Olympus TTL Flash…

I noticed in the specs for the new E-M10mkIII that Olympus removed the feature for controlling speedlights off-camera remotely and in groups.  This got me thinking about how I work with my own lighting.  I use a mix of speedlights and studio strobes from various brands all together.  I use a mix of optical triggering as well as pocket wizards.  It works.  But is there a more streamlined way?  I’ve wanted to give the in-camera system a try…it would be so much smoother.  The FL-900R is $579 US for one.  Yes its awesome, and has a video light, and is weather sealed… I know.  But I need a half-dozen of them.  It becomes instantly less appealing.  So this got me thinking and looking around, especially for someone that wants to work with off camera light and is on a budget or just starting out.  The E-M10 is a wonderful camera…so what does that photographer do now?  Especially since the remote control of flashes has been removed?

Well…there are a bunch of third party flash manufacturers but Godox in particular has a very interesting system for Olympus.  They have a unique product range…but their system fully supports TTL and all the features in the camera, and is cross-brand compatible.  Hmm…  Only catch is you have to use their trigger if you want to control TTL, power settings, etc… remotely.  I have been testing this out and I am quite surprised at how well these work.  Their range, and ease of operation has been surprising too.  I’ve been using the TT685 flashes with the X1T trigger.  I’ve considered doing a full review on using on and off camera flash with the Olympus system… but I know a lot of us here are natural light shooters.  I want to ask you if this is something you would interested in.  Would you want to see a review and walk through on using a lighting system with your camera?  This includes using focus stacking and high res with lights.

Let me know if you this is something you would want to see.

And by the way… shooting in High Speed Sync mode to try and bypass the electronic shutter sync speed of 1/50th does work.  You can bypass it and shoot at higher shutter speeds with a flash firing.  You just don’t get a usable image.  Half the image is unexposed sadly.  Got excited there just for a moment… Oh well!  Doesn’t hurt to try!

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16 thoughts on “Olympus TTL Flash…

  1. I have the tt350o and x1T-o trigger
    I thought I would go for Elinchrom for studio.
    After Bowens left the scene I began to think if this is the end of the big but overpriced and incompatible brands. I like that Godox have X1 and that it is compatible for speedlights and studio strobes.
    With Godox I can mix.
    if I buy Olympus’ own speedlights I will have to buy another brand for studio strobes.
    I have decided to go all in on Godox and use it in studio and on the road.

  2. I would be interested in a review of the Godox-system. Especially in the use of the Ad200 and AD 600 in combination with the X1T-O.

    I thought HSS was one of the advantages of this system in combination with a E-M1 Mark II?!

    1. HSS as well as TTL are both advantages to the system. Since it works from studio strobes to speedlights and all their inbetween…as well as cross-branded products. So it basically allows freedom of use while retaining full feature set. I have always been a manual flash user, especially because I would always be using different gear, rentals, etc… on set. However, Having more depth of field with the olympus system while shooting at F/1.8 for instance with HSS allows for a great look and sun-overpowering ability that was normally reserved for leaf shutter cameras. I am starting to explore this a lot more now with Olympus. I’m looking squarely at the AD600 and the AD360.

  3. “natural light” shooters are just afraid of getting into flash shooting
    the learning curve hurts at the beginning but there are plenty of good resources to get into it
    i personally recommend strobist101 and “light : science and magic”

    now about the topic : i have been using yongnuo flashes for some time with the tx transmitter that has 3 lines of display, it let me control all my flashes from the camera without moving around
    this blew my mind. i used it in various venues and in some very difficult places (eg: the catacombs of Paris)
    all in manual of course, since those didn’t do ttl. it made me learn the hard way but i understand lighting a lot better than if i started with ttl straight away i think.
    then, my yongnuo flashes started dying on me.

    godox had something i liked : lithium batteries = faster reload and a little more output (and no AA fiddling)
    so i bought one. and another one (850’s) with a xt32
    then the 350 olympus ttl version came out, and i bought one aswell (its not that good, not powerful enough imho, but very compact)
    then i got the x1t-o but the controls are horrible

    now i’m just waiting for the new xpro and i’ll be a happy man :)

    1. The Xpro with the TTL to manual conversion feature is definitely on my radar and one of those items that maybe me consider it. When shooting in the field on very tight schedules…doing a TTL shot and then having a button that converts that to a manual setting so I can take it from there is a big deal. Big time saver over taking several test shots and using a light meter as I still do. Then again, for many things having used manual flash for so long, I pretty much know what my settings will be hovering around at a given distance.

      And yes, the strobist resource is absolutely excellent stuff. For anyone that doesn’t know the Strobist site… Go Here! On the right hand side there is a drop down of the Strobist 101 archives and you can see all the articles. That site has taught many of us how to use flash. In fact David Hobby is actually relatively local to me as well. I’m surprised we have yet to cross paths.

  4. I would be very interested in an article on using the Godox/Flashpoint system with Oly cameras, the OMD E1.2 on particular. I believe the added cost of using the X1/R2 synchronization is negligible compared to the added features and overall lighting/flash cost.

    I am exploring using the TT685O, X1T-O and $120 Flashpoint Studio 400 Monolight(s) for studio shoots. For minimal cost, it looks like I could even put the TT685O and a Studio 400 monolight off camera for a 2 lights and have room for a fill flash on top of the X1T-O. There is HSS but no TTL with the Studio 400 and no modeling light with the TT685O of course.

    A less expensive possibility is replacing the Studio 400(s) with a $65 Godox TT600 Speedlite Flash to still give manual & HSS (no TTL, no Model lamp, but batteries vs AC cords). One could add a $18 Godox S-type Bracket Bowens Mount Holder for accessories .

    Adding TTL to the off camera lights drives the cost up double, triple or more. With my inexperience, I wonder about the need for TTL in amature studio photography.

    1. Working with TTL after years in manual has been interesting. If you follow David Hobby of Strobist…he is all manual all the time. As opposed to Joe McNally who is all about TTL. Both get amazing results, but its just what works best for how you like to work. Manual flash means nothing will change unless you change it… I feel this is very good for learning and building that foundation. TTL is great for keylight and working fast. I find I am usually switching back to manual mode once I am using more than one light.

  5. Hi Tony,
    Would appreciate your help in recommending a single flash for us natural light photographers.
    Looking for a system that can primarily be used with off camera, but can add additional flash units later on.

    1. Hey Jim…that really depends if you need TTL or not. At the moment for a TTL system, probably Godox (Flashpoint if you are US based). If strictly manual I think there are some options with LumoPro and Phottix. I am reviewing the Godox system shortly as I just bought into it for the reason of wrangling all my bits together. So far so good…I will have plenty to say…but even at this point I think it is a decent recommendation, especially for the cross-brand control. You dont have to swap them for new ones if you ever get a different camera.

  6. I’d love to have you do a column on bounced TTL flash for Oly. I shoot a lot of events. My old Nikon gear was great at using bounced TTL flash using a slow shutter speed; the subjects looked decent, and the combination of a slow shutter speed and bounced flash left some context in the background. As near as I can tell after two years of using Oly, (currently the M1iii and M10) there is no way to use bounced flash and get anything more than minimal power. Are you able to use bounce flash in large rooms, Tony?

    1. Hey Scott, I’ve gotten a lot of people thinking this is a good idea. So it will definitely happen before the end of the month. Funny how things fall together, I have 5 events booked this month…and I normally only take events for existing clients since I don’t focus on that work. This is ideal as I get to put the Godox system with Olympus TTL through it’s paces in an environment where it counts. I’ve bought a few different lights and will have plenty to say about this.

      In terms of large rooms… that is very relative. The largest rooms i have shot required at least 600 watt/sec per light… using 6 lights to raise the ambient. That’s a lot of horsepower. A speedlight would not have been able to manage the same look. Then again, I created my own mood and look in that room. For general large rooms, a bounced speedlight can be enough. Depends on your ISO and aperture. ISO 1600 at F/2.8 for instance should give you some good working power even bounced. I’ve shot events in decent rooms during with a diffuser on a speedlight, and the olympus at 200 or 400 ISO at F/2.8 at like 1/125 or 1/200 or a second. Bounced was plenty. The Olympus mini flash that comes with the camera won’t nearly be able to pull this off. You would have to have the 900 speedlight they make.

      I will make sure to post shots and describe what made the look when I do the review.

  7. In which cases is the FL-900R better than the TT685? Sorry for my stupid question, but as a beginner, I‘m a little bit overwhelmed.

    1. Well… “better” is very subjective… but the main differences are that the 900 is weather sealed and also has an LED modeling light. It’s not super strong…but it can be used for close up video and still images too. Those are two very handy features that most of the off brand lights do not have. Are they worth an extra $400 or so? Only your individual situation will decide this. I personally use a lot of flashes off camera and having a lot of 900s means a lot of money. Almost all my off camera multiple flash use is for interiors, products, and studio portraits so the weather sealing made no difference to me. From that point, the light output and usability all else being similar made the cheaper lights a smarter choice for that use that I have. If I was shooting a lot of outdoor portraits, outdoor events, etc… the weather sealed 900R might have been the best choice. And not a stupid question at all…there are so many choice out there and some many marketing features that it certainly can be overwhelming… even after doing this for years.

  8. I just found this site. Thanks for all the great info, Tony!
    I am a reformed Nikon user and have been shooting Olympus almost exclusively for the past 3 years (Em-5, Em-10ii and Pen-F). I also do a fair amount of off camera lighting for portraits and some event work with bounced flash. I prefer manual flash for off camera lighting and have found the Godox/Flashpoint system to be fabulous. I am currently using an older AD360, an AD200 (which is superb) and a couple of older Flashpoint Li-On Nikon speedlights which I can now use with the Olympus system by mounting them on R2 receivers. I often use the TT-35-O on camera to control everything because I think the interface is better than the X1-T. Everything works together really well, even for high speed sync. The one area where the Nikon flashes were superior is in using TTL bounced flash. Maybe it’s operator error, but I just cannot get consistent results with the Olympus system. I hope this information is useful to someone.

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