FL-300R external flash, just right or waste of time (money)?

Started Sep 17, 2013 | Discussions
BMWBig6
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FL-300R external flash, just right or waste of time (money)?
Sep 17, 2013

I'm looking for something compact that will allow bounce flash for better indoor portraits and candid shots on my XZ-2. Does anybody have any experience with this setup (on an XZ-1 or XZ-2)? Is it noticeably better than the built-in pop-up flash? Or just marginally better in output and range?  (I don't expect it to perform like a full-size flash gun, but hoping for some better indoor range and bounce ability.)

Here are the specs on the built-in pop up flash on the XZ-2:

Flash working range: W:0.6~11.1m(ISO1600) T:0.6~8.5m(ISO1600)

Here are the FL-300R specs:

Guide Number 28 at ISO 200 (when built-in wide panel is not in use), Guide Number 16 at ISO 200 (when built-in wide panel is in use); Guide Number of 20" Meters at ISO 100, 65" Feet

I did find one online review that said:

Compact and packs a punch

The Olympus FL-300R flash effectively meets my requirements and exceeds my expectations. It provides all the application angles (full, fill, bounce, close macro) and power capabilities (from light shadow fill to illuminating a room) that one would expect of a standard external flash unit mountable on a hot shoe, but at the size and design weight to not overload or unbalance a compact system camera like the slim XZ-1. It additionally can operate mounted as TTL-Auto, or work by wireless remote to supplement the pop-up flash of the Olympus XZ-1 and certain Olympus PEN and other cameras. Photographs taken with this flash have far exceeded my expectations for quality from such a small unit. I bought this flash for its size and compatibility with my camera, and am fully satisfied by what it brings to the total package.

One more:

I am using this flash with my Olympus XZ-1 which is my travel camera. It works fairly well, but I am disappointed that it does not have a full 90º of travel like the Quantaray bounce flash I use with my D90. I still get shadows and reflections with this unit, and I have yet to be able to remotely trigger it. That said, it is better than the built-in, and I love its size, but I don't think it's worth the price.

I also found this in another review (kind of annoying):

On page 17 of the manual I found the following warning: "The flash may become hot when fired many times in succession, resulting in damage or malfunction. The flash should be fired no more than 10 times in succession at intervals of 6 seconds, after which should be left unused for at least 10 minutes."

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Ben

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Steven Wandy
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Re: FL-300R external flash, just right or waste of time (money)?
In reply to BMWBig6, Sep 18, 2013

Repeat of what I posted over in the Micro 4/3 forum:

I have had one for a while - replaced an earlier Olympus model with it. Use it on my various m4/3 cameras and XZ-2.

I have not tried a lot of bounce flash with it because unless your ceiling is pretty low I don't think a flash this size is really strong enough for a decent bounce. Otherwise - it is better than the pop-up flashes or the little flash that came with the EM5 - because it is more powerful and it raises the flash unit further from the line of the lens for less problems with Red Eye.

You can also use it off camera - again depending on which Olympus camera you have.

The refresh rate is not bad for a small, pocket flash unit, but because it uses only two AAA batteries, it is nothing great.

As far as the heating problem, that was probably a very early review. There was an issue with the initial batch of the flashes and Olympus had a recall of certain serial numbers that they replaced the units (mine was one of them). Did not really notice a heat problem in the original unit - though I did get it replaced - and have not noticed it in the replacement (after I started paying more attention).

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LesK
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Re: FL-300R external flash, just right or waste of time (money)?
In reply to BMWBig6, Sep 18, 2013

I have recently aquired a fl300r mainly for use on m43 cameras, but I also have an xz1.

I think it has a guide no of 20 (at iso 100) vs 7 for the xz1 built in flash, so there is a significant power gain, but obviously no match for larger units.   But the latter would  hardly balance well on the xz1/2.

I am pleased with the fl300r on the m43 cameras as the portability is important to me, and the lower power can be offset by pushing up the iso.   I can get good bounce results this way.    You would have to judge whether you would be happy resorting to higher iso settings on the xz2 for bounce flash if and when necessary.

I tried it on the xz1 and it seems to work well in ttl mode on the hot shoe.   There is also the option of using it off camera in conjunction with the built in flash.   However, in this mode the xz1 is able to trigger the fl300r, but not to control the exposure, as the flash always seems to fire at full power.   So you have to control exposure through aperture setting.    I suggest you check out whether the xz2 offers full control.

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BMWBig6
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Re: FL-300R external flash, just right or waste of time (money)?
In reply to LesK, Sep 18, 2013

LesK wrote:

I have recently aquired a fl300r mainly for use on m43 cameras, but I also have an xz1.

I think it has a guide no of 20 (at iso 100) vs 7 for the xz1 built in flash, so there is a significant power gain, but obviously no match for larger units. But the latter would hardly balance well on the xz1/2.

I am pleased with the fl300r on the m43 cameras as the portability is important to me, and the lower power can be offset by pushing up the iso. I can get good bounce results this way. You would have to judge whether you would be happy resorting to higher iso settings on the xz2 for bounce flash if and when necessary.

I tried it on the xz1 and it seems to work well in ttl mode on the hot shoe. There is also the option of using it off camera in conjunction with the built in flash. However, in this mode the xz1 is able to trigger the fl300r, but not to control the exposure, as the flash always seems to fire at full power. So you have to control exposure through aperture setting. I suggest you check out whether the xz2 offers full control.

Thanks for your input.  It sounds like you use it more with your m43 camera, but would you buy it again or get something different if you could go back in time?  Do you find that it does a better job indoors (not bouncing) vs. the built-in flash, allowing you to take better photos that you may not have been able to take (or reach with flash) before?

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BMWBig6
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Re: FL-300R external flash, just right or waste of time (money)?
In reply to Steven Wandy, Sep 18, 2013

Steven Wandy wrote:

Repeat of what I posted over in the Micro 4/3 forum:

I have had one for a while - replaced an earlier Olympus model with it. Use it on my various m4/3 cameras and XZ-2.

I have not tried a lot of bounce flash with it because unless your ceiling is pretty low I don't think a flash this size is really strong enough for a decent bounce. Otherwise - it is better than the pop-up flashes or the little flash that came with the EM5 - because it is more powerful and it raises the flash unit further from the line of the lens for less problems with Red Eye.

You can also use it off camera - again depending on which Olympus camera you have.

The refresh rate is not bad for a small, pocket flash unit, but because it uses only two AAA batteries, it is nothing great.

As far as the heating problem, that was probably a very early review. There was an issue with the initial batch of the flashes and Olympus had a recall of certain serial numbers that they replaced the units (mine was one of them). Did not really notice a heat problem in the original unit - though I did get it replaced - and have not noticed it in the replacement (after I started paying more attention).

Thank you Steven, you brought up an additional benefit I didn't think of before (reduced red-eye).  Sounds like bounce will be limited, but this will offer some increase in range/power (and thus versatility) compared with the built-in flash.

You say you "had one for a while"--does that mean you've been using it a long time, or that you had one but have since replaced it?

Are there any other compact flashes I should consider for the XZ-2?

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LesK
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Re: FL-300R external flash, just right or waste of time (money)?
In reply to BMWBig6, Sep 18, 2013

I'm an 'occasional' flash user, so I have no regrets about buying the 300R.   Anything larger would always tend to get 'left behind'.   I have used a Nikon SB800 on the XZ1 in the past, but wouldn't consider anything that size now as it was an unwieldy combination - I'm into these systems now for compactness.

If you are worried about the power level, consider an fl600r, which is bigger, but not excessively so.   Will cost almost as much as your camera however.

You can, of course, get more power for less money with a 3rd party flash

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BMWBig6
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Re: 3rd party, which ones should I look at?
In reply to LesK, Sep 18, 2013

LesK wrote:


You can, of course, get more power for less money with a 3rd party flash

And what features (compatibility) would I give up by going non-Oly?

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imrryr38
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Re: FL-300R external flash, just right or waste of time (money)?
In reply to LesK, Sep 19, 2013

this is why i use a Nissin Di466 ..... you can set the power as you want in "off camera"  mode....

not too big, and real NG28 power... fast time recycle not like the FL36 for exemple.

great combo with my XZ-2.

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Joe0Bloggs
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Re: FL-300R external flash, just right or waste of time (money)?
In reply to imrryr38, Sep 19, 2013

imrryr38 wrote:

this is why i use a Nissin Di466 ..... you can set the power as you want in "off camera" mode....

not too big, and real NG28 power... fast time recycle not like the FL36 for exemple.

great combo with my XZ-2.

I use a big honking Metz AF-1 50 with my XZ-2. The latter is usually on a tripod doing product work when I use the flash but if handholding, I can just hold the camera with one hand and the flash with the other. IOW I'm using the flash as a remote all the time. This metz supports remote ttl flash

The front firing trigger flash conveniently provides some catchlight when I point the remote Metz at the ceiling to do bounce. No need to worry about reorienting the flash head when switching to portrait as I would if mounting it on the hotshoe. Changing camera settings with both hands full is a little problematic though

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LesK
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Re: 3rd party, which ones should I look at?
In reply to BMWBig6, Sep 19, 2013

Good analysis here. Nissin or metz wouldhave been my choice.

http://www.the-meissners.org/olympus-flash2.html

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BMWBig6
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Thanks everyone!
In reply to LesK, Sep 19, 2013

I appreciate the feedback, user experiences, and advice!

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Pikme
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I like my FL300r
In reply to BMWBig6, Sep 19, 2013

I have FL300r and use it on my XZ1 and EM5. It is really nice with respect to portability, as you can tuck it into a pocket or corner of the camera bag and always have it handy. Also, I never use it on camera as it is very easy to use off camera, which expands its bounce abilities and makes it work well for macro. It also works well for outdoor fill flash with the XZ1 but not so much the EM5 (which needs FP flash for higher sync speeds).

The FL300r uses 2 AAA batteries (compared to 4 AA batteries for FL600r or FL50r), but recharges fast and seems to last a fairly long time. I've used it indoors in low to moderate light and even dark situations with intimate settings (IOW, wouldn't try to light up a banquet room with just this flash). Works great for pics of family and friends, party or restaurants shots, pics of pets and kids, etc. It doesn't create the deer in the headlights look like pop up flash and is not imposing to your subjects like larger flashes are sometimes. It is more powerful than the pop up, but the added flexibility for bounce/macro, etc is probably more important than the extra power. I would recommend this flash if you are concerned about size or price, and you plan to use it in smaller rooms or for adding a touch of brightness as needed. I use mine about 85% of the time that I use flash, so it is definitely useful and not a waste of time or money for me.

On the other hand, if you are most concerned about overall flash power/performance or you plan to use it heavily at events or in larger rooms, then I would get either the FL600r or FL50r. The FL600r has less power than the 50, but it recycles quickly and is fairly small and compact and works very well. The 50 is older but more powerful, and mine has always worked extremely well. There is no doubt the FL600r and truly the FL50r are overall better flashes than the FL300r, but the tradeoffs are price and size. For me, the bigger flashes just create anxiety in my subjects and I lose the relaxed candid feel for the types of family/friends snapshots that I like. And it is more awkward for me to use the bigger flashes one handed like I do with the FL300r.  I just wish the FL300r had FP capability for fill outdoors with my EM5.

BTW, all flashes have warnings in their manuals about overheating - don't get worked up about that comment.

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Roberto M.

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BMWBig6
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Re: I like my FL300r
In reply to Pikme, Sep 19, 2013

Pikme wrote:

I have FL300r and use it on my XZ1 and EM5. It is really nice with respect to portability, as you can tuck it into a pocket or corner of the camera bag and always have it handy. Also, I never use it on camera as it is very easy to use off camera, which expands its bounce abilities and makes it work well for macro. It also works well for outdoor fill flash with the XZ1 but not so much the EM5 (which needs FP flash for higher sync speeds).

The FL300r uses 2 AAA batteries (compared to 4 AA batteries for FL600r or FL50r), but recharges fast and seems to last a fairly long time. I've used it indoors in low to moderate light and even dark situations with intimate settings (IOW, wouldn't try to light up a banquet room with just this flash). Works great for pics of family and friends, party or restaurants shots, pics of pets and kids, etc. It doesn't create the deer in the headlights look like pop up flash and is not imposing to your subjects like larger flashes are sometimes. It is more powerful than the pop up, but the added flexibility for bounce/macro, etc is probably more important than the extra power. I would recommend this flash if you are concerned about size or price, and you plan to use it in smaller rooms or for adding a touch of brightness as needed. I use mine about 85% of the time that I use flash, so it is definitely useful and not a waste of time or money for me.

On the other hand, if you are most concerned about overall flash power/performance or you plan to use it heavily at events or in larger rooms, then I would get either the FL600r or FL50r. The FL600r has less power than the 50, but it recycles quickly and is fairly small and compact and works very well. The 50 is older but more powerful, and mine has always worked extremely well. There is no doubt the FL600r and truly the FL50r are overall better flashes than the FL300r, but the tradeoffs are price and size. For me, the bigger flashes just create anxiety in my subjects and I lose the relaxed candid feel for the types of family/friends snapshots that I like. And it is more awkward for me to use the bigger flashes one handed like I do with the FL300r. I just wish the FL300r had FP capability for fill outdoors with my EM5.

BTW, all flashes have warnings in their manuals about overheating - don't get worked up about that comment.

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Roberto M.

Thanks!  Yes, I am hoping to have better shots of family/friends indoors, not large banquets or weddings.  Sounds like this may fit the bill.

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Ben

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