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.
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.
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!
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.
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.