Olympus FL-600r Flash settings on the OM-D E-M5

I received several questions about the Olympus FL-600R Flash since my last flash-related post. I thought it might be helpful to post my usual flash settings, along with some other info that may help you if you get stuck. There are a couple of settings between the FL600r and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 that may […]

Written By Rob Knight

On November 18, 2012
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I received several questions about the Olympus FL-600R Flash since my last flash-related post. I thought it might be helpful to post my usual flash settings, along with some other info that may help you if you get stuck. There are a couple of settings between the FL600r and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 that may not be what you are used to on other camera systems. Like any flash system, it’s easier to get the hang of it if you know what to expect.

Camera Settings

The settings I will refer to in this article are for the FL-600r flash attached to the hot-shoe of a camera. In this case, an OM-D E-M5. Some of the options are different when the flash is not attached to a camera, so make sure you have the flash on the camera if you’re trying to follow along. Most of these settings assume the flash is in TTL-A mode except where noted.

FL-600r flash with OM-D E-M5

OM-D E-M5 Custom Menu F

The first flash settings I’m referring to on the OM-D E-M5 are found in Custom Menu F. Press the MENU button, scroll down to the Custom Menu (the cogs), press ► then scroll down to custom menu F and press ►.

  • The first option in Custom Menu F is X-sync. The X-sync is the fastest shutter speed you can use with the flash without switching to FP mode (I will cover FP mode later). If you are using the FL-600r on the camera you can only sync up to 1/200, but I keep the x-sync all the way up at 1/250 anyway. The E-M5 will sync at 1/250 with the clip-on FL-LM2 flash.
  • The next option is the Slow Limit. This sets the slowest shutter speed you can use with the flash in Aperture Priority, Program, or Auto exposure modes. I keep this at 1/60, but you could probably go as low as 1/30 because the Image Stabilization in the E-M5 is so effective. Image Stabilization won’t freeze a moving subject, but the flash can help you do that.
  • The last option in Custom Menu F controls whether or not the exposure compensation and flash exposure compensation are linked. Make sure this is OFF. Now in A,S or P exposure modes you can use Exposure Compensation (EV) to adjust the ambient exposure, and Flash Exposure Compensation (flash EV) to adjust the flash exposure separately. Very handy!

 

FL-600r flash with OM-D E-M5

OM-D E-M5 Super Control Panel

Now for the SCP (super control panel). In the SCP you have two flash controls: Flash Mode and Flash EV. Flash Mode controls how the flash works, and Flash EV adjusts the flash power. (If the flash is set to Manual mode you adjust the flash output by adjusting the guide number on the flash.)

For most situations I have the Flash Mode in the camera set to Fill-In. The Oly TTL metering does a nice job of balancing ambient light with the flash, and I can adjust the flash power with the Flash EV if I need to. For daylight fill-in flash I usually dial the flash EV to around -1.0.

The other flash mode I use a lot is 2nd Curtain Sync. 2nd Curtain Sync fires the flash at the end of the exposure. This way the flash freezes motion AFTER any motion blur. The resulting images show motion, but the subject is nice and sharp. 2nd curtain sync is handy for shooting moving subjects indoors.

The E-M5 has different flash modes in different exposure modes. In A and P exposure modes 2nd curtain sync is only available as SLOW 2. This will fire the flash at the end of the exposure, but it also ignores the Slow Limit shutter speed you set in Custom Menu F. The camera may give you a shutter speed setting too slow to handhold with good results.

In S and M exposure modes you can simply use 2nd-C mode for 2nd Curtain sync. I recommend using M mode for shooting with 2nd curtain sync indoors so you can control the exposure. Set the aperture and shutter speed so that the background is underexposed about 1 stop, then use the 2nd curtain flash to expose your subject and help reduce motion blur.

The E-M5 can not use 2nd curtain sync when using remote flash.

Flash Settings.

FL-600r flash with OM-D E-M5

Olympus FL-600r control panel

As I said before, these settings are for the FL-600r flash attached to a camera. I talk about my remote flash settings in this previous article.

There are five modes to choose from on the FL-600r. To change the Mode press the MODE button and rotate the wheel.

There are three regular modes and two [FP] modes:

  • ‘TTL-A‘ mode measures the exposure “through the lens” to determine the proper flash exposure.
  • ‘A’ mode measures the flash exposure through a sensor on the flash to determine the proper flash exposure
  • ‘M’ mode allows you to control the flash power with no input from the camera.
  • ‘TTL-A[FP]’ and ‘M[FP]’ mode allows the flash to sync at any shutter speed. The FP modes are useful when you are shooting outdoors or other bright ambient light because you can raise the shutter speed to lower the ambient exposure. You lose some effective range in FP mode. Four feet of effective range according to the display on the flash.

I usually use TTL-A or TTL-A[FP] if I’m using the flash on the camera. I use the camera settings above and adjust the flash power using the Flash EV setting in the SCP. You can also use the Flash EV button on the flash. The value you set on the flash is combined with any adjustment you make using the camera. I would recommend using one or the other to avoid confusion.

I also use the FL-600r in manual mode. Here are a couple of tips for using M mode:

  • To adjust the flash output, press the MODE button twice. The GN (guide number) number will flash. Turn the wheel to adjust the power output of the flash, then press OK. (Don’t ask me why you don’t use the Flash EV button for that.)
  • To change the display from GN to power level, go to the custom settings on the flash by holding the OK button for 2 seconds. scroll down to GN and turn the dial to OFF. Now your FL-600r will show you the flash power in standard fractions (in 1/3 stop increments) instead of GN.
  • If you are using the flash in manual mode I recommend using the Manual exposure mode on the camera as well. As a general rule, the aperture value controls the flash exposure and the shutter speed controls the ambient exposure.

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions I have not answered here. This post is a combination of answers to questions I have received and issues that I have personally had while using the FL-600r flash.

Happy flashing!

42 Comments

  1. Frances Kuelz

    My question is. Do you have any guidance to using the flash fl600r with radio transmitters. Phottix atlas 2. I know how to use them in manual mode but not sure what guide number means. You mention you control the flash power with these. I tried changing the GN to the fraction. I tried pushing the ok button and the 1/8 only stays for a second and can’t get it to stay. In the auto mode you have ISO and fstop. What do these control on the flash mean and do they affect my ISO and fstop in camera? Hope to hear back from you and thank you for your time. Frances Kuelz

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Hi Frances,
      I don’t have a flash in my hand right now, but once I changed the display from GN to fractions all of my speed lights stayed that way. Are your radio triggers compatible with Oly/LUMIX TTL? if not you will need to use them in manual mode.
      Cheers,
      Rob

      Reply
  2. William

    Thank you for theses tips.

    I have spent most of this am trying to understand my new flash. Your posting cut through all the junk and helped me master the setup on on camera flash. I am going to your off camera flash posting next. Any other tutorials on the camera or the flash?

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Thanks William,
      I am planning to write a new post/ tutorial with the new LUMIX fl580l flash soon. I’m looking forward to experimenting with high-speed sync on the new LUMIX LX100 as well.
      Cheers!

      Reply
  3. kspay

    hi. I am newbie here. I holding ep5, thinkin to get a flash. Mainly will use to bounce light indoor, with little use for outdoor portrait (maybe). Do you suggest me to get FL-600R or Metz 44? or any other model. As the price of FL-600R is expensive, but I found metz 44 cannot do fast sync, which I still not sure whether I will use tht function not.

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      The Metz 52-af1 will do high speed sync with your camera for sure. I think they are only around $250

      Reply
  4. Charles Mitchell

    How do I determine MANUAL Guide numbers for ISO Over 6400 t0 25,6ooI have a chart that gives factors to use to calculate Guide Numbers from ISO 25 to 6400 I am using the Olympus FL50 flash which has a basic GN of 50 for ISO 100 and a factor of 8 THAT RESULTS IN A A GUIDE nUMBER OF 400

    tHANKS

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Wow, that question is well beyond my math skills. My advice would be to adjust the flash output according to what you see and not to sweat the GN 🙂

      Reply
  5. Neil Clark

    Kind of a side-question…the bundle flash for the OM-D E-M5 is definitely `dinky’ and limited…so I’m looking at different flashes to use across platforms with older E-510s. I’ve seen a test that the OM-D’s hot-shoe “works with FL-50/FL-50R, FL-36/FL-36R, FL-20, FL-14, FL-300R and FL-600R” – are you aware of any Olympus digital flashes (like the FL-40) that WON’T play nice with the OM-D? I use the cameras to investigate motor vehicle accidents: mostly daytime site inspections, but also light-limited vehicle inspections, some macro work. Thank you,Neil Clark

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Hi Neil,
      I don’t know about the compatibility with older flash units. The Metz 52-af1 is a nice unit that is not too expensive and fully compatible. I would stick with a newer model unless you want to use the flash in manual mode.

      Reply
  6. Jesse Noh

    Hello, Rob.

    My FL-600R works fine in off camera (EM-5) wireless setup but when I put it on hotshoe, I don’t get TTL A or TTL A[FP] mode. Upon many research it seemed that some of users didn’t smuggled FL-600R all the way in, and that prevented them to get TTL A mode. When I landed on your blog, I reset the camera setting as you described but failed to get TTL modes. While the flash and camera both on, I unlock the flash from hotshoe and wiggled a little, and all of sudden, TTL A mode showed up. From that time on, it is on going battle to get TTL mode. I just can’t seem to find the right fit to get TTL mode. I’m beginning to think that there’s something wrong with either EM-5 or FL-600R. Both are brand new I purchased them on Black Friday from Olympus website. What do you think?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Something is definitely not connecting right. I would try the flash on another camera and maybe try a different flash on your camera if you can. That would help you figure out the weak link.

      Reply
      • Jesse Noh

        I found the cure. I just can’t push it all the way, then I don’t get TTL modes. Once I push it all the way, I’ll have to slide it back just a tiny bit before engage lock. I now get both TTL modes with no problem. I guess my case was the opposite. Olympus definitely will have to come up with a solution.

        Reply
  7. Lyn Fedrick

    Thanks for this tutorial on the Oly Flash Rob. Just purchased one and the instructions are great if you happen to be Chinese. Will read the “off camera flash” article shortly. I just wondered if you know of any instructions available to be able to use Back-Button Focusing on the Olympus OMD-EM5 camera? I previously purchased instructions for my Canon gear and really miss BBF on the Olympus. Thanks so much for your tutorials. Lyn

    Reply
  8. marja

    hi. i just got my oly fl600 r flash and i,m wondering why it sounds weird when you have taken the photo?:-/ is it the flash charging or what? and then there is also weird sound from the flash when you are zooming your lens.. i have only shoot with small pop up flash wich comes with em5 and now i have started learning to use this. sorry my bad english, i’m from finland:-)

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Hi Marja,
      After the flash fires you will hear a high-pitched whine while the flash recharges. The sound you hear when you zoom the camera lens is the lens in the flash zooming to match the focal length of the camera lens.
      Cheers!

      Reply
  9. Dustin

    Hi Rob,
    I love this flash when I can get it to work. Sadly, the TTL mode (my preferred mode) is finicky. Usually the FL-600R flash defaults to RC mode when I first turn it on… strange because the camera isn’t in that mode. Anyway, I usually have to remove the batteries from the flash and do a basic reset my OM-D EM-1 to get it to work. I think the problem may be the camera software (I’m using the latest 3.0 — but the problem started with the previous update).

    Have you had a similar problem?

    Anyway, thanks for all the background info. Very kind of you to do that.

    Cheers,
    Dustin

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Hi Dustin,
      I have not experienced the problem you describe. I hate to say it, but you might want to send in your flash for service.

      Reply
  10. Bob Santos

    Hi Rob! Very informative article.

    Like the rest, I have recently purchased the fl600r, upgraded from the tiny 300r.

    What settings would be best for a large group of people spanning some 10-12feet from left to right as I have Em5 and Panasonic 14mm f2.5 to work on?

    Any info/reply is very very much appreciated.

    Thanks Rob.

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      The fl600r is STILL pretty tiny! For a group you will want to bounce the flash if possible to spread the light out. Unfortunately this will sap some of the power at the same time. If you are regularly shooting large groups you might want to look into a larger flash like the LUMIX fl580 or Metz 52AF-1. They will both work with the TTL metering on a LUMIX or Olympus body.

      Reply
  11. Joan Day

    Hi Rob,

    Nice articles. I have all Nikon Pro equipment. I just bought the Olympus E-M5. I also use the Pocket Wizards.

    I would like to utilize as many of my current flashes as possible, if possible. I shoot manual exposure and manual flash all the time. Mostly, off-camera flash.
    I have 2-SB-800s and 1-SB-600, and my OLD Vivitar 285…which works great with an optical slave, but I don’t usually use it!
    Anyway, I don’t mind buying some type of flash, but I would like it to have as much power as the SB-800s.
    What do you recommend?

    Thank you.
    Joan

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      If you’re using Pocket Wizards I don’t see any reason for you to invest in different speed lights. PW’s and manual flash will work fine on your Olympus

      Reply
  12. Joan Day

    Actually, I have the E-M10, not the 5.
    Sorry.
    Joan

    Reply
  13. Nicholas Gezinski

    My camera is the Olympus E-M5 and Olympus F600R. How can I extend the flash on a bracket mount and get TTL? Olympus does not make a cable for this to work and I don’t know why. Is there any way. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Reply
  14. boyet

    hi rob,
    i have the flash (fl600r) mounted on my ep5, i couldn’t make it sync to fire on the ttl’s mode.
    it works fine when I’m in manual mode though. what do you think could be the problem? thanks in advance!
    boyet

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      I don’t have an Olympus camera any more, so I’m afraid I don’t have any way to help you trouble shoot your issue

      Reply
  15. Paul Schatzkin

    Thank you for this post! I need to use my FL-600R in full manual mode and for the life of me could not come up with how to change the power setting. I could get it into manual mode, but couldn’t change the power ratio. I was actually in hold with Olympus tech support (in Bogota Columbia!?) and they guy I was talking to didn’t have a clue; he put me on hold while he looked for an answer internally, and while waiting I Googled it. And found your page. Press the “mode” button twice? Who knew? Not, apparently, whoever wrote the little manual (I use the term loosely) that came with the unit – there is NO mention of “press the mode button twice” anywhere in that manual (or if there is it was pretty damn easy to miss). So, thanks, you just saved my bacon…

    Reply
  16. Louise Bradley

    Thank you Rob for the excellent article. Now I need to practice. Regards, Louise Braldey

    Reply
  17. Amy

    Hi Rob, thank you for the great article!

    Something I Am confused by is linking the exposure and flash compensation in the menu (mentioned at the end of the camera settings heading). In your article, is say’s that turning this option off will allow you to adjust exposure compensation, and flash compensation separately. Can you elaborate on what you mean by this and how I would adjust each? I normally use manual, so I am not sure if this applies. In manual, I know I adjust the flash compensation and Exposure compensation – but I am not sure how to adjust each and what each is? I am sure this has a very simple obvious answer, so I apologize! I seem to be a little stuck! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Exposure compensation doesn’t affect the exposure in manual exposure mode. You can still use the flash exposure comp to adjust the flash output.

      Reply
  18. Greg M

    Thanks for the piece. I have found this gun very hard to use, with an E-M10 in my case.
    I want to set it to TTL-A, but this mode just will not come up on the screen on the gun. It only gives me M, SL A, SM and RC.

    I have set the camera settings in accordance with your recommendations. I think I have ISO at 400; at least that is what comes up on screen sometimes.

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Sorry man, I don’t have an Olympus camera to test it with.

      Reply
    • Hope Fredrickson

      I had the same problem, then I remembered a friend said.”Have your camera turned OFF before installing your flash, or it may not work right.” I turned the flash off, turned the camera off, removed the flash and reinstalled it. TTL -A came right up.

      Reply
  19. Caroline

    Hi Rob, I am hoping you can help me out, I am a photo novice, but purchased this FL-600R for my Olympus OMD EM10 and EM5. It used to work in TTL mode (attached to hotshoe) for a few months after I purchased it. Then about a year ago, the flash stopped working altogether. My settings were the same and everything, but I cannot get the flash to fire EVER. I tried adjusting the settings, changing batteries, etc. The test/charge seems to work fine. The flash itself seems to ‘know’ when it’s mounted to the camera but they don’t seem to ‘talk’. All my pictures are underexposed. I’m not sure what to do next!

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      Hi Caroline,
      It’s hard to say without the equipment in front of me… the first thing I would do is make sure the camera isn’t using its electronic shutter. Beyond that I’d really have to take a look at it.

      Reply
  20. HC

    Hi Rob, great article. I have an Oly OMD Em5 and FL 600r. Recently ive had inconsistent performance from the camera or flash (or maybe both!). Under iAUTO mode, with the flash attached, the picture is very dark (in doors, at night). The camera settings are as you have recommended. The picture is shot at ISO 200 (iAUTO) with F3.5 and 1/60. This is consistently the case, so wondering if I’m doing something wrong? cheers for the help.

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      I’m afraid it’s hard to troubleshoot the results in iauto mode because you can’t really change any settings to alter the results. I would recommend trying program auto (P) so you can at least control the settings a little bit.

      Reply
  21. Andy Mattice

    Still a valuable post. Picked up a used FL-600R today. Love it.

    Reply
  22. Hope Fredrickson

    A friend forwarded this article to me after I had a 5 hour disaster attempting to learn how to use the FL 600r flash on my OMD E-M1ii I am ready to try again thanks to your clear directions. Do you have a detailed article on everything this flash will do? Just knowing about the custom settings to turn off the GN was a life saver. This makes me curious as to what else can be done. What do all those settings do? The manual is definitely lacking! I am a flash newbie, but I really want to get this figured out.

    Reply

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