Small flash, smaller flash, no flash? (for lightweight macro mostly)

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Klorenzo, Jul 31, 2016.

  1. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I'm leaving in a couple of weeks for a long travel in Indonesia.
    This is what I plan to bring:

    E-M1 (brand new!)
    S7.5 (brand second hand new!)
    Ultrapod II
    2 filters (ND, polarizer)
    1 Patona charger (usb + 12v + 220v input!)
    3 batteries

    I have very little space so this stuff is already too much, but I really do not know what to leave.

    Now I could also add the small E-M1 flash (FL-LM2), mostly for macro done with the 12-40, but it's a fixed position so it's going be bad and I'm sure it's going to cast an ugly shadow from the big lens. But macro without light is boring.

    So I could bring the Fl-300r to use it remotely needs the FL-LM2 to work :(

    So I could take an extension cord to use the FL-LM2 but most cords I've seen around are long and heavy, like 3 meters and 200 grams heavy.
    So I could buy one of these cord, cut it down to a reasonable length(?) and bring that. But I do not know how many cables are inside (two?) and I would prefer not to fry the camera.

    Alternatives? A piece of aluminum foil to use as a reflector? White paper? Some magic diffuser for the FL-LM2? Use the smartphone led light? But a super small good light like this Relio, the first ultra-high CRI usb led light. (super expensive!!)? Use the small camping LED light I already own?

    What do you think?

    I also have one super cheap wireless flash transmitter: Neewer 16 Canali Wireless Remoto Fm Flash Speedlite Radio Trigger Con 2.5Mm Ricevitore Pc Per Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Sigma, Sunpak E Altre Unità Flash Con Universale Hotshoe: Elettronica
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
  2. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Hi, are you sure the fl300r won't work on a cable or wireless transmitter without the lm2?

    Also, you can find cords in many lengths. Canon cables are compatible and cheap.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
  3. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    less is more

    For every scenario you think you will benefit from a specific bit of equipment there are ways around that AND its possible that without proper setup you'll get a shot which you're not pleased with.

    Don't lose site of the reason for the trip ... I see so many people waste their holidays by fussing and franticking over essentially what is a hobby not a profession.

    Despite owning flashes I've never taken them in the field when its a holiday.

    I remember in India last time laughing at this guy who had a "caddy" carying bags of EOS stuff ... I briefly watched him work and noted that he was an idiot ... probably a stock broker from NY or something on a "once in a lifetime trip"

    I took shots of my wife and myself with a compact and a pro-sumer and we had a great time.

    PS: There is a good thread just posted where a guy is "saying good bye" to m43 as he's discovered how good a pro-sumer super zoom can be (FZ1000) ... lots to learn in the wisdom there.

    Less can be more.

    There is no "one camera" and each has benefits and disadvantages. Small sensors offer amazing advantages for macro because of their inherent DoF which larger sensors need f16 to obtain. Remember, its the diameter of the aperture not the f number that determines DoF

    I took these shots with a Nikon Coolpix one day in the Rainforest not far from here. The Scorpion (carrying its young) was on the move because hot on the trail was a bunch of (bloody big) ants after a meal ... so no time to bugger about with setting up stuff ...



    This was the "on camera" flash with a bit of foam (attached with stikky tape) to act as a diffuser
    so, what matters is you
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
  4. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I'd not worry about faffing around with flash macro on holiday... it takes quite a bit of patience and setup, not something that you have a lot to spare generally on a trip.
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  5. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    also, I'd take @wjiang@wjiang's point and add one more thing.

    If you really must take the opporturnity to get your "national geographic" shots, then faff about in your house and in your garden first ... going out in the field on a holiday (like whaaat??) with untested equipment and untested technique is a recipe for "oh man , if only I'd...." shots and an unhappy partner (and probably no memories of the place you went to).

    If that seems to be too much trouble then what will it be like in the field?
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  6. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    Much as I'm a gear slut and love my Pro lenses and dedicated macro stuff, I recommend you take your E-M1, tiny E-M1 flash, 7.5 FE, P20, 12-40, batteries and buy a used Oly 40-150 R. Leave any other lenses, flash, tripod etc behind so you are travelling light and compact. You can sell off the tele zoom when you get home and will have lots of amazing photos.
    Even the equipment I recommend is probably too much. I could travel with the 12-40 and 7.5 FE in a pinch.
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  7. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Thanks, for your answers. I'll try to add a little more context.

    Among other things I'll be stopping in the same location (for scuba diving) for a while so it's not an "hit and run" travel where you need to move as fast as possible to collect all the top locations. So I think I'll have a good amount of time to take pictures and even to read.

    I agree with the "less is more" idea but there is a reason for not bringing just my phone, right? I'm used to take pictures while traveling, so it's not going to disrupt the experience more then the usual I suppose (I've been doing this for a few years).

    Lens selection depends on what you intend to shoot: I like to do landscapes and wildlife. So the 75-300 is there for a reason (wildlife reserves). I'm considering taking the 40-150 (I got that years ago together with the camera and almost never used) but I often found the 75-300 to be already too short. This would save me 230 grams and a lot of space. The 12-40 alone is definitely not an option for what I'm interested in (I moved to m43 from premium compact just to have long tele lenses for wildlife).
    Probably I'll leave at home the P20, I always take it because it's small but never actually use it and I can live with the slower zoom.
    The 7.5 (200 gr) is there to try astro photography and super wide (this is a lens I could leave at home :( ). The tripod is 100 gr, I've used it a few times so it is coming. I could leave one or both the filters at home but not a big saving here.

    Super zoom 1 inch cameras are great but are bulky, expensive, not sealed and I do not plan to buy yet another camera. Maybe with the next iteration of something like the TZ-100 I will consider it again.

    I brought the Fl-300r on one travel and never used (I've used it a few times at home), so I'd like to leave it at home. But the FL-LM2 weights 31 grams so I think I could take it. But, as I said, I think the 12-40 is going to block it for macro shots (otherwise it would be perfect) so I'm considering options to use it off-camera. Or a completely different approach (like a small LED light I'm already bringing but it has a super cold white light...), this is the thing I would prefer.

    @barry13@barry13 the flr300 on cable/wireless works fine and I would expect the same for the FL-LM2 (the E-M1 is being shipped). But the cable is 120gr for 1 meter. The transmitter is 63 grams.
    The fl300 is 116 gr but does not work alone off-camera (as it did with the E-M10 pop-up flash). And the size/weight of FL-LM2 + transmitter is the same of the Fl300 so it's a shame not to be able to use it as is.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
  8. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    The FL-LM2 isn't going to work off camera. It gets power from the accessory port and no cable exists for that.
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  9. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Make a diffuser out of a collapsed milk carton or similar to extend the reach of the LM-2, demolish it enough to fit the LM-2 in at one end, and then do a diagonal cut at the other with a sheet of paper over it, so it faces down at the end of the lens. The other alternative to encapsulating the flash head itself is to use a simple flat piece of material (one side of a plastic 2l milk bottle was what I used) with a circular hole cut in it at one end for the lens to fit through. I've used the LM-2 and the E-P5's flash when I've had no main flash before and as long as they're diffused and generally pointed in the right direction (and you don't ask too much - feel free to shoot at a higher iso with flash) it works fine.

    Couple examples - sorry mine that I made are long lost / destroyed -

    Macro with the Ricoh GRD3: this is the DIY flash diffuser I’m using
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  10. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa

    this is just the SPUNKIEST most practical thing I've seen!!

    I mean I'm all in favor of quick zero dollar solutions and I love quick n bodgy ... but, the thing is though that I think you need to express as plastic milk bottle for the A Merry Cans to know wot yer talkin about.

    Anyway ... man I love it!

    I'm going to make my own THANKS!!
  11. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Just to show you how easy it is - I literally just made this -


    Here's 1/4 power on the LM-2/E-PM2 on the 40-150 w/ raynox 150


    And here's 1/4 power on the LM-2/E-PM2 on the 40-150 w/ raynox 150 and the instant diffuser -


    If you wanted to go all out and do something that would take longer than making a cup of coffee, you could cover the inside of the diffuser with alfoil (craft glue), or paper towel inside and alfoil outside (craft glue again :p), like on my other more complicated one for the FL-600r I made up -

    Share Dragonfly & Butterfly & Insects

    there's an in-between one here I just remembered too -

    Showcase - Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro

    and another trip down memory lane, I remember I had collected a bunch I'd done with either the E-P5's onboard flash shooting it bare, or with the most basic flat piece of milk carton lens-mounted diffusers, over here. Was on the more intense part of the macro learning curve then though so I'm sure I could do better with it now :D
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
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  12. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Saw your follow-up, so will second your own thought of leaving the Panny 20 behind as it is covered by the 12-40mm even if a bit slower in aperture. My only other thought is if you could live without doing the astro shooting, you might save some space by picking up the Oly 9mm Body Cap Fish Eye lens for your super wide angle shots and leaving the S7.5 behind.
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  13. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Check whether you've got decent odds of milky way shots (location of the galactic core vis a vis the horizon; moon-free nights) before bothering with astro, IMO. I would stick with the 12-40 and the 70-300 if you're going compact. The FE is tiny and excellent quality and could be a whole ton of fun.

    On my trip to Indo (mostly diving, 1 week in Raja Ampat, a few days in Komodo, and touring around Flores) I only took my A7r, 16-35 (ultrawide) and 55/1.8 (normal lens), in addition to the RX100 and strobe for underwater (that's where I did all my macro shooting..), but if I did it again I would take the E-M1 and telephoto along as well. There were a few opportunities where I wished I'd had the longer lens as an option.
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  14. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I have the BCL-9 I started using it a little (ultra-wide, planetoids :) ) so I took this travel as an excuse to get the real thing. In the mean-time I lent the BCL-9 to a friend so it's no longer an option. I expected for the S7.5 to be much smaller, almost like the P20, because I've often read that is a very small lens...well, it's not big but it's bigger even than the O45 and about any m43 prime excluding premium tele lenses.
    The 7.5 means astro, ultra-wide to defish, planetoids, fish-eye macro: a lot of things to live without :)

    @piggsy@piggsy thanks for your detailed examples. I'll try to make a hood for the FL-LM2 as soon as I get it and see how it works. It's quite unbelievable to me how well the hard shadow disappears (and the light become great too).
  15. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Thanks, I'll try to play a little with stellarium and a moon calendar even if my "astro photography" was more like "wow, the sky is beautiful let's take a shot of this with the 500 rule". But if there is the possibility to do something more I'll look into it.
  16. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    I've made use of A4 paper with alfoil glued on the inside more than once ;-)
  17. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    A pocket handkerchief, I find, works well as an improvised macro flash diffuser.
  18. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    As stated above, test all of your new gear, including your battery charger, to make sure everything is working as it should. Bring a PDF copy of the E-M1 manual on an electronic device as well. I know you are going light, but are you only bringing one body?

    For flash, find an opaque lid from a yogurt container to use as a diffuser. They are flat and take up no room. And why not try out a small LED flashlight. They are great to have when traveling, especially if you are doing night photography. This and the lid/diffuser might be an acceptable and compact light source, especially if you are shooting raw files.

    Good luck,

  19. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Yogurt lid and handkerchief sound like decent ordinary flash diffusers but if your goal is to take close ups without self shadowing (and do it with a tiny flash placed far back from the end of the lens) then you don't have much choice but to move the point where the flash is diffused further forward down the lens.
  20. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    A little updates on my experiments. This is what I got before, with the lens fully extended at minimum focus distance:



    and this is my "diffuser":


    It's a toothpaste box with a plastic bag on the opening. I even cut the ending at 45 degrees. After a few experiments it seems that it mostly needs some kind of extension going beyond the end of the lens.

    And this is what I get now:




    Nice :)

    Then I tried to find the shortest possible length that I can get away with and it's about this. The plastic bag softens a little but it's not fundamental.


    So maybe the toy flash is coming.

    @Replytoken@Replytoken I do not have a second body, if this should die we'll figure something out. Bringing around extra 400gr plus space is not an option.

    I'll try the opaque lid (keeping it far from the flash) as soon as I find one, seems like a rare thing to find here: only transparent or full white bottles. I think I'll have to sand a transparent one.

    The led light I have, as most, has a 6500k white light (with a tight cone). There are a few high CRI led lights around but are rare beasts. So I suppose I could place a gel over this :) but I have none.
    So using it in daylight should give ma a complex mixed light hard to fix. I may try tomorrow anyway.
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