Albeit my third time at AnimeNext three weeks ago with my camera, I’m still relatively new to bustle of cosplayers and trying to photograph them in a convention setting. Moreover, being sick over the convention weekend didn’t assist matters and kept me inside the hotel a bit longer than I initially intended. Nevertheless, I was not going to let this weekend go waste, and more so, the opportunity to test out my new Olympus FL-50r flash unit in the field.
As you can see in the picture before the jump, this cosplayer was lit camera right (with some wall bouncing) of me with the flash handheld and remote TTL settings turn on. But what is most beneficial about this setup is that it is completely cordless, one of the reasons why I purchased the 50r. True, the same technique can be easily be done with a remote radio trigger attachment such as Pocket Wizards (although not TTL compatible with Olympus cameras and quite bulky) or the cheaper ebay duplicates, but that would mean bringing and attaching more equipment (as well as more batteries) in already crowded convention environment. So for this purpose, I wanted a quick and easy way to photograph attendees with little fuss.
The images were ok for the most part, but at times harsh lighting and shadows were still present. I guess it’s still a bit unavoidable regarding the tight spacing I was in, but nevertheless, I will continue to find solutions around the problem. I may consider a flash bracket or use a modified version of the “strobe on a rope” technique to address this issue.
Later, however, I encountered one the convention photographer’s unmanned backdrops and took advantage of the opportunity. Having a friend hold the flash and bouncing the light off the ceiling, this was a quick and easy way of getting a couple of portraits of friends without the use of radio triggers.
Lastly, the FL-50r can also double optical slave flash, another added bonus when you need an extra light but don’t have a spare trigger to fire it with. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get a chance to use this function like I had hoped at the convention, but it should proved beneficial in future shoots.
Some of the negatives of this this flash so far have been disappointedly sluggish recharge rate. However, this may be attributed to the age my NiMH rechargeable batteries and may require purchasing a new set. (Edit: After recent use in another event with brand new rechargeable batteries, the recharge rate seems to be operating normally). In addition, the auto-focus assist beam can be a bit distracting to people in dark areas. Because I don’t have much experience with other flashes that have focus assist beams since I’ve been using older manual flashes for my work, I can’t really compare if this is a generally occurrence with flashes that contain this feature. Nevertheless, it can definitely pose some difficulty in capturing candid shots if your subject(s) know they’re being focused on.
Overall is Fl-50r worth the price ($400)? I think I will have to spend more time with it at events before I make a more conclusive decision. But for now, it does what it does and I’ll just keep on shooting.