Shadowy Daisy

Shadowy Daisy
by damned-truths

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One of the main advantages of optical wireless flash control systems is that they don't require anything extra: at least with many cameras, they work with the built-in flash, and can often control (with TTL, even) slave flashes with no added adapters. Olympus has such a system, and it allows one to have multiple flash groups and adjust their power from the camera body.

However, the Olympus O-MD E-M5 has no built-in flash. It comes with a very compact clip-on / hotshoe unit, the FL-LM2, and this can act as a wireless controller.

Having to carry a little clip-on thing negates that main advantage, though, so I was wondering if there are any solutions which work with Olympus which allow power levels to be set from the camera body itself (presumably, from the radio controller unit).

I don't need TTL (although that'd be nice). I just want to be able to take test shots, check, and adjust power until I'm happy, without having to go around to each flash manually. (Getting assistants to yell at would be an alternative, I suppose, but it's not practical for everyone.)

PocketWizard appears to have some products that will do what I want, but as I understand it, these require a system-dedicated controller, and Nikon and Canon are the only options. Is there something I could do for Olympus, or is optical wireless my best bet?

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Are you talking about third party slave flashes? Because you can use Olympus FL-36R/50R/600R (as remote flashes) with the body in RC mode and can control the power of those flashes. Yes, it's controlled in flash pulses. There is no wireless (radio) option with Olympus. Even though in the manuals it sounds like it's radio wireless, it's actually all optically (flash pulses). – BBking Oct 5 '12 at 5:07
The question is about any product (probably from a third party, but could be from Olympus) that would add radio capability. I know the Olypus system is optical (see first sentence above); the problem is that the main advantage of optical is control from the camera body, and for camera bodies where a clip-on accessory flash would be needed anyway, I'd rather use a radio controller. The flashes themselves could be be third party or Olympus — the only requirement is that power be adjustable remotely, via TTL or otherwise. – mattdm Oct 5 '12 at 12:44
Cactus V6 might be one way forward, but it's so new, nobody knows about whether it'll work with mft. It does allow for Canon/Nikon/Pentax mixes, and works with 3rd parties like the YN-568EX, so it could work for remote power control. There's also the rumored YN-560-TX to remotely control the YN-560iii's power. I think it's coming; just not here yet. – inkista May 17 '14 at 18:40
up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are a few new systems appearing on the horizon that look like they will allow power control from any iso-compatible hotshoe, including those of mirrorless cameras like mft and Fuji X. But they're typically flash-and-trigger combination specific and are likely to be manual-flash-only on mirrorless. AFAIK, there are no full-function-TTL-capable radio triggers for micro four thirds, Fuji X, or Sony NEX at this time.

Aokatec AK-TTL

This one's actually a bit older. There are reports of this TTL trigger that works with Olympus's RC system to turn the light signals to RF; kind of like RadioPoppers. You should get TTL and HSS with this, and, presumably, remote power control, but reports are few and far between, and you'd still need a mft RC master unit of some kind.

Cactus V6

Although initially the Cactus V6 triggers were not compatible with micro four-thirds, they've since updated them to work with a selection of micro four-thirds TTL flashes. The following flashes are now compatible with the V6's remote power control feature:

  • Olympus FL-36R/Panasonic FL360
  • Olympux FL-50R/Panasonic FL500
  • Metz 44AF-1
  • Metz 52AF-1
  • Metz 58AF-2

Not the absence of the FL-600R/FL360L and FL580L from the list.

The V6 triggering system, however, like the Godox system below, is not a TTL/HSS-capable system, but a manual system that can manipulate the power control signals (for Canon/Nikon/Pentax gear, this means the quench pin signal, for micro four-thirds, it means a digital code for quench--which is apparently not uniform across all models). You can get HSS-like behavior if you stack it on top of an HSS-capable trigger (i.e., it can echo the pulses when sent by a unit that "speaks" the camera's hotshoe protocol), but this is typically only useful for Canikon users that already own HSS-capable PocketWizard/Yongnuo/Phottix/Pixel units.

Godox FT-16/FT-16s

The Godox FT-16s triggering system could work, since the transmitter unit works to adjust power in-hand, without talking to a hotshoe, so it's very likely to be mft compatible. But, obviously, it only works to control the Godox flashes.

Yongnuo TX units

And then there's Yongnuo. All three of their Canon triggering systems, with the appropriate flashes, work for manual power control on non-Canon hotshoes, but only the YN-560 system makes sense to an mft-only shooter who doesn't have legacy Canon flash gear.

The Yongnuo clone of the ST-E3-RT, the YN-E3-RT had a firmware update that allows it be used for manual power level adjustment on remote 600EX-RTs (and Yongnuo's YN-600EX-RT) from any ISO-compliant hotshoe. However, a 600EX-RT is expensive to use in a non-eTTL system as a manual slave, and having to hit the test button every time before a shot to send the power settings may not be your ideal.

The YN-622C-TX/YN-622C trigger combination can be used with an mft (or other mirrorless) camera to manually adjust the zoom, manual power level, and group on/off of any flash that's compatible with the YN-622C (as in, can be menu-commanded from a Canon camera), such as the 430EXII, or YN-568X. The new TX unit provides the interface that the Canon flash control menu does. Again, this might be overkill if you don't also shoot Canon and can take advantage of the eTTL/HSS features of the triggers on that system.

The YN-560-TX can manually control the power level, zoom, and group on/off on the YN-560III/YN-560IV manual flashes, but only these two models (the ones with the built in radio receiver). The YN-560IV can also be used as a master in the system, but only has three groups instead of six.

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I like your answer! I've never seen an accepted answer change 2 years later. :P – BBking Oct 1 '14 at 3:00
@BBking I have 6 Necromancer badges! It's a very bad habit if mine. :) – inkista Oct 1 '14 at 17:36

Unfortunately, no. Optical wireless with Olympus flashes is the only way to control the power of remote flashes with the Olympus set up.

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So the straight answer is that there is no option for Olympus off camera flash that doesn't require a clip on module of some sort. But you can add to the existing system.

I have and use the Aokatec AK-TTL with my Metz and Olympus flashes. Fiddly to attach but I'm working on a workaround that uses "Sugru" to attach the light transmitter to the sensor on the remote flashes. Otherwise works perfectly. Attach one TX unit to the flash on your camera, whether a clip on flash, an FL50r or FL36r, or a compatible Panasonic or Metz flash. then attach a receiver unit to each remote flash, and you have full functionality which includes HSS, TTL and manual control. My Olympus cameras allow me to mix TTL and manual control all at the same time :)

Otherwise get the Cactus V6, and it allows manual control with the TX unit sitting in the camera hotshoe, and a receiver unit attached to the flash foot.

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