Which medium sized TTL flash?

Started Apr 13, 2012 | Discussions
Timur Born
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Which medium sized TTL flash?
Apr 13, 2012

Since I am new to the whole mFT thing: Is there any SB-400 style TTL flash that One should buy for the EM-5? The upcoming FL-600 looks a bit huge and the FL-300 is not even fully tilt-able (and ugly)?!

Are there non Olympus options I should know about?

Thanks in advance for any answers.

Michael Meissner
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Timur Born, Apr 13, 2012

Timur Born wrote:

Since I am new to the whole mFT thing: Is there any SB-400 style TTL flash that One should buy for the EM-5? The upcoming FL-600 looks a bit huge and the FL-300 is not even fully tilt-able (and ugly)?!

Are there non Olympus options I should know about?

Thanks in advance for any answers.

I have no idea what a SB-400 style flash looks like.

I have a list of flashes that claim to support Olympus and Panasonic cameras here:
http://www.the-meissners.org/olympus-flash2.html

It is probably out of date, as new clone flashes come on the scene from time to time, and others vanish.

The FL-600R isn't that big, compared to other flashes like the FL-50R. I use a FL-36 on my E-P2 and it is about as large of a flash as I would want to use on a daily basis. My larger Metz 48 (and FL-50 before I dropped it) make the camera way too top heavy for my tastes. I believe the FL-600R is about the same size as the FL-36R, but it takes 4 AA batteries instead of 2, and it provides a video light instead of the focus assist light (micro 4/3rds cameras won't use the auto focus light on the flash).

If you need very light weight/size, I would probably think about the FL-300R.

Otherwise, my vote might go to:

  • Cactus AF50

  • Olympus FL-600R

  • Olympus FL-36R

For flashes that might be cheaper, but omit one or more desirable features:

  • Nissan Di466 -- Does not do FP-TTL (high speed sync), or Tilt

  • used FL-36 -- Does not do remote TTL flash with Olympus cameras

  • Metz 36 -- Does not do remote TTL flash, FP-TTL, or Tilt

  • Metz 24 -- Does not do remote TTL flash, FP-TTL, Tilt, and you can't shoot it straight ahead at focal lengths under 17.5mm

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William Ing
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Timur Born, Apr 13, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, another poster asked the same question you just did. Here's the very helpful reply from a certain Jerodequin:

Cactus AF50 did the trick for me, great features and great price... (note the link below is the one people have been sending around, I'm in the UK and bought from elsewhere, so I'm not affiliated with the link at all)

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/...a-flash-speedlite-for-olympus-panasonic.html

I'd never heard of this brand and certainly not this unit. It's a medium sized flash unit that features a tilt AND swivel head, swing down flash diffuser screen and white card, and wireless capability. (I.e., the Cactus AF50 flash can be set to ignore the camera's pre-flash and will trigger off the attenuated built-in flash.) Check out the link and see if the other specs fill your needs.

The maybe not-so-good news is that the Cactus AF50 ships from Hong Kong. The good news is it arrived at my door in the US in a bit over a week. Price for a unit of this quality and features (includes a plastic stand and soft storage bag) was right, AFAIC: About $155, shipping included. Be sure to specify the Oly/Pan version.

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Kevdog
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Timur Born, Apr 13, 2012

Timur Born wrote:

Since I am new to the whole mFT thing: Is there any SB-400 style TTL flash that One should buy for the EM-5? The upcoming FL-600 looks a bit huge and the FL-300 is not even fully tilt-able (and ugly)?!

Are there non Olympus options I should know about?

Both the FL-300R and the FL-600R can be remotely triggered from the OM-D (as well as the Oly Pen series). So even though it doesn't swivel/tilt you can take it off the camera, put on the clip on flash and set to 1/64 power to be the trigger and place it anywhere you like (as long as it gets enough light from the clip-on flash to set it off).

I have the FL-300R and it's quite neat and very very thin for a flash.

The FL-600R is new and uses 4 batteries instead of 2 for quicker recycle and is a bit bigger than the FL-300R but still a lot smaller than the old 4/3 flashes like the FL36 or FL50.

You can control multiple flashes this way and even group them. It's very powerful.

Before I got the FL300R I purchased the Metz 24-AF. It's a basic flash, no manual controls, but does TTL and bounces. Picked it up for under $90.

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exdeejjjaaaa
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to William Ing, Apr 13, 2012

William Ing wrote:

I'd never heard of this brand

rebranded iCorp/Tumax ( http://icorpandtumax.com/ ) ... the same people that make small flashes for Metz

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Michael Meissner
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Michael Meissner, Apr 14, 2012

Michael Meissner wrote:

For flashes that might be cheaper, but omit one or more desirable features:

  • Nissan Di466 -- Does not do FP-TTL (high speed sync), or Tilt

I forgot that the Nissan Di466 doesn't do remote TTL. It can be used as a dumb slave. Along with the Cactus AF50, it is the only flash that normally does TTL on the hot-shoe, but can be used as a dumb slave on Panasonics (Panasonic has no way to disable the TTL pre-flash, so you need a flash that ignore the initial pulse). The second generation of Di466 has this support, but the original version did not.

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Timur Born
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Kevdog, Apr 14, 2012

Thanks for all answers so far. The FL-300R seems to get in trouble with the VF/head when tilted on camera.

The FL-600R seems somewhat out of proportion and is rather expensive.

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Pelagic
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Timur Born, Apr 14, 2012

Timur Born wrote:

Is there any SB-400 style TTL flash that One should buy for the EM-5? >

I'm also new to MFT and come from a D300 with both SB-400 and SB-600 flashes. Niether was a do-it-all flash and I'm not sure there is such a thing.

Not sure of your actual needs but you asked specifically about a SB-400 style flash.

Here's my thinking/opinion.

After getting some great advice for this forum, I've ordered a Metz 24 and a Metz 58. They replace the SB-400 and SB-600 respectively. The 24 is about the same size as the SB-400 but is tall instead of flat. It's still on camera, so red-eye will be a problem. Well maybe not quite as bad because the Metz 24 is tall, whereas the SB-400 carrys its size very low to the camera. The 24 will fit in my pocket, as did the 400. Either flash is a great deal better than the camera's flash. Remember recycle time and camera battery life. These small flashs take all control from the camera. So it's camera TTL and fill flash and not much else.

I my case I also need a very powerful flash for large rooms and some sports. (mainly weddings and family events). For that the SB-600 was never powerful enough. Nor is the FL500, and besides the 500 is huge. Maybe I'll someday own a potatoe masher, but right now that's too rich for my blood. I'm getting the powerful Metz 58 as my powerhouse flash. I'll never use it on camera. Rather I'm checking out the various extentiion wires and will mount it on a bracket. When I need a poweful flash the bracket won't be a problem for me. The small MFT body still needs the same size flash to get the power.

I hope my thinking helps a little. My SB-400 is the last piece of my Nikon gear that I have to sell and my Metz flashs will arrive by mid-week. If you wish I'll post up my direct comparison between the 400 and 24. Like the 400, I believe the 24 will fit in my pocket.

Others on this thread have made good suggestions for flashs that do more than the 400/24 and less than the 600/58. That's not a bad thing, but tools that try to all-arounders aren't my style.

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Timur Born
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Pelagic, Apr 15, 2012

I mostly need a flash for filling apartment rooms (15 - 30 m² in size), tiltable for softer people shots. Figures that something with the power and size of a SB-400 should do the trick. 2 Batteries should be sufficient, too.

The FL-600R looks useful in that it also bring the video light and a bit more juice (useful with all the mixed light around here). But it also looks quite big compared to the camera itself.

The Metz 24 looks smaller, but is it a TTL flash on Olympus bodies? How do Panasonic flashes fit Olympus bodies?

I might end up with the FL-600R still, and just use the non-tiltable kit flash for "smaller" traveling.

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Jeff Tokayer
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Timur Born, Apr 15, 2012

I own the FL-36R and the FL50R. Both do TTL and wireless TTL.

I use the FL36R for macro shooting (wireless). With the Gary Fong Lightsphere, it produces a great soft bounce light. It runs on 2 AA's, which slow down the recycling time, but most of the time it's ready in a couple of seconds.

Jeff.

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Anders W
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Timur Born, Apr 15, 2012

Timur Born wrote:

Since I am new to the whole mFT thing: Is there any SB-400 style TTL flash that One should buy for the EM-5? The upcoming FL-600 looks a bit huge and the FL-300 is not even fully tilt-able (and ugly)?!

Are there non Olympus options I should know about?

Thanks in advance for any answers.

Don't know what opportunities you have to do shopping in/from the US given your location Timur. But it might be worth knowing that you can currently get the FL-300 for free if you buy an E-M5 in the US.

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Pelagic
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Timur Born, Apr 15, 2012

Panasonic and Olympus TTL are the same spec and work the same. Oly supports the full spec including remote. Pany bodies don't support remote. With my G-3 I need to use auto flash or full manual.

The Metz 24 and SB-400 are very similar but different ttl systems. You have to read the specs. The 24 is more powerful.

But neither will give enough power to bounce in your size room. And any light modifier add-on will use up more power. = exactly why I choose to use both Metz 24 and 58. They both have more power than similar priced Oly/Pany.

Look up the specs of the units you are interested in and then compare. My spreadsheet has size, GN (@ the same f, ISO and FL), weigh (with and without batteries) and price. That's the only way you'll understand value for money.

Then you can decide which compromise works for you.

My opinion is based only on the usage i described. YMMD

Any advice that merely says, "I did this and I like it." Isn't advice, it's guess what someone likes. Only if your usage is similar to mine then my 2 cents is worth reading.

I tried to paste my spreadsheet and got garbage. PM your email address.

Can I attach files to this forum?

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Timur Born
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Anders W, Apr 16, 2012

Anders W wrote:

Don't know what opportunities you have to do shopping in/from the US given your location Timur. But it might be worth knowing that you can currently get the FL-300 for free if you buy an E-M5 in the US.

Yes, thanks. I saw that, but someone already reported that it cannot be used from outside the US.

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Timur Born
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Pelagic, Apr 16, 2012

Pelagic wrote:

Panasonic and Olympus TTL are the same spec and work the same. Oly supports the full spec including remote. Pany bodies don't support remote. With my G-3 I need to use auto flash or full manual.

I cannot tell whether I am ever gonna use remote or not. But with a remote capable camera + kit flash it may not be a bad idea to stay with remote capable flashes. Panasonic's German site does not even mention the guide numbers btw (international site does).

The Metz 24 and SB-400 are very similar but different ttl systems. You have to read the specs. The 24 is more powerful.

The Metz site says: "Illumination onwards ... mm (35mm format) 35". Does that mean that I need an additional diffuser for using any lens wider than 35 mm equivalent?

But neither will give enough power to bounce in your size room. And any light modifier add-on will use up more power. = exactly why I choose to use both Metz 24 and 58. They both have more power than similar priced Oly/Pany.

Don't forget though, that usually one doesn't need to illuminate the whole room, but only the one corner + background where the subjects are placed. But I admit that I lack experience with flash power. So maybe going the "dummy" way of buying the system flash (FL-600R) is a better start.

Look up the specs of the units you are interested in and then compare. My spreadsheet has size, GN (@ the same f, ISO and FL), weigh (with and without batteries) and price. That's the only way you'll understand value for money.

Thanks for the offer, I will take a close look at it!

I tried to paste my spreadsheet and got garbage. PM your email address.

Can I attach files to this forum?

You would have to use some external file-uploader site. I will send you a PM with email address. Thanks again!

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Pelagic
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Re: Which medium sized TTL flash?
In reply to Timur Born, Apr 16, 2012

The Metz site I used has a button for downloading the full product brochure. It has more data then you'll want to know.

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