Question re practical use of wireless (RC) flashes

Started Aug 20, 2014 | Discussions thread
Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 31,043
Re: Question re practical use of wireless (RC) flashes

biggles266 wrote:

Hello I am looking to get an FL-36R (since the FL-50R is a bit large and has a slower sync speed and the FL-600R is too expensive for me), but I would like to check how its wireless connection works in practice.

There are other brand M4/3 RC compatible flashes, Metz for one.

I believe it is controlled by a burst sent by the onboard flash of my Olympus E-P5, is that correct? So my onboard flash must be up but it won't affect the photo, right? There's no way to control it with the onboard flash down?

The on-board flash sends a quick burst of control signals to set the RC slave(s) up according to your settings in the cameras' RC menu. Then at the start of the exposure (if 1st curtain) it sends a final trigger control pulse to trigger the actual exposure flash from the RC slaves. If second curtain then of course the final control pulse occurs just before the shutter closes.

The on-board flash can be set to RC signals only or to RC signals plus TTL/Manual mode so can be made to contribute to the exposure. The RC control trigger signal can interfere at close range, high ISO, large aperture or highly reflective stuff in the scene (unwanted highlights/reflections), an IR filter over the control flash can fix that. Or use the setup in FP mode and the final trigger pulse occurs before the exposure begins so no interference, but with reduced range of course.

If the onboard flash must be up,


and the FL-36R must see the burst sent by the onboard flash, it must have line of sight.

Can be out of sight of the camera and may work due to random room reflections. Every case will be different and need to do some prior testing.

But line of sight to what - the subject since the burst flash bounces off them, or line of sight to the camera?

Best to aim the flash body to the camera, or aim at the subject and the RC signals usually bounce off the subject. May all turn to pooh in sunlight of course.

What if I am hand holding the flash (which I hope to do), will I have to hold it carefully to avoid blocking the flash's view of the controlling burst, or is that easy to manage in practice? And what if I want to put the flash behind a large softbox, how will it get the line of sight then?

In both cases the random bouncing of the control pulses will trigger the slave reliably, the control pulses can be set lo/mid/hi to cope with variations. When hand holding the flash I just aim it at the subject and the RC always works  for me. In home situations will be OK, maybe in a large hall or outdoors things may work differently.

If there is no way of it working behind a large softbox, is there a similar alternative flash that will?


It should work, anyway the FL-36R is a good flash, slow to recycle if working it hard but at sensible distances apertures and ISO it behaves very well indeed. Best is to use Sanyo Eneloops or equivalent.

Some initial experiments with the FL-36R in various "hidden" situation will soon prove what works. So far for me I have had no problems and I take absolutely no care about trying to aim the slave flash towards the control flash. The little FL-300R is also really forgiving when "hidden" somewhat.

Regards.... Guy

 Guy Parsons's gear list:Guy Parsons's gear list
Olympus PEN E-P5 Sony RX100 VI Olympus PEN E-PL1 Olympus PEN E-P3 Olympus PEN E-PL5 +2 more
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