Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Impressions: Olympus PEN-F


Andrew L (gryphon1911)

Yes, I know...call me what you will...hypocrite, lucky, stupid, smart....whatever....I have an Olympus PEN-F in my possession.

 

Long story short, some gear trades ended me here.

 

Got a call yesterday from my local camera shop. PEN-F was in. Silver model.

 

Made my way down to the store today on my lunch hour.
Most of the guys that I talked to that handled the demo were impressed with it. They are mostly Sony and Fuji users in the mirrorless sector, but found the PEN-F intriguing.

 

I've only had the thing in my hands for the last 30 minutes, so I'll just address what I can for now and get into more details later.

 

Front Dial:
I've heard from others on the internet that the front dial is sharp and cut into their hands. I'm a big guy with large hands and my fingers do not even come close to the front dial. Like the Nikon Df, the PEN-F needs to be held with a slightly different grip. I'm not going to hold it like an EM1 or a D700.
Yes, the edges of the front dial have some bite to them, but nothing I would consider "sharp". However, that is a subjective matter and each person should decide that for themselves with a hands on.

 

Grip (or lack there of):
The thumb indent on the back seems adequate for me. The front is of a grippy like material. I had no issues holding the camera one handed. It will most likely be an issue with the larger lenses like the PRO lenses or the 75-300/4.8-6.7 II.
My primary intention of using this camera is going to be with primes, so I don't consider that much of an issue.

 

"Rangefinder-esque" Styling:
I've never been one to prefer an "OVF hump" or side set EVF. I just require there to BE an EVF. For those that like built in EVF, this one does not disappoint.

 

LCD Rear Screen AF Point Selection:
One of the things that I envied of some of the Panasonic bodies was having the EVF be used as a way to select the AF point while looking through the EVF. We have that now and it makes for quick selection. After getting used to it, I can see where this would be great for quick changes while doing street photography.

 

That's about all I had time to get to at the moment, and did not have a lens in which to test it outside the camera store.
Aesthetically it is pleasing and I look forward to getting to know it better.

 

More updates to this thread as I am able. I've got a 4 day sunrise to sunset event to shoot starting tomorrow, so it could be a few days before I have anything to report.

Sign in to follow this  


Comments

Recommended Comments

Lucky fish! Enjoy it, Andrew and do keep us informed on what you're using it for. 

 

I must confess to being unmotivated to look much at the specs of this Pen, but are you saying that it has eye tracking in the EVF? That's pretty cool. I used to have an EOS that did that. I think it was the EOS 33 or EOS 30. Can't remember. I was young back then... :) 

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lucky fish! Enjoy it, Andrew and do keep us informed on what you're using it for. 

 

I must confess to being unmotivated to look much at the specs of this Pen, but are you saying that it has eye tracking in the EVF? That's pretty cool. I used to have an EOS that did that. I think it was the EOS 33 or EOS 30. Can't remember. I was young back then... :)

 

No, not eye tracking, but you can use your finger on the LCD while looking through the EVF to select a focus point.  I believe that there are some models in Panasonic m43 that have done that for some time.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Panasonic GX8 has that feature and it can be useful. However, if you are left-eyed, as I am, it is an annoyance. More often than not, your nose touches the rear LCD when using the EVF, setting the focus point where you do not expect it (and usually do not want it).  I have turned off this feature on my GX8 because of that.  I suspect that left-eyed users of the PEN-F will encounter the same problem.

  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Panasonic GX8 has that feature and it can be useful. However, if you are left-eyed, as I am, it is an annoyance. More often than not, your nose touches the rear LCD when using the EVF, setting the focus point where you do not expect it (and usually do not want it).  I have turned off this feature on my GX8 because of that.  I suspect that left-eyed users of the PEN-F will encounter the same problem.

 

That is an excellent point.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats Andrew! I can already predict the Pen's Monochrome 2 setting will be your favorite ... Looking forward to your impressions and comparison vs the E-M1 and E-M5.

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ditto from me Andrew.  With the E-M1 MkII alledgedly just around the corner, your comparison will make for very interesting reading.

 

P.S.  I hope that you did NOT get caught by your wife whilst smuggling the new Pen-F into your house.  :D

 

Congrats Andrew! I can already predict the Pen's Monochrome 2 setting will be your favorite ... Looking forward to your impressions and comparison vs the E-M1 and E-M5.

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ditto from me Andrew.  With the E-M1 MkII alledgedly just around the corner, your comparison will make for very interesting reading.

 

P.S.  I hope that you did NOT get caught by your wife whilst smuggling the new Pen-F into your house.  :D

 

No smuggling necessary, since there was no exchange of monies, only gear for gear!   :D

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

as long as the gear you exchanged is not something she owned ... :)

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

as long as the gear you exchanged is not something she owned ... :)

 

lol....no, camera gear only and she is not and has never been interested in taking pictures with anything other than her cell phone.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the moment the ability to trade gear at good prices is better than it has been for years - I'm still financing all my new gear acquisitions purely from selling off previously owned gear - even my current outfit's retrieval rates from gear I bought for it seem to be holding value really well, courtesy of both the AU$ slump against the US$ compared with when I bought it originally, and fierce competition amongst manufacturers to sell new gear themselves.

 

For instance my Fujinon 14mm achieved just $170 less than current new price for me (and $120 less than I originally paid for it), which was an extremely favourable "rent" rate over three-plus years of ownership (and that includes the agent's commission on the trade-in sale).

 

Earlier in my career when equipment wasn't in the flux it is now trading-out equipment usually was done at considerable loss and actual dollar input on the replacement gear.

 

My biggest regret is still the absurdly low cost I sold my Hasselblad gear for - two Hasselblad bodies, spare magazines and four lenses didn't even pay for a single Nikon D3 body, whereas the original equipment, even second-hand, had cost considerably more than that single body in the order of more than twice in dollar terms just before the current better exchange value situation developed.

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you noticing any differences with the extra 4MP? 

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you noticing any differences with the extra 4MP? 

 

I'm about to find out!  :D

 

Quick update.  I just got back from my 4 day event and images/video are downloading.

 

Last minute, I decided to be crazy and brought the all Olympus kit.  EM1, EM5 Mk II, and the PENF.  EM1 and PENF for stills and the EM5 Mk II for video.

 

I've about 2000 images and around 40 video clips to wrestle with.

 

Still shooting performance wise, the PENF seems as capable as the EM5 Mk II, but with the added bonus of the mono mode.  As some have predicted, the Mono2 is a dandy of a setting for me.

 

Experiments with that mode will be shared once I can get into them.  

 

The power switch was a lot nicer to deal with than I thought.  Easy to flick on with the left hand, just slightly beating out the EM1/EM5Mk iI power lever.

 

I had the Oly 17/1.8 on the PENF for the whole weekend.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here are a few images straight from the PENF.  Only cropping was done.   Mono Mode 2.

 

1

post-945-0-53246600-1457317814_thumb.jpg

 

2

post-945-0-50579100-1457317815_thumb.jpg

 

3

post-945-0-24405400-1457317816_thumb.jpg

 

4

post-945-0-73166200-1457317816_thumb.jpg

 

5

post-945-0-22282600-1457317817_thumb.jpg

 

6

post-945-0-74230300-1457317817_thumb.jpg

 

7

post-945-0-23341800-1457317818_thumb.jpg

 

8

post-945-0-73297700-1457317818_thumb.jpg

 

9

post-945-0-24904600-1457317819_thumb.jpg

 

10

post-945-0-71536100-1457317819_thumb.jpg

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The mono mode 2 stuff is a bit too contrasty and the grain is too big for my personal taste. I would rather push up the ISO to 12800 to get that natural Olympus "grain" and then apply a B&W filter in post. This is obviously just a taste variance from me though. Others may like this filter. 

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I remember correctly there are three "digital grain" levels Low/Medium/High which can be selected with the Monochrome 2 setting. I don't know which setting was used by Andrew for these images but I suspect High. Great series Andrew!

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I remember correctly there are three "digital grain" levels Low/Medium/High which can be selected with the Monochrome 2 setting. I don't know which setting was used by Andrew for these images but I suspect High. Great series Andrew!

 

Might have been.  Not sure what the default was.   I was mucking about with it and then just started shooting away.  Lots of options, so I will have some experimentation to do.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, I looked at the mono mode 2 settings.  It is +-6 on the tone curve and the film grain was set to high (there are 4 settings off, low, medium, high).  I also had the green filter on.

 

Not sure if film grain high is the default on mode 2, but I do intend to turn it down to low for the time being.  

 

I suspect that in the future, +-6 on the tone curve might be too aggressive, even for me.  I think I'll be more happy in the +-3 or 4 area and perhaps pop a little of the mid tones as well.

 

I'm even considering setting up the crop to be 1:1, perhaps do that in mode 1 or mode 3.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The next GR for street?

Intense scene. Well shown.

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The next GR for street?

Intense scene. Well shown.

 

Thank you.

 

It very well could be.  I'm thinking that I am going to shoot monochrome mode on this camera with RAW+JPG, so I can get the best of all worlds.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

More observations:

 

  • I like the inclusion of the screw in wireless shutter release.  I can use the same on I got for my Nikon Df on this guy!
  • There is a ring around the video record button.  This will help from accidental recording of video.
  • I'm starting to like the dedicated magnification button.  When in shooting mode, it zooms in on the live view to check focus and what not.  In playback mode it zooms in to your predefined zoom setting.
  • I just found the H+ Silent mode, which allows for 20fps continuous shooting.  I'll need to look into this more and see what we are dealing with.   Could be interesting depending on it's limitations.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andrew, my Pen F arrives on next week.  Primarily as 'my Olympus' while my wife and son are shooting their EM1s.  I foresee some weekend trips with just the Olys.  I'll probably use the 17 1.8, 25 1.4 and 45 1.8 quite a bit and the silent shooting was one of the plus points.   I'll obviously play with the B&W settings.  I bought a new , secondhand. My wife has been using it with the small 14-42 EZ while she is in the UK.  Unfortunately she likes it :( .   I'll probably grab it first out of the suitcases instead of some of the new VM lenses for the a7Rii.

Look forward to more of your images and settings for B&W.

All the best,

Tom

  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I need to get my hands on one of these Pen F cameras. I think I might enjoy it a lot. 

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Similar Content

    • By waltonksm
      Another "non-technical review."  Yes, the zoom range is fantastic. But if you start enlarging the images, I find they are not particularly sharp. I am talking about landscape shots.  I have not done any macro shots with this yet. Frankly, had I spent more time with the lens after purchasing, I think I would have sent this one back.  Perhaps I got a "dud?"
    • By Dallas
      Durban recently hosted its 10th annual Durban International Blues Festival at the lively Zack’s Wilson’s Wharf venue on the Bay. I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph the Fender evening on a few occasions, but this year it was extra special because my son and his Rock Academy band were one of the acts. They played 2 numbers on the night, namely “House Of The Rising Sun” by the Animals and “Before You Accuse Me” by Eric Clapton (I think he wrote it?). Very proud moment for me. Sometimes I find myself living vicariously… not such a bad thing coz I sure as hell wouldn’t ever have the nerve to get up on a stage in front of a lot of people and entertain them. No sir. I gots me some issues with stage confidence.
       
      I love photographing bands and performers though. Over the years I have accumulated quite a few images of artists who played on various stages. I’d love to put on an exhibition of these works someday. Photographing live music is not easy, but I have managed to perfect my own method which sort of comes naturally to me. A lot of photographers struggle with things like metering methods, colour balance, auto focus and whatever else the camera battles with when left to its own devices. I’ve come to know my cameras over the years, wringing the best out of them wherever possible and recently with my move to the Olympus micro four thirds system I find I am just getting better and better shots as the technology improves. The things I lean on are the new fast lenses that the smaller m43 format has brought us, in particular the Olympus 75mm f/1.8, the ability to shoot at high ISO and get a usable image and image stabilisation. Without those three elements you’re going to be in for a lot of disappointment as far as shot quality goes (and I’m seeing that evident in the work of others who cover the same events I do).
       
      That said, there’s also a lot to be said for personal experience. I recently discovered something that the Olympus cameras do that kind of makes low light photography a lot easier. On the Olympus bodies you’ll find this thing called a Shadow Spot Meter. I accidentally activated this while on safari recently while we were photographing this pack of stinky hyenas at Sabi Sabi. It was night time and the only lights we had on the scene were the spotlights that the trackers use. I usually auto float my ISO values between 100 and 8000 on the Olympus E-M1 but I couldn’t understand why I was getting decent exposures at low ISO values of 400 and sometimes even 200 in such dim conditions. It didn’t make sense to me, yet there I was looking at these great shots on the back of the camera and zoomed in at pixel level I had hardly any noise. So I tried using that metering method on the stage at this years festival and it worked well there too. Yes, the rest of the scene goes quite dark, but your subject gets just the right amount of exposure if you’re looking for that low key, moody look. Just so happens that I like that. A lot. See if you can pick out which of these shots got the shadow spot treatment.
       

      My boy playing a Fender Telecaster (he usually plays a Charvel, but with it being a Fender evening he was handed this job and got on with it.
       

      Their lead guitarist, Rorke.
       

      16-year-old Cyndi didn't get the memo about it being a Fender evening (nice Guild though)
       

      My buddy Reg (also a photographer) and Roland
       

      Sadly I do not know what this fellas name is. But he sure could sing them blues.
       

      Eloise, awesome vocalist and vocals tutor.
       

      My good friend and all round good guy, John.
       

      From Chicago, USA Mr. Charlie Rose, singer of the blues.
       

       

      Reg's very talented son, Rowan Stuart. Look him up on iTunes.
       

      Another multi-talented guy, Andy Turrell (former drummer for Dan Patlansky).

      View full article
    • By Dallas
      Durban recently hosted its 10th annual Durban International Blues Festival at the lively Zack’s Wilson’s Wharf venue on the Bay. I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph the Fender evening on a few occasions, but this year it was extra special because my son and his Rock Academy band were one of the acts. They played 2 numbers on the night, namely “House Of The Rising Sun” by the Animals and “Before You Accuse Me” by Eric Clapton (I think he wrote it?). Very proud moment for me. Sometimes I find myself living vicariously… not such a bad thing coz I sure as hell wouldn’t ever have the nerve to get up on a stage in front of a lot of people and entertain them. No sir. I gots me some issues with stage confidence.
       
      I love photographing bands and performers though. Over the years I have accumulated quite a few images of artists who played on various stages. I’d love to put on an exhibition of these works someday. Photographing live music is not easy, but I have managed to perfect my own method which sort of comes naturally to me. A lot of photographers struggle with things like metering methods, colour balance, auto focus and whatever else the camera battles with when left to its own devices. I’ve come to know my cameras over the years, wringing the best out of them wherever possible and recently with my move to the Olympus micro four thirds system I find I am just getting better and better shots as the technology improves. The things I lean on are the new fast lenses that the smaller m43 format has brought us, in particular the Olympus 75mm f/1.8, the ability to shoot at high ISO and get a usable image and image stabilisation. Without those three elements you’re going to be in for a lot of disappointment as far as shot quality goes (and I’m seeing that evident in the work of others who cover the same events I do).
       
      That said, there’s also a lot to be said for personal experience. I recently discovered something that the Olympus cameras do that kind of makes low light photography a lot easier. On the Olympus bodies you’ll find this thing called a Shadow Spot Meter. I accidentally activated this while on safari recently while we were photographing this pack of stinky hyenas at Sabi Sabi. It was night time and the only lights we had on the scene were the spotlights that the trackers use. I usually auto float my ISO values between 100 and 8000 on the Olympus E-M1 but I couldn’t understand why I was getting decent exposures at low ISO values of 400 and sometimes even 200 in such dim conditions. It didn’t make sense to me, yet there I was looking at these great shots on the back of the camera and zoomed in at pixel level I had hardly any noise. So I tried using that metering method on the stage at this years festival and it worked well there too. Yes, the rest of the scene goes quite dark, but your subject gets just the right amount of exposure if you’re looking for that low key, moody look. Just so happens that I like that. A lot. See if you can pick out which of these shots got the shadow spot treatment.
       

      My boy playing a Fender Telecaster (he usually plays a Charvel, but with it being a Fender evening he was handed this job and got on with it.
       

      Their lead guitarist, Rorke.
       

      16-year-old Cyndi didn't get the memo about it being a Fender evening (nice Guild though)
       

      My buddy Reg (also a photographer) and Roland
       

      Sadly I do not know what this fellas name is. But he sure could sing them blues.
       

      Eloise, awesome vocalist and vocals tutor.
       

      My good friend and all round good guy, John.
       

      From Chicago, USA Mr. Charlie Rose, singer of the blues.
       

       

      Reg's very talented son, Rowan Stuart. Look him up on iTunes.
       

      Another multi-talented guy, Andy Turrell (former drummer for Dan Patlansky).
    • By Hugh_3170
      This anticipated new model in the Olympus E-M1 line up has been released.
       
      Some links:
       
      https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-iii-initial-review
       
      https://www.olympus.com.au/product/dslr/em1mk3/index.html
       
      It will be interesting to see how this new comer stacks up against its predecessors, especially in the stills IQ department.
       
      (Meanwhile Nikon have released their new D6 - in good time for the summer Olympics in Tokyo later this year.)
    • By Dallas
      Working With Olympus FL-600R Flashes
      I’ve had two of these small, but fully functional FL-600R flashes pretty much since I started shooting with Olympus full time and have done a fair amount of work with them, including small product photography and portraiture as well as some event coverage. To follow is a basic overview of how the flashes work and also how I use them.
       
      FL-600R Features
      After previously using a couple of Nikon SB-800 and SB-900 speedlights, getting these little things was quite a shock. They are minute compared to standard speedlights from Nikon and Canon. One of them is probably about half (or less) the size of an SB-900. However, in spite of their diminutive size, they offer much the same functionality of the Nikon CLS system.
       
      The heads zoom according to the focal length of the lens you are using, they tilt and swivel too, allowing for bounce flash, plus there is also a wide angle diffraction panel built in along with a very small white bounce card (too small to be meaningful).
       
      On the back of the unit is an LCD panel showing the various settings. This also has a backlight, but it needs to be activated manually - it doesn’t turn on when the flash is activated by the camera, which I think is something they should fix in firmware. There is a rotating selector wheel with directional key pad built in.
       
      The units come in a nice nylon case and included is a plastic stand for remote use. Missing is a clip on diffuser. I’m not sure if you can buy one to fit these small units. Maybe somebody in China is making them?


      The one feature that this flash has which I haven’t encountered on any other portable unit is a built in LED for video. It can be set up to shine at various strengths from 1/1 down to 1/16 of its power. I can tell you that if you have this thing set to shine at 1/1 you are going to blind people. It’s very bright!
       
      The flash has several modes you can set it to:
       
      A mode - auto mode operates much the same as it does on any other portable flash unit. The sensor in the front of the unit reads how much light is being reflected back to it from the subject and when it thinks it has pushed out enough power it cuts itself off. It works pretty well with the OM-D cameras and provided you have it properly set up on your Super Control Panel (as fill-in flash, not Auto) you should get a decent exposure for snapshot type photos.
       
      M mode - the FL-600R has full manual mode which is good news for any strobist. You can adjust the power from 1/1 all the way down to 1/128.
       
      FP-TTL A mode - like most advanced flash units this one has the FP mode, which lets you sync flash up to the maximum shutter speed of the camera (1/8000s in the case of the OM-D range). This mode also passes full control of flash output to the camera, hence the TTL.
       
      TTL - A mode - as per above, except that you are now limiting the flash to the max sync speed of the OM-D.
       
      FP - M mode - full manual control but with the ability to sync at any shutter speed.
       
      RC mode - remote control mode lets you set up the flash so that it is completely controlled by the camera when it is standing free. This is the equivalent of Nikon’s CLS mode where you can have several flashes working in three different groups. I’ll go into more detail on this later in the article.
       
      SL - A mode - this is the slave mode combined with A mode (mentioned above). Not to be confused with RC mode, slave mode is where the unit waits to receive an optical trigger from any other flash unit and then pumps out light based on what it gets back from the sensor in the front of the unit.
       
      SL- M mode - this is your quintessential “strobist” mode where the flash uses its built int optical slave and lets the photographer decide how much power it should dump out with each burst. Nikon users will know this as SU-4 mode on their speedlights.
       
      Flash compensation is possible either from the camera or manually from the flash unit. This has a pretty wide range going from -5.0 all the way up to +5.0 stops.
      The zoom can be set to change automatically or manually from 12mm up to 42mm.
       
      The LED light can be set up to come on automatically to assist with auto focus acquisition in low light, or you can toggle it on or off manually. It’s also possible to set the strength of the light in the custom functions of the FL-600R.
       
      Just on the LED settings; it can be very confusing to set this up to operate as an AF assist light because you have to co-ordinate settings on both the speedlight and the camera. Buried deep in the Olympus menu labyrinth is a setting for AF Illuminat. You have to set this to on. Then you have to go into the FL-600R’s custom settings by holding down the OK button for 2 seconds, find the setting that reads ILL and make sure that says A. Then, once you have done those two things you need to adjust the LED settings on the back panel of the flash to the A setting too. Only then will it automatically shine the LED to assist with auto focus.
       
      And before you do this you really need to make sure that you have turned the power of the LED down to a reasonable level otherwise your subjects are going to be squinting horribly at you. Trust me on this - it’s not pretty! It’s a better idea to use the orange AF assist light of the OM-D than this thing, although that may also frustrate you as it can be distracting. I suppose once you are used to changing these settings in their respective places it isn’t as complicated as it sounds, but I have switched this “feature” off and set the flash to manually turn the LED light on or off. I find that at a lower power setting this is far less distracting to a subject and also provides enough illumination when you’re in a dark room. The downside is that when you turn it on what you’re doing suddenly becomes the centre of attention, just like shining a spotlight on a stage.
       
      Working With On Camera Flash
       
      The FL-600R compliments the OM-D cameras quite nicely. It’s well balanced and once you have decided which mode you want to use, you can get good results on a consistent basis. It’s getting to the comfort level of operation that takes a bit of getting used to. As with anything, practise makes perfect.
       
      Regular readers will know that I was a huge fan of Nikon’s iTTL metering with SB speedlights. Put one of the SB units onto any Nikon camera, stick it in iTTL and your results are going to be spot on, 99% of the time, which takes the stress out of using on-camera flash completely. While the Olympus FL-600R also offers through the lens (TTL-A) metering the results are nowhere near as consistently good as Nikon’s. I find that the exposures in TTL A mode are usually under exposed by at least a stop and they also don’t respond well to bounced flash. I get widely varying results in this mode.
       
      If I am shooting events I opt for M mode and using a bounce card attached to the flash I shoot in full manual mode, using a shutter speed and ISO rating that will allow ambient light to bleed in at a wide(ish) aperture. I’ll set the flash to a power setting that feels right and then I will adjust aperture until I am happy with the balance between subject and the ambient. It’s a little more primitive than using TTL mode, but once you get the hang of it you will feel a lot more like a real photographer. If I’m in a rush and I don’t have time to do any tests I will most likely use A mode with a bounce card and this works fairly well too.
       

      Above is an example of using manual flash settings in manual mode on the camera. Below is an example of using A mode where shutter speed was slowed and ISO boosted to allow more ambient in. Click to enlarge.
       

       
      Working With Off Camera Flash
       
      RC Mode
      Using the FL-600R off camera is where the home strobist will begin to enjoy the flexibility of these little flashes. As with the Nikon CLS system it is possible to set up an unlimited number of flash units that can be controlled from the camera in three groups, A, B & C on a common channel. From the camera you can use the little clip on flashes that come with the OM-D (or the pop-up in the case of E-M10 and certain PEN models) to act as the commander for the FL-600R. Or you can use another FL-600R as a commander.
       
      Each group can be set to fire in any of the TTL, Auto, Manual or FP modes (TTL and M), so you can have a mix of these modes in different groups. For example, if I have a couple of the FL-600R’s on a white background I can set those to be in group A and have them firing in manual mode to keep the power on the background constant. Then I could have another FL-600R set to Auto or TTL mode on my subject in group B or C. The advantage of this is that I can control all the flashes from the Super Control Panel on the OM-D as well as adjust power settings for each group. It’s very cool.
       
      The image below is an example of the outcome of such a set up but using only one FL-600R for the background and another for the subject. Click to enlarge.
       

       
      From a practical stance this setup works quite well indoors in a smallish studio, but in larger environs or outdoors you may battle to get the remote flashes to see the commander pulses as the sensor is in the front of the unit. A workaround is to swivel the heads all the way around so that the sensor is facing the commander. This works fine in TTL and manual modes but will confuse the A mode as the flash will not be getting the proper bounce back from the subject that it uses to determine when to stop sending out power.
       
      Before I invested in a couple of sets of studio strobes I used the two little FL-600R units to produce my usual run-off-the-mill 2 light small product photography setup. If I want to do a very quick basic setup I still use the Olympus flashes in a small light tent cube I have and I am quite happy with the results using manual mode in remote control. It saves me having to set up the big lights with all the stands and softboxes, etc.
       

      Above we see a single FL-600R used to illuminate the edge of the knife. Below a second FL-600R is added to produce the main key light. Click to enlarge.
       

       
      Slave Mode
      Slave mode is different to the RC mode in that you are effectively turning the FL-600R into a dumb unit that fires only in A or M modes and is triggered whenever it sees another flash. This means it can be used in conjunction with any other kind of flash units that are firing simultaneously. Strobist stuff. I sometimes use them on clamps with spigots for setups where I might need another light attached to a part of the set that doesn’t allow for a light stand to be set up. They work well like this.
       

      Above shot shows how I sometimes use an FL-600R to light a white background (or other things) for product photos.
       
      Product Observations
       
      The problems that present themselves with small flashes come down to power. These units are fine for general snapshot type, on-camera photography, but if you are looking to light up an entire room with a single flash you’re going to have to push your ISO up or invest in a fair number of these units to make it all work. Price might be an issue with that idea as these sell for $300 each. Sure, while these units are a bit cheaper than the Nikon and Canon flashes that offer the same degree of flexibility, they are more expensive than equally capable Chinese brand flashes such as the Yongnuo’s. Granted those units will only work in manual mode and don’t offer the RC mode but therein lies most of the fun in strobism - manual mode.
       
      The only thing that these FL-600R units don’t offer is a sync port, so attaching radio triggers that only offer cable connectivity to remote units for outdoor use means you will have to invest in a hot-shoe adapter that has a sync port built in.
       
      Recycle time is pretty good. I use the GP Recycko AA cells in mine and unless I have forgotten to charge them up before a shoot, I get good recycle times. If you have an older Olympus E-series camera you will be happy to learn that this flash is fully compatible with those cameras too. I used it on both the E-3 and E-30 when I had them.
       
      Improvements I would like to see are a simpler interface with the camera and also easier controls to use on the flash itself. The custom settings don’t make a lot of sense unless you have them memorised. Olympus could also provide a much better user manual for such a complex device. Another thing that could be improved is to provide some kind of audible sound to show that the light has recycled when it is off camera. In remote mode the LED blinks when the flash is ready to fire, but this can be distracting so I would prefer to have a beep (that can also be turned off when it isn’t wanted).
       
      As mentioned at the start of this article, the FL-600R compliments the OM-D range quite nicely and gives you a lot of flexibility to get creative with bounce flash and also off-camera flash. They are very small and light so they don’t take up a lot of space in a camera bag either. If you have an OM-D and are looking for something better than the clip on flash (or pop-up in the case of the E-M10) this FL-600R should suit your needs very well. It may take a little getting used to, but once you have the hang of it you wil be able to use it quite creatively. All in all these units show that the Olympus micro four thirds system is very well fleshed out and mature. There is little you can't accomplish with it.
       

      View full article
  • Join Our Small Community

    Like what you see on Fotozones? Join up here and make friends with like-minded photography enthusiasts from all across the planet without having to sell your soul to the Facebook monster. We are limiting our membership to no more than 2000 individuals, so if you are seeing this message there is still space available for you to join. We'd love to have you along. :)  

     

     

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By visiting this website you are agreeing to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy & Guidelines.