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Thread: Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

  1. #1
    thearne3
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    Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

    Hi,

    I'm choosing a flash for my E-P1. To be honest, there have only been a few times that I wanted any flash: Small gatherings where a 'group shot' is needed and available light would imply ISO1600+ even with a fast lens. Just so you have some idea where I have experience: I used to have a G9 and 420ex with cord and Fong diffuser. Nice combo. You will note that I have no qualms about using a flash that's larger than the camera! Really worked well, since the on-camera flash was rarely enough. I still own the flash cord (I believe this is same as Oly?), and Fong diffuser.

    I'd like to get some feedback on both a 'small/$50' flash and a 'mid-size/$100+' flash.

    First, in the 'small is good with an E-P1' category, it looks like an Oly FL-20 is good value at approx. $50 on ebay. Any other recommendations for a small flash? (the FL-14 is too small/expensive for me).

    Advantages for me: more likely to carry along 'just in case', small, less expensive. Can use cord, but not much power for bouncing(?)

    Second, a mid-size flash. The comparable Oly flash to the 420ex I guess would be a FL-36(r), but that's way too expensive. So the choices for a fully functional(E-TTL, etc)/full size flash would be Vivitar DL383 or Metz 36AF4 or Bower SFD9260 (this looks identical to the Vivitar!). All are $100-130 at B&H. The Vivitar/Bower seems to have better features for little extra $: auto zoom, tilt & swivel, lit lcd, slave capable, etc. Any other recommendations for a mid-size flash?

    Advantages for me: will cover most flash situations, can use Fong/other diffuser.

    Am I missing anything?

    Any insights much appreciated...

    Tom
    Last edited by thearne3; 4th December 2009 at 12:03.

  2. #2
    Subscriber Member Streetshooter's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

    I use a Nikon SB22s.
    It has a tilting lens, and is small enough not to be in the way.
    4 AA batteries lasted me a shoot with 275 frames...the flash never took longer than 1/2 second to recycle and the batteries are still like new. I use it on auto mode....f4 or f8 at ISO 200
    shooter

  3. #3
    ChrisJ
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    Re: Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

    Are you missing anything? Yup

    Check out Chris Hobby's site here

    http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/200...-strobist.html

    Try the 'Lighting 101 Archive' for chapter and verse on how to use an off camera flash with any camera, and why you should, even when it's not dark.

    Chris

  4. #4
    thearne3
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    Re: Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

    Thanks, Shooter.

    Didn't realize that the Nikon flashes are Oly compatible. I just did a quick google search and didn't see any more info. Could you shed some light (!) on the subject?

    Thx
    Tom

  5. #5
    Super Duper
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    Re: Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by thearne3 View Post
    Didn't realize that the Nikon flashes are Oly compatible. I just did a quick google search and didn't see any more info. Could you shed some light (!) on the subject?
    Nikon flash units work fine on Olympus/Panasonic cameras, but they are not "dedicated". You can use them in manual or their built-in auto mode, the camera body will have no control over them and must be set up in manual exposure mode.

    I use a little Nikon SB-30 at minimum output (1/32 power, I think) as a slave trigger for my Paterson E-Flash guns and Sunpak 383. It does a good job as a light-duty accessory flash too.

    For dedicated operation with Pen E-P1, the Olympus FL36 is nice and compact, light, with a swivel/bounce head.

  6. #6
    thearne3
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    Re: Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

    Chris -
    Great reference! Time to re-think flash use. The TTL cable and flash at arms length would seem to be better than 'on camera' but far short of the potential possibilities. Lots to digest before getting out my wallet.

    Thanks!
    Tom

  7. #7
    thearne3
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    Re: Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

    Godfrey -

    I feel like I've just jumped into the deep end...

    The Strobist site recommended by Chris seems to advocate the consistency/lower cost/flexibility of full manual strobes, rather than relying on TTL. These are (if I'm reading correctly) connected by either pc cord (which would require a hotshoe converter on the E-P1?) or wireless modules (TTL cable not required).

    If I understand you correctly, another option is to use a simple flash on the E-P1 to act as a trigger for other flashes capable of being 'slaves'. The triggering flash in your example need not be dedicated (but could be?) In any case, one would want the trigger flash to be manually adjustable so that you have full control over balance and direction of light when using other flashes.

    Re FL-36: As noted in my original post, I'd probably go with the Vivitar/Bower over the FL-36 based solely on cost. I'm not aware of any advantage to using the Oly in this size/power.

    I want to again thank everyone for your input. This forum isn't dedicated to the nuances of using strobes, so I'm content to continue my education in the Strobist blog and forum. I'm a cheap DIY kind of guy, so I'm looking forward to it.

    I'll be back!

    Best,
    Tom

    PS Actually, I'll continue lurking and posting the occasional pic...

  8. #8
    Super Duper
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    Re: Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by thearne3 View Post
    I feel like I've just jumped into the deep end...

    The Strobist site recommended by Chris seems to advocate the consistency/lower cost/flexibility of full manual strobes, rather than relying on TTL. These are (if I'm reading correctly) connected by either pc cord (which would require a hotshoe converter on the E-P1?) or wireless modules (TTL cable not required).

    If I understand you correctly, another option is to use a simple flash on the E-P1 to act as a trigger for other flashes capable of being 'slaves'. The triggering flash in your example need not be dedicated (but could be?) In any case, one would want the trigger flash to be manually adjustable so that you have full control over balance and direction of light when using other flashes.

    Re FL-36: As noted in my original post, I'd probably go with the Vivitar/Bower over the FL-36 based solely on cost. I'm not aware of any advantage to using the Oly in this size/power.

    I want to again thank everyone for your input. This forum isn't dedicated to the nuances of using strobes, so I'm content to continue my education in the Strobist blog and forum. I'm a cheap DIY kind of guy, so I'm looking forward to it.
    Enjoy!

    Personally, I find the simplicity and consistency of manual flash more to my liking as well. RF triggers work well, so does using a small, low-power strobe (with or without IR shields) and optical slaves to trigger others, in some circumstances. BTW, the trigger flash should not be a dedicated flash, or at least should be on manual operation ... otherwise the pre-flash fires things at the wrong time. A cable connection works too but is often clumsy. A flash meter helps too. ;-)

    Which is not to say that there is no value to the auto-flash systems. They simplify things sometimes and are convenient in use. I have the FL36 because I bought it on a close out, I can use it for dedicated situations and switch it to manual and use it in conjunction with the manual setup when needed.

    There's another excellent non-dedicated flash with lots of power for cheap ... the Vivitar 285HV. GN of 120 (feet), swivel/tilt/zoom head, $90.

    And then there are light stands, umbrellas, boxes and other light modifiers ... As I said, Enjoy!

  9. #9
    Subscriber Member Streetshooter's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing a flash for E-P1 - need advice

    Ahhh, the 285...great flash. With that or a 283 I could light up Godfrey's house from here in Philly.
    Another good one is the Sunpak 244D. Not dedicted but who cares.
    Tilt head and works very well with a bounce card etc....about 1/2 size of the 285/283
    shooter

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