That tiny E-M5 flash is awesome!

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by bitmatt, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. bitmatt

    bitmatt Mu-43 Veteran

    271
    Apr 7, 2012
    Cleveland
    Matt
    I have two pro shoots scheduled for this week that I had planned on using my 5DmkII + radio triggers for flashes for. BUT! Since my OM-D came in I thought I'd see how the tiny flash unit does for controlling remote flashes. The answer? FANTASTIC! I'll take the MkII & radio triggers, but those will be backup. These shoots will be all E-M5.

    Here's some test shots featuring my kids as models against the big picture window- two umbrella setup, FL-50R for the big kick and an FL-36R for fill. The EM-5 controlled both beautifully. It is very Apple-like how well Olympus gear works together (that's a major compliment, BTW). I will probably add one more flash for background later, but I have complete confidence the E-M5 will have no trouble with it. I have never felt more confident in a new camera than I do this one.

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  2. cpt000

    cpt000 Mu-43 Regular

    64
    Mar 11, 2012
    Excellent! May I ask what's your setup - lighting and lens?
     
  3. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    989
    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    With your E-M5, can you dial in a manual output for the onboard flash? For example, can you set it to shoot at 1/2 or 1/8 power, or do you have to adjust the compensation in +/- EV?
     
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  4. chiral

    chiral Mu-43 Regular

    26
    Feb 20, 2012
    PA
    Thanks for great shots!

    I am waiting for my E-M5 to arrive (stupid UPS is holding it up in its facility through the weekend because I didn't pay them enough.. lol)

    I probably can find it out myself tomorrow, but I am curious if the external flash can trigger wireless flash without triggering itself..

    So, can the external flash only function as RC and not trigger itself?

    Thanks!:)
     
  5. s2kinfinite

    s2kinfinite Mu-43 Regular

    50
    Apr 14, 2012
    Great shots! Thanks for sharing!
     
  6. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    The cool thing is the E-M5 flash also works on the E-PM1 and E-PL3! I tried it, it works. :smile:
     
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  7. bitmatt

    bitmatt Mu-43 Veteran

    271
    Apr 7, 2012
    Cleveland
    Matt
    I'll answer your questions as best I can. This is actually the first I've used the Olympus wireless flash system, so I'm figuring it out as I go along. In the past I've used radio triggers with my Canon gear, so that is more what I'm accustomed to. My last Olympus camera was the E-500, and that did not feature remote control for lights.

    I usually shoot available light, so when I do need extra lighting gear I don't have a giant budget for it. For the MkII I have super cheap radio triggers and some off-brand speedlites that I set up manually & diffuse through various inexpensive umbrellas and softboxes (I guess you can call me a "strobist", but that's only because I am too cheap to buy fancier gear). Most of the time I can get away with just two flashes because I end up cutting out backgrounds a lot in Photoshop. But if I'm doing group shots or need to highlight an included background (or add some separation highlights) I'll add a third that I usually bounce off a reflector set up somewhere behind the subject(s). The photos above didn't need that because the kids were in front of a big window that provided all the backlight. If you are really interested on the quickest ways to light a scene I suggest looking up three-point lighting. I am sure there will be someone here who can tell you different ways to do it, but I've found this works pretty well for me.

    As I said I use cheap gear, so that means I normally have to set up the gain on all the lights manually. This is a pain, and can be time consuming (not to mention unprofessional-looking to clients) because you have to run around to each flash, dial new settings, do a test shot, check for blown highlights/unruly shadows, etc. Then do it again and again until you've got it right. I could spring for Pocket Wizard-style triggers that allow TTL control and easy management for Canons (and Nikons), but those are expensive. So, I have basically one way I set up & I have a pretty good idea what all my settings are to start with to minimize the running around. This is how I've been doing things for the past few years.

    In buying into the E-M5 and the whole M4/3~Olympus system my goal was to simplify my whole photographic approach. Obviously the smaller camera & lenses are a huge advantage over the huge 5DmkII I've been lugging around. But not only that, the built-in wireless flash system appears to be a tremendous advantage that doesn't seem to get much attention. Without needing any extra radio triggers or expensive Pocket Wizard hotshoe controls the Olympus cameras offer true TTL off camera remote control of multiple (Olympus) flashes. All the setup and EV gain settings are there in a nice control panel on the touch screen after you put the camera in RC Flash mode.

    So, I did have to buy some of the newer RC compatible Oly flashes (an FL-50R and an FL-36R), but I got them used through E-bay for pretty reasonable prices. They are expensive compared to the knock-off speedlites, but now I don't need any extra triggers (which are fidgety little things), and I never have to leave my subject hanging around waiting while I spin dials on flash stands. All adjustments are just a few button presses on the E-M5 away.

    The small flash on the E-M5 does indeed need to fire to control the others. However, if you don't want it to affect your scene you can dial it down as low as it will go. As long as the other flashes have a line of sight on it they will work. The adjustments are in +/- EV, and it can control up to four flashes at a time (including itself). It can also do multiple groups of four flashes each, but that seems pretty ambitious for me currently. I'll stick to just the one group for the moment!

    It is also features real TTL flash control. If you change your aperture value the flashes will change their intensity to match. Very impressive, and this will save me a lot of looking like a jerk when I realize I need to step down so the people in the back aren't blurry, thus making everybody wait while I dial up the lights. Everyone hates this.

    One thing I haven't checked yet (and I'm hoping will work okay) is if adding a plain old dumb slave flash to the mix will mess up the TTL control in any way. I only have the two Oly RC flashes (which will be main and fill up front), and I'd like to use one of the cheap speedlites in slave mode to add background illumination. The camera won't be able to control it directly, but it should fire when it senses the other flashes going off. Since it will be background I just have to set it & forget it, tiny adjustments aren't very important.

    So, that's what I know so far. I'll probably know more later this week as I put it into practice & let y'all know how it goes. So far I'm very impressed.

    Oh, by the way- I should mention the one thing I haven't skimped on as far as portable lighting goes. I have really nice lightstands. I highly recommend shelling out for rugged ones. They are by their nature clumsy things, and flimsy ones tend to break or topple over at terrible times.
     
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  8. bitmatt

    bitmatt Mu-43 Veteran

    271
    Apr 7, 2012
    Cleveland
    Matt
    I talk at length about the light setup in my just-posted response, but the lenses I use here are the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 and the Oly 45mm f/1.8.

    I also messed around with the 12-50 kit lens in this setup. Needed a bit more gain on the lights, but did a nice job.
     
  9. thearne3

    thearne3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    807
    Jan 28, 2010
    Redding, CT USA
    From what I've read, the slave won't mess up the Oly flashes, but the trigger flash may cause the slave to fire too soon. The slave needs to be sophisticated enough to wait for the main flash. When it does, it won't affect the them because the pre-flash has already 'instructed' the remotes. Again, this is from reading, rather than direct experience (haven't collected enough flashes!)
     
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  10. bitmatt

    bitmatt Mu-43 Veteran

    271
    Apr 7, 2012
    Cleveland
    Matt
    I just did the tiniest bit of research and found that Metz makes a knockoff of the FL-50R that supposedly has full Olympus wireless TTL capability. For around $215 at Amazon I may give it a shot. Two guide 50 flashes plus the FL-36 would actually be quite a lot of light power in a small package.
     
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  11. jcurious

    jcurious Mu-43 Regular

    45
    Oct 14, 2010
    Northern Virginia
    Subscribing to this thread. Please let us know how this works out.

    Thanks!
     
  12. starlabs

    starlabs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    856
    Sep 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    When using RC flash, the signal flash should not affect the shot in any way; as far as I know it's only to trigger the other RC flashes. The shutter shouldn't open until the slave RC flash(es) fire.
     
  13. dgorman47

    dgorman47 Mu-43 Regular

    69
    Mar 13, 2012
    Connecticut
    Dutch
    I was fooling around with my Metz 50 and the omd last night. Set the Metz for rc and fiddled with the settings on the omd. Didn't get them to talk......yet.
     
  14. bitmatt

    bitmatt Mu-43 Veteran

    271
    Apr 7, 2012
    Cleveland
    Matt
    I just got a Metz & got it to work. I needed to consult the manual though- it isn't immediately obvious what buttons to push to put it into the proper TTL slave setting. But, once you figure that out it works great. I will be posting a follow up thread on this subject in the next day or two.
     
  15. bitmatt

    bitmatt Mu-43 Veteran

    271
    Apr 7, 2012
    Cleveland
    Matt
    Ah- that makes sense. It does seem like there is a very small delay between trigger press and shutter sound when in RC mode. You can have the on-camera flash fire for fill though, there are gain settings for it in the RC control panel.
     
  16. dgorman47

    dgorman47 Mu-43 Regular

    69
    Mar 13, 2012
    Connecticut
    Dutch
    I was able to put the flash into slave mode but what settings did you use in camera? I turned rc on in the menu but there were some other settings I wasn't too sure on.
     
  17. bitmatt

    bitmatt Mu-43 Veteran

    271
    Apr 7, 2012
    Cleveland
    Matt
    In my follow-up I'll see if I can write a primer of sorts on this. It isn't mentioned how to do this in the E-M5 manual, so I'm figuring it out as I go. With the Oly flashes it is pretty easy to figure out what the various settings on both flash guns and camera should be, but the Metz needs an odd combo of button pressings to get it into the proper TTL RC slave mode, and even when you've got it right it isn't immediately obvious that you do.

    Stay tuned!
     
  18. thearne3

    thearne3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    807
    Jan 28, 2010
    Redding, CT USA
    Yes...and can also be used as fill

    In the RC settings, there is as a setting below the 3 groups for activating the flash on/in camera, ie, its a sort of a fourth group. The default is OFF, so it is ONLY a trigger.
     
  19. picsnapr

    picsnapr Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Mar 21, 2012
    Hi Bitmatt,
    Did you write that follow-up yet? I'm struggling with my Metz and OM-D too :(
     
  20. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    So, uh....your lighting setup is reflected in the window in a pretty bad way :frown: