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Olympus E-PL1 + PT-EP01 + UFL-2: need help with strobe sync!

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Greetings all - I am a newbie to the forum but a diver of 25+ years. Back in the day used a Nikonos (not very well I am afraid) and am now getting back into u/w photography via digital. I bought the Olympus system because I have a lot to learn and wanted to start simple with an integrated ecosystem that was designed to be plug'n'play, so I could focus on technique and not gear. I'm having a blast in general but experiencing difficulty understanding and using this combo.

 

Following the manuals and what little info I have been able to glean on line, I have the strobe connected via fiber optic cable and both it and the camera set to RC mode. I think that I understand the strobe settings for aperture, ISO, zoom, and auto operation and believe that they are set correctly. The strobe is on an arm set and I have experimented with all sorts of positions from wide to tight. The camera is set to program (auto) mode and most shots where I've been diving have been at about f4 / 160 / ISO 100. The strobe fires seemingly when and how it is supposed to. However I am consistently getting badly under-exposed shots even at distances of well under half a meter. In fact they look as if there was no strobe at all, almost as if the strobe is not synchronized to the shutter.

 

I know that I could switch to manual operation and will eventually get there when I gain knowledge and confidence, but for now want to get the auto mode working for me. Would switching to either shutter or aperture priority and getting the shutter speed down around 60 improve things? Do I need to manually control ISO to get better sensitivity? Other tips?

 

The Olympus manuals are close to useless, and there is just not much experience being posted on line yet from other users. Anyone with knowledge of the Olympus system, your advice will be most welcome! TIA

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Try it out on dry land. Try taking a picture of the strobe. Do you see the flash in the photo? It sounds to me like it's not in sync. You cannot shoot faster than 1/160th for sure.

What is the strobe EV set to? I'd try turning it up.

 

Jack

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Thanks for reading and for your suggestion which I will try tonight. So far I have tried the assembled system on land with every combination of settings that I could find. What I think I know for sure is:

 

1) the strobe only fires when the camera is set to RC mode (contrary to instructions in the housing manual which say to turn it off) and the strobe is set to channel 1 group A. I cannot find a way to change channel/group on the E-PL1

 

2) There are five modes available on the strobe (m4/3 auto, m4/3 manual, RC, auto, manual) but the strobe only fires when set to RC or auto. I don't see a way to control EV in either of those modes.

 

3) The strobe only fires when the camera is set to fill flash, not on any other camera setting such as slow sync or lower power

 

4) When the strobe does fire, exposures are unlit, as if the camera is expecting flash but not seeing any

 

I know I must be missing something simple! I have sent email to Olympus support but so for no answer. Will update when I find the answer

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You have not mentioned what strobe you are using. I have a suspicion that your strobe is firing on the preflash. Does your strobe have flash delay settings?

 

I'm actually using my Oly Pen to bring digital life to my manual lenses and shooting in Av mode with Canon FD and Hassy lenses via adapters. It looks really silly when the lenses are much bigger than the camera. :unsure: . But I'm loving my old glass again. I'm also using an old Nikon flash in manual mode that has no preflash. When shooting on automatic, I get pre-flash sync problems and underexposre.

 

So check your strobe settings and see if it fires on the camera's preflash for focus and exposure.

 

Good luck and learn how to shoot manual ;)

 

Bo

 

Greetings all - I am a newbie to the forum but a diver of 25+ years. Back in the day used a Nikonos (not very well I am afraid) and am now getting back into u/w photography via digital. I bought the Olympus system because I have a lot to learn and wanted to start simple with an integrated ecosystem that was designed to be plug'n'play, so I could focus on technique and not gear. I'm having a blast in general but experiencing difficulty understanding and using this combo.

 

Following the manuals and what little info I have been able to glean on line, I have the strobe connected via fiber optic cable and both it and the camera set to RC mode. I think that I understand the strobe settings for aperture, ISO, zoom, and auto operation and believe that they are set correctly. The strobe is on an arm set and I have experimented with all sorts of positions from wide to tight. The camera is set to program (auto) mode and most shots where I've been diving have been at about f4 / 160 / ISO 100. The strobe fires seemingly when and how it is supposed to. However I am consistently getting badly under-exposed shots even at distances of well under half a meter. In fact they look as if there was no strobe at all, almost as if the strobe is not synchronized to the shutter.

 

I know that I could switch to manual operation and will eventually get there when I gain knowledge and confidence, but for now want to get the auto mode working for me. Would switching to either shutter or aperture priority and getting the shutter speed down around 60 improve things? Do I need to manually control ISO to get better sensitivity? Other tips?

 

The Olympus manuals are close to useless, and there is just not much experience being posted on line yet from other users. Anyone with knowledge of the Olympus system, your advice will be most welcome! TIA

Edited by fotoscubo714

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Thanks for trying. I am sure my explanation could be clearer. By the way the strobe is an Olympus UFL-2 as mentioned in the subject line

 

According to the camera manual there is no pre-flash except in red-eye reduction mode (which I am not using) and I have verified this with a slave strobe that has pre-flash adjustment.

 

Manual control of the flash does not seem available (though i find this hard to believe and am sure I am missing something). When in RC mode, there is no manual control of the flash available and when not in RC mode, the flash doesn't fire. So it seems to me that I have no choice but to get the automatic mode working

 

I have seen hints around the interwebs that TTL is possible but just cannot find the magic combination of settings. Or maybe, like Steve Jobs said, I'm just not holding it right . . .

 

Still workin' the problem, will update when I figure it out!

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The English manual for PT-EP01 is wrong. I checked the Japanese manual it said the camera should set to RC Mode = ON for UFL-2.

I think there must be some way to set the channel in your E-PL1. Is that there are only ON and OFF in the item RC Mode in the menu?

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Thanks for trying. I am sure my explanation could be clearer. By the way the strobe is an Olympus UFL-2 as mentioned in the subject line

 

Ooops...sorry I missed that. :unsure: Well I tried, but no cigar. You tried it with a free rubber bumper like your IPhone? ;)

 

Good luck, hope you find the answer to your problem soon. Probably something simple we all go "slap to the head - !DUH!" over afterwards.

 

Bo

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I finally figured out how to set the channel on the E-PL1. You have to first enable the "super control panel", then set the camera to RC mode, then press the center (start/OK) button to bring up the flash control menu. From there it is possible to choose TTL / auto / manual, also set FP vs normal flash, and set the channel. None of this is explained in the manual of course. As it happened my camera was set to the same channel as the strobe all along so that is not the explanation

 

Unfortunately the problem persists. No combination of camera and strobe settings (yes, I tried every one of them so far) will give me automatic exposure, and manual settings on the flash are not available when in RC mode. I am stumped but still poking at buttons hoping to luck onto a solution

 

@kkfok: Thanks a lot for checking the manual, your finding makes much better sense. It did not occur to me the translation could be wrong!

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I think you've got the strobe in manual somehow. I've used this exact setup with an E520 and that is how you set it.

 

Jack

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Jack - Thanks for the idea. I did not think that strobe settings in other modes could affect behavior in RC mode. So I went back to the beginning and did a master reset of the strobe and tried all available flash settings on the camera. Same results in all modes. As far as I can tell, no combination of settings affects the strobe output in RC mode. The only control available from the strobe in RC mode is "zoom" which narrows/focuses the beam and changes the guide number between 20-36 (a lower GN in this mode is not available even though in manual mode it goes as low as 1.8). I have been sort-of successful using the strobe in RC mode and camera in full manual at 1/160 and high f-stops, but at near-macro distances the output is far too high. According to the manuals TTL is possible so I am determined to find it.

 

Bo - I am sure that your are right, there is a facepalm in my future . . .

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well I have been playing a bit with the same combo after using a seaandsea 110 alpha... I bought the ufl2 because it allows to sync up to 1/2000th of a sec and get those nice black backgrounds ;))

Well I did despite the horrible manuals on both flash and camera. wrong and useless... It did work in the end by making sure you choose RC mode on the flash and the RC mode ON on the EPL1. Results for macro are really nice I must say. However I tried to shoot subjects a bit further away and realized power is not so much or in any case light flashed is not much...So i tried to use the 2 other modes on the UFL2 (auto or manual) and had no luck in sync with EPL1. I read SL manual or auto mode only works with cameras that do not preflash so maybe that is the case! I cannot set the EPL1 not to preflash so it seems I am stuck only with the RC mode and what the camera lets me control from the camera itself.

 

BTW the EPL1 preflashes all the time as the 110 alpha syncs on the 2 flash setting not the single one!

 

I hope you can at least use the RC mode and if you can use the manual or auto slave modes let me know!...

BTW the EPL1 seems to allow you a +- setting on the TTL/FP flash but have not tried if it works...

 

Jack - Thanks for the idea. I did not think that strobe settings in other modes could affect behavior in RC mode. So I went back to the beginning and did a master reset of the strobe and tried all available flash settings on the camera. Same results in all modes. As far as I can tell, no combination of settings affects the strobe output in RC mode. The only control available from the strobe in RC mode is "zoom" which narrows/focuses the beam and changes the guide number between 20-36 (a lower GN in this mode is not available even though in manual mode it goes as low as 1.8). I have been sort-of successful using the strobe in RC mode and camera in full manual at 1/160 and high f-stops, but at near-macro distances the output is far too high. According to the manuals TTL is possible so I am determined to find it.

 

Bo - I am sure that your are right, there is a facepalm in my future . . .

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Sorry, I never did find an answer that worked consistently. I sold the strobe and bought a pair of Inon S2000 strobes, which worked flawlessly out of the box in all modes!

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I know the original post is old but I wondered if any of you can tell me how to change the group on my UFL2 strobe from B to A. Thanks.

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