FP/HSS mode. (The only limitation I can see with FP/HSS mode is that you have to decide which mode to be in - when in aperture priority mode it won't switch the flash automatically into FP/HSS mode when the autoexposure takes the shutter speed over the sync speed.)

    The G3 and Metz flash cooperate so that their flash compensation settings are additive, so I can get up to 5 stops of flash compensation (2 from the camera, 3 from the Metz). For my purposes this is good news.

    The 58 AF-2 is physically a bit on the big side (although not really huge), but I wanted more power than with the 430 exii because I bounce and diffuse flash for macros, and when doing this with FP/HSS you need a lot of power, and the 430 was occasionally not quite powerful enough. The AF-2 also has a front-facing "window" through which you can output a lower level of flash if you are bouncing the main flash. I thought this might allow some minor "shaping" of the light on the subject. I haven't really explored this yet though.

    I just did some tests to reassure myself that the G3 and AF-2 do play together nicely, at least for my purposes.

    I set up a macro scene, indoors at night, so the ambient light level is too low to have a significant effect. I arranged it so that it had a white area, a light yellow area, a dark blue area and a black area. I bounced the flash off of a card. I put the camera into spot metering mode. I then used single point autofocus for four exposures, with the autofocus point pointing in turn to the white, light yellow, dark blue and black areas.

    When exposed for the white and light yellow areas, the exposure was ok. When exposed for the dark blue area, the white and yellow area were over-exposed, but not blown. When exposed for the black area, the white and yellow areas were blown. So, the G3 and Metz are playing together nicely enough for the flash to pick up exposure requirements from the autofocus point.

    I then put the G3 into multi-metering mode, but stayed with single point autofocus. The exposure was the same (and fine) no matter where I put the autofocus point.

    This was all with the camera in manual mode with the shutter speed below the sync speed of 1/160. I then put the flash into HSS-TTL mode and set the shutter speed to various speeds above 1/160. The results were similar, the only difference being that at small apertures the blow-out from focusing (and metering) on the black area became less intense for higher shutter speeds. Given how HSS mode works, this was not a surprise.

    I then changed ISO settings, and the results were as expected, including some under-exposure in HSS mode when the highest shutter speeds were combined with the lowest ISOs.

    I then turned on the front-facing window and (with the main flash still reflecting off the card) used the front window at 1/4, 1/2 and full power. The exposures were ok, although a little less exposed than with the window not in use, only a little though, and not a problematic amount. The three exposures at 1/4, 1/2 and full window power were also fractionally different, increasing just perceptibly from 1/4 through 1/2 to full power.

    I also noticed an oddity when using the window - a slight lighter area in the black area seemed dulled when the window was in use. To test what was going on I put a AA battery into the picture, one with a nasty highly reflective surface, almost guaranteed to cause problems. With the window not in use, it had a small hot spot. With the window at 1/4 power and 1/2 power the hot spot was in a different place. With the window at full power there was no hot spot at all. Curious. Whether this is just a coincidence I don't know. Interesting enough for further investigations in due course I think. If it isn't a coincidence then it might prove rather useful for my purposes.

    When the flash is in ordinary (non-HSS) mode, the camera will not let you choose a shutter speed faster than sync speed. If, with the flash off, or in HSS mode, you have chosen a shutter speed faster than sync speed, then when you turn the flash on or put it into non-HSS mode the shutter speed is reduced to 1/160.

    Anyway, my conclusion from all this is that, at least for my purposes, the Metz (albeit not the one you are considering) and the G3 seem to communicate well. YMMV of course, and other (and earlier models) may have different degrees of cooperation. Although obviously not definitive for your purposes, it still looks quite promising I think.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. tam

    tam Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 12, 2010
    I Nissin Di466 here on a G1, I got it as it has manual control for off-camera use with radio triggers too, which is important to me. Relatively compact too. Only down side to it is only tilt, no swivel - but it's a pretty small downside. I mostly use it off-camera anyhow.

    No high-speed sync either, if that matters to you...
  7. littlefish

    littlefish Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 22, 2011
    Glos., UK
    I went a bit 'snow blind' reading all the posts and specs on various sites but I've eventually gone for a second hand Olympus FL-36 = Panasonic FL360 (made by Sunpac allegedly). The Metz was tempting but I want an easy life.:smile:

    An off camera chord would be nice but I've yet to find one for the G3.
  8. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    I've used my Nikon SB-900 flash on both the G3 and GF2. I don't get TTL, but I do get A auto exposure. The only thing I have to do manually is dial in the focal length and zoom. Other than that, the exposures are perfect every time!
  9. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    I bought the Olympus cable for my G1 and Metz 50 and it works fine. I had to return a Nissin cable because it did not work.
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