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Very light self powered slave flash with adjustable power output

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by zzffnn, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. zzffnn

    zzffnn Mu-43 Regular

    159
    Nov 19, 2017
    Texas
    Looking for a very light (< 350 grams with batteries), self-powered (by its own battery), optical slave flash. Highly prefer (manually) adjustable power output and low cost. Please kindly advise eBay search terms (brands/models).

    It will mostly be used for macrophotography, on one arm of a dual arm flexible (cold shoe) flash bracket. The arm can only hold 350 grams (with batteries loaded), after which if will bend under gravity.

    The other arm will hold my Olympus FL-LM3 flash, connect to my Olympus E-M10 II's hot shoe, via a TTL cable (Promaster Olympus 4225). The FL-LM3 will be TTL master flash.

    I used a Godox TT685o (full sized, TTL, HSS, 2.4Ghz) flash for macro before, but found it slightly too heavy and overkill for macro (though I like it for outdoor portraits). So this new quest is only for a very light weight macro flash and rig. I do not want to spend for a dedicated macro flash, such as Olympus STF-8.

    This photographer assembled a similar budget Canon macro rig, but I cannot clearly hear what speedlites he used:


    Is it a Minolta 118x flash and a certain model of Sunpak flash? I don't know what their loaded weights are, with batteries (if they can sit straight without bending my dual arm flexible flash bracket).

    Thank you very much.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  2. Stanga

    Stanga Mu-43 Top Veteran

    702
    Oct 16, 2016
    I use the Meike MK-320. Price and feature wise it's just about the best out there in the weight range that you are looking for.
     
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  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    How are you going to balance exposure when one flash is TTL and the other manual? I would think you'd need 2 manual flashes
     
  4. zzffnn

    zzffnn Mu-43 Regular

    159
    Nov 19, 2017
    Texas
    Thank you, gents.

    Meike MK-320P looks good, at 202 grams with batteries. $60 shipped. I like that it is a native m4/3 TTL flash and can be used in other applications (when my FL-LM3 is too weak and TT685o is heavy/overkill).

    I will most likely use it at minimal power output, manually, to provide fill light. Maybe a reflective white card/aluminum foil will provide enough fill (such that I don't need a second flash)?
     
  5. Stanga

    Stanga Mu-43 Top Veteran

    702
    Oct 16, 2016
    The Meike comes with a diffuser, which the FM-LM3 doesn't have or can support. My FM-LM3 hasn't seen any use since I got the Meike. The other thing of note is that the Meike comes with a stand and can be charged up via the USB port.
     
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  6. inkista

    inkista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    513
    Jan 13, 2012
    San Diego, CA
    Do you want HSS? The MK-320 doesn't do HSS.

    My Godox TT350-O is 260g with the 2xAA batteries in it. US$85. Rebranded by Adorama as a Flashpoint R2 Mini. Does TTL, HSS, 2nd curtain, has manual power settings from 1 to 1/128, had a head that swivels 270º (the MK-320 only does 150º), and, unlike the Meike, has a built-in radio transceiver, so even though it has S1/S2 optical slave capability for manual-only triggering, you could use a Godox X1T-O or XPro-O on-camera to fire and control it in TTL/HSS as a radio slave. GN is 36m. Typically comes with a case, tupperware diffuser cap, and ministand.

    Disadvantages vs. the TT685 as a tradeoff for the smaller size/weight, are less power (a plus in your book), only swivels 270º, no recycle beep, no sync port, no external battery pack port, and doesn't always do the cross-brand TTL "switching" the TT685/V860II can do (i.e., my TT350-O is a TTL/HSS slave to my XPro-F on my X100T, but not to my XPro-C on my 5DMkII).

    Aisde from the Meike MK-320 and Godox TT350, the other two most-common "small flash for mirrorless" recommendations would be the Nissin i40, and the Metz M400, but both are more expensive than the other two options.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  7. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    Like, The Valley
    The MK-320 is well suited to stuff like that. Unlike my other favorite flash for that kind of thing, the Godox TT350, the design of the Meike is unusual in that the optical sync sensor is always pointed in the same direction as the flash, since the head and body swivel together. This works out pretty well in a close quarters two-flash situation such as you describe, as long as you're not working in direct sunlight, since the flashes will tend to be pointed towards each other. The LED light is also quite useful as a modeling/focus assist, and actually shines out through the fresnel (and any modifiers) unlike most designs that include a "video light".

    I've pretty much moved to the Godox TT350 myself, though. The quality/reliability is a little better, and they're more versatile for other purposes (primarily bounce flash) in addition to having built-in radio tranceivers, so you don't have to worry about optical sync failing in sunlight, etc. You have to supply your own little LED flashlight, though. ;) 

    Both of these 2xAA flashes are similar in size, price, weight, as well as output power when the TT350 is set to widest zoom (the Meike doesn't have a zoom head, it's permanently "wide"). Cycle time at full power is a little better on the Godox. Those are the two flashes in this class that I'm familiar with.

    EDIT: I didn't see Inkista's post before typing this up, hence any redundancy. :D 
     
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  8. Stanga

    Stanga Mu-43 Top Veteran

    702
    Oct 16, 2016
    Talking about recycling times, if you want recycling times of less than 2 seconds on the MK-320, use Lithium batteries.
     
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  9. zzffnn

    zzffnn Mu-43 Regular

    159
    Nov 19, 2017
    Texas
    Thank you very much, gents.

    Would a reflector + single flash work almost as well, instead of using two flashes? Sometimes less is more? Please kindly correct me, if I am wrong.

    I do have a TT685o and shoot macro under direct sunlight sometimes. Did not realize that would be a problem for optical slave.

    Also did not realize TT350 is that light with batteries.

    I see that Xpro does not have hot shoe pass through, but X1T has one. Since my FL-LM3 requires a hot shoe connection and I prefer not to buy two TT350 's, I am guessing I need X1T to transmit radio to control TT350 TTL, then pass through to a hot shoe cable to FL-LM3 (and set LM3 to manual)?

    I am guessing HSS may not be necessary at my aperture settings (F8 or above, usually around F11), though I am not positive. I tried HSS from my TT685 before and found it just powerful enough for people portraits under direct sunlight, so TT350's HSS may be slightly too weak for anything but macro/close-up?
     
  10. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    Like, The Valley
    This is ultimately a matter of taste, I reckon. I'm personally not that excited about the look of "twin-light" or ring flash for macro, but some people are. For "shiny" subjects, I really prefer a single large (from the subject's perspective) source... I just like the look of the speculars and shadows produced that way, compared to other on-camera set-ups... at least relatively simple ones. Probably some of the most amazing artificial macro lighting I've seen on this forum is the stuff that @piggsy@piggsy does with multiple cross-polarized sources: bugs in the mist, cross polarised

    I haven't explored that angle much, though,since I spend most of my time in a drought-parched environment that's rarely crawling with photogenic critters. Most of my bug photos are opportunistic, and as such I try to keep my basic light rig fairly quick and simple to set up. There's a thread here for sharing macro lighting set-ups: Show: Your DIY macro flash diffuser

    One thing to consider is what kind of working distances you're talking about. A camera mounted diffused flash that produces good results at ~10cm can start to really fall apart and look more like typical on-camera flash at just twice that distance, so for longer-distance macro a pair of lights spread out on arms might make more sense...

    Yeah, if you weren't already invested in the LM3 I would be pushing away from the Meike and towards a pair of TT350s... a single TT350 might still be the way to go, though, since it can also function as a radio trigger for your larger flash, which is always handy if you start getting fancy at some point... as far as sunlight and optical slaves, there's probably always a way to make it work, but for subjects that could vanish at any time, I'd rather not have to worry about reliability.
     
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  11. zzffnn

    zzffnn Mu-43 Regular

    159
    Nov 19, 2017
    Texas
    @junkyardsparkle@junkyardsparkle,

    Thank you very much.

    I wonder if TT350o can radio trigger my TT685o and do HSS and/or TTL together. That may be useful for people portraits, so I can justify the cost (I likely won't need HSS for macro, otherwise).

    I also prefer single large light and do not like fully crossed pol (weight and image wise). Cannot say I really like the image from twin flashes, but having that options is good. Also prefer light weight and easy/simple set up. I do not have many interesting live macro subjects either. If I live near a rainforest, I will surely get a much better macro rig.

    Currently, my macro rig is just Raynox 150/250 over P100-300mm F4-5.6 and O40-150mm kit zoom. So working distance changes a lot and can get very long, up to 200 mm. When I shot my avatar lady beetle image, I used a full sized remote flash on Magic Arm. That rig is slightly heavy and cumbersome, with all the DIY light diffusion.

    I have lots of dead macro subjects, but don't need flash for those (I can focus stack them under continuous light, microscope focus drive, and get good results at 0.2-20x on sensor).
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  12. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    Like, The Valley
    I would expect so, it works for me using a TT350 triggering a TT600, but I don't often use TTL or HSS, particularly in multi-light setups, so you might want to read some of the Godox-related threads in this forum, there's been some discussion about the finer points of what does/doesn't work. And yeah, for varying working distances with a zoom lens, the best bet is probably to keep things flexible (so to speak). I've played around a little with using flexible metal goosenecks mounted on a bracket alongside the camera. They're sturdy enough to use as a grip and can hold more weight than the *pod type in the video, but they also contribute more weight themselves...
     
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  13. The best mounting things I've found are these - available in a few different styles

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    search for "camvate ultra articulating".
     
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  14. felipegeek

    felipegeek Mu-43 Enthusiast Subscribing Member

    169
    Jan 8, 2014
    Miami, FL
    Felipe
    @zzffnn@zzffnn

    I've not shot macro with flashes but I can say the Godox TT350/Adorama Flashpoint Zoom-Mini is a marvel of flash. It's the first flash that I keep in my everyday carry bag because it's so light and effective. I bought a second one used on from a fellow forum member as a backup because I liked it so much. The TT350 can be used as the controller but if you are going with a dual-arm config as in the video you referred to I'd suggest getting a XT1-O or X-Pro controller to put on the camera hot shoe to manage the two TT350 flashes. I use an off-camera flash bracket when shooting indoor events (especially with the much bigger TT-685 or V860II mounted) with the the transmitter in the hotshoe and it works very well.

    Note: I refer to the Godox model names but with the exception of the space TT350, the rest are Adorama Flashpoint R2 branded versions of referenced Godox flashes.

    I bought my Adorama version of the TT350 as an open-box/refurb and paid $59 bucks for it. The Adorama version comes with a slip-on cap diffuser that works well. The Godox version I got did not come with that. I've linked to the page for the open-box item: Flashpoint Zoom-Mini Thinklite TTL R2 Flash

    BTW: I have a spare XT1-O transmitter that I bought while waiting for the pre-ordered Adorama version to arrive. I've since picked up a X-Pro and don't need a second XT1. If you are interested I can try my hand at making my first Buy & Sell post for it.
     
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