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Monday, 23 June 2008

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Dear Eamon & Mike,

What a great series of reviews of the E-3, so refreshing after reading so many that just rewrite the press release or interpret the specifications. I am looking forward to your overall conclusions, assuming they are coming.

Many thanks, please keep up these great reviews. Oh and your list of top ten cameras, outstanding work... they make such interesting snapshots of the state of the nation.... And hey, they are pretty influential... On saturday I had to go and play with one of these in the camera shop, just to see how it felt in my hand, and how nice it was to look through the viewfinder. Thanks for helping me to make up my mind on this camera.

Len

Well, what a nice flash system - and what an effective girl :)

The Nikon and Canon systems (as well as the Sony/Minolta system and Pentax systems) only use IR to control the flashes if you have the IR controller widget (or an Nikon SG-3IR Panel with the popup flash on Nikon or Pentax).

When you use the popup on Nikon, Sony/Minolta and Pentax systems, or a flash unit as Master they use visible light for control like the Oly system.

You can likely use Nikon's SG-3IR panel to mask the visible portion of the popup's controller flashes on the Oly's, it fits in the standard ISO shoe and has a flip-down panel to block all but IR. This works on Nikon and Pentax cameras (it doesn't mount on Sony/Minolta's and Canon's popup's are crippled and don't offer wireless flash control).

"You can likely use Nikon's SG-3IR panel to mask the visible portion of the popup's controller flashes on the Oly's, it fits in the standard ISO shoe and has a flip-down panel to block all but IR."

Hi Adam,

Thanks for the deeper explanation of the various wireless off-camera flash permutations; I was unaware of that Nikon panel. If your suggestion works without too much limitation, it would indeed solve any issues with unwanted visible light affecting the exposure (obviously the purpose for which Nikon makes it.) Although, again, I should say that it was a very minor concern of mine to begin with; I wasn't really finding fault with Olympus over it.

Besides not going too deeply into the various ways of controlling all the different systems, I also didn't note that Olympus does not offer any form of separate shoe-mounted controller (as Nikon/Canon do)-- i.e. the built-in flash is currently the only controller for Olympus's system. I've seen some people criticize that, but I didn't see it as a real drawback. Maybe I should?

Another way to block all but the IR from the built-in flash is to tape a piece of fully exposed, developed film to the flash. A left-over piece of leader works well.

Adam,

On both Pentax K10D and K20D you can completely turn off the visible flash output (via menus) for wireless control of off-camera flashes (af540 & af360). Although the on-camera flash has to be up, but it will NOT contribute ANY additional light to the exposure.

@Eamon: The lack of a IR controller is a small issue. Typically the IR controller has about twice the range as compared to using a master flash, and also (big issue for Canon users) it costs half of what a top-end flash costs. Note there is a Minolta IR controller available used, but it doesn't support any of the newer features of the always evolving Sony/Minolta flash system (Forget ADI, higher sync or the newly announced multi-group flash). Unless the range is an issue, this isn't too big a problem unless you have a Canon or a lower-end or top-end Nikon or a lower-end Pentax which can't control via the popup. As all Olympus bodies which support wireless flash can control via the popup (ditto Sony/Minolta) this is much less of an issue than it is for Pentax users who don't have such a widget but do have cameras which can't control via the popup. Thankfully for Pentaxians, the AF360FGZ flash, which costs about the same as those IR controller widgets, can command wireless flashes.

@Shadzee: That is incorrect, you can set the K10D and K20D to only emit preflashes and not contribute to the exposure, but even when doing so you are still using visible light preflashes to control the flash, which can result in bleed into the exposure in some cases (the last preflash is concurrent with the start of exposure for sync purposes). You need an IR filter of some sort to block all visible light.

@Shadzee, I concur with Adam--the K10D built-in flash does emit visible light even if used only as a controller. It doesn't contribute greatly to most exposures but sometimes you may get an unwanted reflection. I'm pretty sure that using a AF-360FGZ or AF-540FGZ as a controller doesn't help except that you can tilt/swivel the head to bounce the control flashes away from your subject. I may look and see if I can find some sort of filter for this--I've been reading that unexposed-but-processed slide film can work.

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