When you see the Olympus FL-300R compact flash on a catalog page, it looks very tempting - especially for th modest $139 investment (modest in the world of flash photography). But does this wireless unit perform? I decided to put it through its paces with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and E-M1.
Things I Liked
- Very compact and light. Uses 2 AAA batteries
- Tilts back for bounce flash and forward for macro
- Wireless capability with 2 channels
- Built-in diffuser panel that's effective
- Flash folds forward to stay out of the way when not in use
- Easy to operate
- Comes with protective pouch and off-camera stand
Things I Didn't Like as Much
- Can't use EVF in bounce position. Must use LCD for composition
- Only angles 60 degrees backwards, instead of full 90 degrees
- Flash can only be fired 10 times in succession at intervals of 6 seconds
The FL-300R On Camera
I liked that the flash slides directly into the hot shoe and doesn't require you to reveal the Accessory Port. I used Philips MultiLife 1000mah rechargeable AAA batteries to power the unit. The flash was ready for action just a few seconds after pushing the On/Off button, and it recharged quickly between firings.
Exposures were good on both the E-M5 and E-M1. I discovered that what is advertised as a Wide Panel (its switch is on the side of the FL-300R) is also an excellent built-in diffuser. When enabled, it lowered the contrast and softened shadows. I especially recommend it when working close to subjects. When in bounce position, however, don't use the wide panel setting because it does cut output a bit.
The FL-300R Off Camera
Even though the FL-300R is definitely an upgrade from the accessory popup flash that comes with the OM-D, don't toss it out. You'll need the pop-up to serve as the wireless controller for the FL-300R.
Once the popup is in place and the camera is fired up, all you have to do is move the RC switch on the back of the FL-300R to "A" and enable RC Mode in Menu 2 on the camera. Wireless performance was quite good, and it adds another dimension to your flash photography options.
You can hold the flash in your hand for on-the-go off-camera flash. Or you can use the supplied stand to position it on a table or shelf. The stand includes a threaded socket, so it can serve as an adapter for a light stand or tripod too.
The Final Word
Because of its capabilities and compact size, I do recommend the Olympus FL-300R Compact Flash for casual flash photography. It's not powerful enough for serious event coverage, but when you need to cobble together a quick lighting setup for a portrait or family gathering, you'll be happy to have this compact unit in your bag.
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