FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?

Started Apr 4, 2012 | Discussions
Akitu
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FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
Apr 4, 2012

I'm in the process of buying the FL36-R for low light situations. I'm new to flash photography and was wondering if the FL36-R would be of any use shooting indoor rollerderby?

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Bob Tullis
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to Akitu, Apr 4, 2012

Akitu wrote:

I'm in the process of buying the FL36-R for low light situations. I'm new to flash photography and was wondering if the FL36-R would be of any use shooting indoor roller derby?

I can't answer for not using flash much - but I don't think anyone can if you can't relate the distance you expect to be from the subjects.

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Akitu
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to Bob Tullis, Apr 4, 2012

Forgot to add that. It would be between 5 and 10 metres.

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Gregm61
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to Akitu, Apr 4, 2012

Akitu wrote:

Forgot to add that. It would be between 5 and 10 metres.

Borderline to probably not really.

That flash is underpowered for most anything beyond basic family photography, but if that's what you have, do not use two AA alkaline cells. Buy some nickel metal hydride rechargeables that will at least give you better recycling speeds, and don't go trying any burst sets or the flash will not survive the evening. If you do several qucik succession single pops and feel the thing starting to heat up, give it 5 minutes off.

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Akitu
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to Gregm61, Apr 4, 2012

Thanks for your advice. I haven't bought the FL36-R yet as I wanted to make sure it's the right choice for me. I will use the flash mostly for group shots, but was wondering if it could handle more challenging situations like the rollerderby.

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Gregm61
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to Akitu, Apr 4, 2012

Akitu wrote:

Thanks for your advice. I haven't bought the FL36-R yet as I wanted to make sure it's the right choice for me. I will use the flash mostly for group shots, but was wondering if it could handle more challenging situations like the rollerderby.

Any flash using just two AA's is already at a disadvantage power-wise, and the FL36 or FL36R units recycle very slow with regular alkaline cells, especially after the first few pops. If I did not already have the FL50 flash from my Olympus DSLR outfit I would be looking to eventually get the new FL600R flash, which seems to fit in-between the FL36R and FL50R, but unlike those two, the FL600R is designed with the micro bodies in mind.

It's no contest regarding power output the FL50R is the better flash to get, but it can be rather large on a Pen body, and that's the E-P3. I would think it would be almost too unweildy on something like a Pen Mini. The Panasonic GH series or the Olympus E-M5 should handle the FL50R very well, especially with the accessory grips added.

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herebefore
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to Akitu, Apr 4, 2012

Akitu wrote:

I'm in the process of buying the FL36-R for low light situations. I'm new to flash photography and was wondering if the FL36-R would be of any use shooting indoor rollerderby?

I tried the FL-36 in the horse show ring.. Distance from 20 to 25 feet most of the time. Shooting at 60 to 75mm FL mostly and I didn't find the FL-36 to be up to the job..

After shooting one day with the FL-50, I was satisfied..

I sold the Fl-36 to help finance the purchase a 2nd FL-50 for Back-up.

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Akitu
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to Akitu, Apr 4, 2012

Thanks for all the responses. Looks like the FL36-R wouldn't be up for the job. I would love to get the FL50R, but it's too expensive for me.

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sigala1
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to Akitu, Apr 4, 2012

Akitu wrote:

I'm in the process of buying the FL36-R for low light situations. I'm new to flash photography and was wondering if the FL36-R would be of any use shooting indoor rollerderby?

Remember that a flash becomes more powerful when you increase the ISO and use a wider aperture.

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Akitu
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to sigala1, Apr 5, 2012

Does that mean it would be powerful enough if I increase ISO from 160 to perhaps 800? Sorry for my ignorance, but I'm completely new to flash photography and want to make sure I don't spend £170 on a flash that won't work for me.

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Keenasmustard
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Re: FL36-R flash powerful enough to photograph rollerderby?
In reply to Akitu, Apr 5, 2012

Probably not significantly. All flashes have a guide number which gives you an idea of how powerful they are in terms of distance. I am not familiar with the olympus flash numbering system but with canon the number ususally denotes the strength of the flash. My guess would be that guide number is probably 36 indicating a reach of 36 feet.

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Guy Parsons
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From the user manual
In reply to Keenasmustard, Apr 5, 2012

Keenasmustard wrote:

Probably not significantly. All flashes have a guide number which gives you an idea of how powerful they are in terms of distance. I am not familiar with the olympus flash numbering system but with canon the number ususally denotes the strength of the flash. My guess would be that guide number is probably 36 indicating a reach of 36 feet.

From the FL-36R manual at http://www.olympus.co.jp/en/support/imsg/digicamera/download/manual/esystem/man_fl36r_e.pdf

Read the top line as M4/3 = 4/3 as far as flash is concerned. Ignore the 135 line.

The top line lists the M4/3 focal length in mm which links to the flash to make it zoom up to 42mm but no further (that's the tele limit of the flash zoom head), so a 150mm lens would still have the flash head zoom to its limit of 42mm.

The Guide Number is the effective strength of the flash at whatever zoom setting it settles on and from the chart for 42mm (and longer lenses) the Guide Number is 36 in metres. If using a "normal" lens of say 25mm then the guide number shrinks to 28 as the flash head zooms back and spreads the light out a bit wider.

The formula for Guide Number is GN = distance × f-number and is rated at ISO 100 as a normal standard. Use say ISO 200 and the Guide Number changes by a factor of square root of 2, use 1.4 for good enough approximation, so the Guide number is now about 50 for ISO 200 at 42mm or longer.

Using 50 as the Guide Number divide the aperture into it to find the limit of the flash, say f/5.6 so 50 divided by 5.6 equals close to 9 metres or about 29 feet at ISO 200 at 42mm or longer.

Change to ISO 400 and the Guide Number becomes 72 so at f/5.6 the maximum distance is now nearly 13 metres or about 42 feet.

At ISO 800 the Guide Number is 101 so at f/5.6 the maximum distance is now about 18 metres or about 59 feet.

When that happens the flash is working at its maximum output and will get hot and also the batteries cook if flashing frequently, plus the flash recycle time gets slow. The best battery type seems to be the rechargeable "ready to use" Ni-MH type like Sanyo Eneloops.

Regards...... Guy

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Akitu
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Thanks!
In reply to Guy Parsons, Apr 5, 2012

Thanks for your effort, that's very helpful information. As I only need a reach of around 10 metres, I should be ok with shooting at ISO400 or I could go for ISO800 to get a faster shutter speed as I've read somewhere that you can overcome the 1/160 limit on the G3 which might help freezing the action (hope I got that one right).

Yes I've read about the Eneloops and will definitely go for them to reduce recycling times.

As it looks I'll either go for a new FL36-R or a used FL50 if I can find one. I'm really more than happy with my G3 and I think the biggest improvement for me at the moment is to learn how to use flash. Looks like the FL36-R should be good enough to do the job.

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sigala1
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Re: Thanks!
In reply to Akitu, Apr 5, 2012

Akitu wrote:

Thanks for your effort, that's very helpful information. As I only need a reach of around 10 metres, I should be ok with shooting at ISO400 or I could go for ISO800 to get a faster shutter speed as I've read somewhere that you can overcome the 1/160 limit on the G3 which might help freezing the action (hope I got that one right).

The point of that comment I made yesterday is that when you increase ISO from 400 to 800, for example, then your flash only needs to emit half as much light, so it uses less battery power and it will recharge faster.

If you are shooting at ISO 200 with an f/5.6 lens, then you need a much more powerful flash than if you are shooting at ISO 800 with an f/2.8 lens, because the second shooting situation only requires 1/16 as much light.

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Guy Parsons
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More flash talk.
In reply to Akitu, Apr 5, 2012

Akitu wrote:

Thanks for your effort, that's very helpful information. As I only need a reach of around 10 metres, I should be ok with shooting at ISO400 or I could go for ISO800 to get a faster shutter speed as I've read somewhere that you can overcome the 1/160 limit on the G3 which might help freezing the action (hope I got that one right).

No, the Panasonics cannot exceed the 1/160 shutter speed limit, only Olympus can do that. That's talking about regular flash which can be up to full rated power.

Both brands have high speed sync in the form of the flash being able to output a series of flash pops to cover the time that the shutter travels at up to its maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 or whatever, but that tragically shortens to available flash range and tends to cook the flash if used too much. People have burnt out their FL-36R using too much high speed sync mode.

You are definitely stuck with 1/160 second on the G3 with full power available flash as in regular TTL or Auto modes.

Just make sure that you use second curtain flash sync (in the menus somewhere) as that then gives the blur of the ambient light exposure trailing behind the flash exposure so make it look as it the person is travelling forward. Regular first curtain flash sync has the blur in front of the flash exposed person so confuses the illusion of speed and direction.

It will definitely be a period of experimentation and failures until you get a result that you like.

Yes I've read about the Eneloops and will definitely go for them to reduce recycling times.

As it looks I'll either go for a new FL36-R or a used FL50 if I can find one. I'm really more than happy with my G3 and I think the biggest improvement for me at the moment is to learn how to use flash. Looks like the FL36-R should be good enough to do the job.

Using the FL-36/36R always at maximum power is a bit risky, it would be better to look for the older FL-50 or other big output flashes, better with 4xAA battery power supplies. Again the FL-50 is a big and cumbersome flash on an M4/3 camera so rigging it up on a simple side bar is best way to hold it. Then a cable is needed to connect hot-shoe to flash. Any of Panasonic, Olympus or Canon flash extender cables work as they all have contacts in the right places.

Otherwise look at some other brand flash and it need not be TTL compatible, I regularly use Nikon flashes on my E-PL1 and also on my Panasonic LX3. The flash needs to be in its own auto mode and then you match camera (in Manual mode) and flash settings as to aperture and ISO, and also zoom if the flash has a zoom head. Once Auto is set up with my Nikon flashes, it is as reliable as TTL but without the annoying (and possibly battery wasting) double flash of TTL.

My old list at http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~parsog/panasonic/11-flash.html#flashlist may help select one, also of course see Michael Meissner's list at http://www.the-meissners.org/olympus-flash2.html as Olympus and Panasonic use the same basic flash logic.

Regards.......... Guy

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Morpho Hunter
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Buy the Fl-50r (which I don't own)
In reply to Akitu, Apr 5, 2012

In my experience, the FL-36/FL-36r are good for "domestic" photography and also for macrophtography ...but I tried to take flash shots across the main entrance hall of London's Natural History Museum ..at low iso ..all were underexposed.

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Akitu
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Re: More flash talk.
In reply to Guy Parsons, Apr 5, 2012

Thanks for all the advice! I'm definitely glad I asked for advice as otherwise I would have gone for the FL36-R. I've now decided that if I buy a flashgun I might as well get a more powerful one and now trying to decide between the Metz 50 af-1 and the FL50-R. One last question: Would I have to compromise on anything if I'd choose the Metz over the FL50-R?

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BayAreaWZ
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Re: More flash talk.
In reply to Akitu, Apr 5, 2012

Both the Metz and Olympus support wireless so no compromise there.

Quick tip, you might be able to get a better deal on a used Metz 48-AF1 which is the model the Metz 50-AF1 replaced. The biggest improvement in the 50 is the more sturdy metal hot shoe as the 48 was prone to breakage (mine did break). But if you are careful, you can save a lot of money going with the 48.

If you aren't in a huge hurry, the upcoming FL-600 sits between the Metz 50 and Oly FL-50R in terms of power and features. According to the press release, the flash cycles faster than the more expensive FL-50R. It's not as powerful, but it also has an LED light which you can use for video and I'm assuming may act like a focus assist light.

For the money, I would go with the Metz 50.

Akitu wrote:

Thanks for all the advice! I'm definitely glad I asked for advice as otherwise I would have gone for the FL36-R. I've now decided that if I buy a flashgun I might as well get a more powerful one and now trying to decide between the Metz 50 af-1 and the FL50-R. One last question: Would I have to compromise on anything if I'd choose the Metz over the FL50-R?

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Guy Parsons
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Re: More flash talk.
In reply to Akitu, Apr 5, 2012

Akitu wrote:

Thanks for all the advice! I'm definitely glad I asked for advice as otherwise I would have gone for the FL36-R. I've now decided that if I buy a flashgun I might as well get a more powerful one and now trying to decide between the Metz 50 af-1 and the FL50-R. One last question: Would I have to compromise on anything if I'd choose the Metz over the FL50-R?

That's a good idea, the Metz 50 seems to be ideal. But again, it's a big flash and may make the camera unwieldy on top of the G3. I strongly advise getting the flash extender cable (Olympus, Panasonic, Canon) and put the flash on a side bar.

In the old days when people wanted plenty of flash power they used the side mounted "potato masher" style, like this http://www.metz.de/en/flash-units/product-ranges/sca-flash-units/mecablitz-76-mz-5-digital.html where it might work better in the flash stressing situation you seem to be wanting.

When flash is needed in halls and sports events, bigger is always better.

Regards..... Guy

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nickoly
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Re: More flash talk.
In reply to BayAreaWZ, Apr 5, 2012

BayAreaWZ wrote:

The biggest improvement in the 50 is the more sturdy metal hot shoe as the 48 was prone to breakage (mine did break). But if you are careful, you can save a lot of money going with the 48.

And possibly more than you might at first think. I'm not familiar with either of these flashes, and maybe the 50 has improved weight distribution and/or plastic screws to retain the metal foot, but I think it is preferable to have the foot let go in an accident, than the shoe.

Disposable feet is just a way of coming toi terms with using a fitting that was never intended, and essentially unsuitable, for the job.

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