Olympus OM5 + Flash FL50R: Problems experienced

Started Oct 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
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WalPhoto New Member • Posts: 17
Olympus OM5 + Flash FL50R: Problems experienced

Olympus OM5 + Flash FL50R: Problems experienced

After much research, which flash to get for the Oly OM5, I ended up with the FL50R, the strongest one. It looked pretty robust and reminded me (well, on paper..) on my 2x Canon EX580II. So I got one and was shooting a few days ago a friend's baby baptism.

I've experimented a few problems/issues I didn't like.

1. Head rotation: not 360 degrees

To be honest, I didn't pay attention enough to the specs or may be I was too much used to the Canon's devices to realize how it feels without being able to rotate 360 degrees. It sucked, to put it simple. You hold the camera vertically and frame the picture, being in hurry, church, people, water sprinkling on baby's head.. So you make a very quick decision where the directed light will fall from the wall behind you - and you check quickly the people heads/bodies around, so the light finds its way to the baby. Now your camera is rotated vertically, flash on the right - you automatically push the rotation lock (thanks God this is the same as on Canon/Nikon) and start to rotate: 1st click, pressure.. - nothing happens!!.. - you look on the flash, the action with floating water at baby's head is about to end, people scratch/move/try to look there => directed light way is changing.. - and you simply can't rotate the stupid flash! So you think "Jeeesus, I can't rotate right, let's rotate left!" - this works, but the flash now is pointed something like 35cm away from the original calculated light flow. So you've got shadows on the baby's head and you've lost the original frame.

2. Focus assist light: not used

Olympus says to this, that the assist light would not be better from external flash as it's from the camera. I think this is pretty strange. Canon/Nikon needs it, Olympus don't. Well, if it would really focus that fast it would be ok, but it's focusing slower than I was used to on Canon5D and it looses sometimes the focus lock completely. So I can't get somehow it's ok not to use the assist light from the bigger device which has plenty lightning electronics/power on board. I'm not a flash engineer so may be I miss something here - but the fact is, the camera can't get focus lock sometimes (see my other forum entry on this: it concludes to not have enough contrast sometimes).

3. Exposure: not consistent

My wife sitting around 1m from me took the baby to her - lovely picture, I immediately framed and fired - as the ceiling above us was quite dark and I was annoyed but the crippled flash head rotation restrictions, I decided to put the diffuser on and pointed the flash directly. Exposure compensation dialed @body +0.3 and 0 @flash, camera set to 400ASA, manual 1/60-1.4 (was pretty dark in that church) and flash ETTL (or how it's called on MFT). I saw on the after-shot preview histogram overexposure about 1.5 f-stops.. Pretty annoying, but I was sure shooting RAW allows me to get back the details in LR - and I was right, the shot came pretty nice. BUT.. You know what I mean.. - I've shot with same settings few minutes before and after, only difference being the distance - and the shots were quite consistent. So I tried another proof of concept, shot a few shots from short/long distance - and yes, this made the exposure be overexposed in near range. Focus/metering point set manually in the center smallest area, always shooting as reframing.

Any thoughts? I saw a lot people asking about which external flash to the Olympus MFTs - in my experience, the always mentioned size issues (flash huge, camera little) are really peanuts (ok, it's not ideal, but it's just acceptable: one wants the smallest 'pro' camera features/quality but wants the most possible light power source => one gets small body and big light gun, this is just pretty normal ) - but the fact that I can't rotate all the way around and don't get consistent exposures (with body set to manual) and the flash native Olympus assist light doesn't improve focus hunting in suboptimal contrast situations; well, this bothers me. The flash comes also with some really funny (or not so..) white card for cat-eyes effect: well, on Canon/Nikon it's built inside the flash head. Here it comes with a rubber band (!..), which is to be attached to the card and then to the flash head.. Hm, looks pretty clumsy and reminds me on DIY school days. The light is pretty strong, the same I was used on Canon - but for the same money one would expect the rest to be also the same somehow. Or not or what?!

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Olympus OM-D E-M5
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