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Your Suggestions?: Affordable Ring Flash/External Flash for Olympus E-PL2

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by xhatox, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. xhatox

    xhatox Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 29, 2014
    Hi everyone,

    I am not well-versed in photography, but received some amazing help on this forum just a while ago with finding an affordable macro/close-up lens. Can you help me choose an affordable (under $50 each) ring and external flash?

    I am most interested in taking "stock" photos right now (an item with a simple white background) of items of various sizes (generally 1/2" to 18").

    The close-up lens I got help choosing here is a Marumi DHG 330 +3. It is very good, I love it. Which Ring Flash/External Flash would you buy for an Olympus E-PL2 if your budget was only $50 for each flash, or $100 total.

    The equipment I have include:
    Olympus 40-150mm 1:4-5:6 58 lens
    Olympus 14-42mm 1:3-5:6 II 37 lens
    A 58-37 step down converter
    The Marumi DHG 330 +3 close-up lens filter
    4 small photography table lamps
    1 large photography table lamp
    9" x 12.5" (light area) light box

    I noticed that Olympus recommends a Safe Sync Hot Shoe to PC Sync adapter, is this necessary with external/ring flash? If this and a slave is necessary (sorry if I make no sense), can you please recommend which ones you would purchase (hopefully on a budget) as well?

    Thank you. :smile:
  2. Even a cheap but decent manual flash like the YN-560III is about $80 each new. Ring flashes are more expensive again. LED ring lights may fall into your budget but they offer very little light output compared to a flash, that might be okay if you're using a tripod and can deal with longer exposures at narrow apertures.

    You could also try making a DIY ring flash modifier using a single external flash that's powerful enough, there are plenty of tutorials online.

    Can I ask why you're looking for a normal flash and a ring flash for product shoots? With a light box you might be able to get away with one normal flash and a reflector for fill.
  3. xhatox

    xhatox Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 29, 2014
    Hi Wjiang,

    Thank you for your quick reply and suggestions! I purchased a light box, but I really dislike the results I am getting (Of course, there is a big chance I am doing something wrong :biggrin: ). I can't get much effect shining the lights through or putting them in the openings.

    I am new to photography, so that is why I am asking about multiple products (Honestly, I don't know what I need so if only one is needed, that is better). I will look into the DIY ring flash modifier. Anyone else recommend this?

    I understand my budget is quite low, but I am fine buying new or used products. Is manual flash problematic? It seems that the Olympus E-PL2 only has a limited and over-budget selection of automatic flash systems.
  4. Manual flash is perfectly fine (and in some ways better) for controlled set ups. If you're going down that route the easier thing is to find a used manual flash with an optical slave (triggered by your E-PL2 on-board flash) - this way you don't have to worry about voltage compatibility or adaptors/cables. Second option is to find a manual flash with a PC sync input, and then get a safe hot-shoe to PC adaptor - the key thing here is that the flash itself (especially if it's an old model flash) often presents voltages much higher than the hot-shoe of the camera can handle, and so whatever adaptor cable you use has to limit the voltage going to the camera hot-shoe.

    Have you visited David Hobby's Strobist blog? It's full of useful information. I particularly recommend you look at his DIY light tent, where he shows how he lights it with just one external flash plus a white reflector board: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html
  5. This isn't quite macro, but it gives some idea of what a one external flash set up can do:

    PL25 +ND4 @ f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO200
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    I used a YN-560III as an optical slave inside the DIY light tent and used it as a diffused key light to the left. Using a large bit of cardboard as a gobo I tried to reduce the amount of spill light on the floor.
    I then put a large sheet of white poster paper in front of the on-board accessory flash to make it a fill light, this also optically triggers the key light.

    For smaller subjects I would put it in the light tent, have the key light on the outside, and use the same technique with the on-board flash acting as fill and optical trigger.
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