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Olympus FL-50R coming from Nikon SB-800

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
After a few years of totally dependable professional use of my Nikon SB-800 flashes, a big concern was how the FL-50R would stand up to the tasks I require of my flashes on a day to day basis - and also how the functionality would rate compared to the Nikon that I had grown used to. One of the sealing deals for me moving to Olympus from Nikon was the fact that along with the E3 camera body, a new RC wireless flash system was introduced - that claimed the same features as the Nikon CLS system which I have come to rely on and use for much of my portrait and commercial work. . .

. . . so this evening I finally got around to purchasing the relatively expensive FL-50R. To my pleasure, the flash head rotated almost identically to the SB-800 - - - that being the ability to rotate 180 degrees behind me to accomodate my most popular bounce method for weddings. Without reading the manual or taking any time to familiarize myself with the flash, I fitted it to the camera hotshoe and shot perfectly exposed bounce images in TTL Auto mode. The process of using the RC wireless mode was far easier than I remember the first times trying to figure out how to set in on the Nikon system. I found the setting in the camera menu to turn it on and kept hitting the Mode button on the flash intil it said "rc" - - - popped up the built in camera flash to trigger it and attached the FL-50R onto the included plastic mounting plate and set the flash at angles to my subject firing for perfect exposures. The popup flash provided nothing or little to the exposure.

One other nice attachement included with the FL-50R (along with the plastic dome) is a plastic bounce card that attaches with a rubber band. While I appreciated and used the pull out 35mm sized bounce card that was built into the SB-800, it was limited to working with a horizontal camera and flash placement - - - it was not effective when the camera was turned sideways and the flash is turned upward toward the ceiling - - - thus the Joe Demb bounce attachment that allows the card to be fitted on the narrow side of the flash head. Well with the included FL-50R bounce card that can also be attached onto the narrow side of the flash head, thus allowing the flash to bounce forward when the camera is in the vertical position and flash head aimed toward the ceiling - - - there is less need for specialized attachements like the Demb Bouncer.

Of course I couldn't wait until a real job or a refined setting to give this flash a test on my new E-3 - - - and so here are a few snaps from the room I am sitting in and a few of flowers on my outdoor porch. Some have been cropped - other than that are straight out of camera - - - including the great Olympus colour.
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Some new clothes hangers that we bought today, sitting on a shelf. On camera flash head is turned behind me and bounced off of the ceiling. I use this technique heavily with my indoor wedding photography:



 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
My wife is sitting watching "So You Think You Can Dance" on TV as I intrude on her space with a quick flash to check skin tone. First on is with the flash head turned behind me and bounced of the ceiling. Second one is with the RC feature turned on and the FL-50R placed on the top of the TV aimed at Anne. It is evident that the popup flash is not contributing much to the exposure:



 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
These are all night time shots. The flowers in Anne's baskets on the porch were blowing pretty good but I took the shots anyway - so it was a little hard hitting the small target with the camera AF sensor - - - but it does show the effect of the flash sidelighting and backlighting as a result of placing the flash on a ledge nearby. Amazingly the exposure was dead on and focus tack sharp. Hand held with no setup - just point and shoot.



 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Some greenery on another wall of the porch. No doubt that a second fill flash would be a valuable asset for perfect lighting. So far the FL-50R is living up to what I needed from it. I actually find it easier to setup and configure than the excellent Nikon SB-800 that I have become very familiar with - especially when it comes to the wireless mode.



 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Shooting a few tonight with my excellent closeup lens 12-60mm and the FL-50R set to "RC mode"handholding the flash to the top and side of my Olympus E3. Unlike the flowers above that were shot wide open, I closed the lens down for these to get as much DOF as possible (which obviously darkens the background). I am no flower or landscape photographer - - - but the things that I was concerned about, that being the exposure accuracy in TTL-AUTO mode was incredible (I am shooting Jpeg not RAW). Especially considering that I was holding the flash not much farther away that a foot from the subject (my lens surface was maybe 5 inches away from the subject). When I was even a few feet away from a subject with my Nikon SB-800, it would overexpose heavily.

This little flower is barely an inch across.
100 ISO : f16 @ 1/125 'th : RC flash (remote triggered by on camera flash)



400 ISO : f11 @ 1/125 'th : RC flash (remote triggered by on camera flash)


This shot is about 1/3 of the full frame - the flash was balancing on my knee leaning against a wall to get a little separation from the lens angle
100 ISO : f16 @ 1/125 'th : RC flash (remote triggered by on camera flash)
 
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