Olympus E-M1 Flash


Although like the E-M5, the Olympus E-M1 lacks any internal flash strobe, it provides for external flash strobes courtesy of a hot shoe--but note that it is shared with the accessory port, so use of flash or accessories is an either / or proposition.

The E-M1 comes bundled with an accessory flash (FL-LM2) which has a guide number of 10 meters at ISO 200 equivalent (that works out to about 7m at ISO 100), with coverage specified at 14mm (28mm in 35mm format).

Flash modes include Auto, Fill-in, Red-eye Reduction, Slow Synchronization (1st curtain), Slow Synchronization (1st curtain)/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Synchronization (2nd curtain), Manual (Full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64), and Off.

The E-M1's hot shoe is compatible with the FL-50R, FL-36/FL-36R, FL-20, FL-14, FL-300R and FL-600R strobes. Flash sync is possible up to 1/320 second with the FL-LM1/2, or 1/250 with other flashes and the E-M1 also allows Super FP flash up to 1/8,000 second, if supported by the attached flash. Flash exposure compensation is available within a range of +/- 3.0 EV, in 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV steps which can be optionally added to exposure compensation. Finally, the E-M1 supports four-channel wireless flash with the bundled strobe acting as a master, and off-camera flash strobes configured in up to 4 groups.


Bundled Flash Test Results

Coverage and Range
A weak flash despite being external, with narrow coverage.

12mm, ISO 200
f/2.8, 1/60s
40mm, ISO 200
f/2.8, 1/60s
Normal Flash,
ISO 200, 1/60s
+2 (+0.7 EV)
Slow-Sync Flash,
ISO 200, 1/6s
+3 (+1.0 EV)

Coverage. Flash coverage was quite narrow and uneven at wide angle (12mm), and the lens cast a small shadow at the bottom of the frame, though keep in mind the 24mm-equivalent is wider than most kit lenses. Coverage is more uniform at full telephoto (40mm).

Exposure. In our Indoor Portrait flash test, the Olympus E-M1 underexposed our subject despite using an external flash (which are often more powerful than built-ins). +0.7 EV flash compensation produced the brightest exposure (+1.0 EV was actually slightly dimmer), though it was still dim. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced much better results at +1.0 EV aided by the slower 1/6 second shutter speed, though with a stronger orange cast from the ambient room lighting.


Flash Range: Wide Angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

1/60 sec
f2.8
ISO 200

ISO 200 Range. Flash exposure started out a bit dim at 6 feet at wide angle, then became dimmer as distance increased. Since this is a constant aperture lens, we did not repeat this test at telephoto. Poor results here, especially considering the f/2.8 lens. You can always use a more powerful external flash, though.


Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range

11.7 feet
ISO 200

Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. The Olympus E-M1's bundled flash has a Guide Number (GN) of 10 meters at ISO 200. That works out to about 11.7 feet at f/2.8, the maximum aperture of the 12-40mm lens. (Since the aperture is constant, the range should technically be the same at any focal length.) In the shot above, the E-M1 did not perform as Olympus says it will, producing a dim exposure at the rated distance. Oddly, though, it is brighter than both our 11 and 12 foot range shots, with differences in metering likely the reason. Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 200 (when supported), to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.

 



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