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. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    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. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    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:
  5. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    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

    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.