Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Olympus Macro Flash Photography - Part I


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Olympus Ring type and macro flash for Close-up Photography - Ring and macro flash units are often closely associated with "shadowless, even illuminations.." flash effects and it is indeed very useful for those who often engages in closeup photography or shooting pictures in studio such as duplicating works. Olympus' macro flash units are separeted in either Ring type flash or macro flash setup. Both types of flash usually comprised of a T Power Control unit which attaches to the accessory shoe of the camera.

Unlike the T10 Ring Flash 1, the T8 Ring Flash 2 does not aim directly at the subject. Instead, the flash is bounced off one of two reflector rings with a diameter of 15cm or 20cm. Here, too, the flash light comes from a ring-shaped reflector, and eight modelling lamps provide light before the exposure. Basically, the difference between Ring and Macro flash is, ring flash is designed primarily to acieve shadow-free flash images, while a macro flash such as the OM T28 provides certain level of control over modeling of the subject with varible degree of lights.

The TTL OTF Direct Flash Metering made all the difference here. It has opened a great deal of possibilities in macrophotography, in particular flash photography. Generally, working flash in high magnification such as close up or macro works may even be more tedious than normal flash photography. The Olympus pioneered flash exposure control system that measures light reflects from the surface of the film plane during exposure effectively eliminate those complex measurement of distance to film plane, compensation of lens in use and precise calculation of proper exposures.

Very few people realize OLYMPUS, the company was actually started off with a rich background in microscopy, thus this has very much to do with is great emphasis on OM System's macrophoto performance and problem solving capability. Where many photo systems reach the limits of their range in this segment, the OM System is just getting started with the OM1 and in particular, the OM2 back in the mid seventies.

Although flash has long been used as in macro photography, but it takes Olympus to spearhead with further development which resulted with a innovative T Power Control Unit and provides OM system with such a high level of portability and flexibility virtually unmatched by any other system. ----->>>>>

The TTL OTF metering developed forms backbone of the entirely OM macro system with many new possibilities that was previously deemed hard to achieve with conventional flash system.

The OM macro flash system, just for an instance, has the widest selection of accessories, greatest degree of versatility and it has developed into a fully portable system for action macrophotography. Today, the OM system commands in the specialized field. The original OM macrophotography group has, in fact, evolved into a complete solution not just covering recreational macrophotography, but also in technical fields covering medical, research and scientific applications. All back with a diversity of units, and range of performance that no other 35mm system can match.

Further, in terms of lens selection, there are a total of seven special fully automatic lenses specially designed for macrophotography. Some of the earlier optic has been entirely redesigned, for an example, both 20mm F2 and 38mm F2.8 macro lenses can now be attached directly to the Auto Bellows or the Telescopic Auto Tube 65-116, and enable 12 times life size without the hassle of reversing a lens.
Originally, Olympus has a 50mm f/3.5 Macro lens and by the time the OM2 was introduced a few years later, it has grown to 4 lenses with a 1:1 Macro 80mm f/4.0 and two microphoto lenses, the 20mm f/3.5 and 38mm f/3.5. By the early eighties, the lens system has grown to seven in total, with a faster speed 50mm f2.0, a 90mm f/2.0, a Bellow 135mm f4.5 and the two slower speed bellow microphoto lenses has a speed bump to 38mm f/2.8 while the 20mm has improved to a high speed f/2.0. Again, the remarkable selection of macro optic makes Olympus the only manufacturer that provides such a wide choices.

Macro Flash Units Naturally, the exclusive TTL OTF flash exposure control capability provides in most higher end OM camera models; one would expect the metering system will handle macrophotography with ease regardless of varying focal length, lens type and magnification ratio. However, conventional flash type would have problems adjusting to such needs even popular OM flash such as the superb Olympus T32 has a considerate built in close up flash feature whereby you can adjust by tilting the flash tube dowbneward slightly for closeup flash works.

However, Olympus had a few idea on their own in relation to macro flash photography. They have, in fact redesigned and created a new series of flash system just for that task. First of such new breed of flash module was the T10 Ring Flash. But the real fruit of such intense development is the T Power Control Unit. I am not so sure when the T Power Control Unit was introduced, but in early OM2 literature it was not mentioned, until the OM2n.

The T10 Ring Flash 1 features built-in illuminator lamps for focusing and composition. The flash is powered by the T Power Control unit which slips into the camera hot shoe. This makes a completely portable and very practical setup for every kind of medical scientific and nature macrophotography. The original idea is enriched many fold with the introduction of three new units. The T8 Ring Flash 2, which provides a diffused flash emission for extremely soft, shadowless lighting and offers a choice of large or small reflectors. The T28 Macro Single Flash 1, a high power flash for macrophotography at minimum apertures and with maximum depth of field. And the T28 Macro Twin Flash 1, a pair of units mounted on the lens at any desired angle, and capable of being fired separately or simultaneously.
Each of these three units is linked to the T Power Control 1 unit, this has provide the same easy portability and effortless system compatibility. With the OM-4 series, OM3Ti, OM40, OM2SP or even earlier OM-2n models, each of these unit can be used in TTL Auto Flash mode. Although it still can be used with other non-TTL OM bodies, but to optimize its full potential and less troublesome macro flash photography, these units are still best used with an OM TTL OTF flash enabled camera bodies.

T Power Control 1
Macro flash with the OM System marks a brilliant advance in portability and handling. One major reason is that the T Power Control 1,
which all the macro flash units use in common, it works by simply slips into the camera hot shoe just like a normal compact flash unit.

The desired macro flash model is then mounted on the lens and plugged in. The whole assembly of camera, auto bellows or telescopic extension tube, macro lens, flash and, when needed, motor drive. It provides great mobility and portability even with all necceesary components attached. The T Power Control 1 is about the same size as the T32 and most often would cause some confusion to new OM users or those who has no idea how the marvellous OM macro system works. With the OM-2n/3Ti/4/4Ti, the unit switches automatically between TTL Auto and Manual Flash according to the camera setting. With the OM1/OM-3, it operates on Manual only.

Specifications of T Power Control 1

Series-circuit type TTL Centralized Control (with interchangeable flash units).
Recycling time: 0.2 - 10 sec. with AA alkaline batteries on TTL AUTO (varies depending on flash -to-subject distance).
Color temperature:
Electrical contact with camera: (1) Clip-on type with hot shoe and lock. (2) Off-camera type with TTL Auto Cord and TTL Auto Connector (w/wo Power Bounce Grip 2).
Exposure Calculator
: Reversible Type - blank tor OM-2/3Ti/4Ti, OM40, OM77AF etc for TTL Auto flash; Calculator for OM-1 series, OM10, OM20, OM30, OM2000, OM3 etc and non-OM cameras for Manual flash.
TTL AUTO Aperture Setting
: Continuous, couples with aperture (with newer auto OM bodies) ring setting of camera lens.
SBC Sensor Acceptance Angle
: Matches view of camera lens.
TTL AUTO check
: Neon-flicker indication. Viewfinder indication contact provided.
Ready Light Check
: Charge lamp and viewfinder indication contact.
: Guide Number: HI and LOW settings switchable.
TTL auto cord socket
: Plug-in type with automatic lock.
Power source
: (1) 1.5V "AA" battery x 4 (incl. Ni-Cd) inside T Power Control 1. (2) 1.5V "C" battery x 4 (incl. Ni-Cd) inside Power Bounce Grip 2. (3) AC house current via Electronic Flash AC Adapter 3. (2) and (3) are activated by on/off switch of power-control unit.
Connection with flash uni
t: Connecting plug (bayonet).
Dimensions and weight
: 81 X 70 x 104mm, 320g (less batteries)(3.2 X 2.8 X 4.1 in., 11.3 oz.)

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