Table Top Adventure w E-M1 & FL600-R

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by marcr1230, Jan 25, 2014.

  1. marcr1230

    marcr1230 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2013
    Ok - last night being cold and dark, I decided it was time for another round of "Why can't I take good table-top pictures"

    my setup is pretty simple, an silver umbrella to the left with an Olympus FL-600R, a white posterboard as my base and background, and a white foam core board on the right side to help reduce shadows
    camera and lens for all shots except the first one (the setup) was the E-M1 and 60 2.8 macro, handheld, with the little bundled Oly flash on top to trigger the FL-600R
    flash mode set to TTL, shots generally at 1/125sec @ f5.6


    The initial settings were ISO 400, full frame metering (Matrix?), no on camera exposure comp, no on or off camera flash EV changes, Auto White Bal.

    here's the first test shot, clearly too dark:

    so I played a bit, 16 shots later after changing to center weighted metering, and changing the off camera flash to +0.67 EV (0.7)

    Question 1- if I'm using TTL mode, why should I need to boost the EV comp on the off camera flash, shouldn't it just be right ?
    Question 2 - I assume the RC mode EV boost for channel A, only affects the one one off camera flash I had, and not the on camera ?

    here's a slightly better result, it actually looked better/lighter in the LCD than what I saw later on the computer:
    Another comment - I couldn't figure out how to set the custom white balance, I tried following the instructions but didn't see any change
    to the stored values in CWB 1-4, in the end I mostly used Auto WB flash.
    Worry - I think my back control wheel may have an issue, sometimes when rolling thru the WB options, it would click, but not change the setting from current to next - I'll need to watch that


    then I took a variety of equipment shots, and edited them in post
    also at one point I think I changed the on camera flash EV to + 0.67 (0.7)
    the PP essentially was to boost exposure, slightly correct WB, bring out shadows (the dark leather of the camera for example) , sharpen a little
    Question 3 - I was surprised I had to do so much boosting of exposure to get a bright white background - any help ?

    Here's a nice result - note how there is a distinct break between the bottom chrome and the background

    Here's the same setup - with the subject camera rotated - note I maybe lose the crisp difference between the bottom chrome and the background

  2. marcr1230

    marcr1230 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2013
    I figured out the Custom WB issue - you actually have to push the "info" button and not mistakenly the AEL/AFL button :)
  3. christofp

    christofp Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2012
    I think I had the same issues with underexposure, but had the luck to find the reason as well as a good workaround:

    In short: The little master flash fools the TTL exposure when it is much nearer to the subject than the remote slave.
  4. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    TTL doesn't mean it's always perfectly exposed :smile:

    Especially in a situation where you have a subject with a lot of white or black that will fool the meter, or varying degrees of reflectivity, the TTL metering may require some flash exposure compensation. In this case you've got a ton of white, which will usually meter about -1.7 stops underexposed if it tries to expose it to 18% gray.

    The other issue you may be running into is the FL-600R isn't a very powerful flash, and at 1/125s f/5.6 and ISO 400 you're asking for a lot from a relatively small flash unit bounced out of an umbrella. You can increase the FEC a couple stops and see how that works out, but just be aware you may end up maxing out the unit's power.
  5. gr8Shot

    gr8Shot Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 13, 2013
    Pretty basic exposure issue here: Exposure meters (including TTL pre-flash meters) generally see in B&W and try to turn everything into 18% grey. Predominantly white backgrounds (including snow) will be underexposed (to make it into grey) requiring +1 E compensation. Predominantly black backgrounds will be overexposed (to make it into grey) requiring -1 E compensation.

    Some DSLRs, like my former Nikon D800, did metering in full colour and compared the image against various profiles to override the basic 18% metering rule.

    The FL-600r + E-M1 is easily fooled by white - or even light grey - backgrounds. My Metz 58 + E-M1 does better but does not match Nikon's somewhat exceptional flash metering.

    Funny thing is: Mirrorless TTL should be able to beat DSLRs since they could use the same exposure meter required to take a normal picture - reminicent of the original OM-2 film camera that read reflected light off the film itself during a flash exposure. DSLRs must use a pre-flash to estimate flash power before the mirror flips up. Most mirrorless cameras also use a pre-flash. I think this will eventually change.
  6. nuclearboy

    nuclearboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2011
    Ellicott City, MD
    Real Name:
    Gr8Shot makes an important point about the metering with light or dark backgrounds. I have a similar setup here where I take photos for craigslist or ebay.

    When I take photos on white board like that, flash or not, I need to use center or spot metering. Letting the white average in to the photo metering will cause the actual (non-white) subject to be dark. When I take these type of photos I typically use constant light sources from a few points and then take the photo without additional flash.
  7. marcr1230

    marcr1230 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2013
    I was using center weighted - I will try again in a few days and reassess
    I'll try some of the suggestion I heard here and elsewhere
    Stronger flash , maybe manual flash settings
    And manual exposure
    I read the threads about Olympus TTL under exposure with off camera
    RC setup, will keep this in mind

    I don't have a setup with fixed lights as opposed to flash
    Thanks for the tips
  8. Jeff1:1

    Jeff1:1 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 2, 2013
    Pre-flash is use because the reflectivity off a sensor is much greater than film, almost like a mirror, so is difficult to determine proper exposure. Film didn't always get it right because different films had different reflectivity, but cameras probably used color print as a basis.
  9. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    I believe difference is due to how the light from the flash is bouncing back.
    In the first photo, the edge of the chrome is back lit(from the flash bouncing off the white paper), so there is a more distinct edge.
    In the second photo, there is a shadow behind the bottom chrome... you lose the back lit effect.