Olympus FL-36R Electronic Flash for Olympus Digital SLR Cameras – Product Description:
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Olympus FL-36R Electronic Flash for Olympus Digital SLR Cameras – Review:
GOOD BUT EXPENSIVE!
I purchased the FL-36R to use with my E510. Olympus only makes two flashes worth considering for general use with their E(volt) line of DSLRs, the FL-36R and the FL-50R. The FL-50R is significantly more powerful than the FL-36R (guide number of 50 vs. 36), but it is also substantially bigger, heavier and twice the cost. For me, the FL-36R was the obvious choice. There are also non-Olympus flashes that are cheaper and claim to work in the TTL (though the lens) mode, but many reviews cast doubt on this claim.
There are a couple of reasons to buy an external flash as opposed to just using the built-in flash.
1. Focusing at low light levels is much improved because the red focusing light emitted by the external flash does a much better job than the white light given off by the built-in flash. Unlike the built-in flash which could take 4 or 5 flashes to focus, the FL-36R usually managed much more quickly.
2. The built-in flash has only about 1/3 the power of the FL-36R. Having said that, the built-in flash is certainly adequate for many situations. However, if you are constantly trying to fill a mid-sized room with light, either of the external flashes will be a big improvement.
3. The FL-36R has a flash head that can be swiveled and tilted. This allows the flash to be bounced off ceilings and walls, in many cases providing a softer and more pleasing light.
4. Because the FL-36R is raised over the lens, red-eye is not nearly as big a problem as with the built-in flash. Also, tilting the flash head just a little virtually does away with red-eye.
5. The external flash has the ability to synchronize with the camera at much high shutter speeds (Super FP mode) allowing fill light for action shots.
6. The external flash can be set off to the side and, in the manual mode, be triggered by the camera’s built-in flash. Having multiple light sources can add interesting effects to pictures.
7. The flash gun seems to be sturdy, well built, and of reasonable quality.
There are a few minor negatives to this flash.
1. Using bounce flash sometimes resulted in underexposed photos even with the TTL mode and a white ceiling.
2. Although this is a small and compact flash, it is still a lot of extra weight to drag around.
3. The manual, although generally clear, is short on details and examples.
4. Initial start up time is slow, about 30 – 40 seconds even with freshly recharged batteries. I consider this to be minor. Some reviews complain about a slow recharge time or 5 or 6 seconds. For me this recharge time has been plenty fast.
5. Finally, two hundred dollars for a flash is a lot compared to the cost of the camera. I’d be tempted to really learn the built-in flash first before spending the money on an external flash.