Question re practical use of wireless (RC) flashes

Started Aug 20, 2014 | Discussions thread
OP biggles266 Senior Member • Posts: 1,083
Re: Here's what I'm looking for, can you suggest a flash?

Guy Parsons wrote:

biggles266 wrote:

OK, so there is a little bit of conflict over how well people report the 36R works outdoors, it seems like it can work, but it's a question how reliable in practice.

Yes, variable reliability.

Also it seem like if the flash is in any way obscured by a large softbox, then the whole 36R family of Olympus flashes seems to be out and I have to use a flash that supports a wireless solution, so the signal can travel through stuff. But I'm still not sure I understand that right.

Yes, radio triggers overcome the RC flash signal problems in low light, but then you usually lose TTL.

So there are no flash systems that have a radio trigger that also convey Olympus TTL? I had a look at Yongnuo but it only seemed to mention Canon & Nikon that I saw.

I definitely want to get a flash, to learn all the situations a one flash (with softbox if necessary) can really improve my photography.

Just start using a flash, forget about softboxes until you see that you need them. For instance a softbox maybe a foot across is OK for macro and closeups but for some portraits is nowhere big enough. As the subject gets further from the flash, the softbox size need to grow and grow.

Yes, I figured that, very different softbox sizes needed.

Here are the scenarios I want it to do, for my photography interests:

1. Off-camera Macro - to better light close up photos. In this situation I don't want to bother with manual flash, although it might not be too hard with practice, I would like to be able to simply hold the flash in one hand with a small softbox over it, and hold my E-P5 in the other hand, and get TTL, or automatic balanced lighting on the macro subjecvt. I don't want to have a cable joining them, so it needs remote control that works off the small macro subject. For these situations, and for #2 below as well, I want setup to be as simple as possible - see a good shot, turn the flash on, hold it high or low and take the shot. I don't particularly want to be fiddling with setting up wireless channels or making sure the communication is working between the camera and the flash, I just want it to work simply.

Genuine macro has a subject a lot smaller than the usual flash head so no softbox is needed, a simple reflector on the other side of the subject makes more sense than a softbox on the flash for macro.

Most times for macro the RC control works unless you are in the blazing sun, then all it needs is an assistant to hold an umbrella or diffuser over the macro scene to get the RC reliable. It all would need some experimenting though.

OK good to know.

2. To balance portraits backlit by the sun - particularly very late afternoon, with the sun just over the subjects shoulder so still being very powerful in the image, but the flash providing some fill flash so the front of the subject is not lost in the low contrast light wrapping around them from the sun. Since I can't expect TTL to know how much fill flash I want, I am happy to use manual settings on the flash in this case, but I still want it to trigger wirelessly and reliably. If it doesn't trigger reliably I may miss a good shot. I may hold it in one hand or use a lightstand.

Getting complicated, is this for attempts at pro work or just some casual shots? Often the flash at low power setting in the hot-shoe works fine in this situation, but experiment with power to get the right effect and not have too much of a flashed look.

I would like to be able to do the same kind of photography as this guy I follow: doesn't respond to requests for info about his setup though I tried some with no flash but I need a light source balancing the sun and I figure a reflector may not be enough, or if it is, it would have to be big. But a fill flash could handle it better. If you think most of his photos can be done with no flash, let me know!

3. Interior rooms - I want to be able to have the flash on the camera and bounce it off the ceiling and be confident it will meter correctly to expose the room well.

TTL works fine for this, may need some flash compensation added, but that's the case with all flash work. If a tall ceiling and distances are large then higher ISO, larger apertures help make the flash "bigger". Some forward flash by deflector helps with the shots where the bounce off the ceiling makes the even spread though the room and helps stop the background being too dark. Extra slave flashes may need to be scattered about in some situations to get more even lighting.

OK, good to know. If I eventually got multiple FL-36R's, would they work as extra slave flashes? Being hidden in the room they won't get line of sight but may be able to trigger manually when they see a flash go off?

Not for professional interiors, but of empty rooms or of people in the room. I already have experience with this using Canon and a Canon flash on camera (now sold), so I know it isn't the most creative use of light, but it works well. Good for taking photos of interesting rooms or of quick shots of some event happening in the room. So no wireless needed (although it would be a bonus to be able to hide the flash somewhere to light the room more flexibly), but very reliable TTL needed.

Yes, TTL from the hotshoe with the flash head bent at 45 degrees is a good start. A reflector card on top of the flash helps with some direct forward lighting.

4. For studio portraits with the flash on a lightstand but behind a large softbox. I don't have a studio but would like to slowly be able to work towards some simple one light studio portraits to learn them. The flash can be on manual since I can experiment with the light, but the flash has to trigger from behind the softbox, so I don't think the flash would have line of sight to the subject, perhaps it could to the camera. For studio I am willing to fiddle with wireless settings if wireless is needed for the flash to work behind the softbox.

Big softboxes usually need big flashes and studio types with modelling lights make life easy to set up. Then you need a studio kit and the dollars climb.

OK, this is a future goal so if I get the other scenarios covered with a single flash for now that's sufficient. Can I point the bottom of the flash at the camera though, so it can get triggered, even though the head is inside the softbox? I thought maybe as long as the camera and the base of the flash on a stand had line of sight, it might work without radio, even though the base of the flash had no line of sight to the subject because the softbox blocked it. Remember I am happy to use manual in this scenario so all the flash needs to do is be triggered by something.

Lastly I'd ideally like it to be small, to suit a m43 kit. But if the only suiting flash is a mid-size one, then that's OK. I don't mind giving up recycle time, a fast recycle time is of course ideal but I don't mind compromising on that.

Maybe larger portable flashes and umbrellas for reflectors make for a smaller kit, but then there's no modelling light so test shots are needed to get the balance looking OK.


Budget is unfortunately low - only about $120 due to circumstances. I don't mind buying used from reliable sellers though.

Way too low a limit for a thorough flash setup, you need to reset your expectations and your aims quite a bit. Think more like $1200 to get what you seem to need for all of the above.

I'm going off the absolute bottom price a used FL-36R can go, or I also knew I could get a new Yongnuo for that and probably also Metz. But if I did, I would lose TTL and have to go full manual, if I understand correctly. I was kind of hoping someone would say there is a 3rd party flash for that budget which has TTL, but perhaps they have only manual.

For you experienced flash experts out there - please suggest a flash system you think is the best solution for these goals, if there is one!

The $120 in Australia puts you out if the running for anything really useful.

I've come second numerous times bidding for a FL-36R. Have seen them go for as low as $100 before I got involved trying to get one. Usually a bit more though. But $120 is feasible.

I'm happy to stick with my plan of still trying to get a 36R and just trying to make do with what I can do with it, unless there is better alternative you suggest after reading follow up comments above.


Regards..... Guy

 biggles266's gear list:biggles266's gear list
Canon EOS M Canon EOS 6D Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM +14 more
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow