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[OM] Re: Olympus OM-1n Instructions manual hardcopy availability?

Subject: [OM] Re: Olympus OM-1n Instructions manual hardcopy availability?
From: Chuck Norcutt <chucknorcutt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 2008 10:08:20 -0500
OK, as Moose suggested it's time for Dr. Flash to weigh in.  I can tell 
that Moose doesn't pay any attention to the market on old flash units 
else he wouldn't say "...why pay for all that TTL circuitry that you 
can't use?"  In fact, there is little difference in price between old 
dedicated TTL and non-TTL units and you may well find that the dedicated 
TTL unit is selling for less.  None of the old film era TTL units are 
usable as TTL on any digital camera.  The reason is that sophisticated 
TTL OTF ambient and flash exposure measurement such as was done with the 
OM-2 (and many other cameras later on) is just not possible with 
digital.  All digital SLR's do ambient light measurement in the 
pentaprism ala OM-1 and do the same for flash measurement by firing a 
pre-flash... modified in some cases by distance to the subject as fed 
back by the lens focusing distance.  (Digital flash exposure accuracy 
has been something of a problem and Canon has quietly re-introduced the 
old flash controlled auto exposure mode as an exposure control option 
into their latest flagship flash unit the 580EX II).

So, the market for old TTL units has declined dramatically. Two years 
ago $70 was a decent price for a T-32.  Today it's more like $40.  Pro's 
and advanced amateurs still provide a market for non-TTL models/versions 
(which provide only manual or flash controlled auto mode exposure). In 
some cases the TTL version is just as usable as the non-TTL model but 
people are fearful of causing damage to something with those extra TTL 
contacts kicking around in the hot shoe.

Probably the best case in point is the Sunpak 422D and Sunpak 383.  The 
Sunpak 422D is a dedicated TTL/auto/manual model that probably hasn't 
been sold new for 10-15 years.  The Sunpak 383 is a current model still 
sold new at B&H for $79.95 as is the Vivitar 285HV for $89.95.
(note the HV, important if buying a used one for use on a newer camera)

Physically and electronically the 422D and 383 flash units are nearly 
identical except that the 422D has a removable TTL control foot and can 
be used as a dedicated TTL flash unit on multiple cameras by changing 
the foot.  For OM TTL it needs the "OT-1D" foot.  But there is also an 
"STD" foot.  The "STD" foot has no TTL controls, only a single hot shoe 
contact and essentially turns the 422D into a 383.  The "STD" foot also 
incorporates a PC connector like the 383 such that it's more easily 
usable off-camera without some sort of hot shoe to PC adapter.

I'm not familiar with Moose's Sunpak Auto 26SR but it sounds like 
another version of the 383 but with a zoom head added.  If the guide 
number is the same that would cinch it but it might be difficult to 
compare guide numbers between zoom and non-zoom versions.  Flash guide 
numbers are generally a lie anyhow... including those of the T-32.

For use on an OM-1 there is pretty much the entire universe of old flash 
units available.  Some old flash units like old versions of the Vivitar 
283 and 285 had very high trigger voltages (in excess of 250 volts) that 
render them dangerous to some more modern electronic cameras.  But the 
OM-1 has a mechanical flash switch which is not adversely affected by 
flash trigger voltage.  In fact, I still have my original 283 that I no 
longer use on anything since its trigger voltage is almost exactly 250 
volts which is the stated limit on my 5D.  (wanna buy a 283 and 
accessories?  :-)

Almost any reasonably powerful flash will do.  The T-20 is not a good 
choice because it has no tilt head and pretty low power... about 1-1/3 
stops less than a T-32.  The T-32 is much better but you need to get it 
off the camera.  That holds for any flash unit.  They don't belong in 
the hot shoe but the T-32 is worse than most because of the red eye 
problem... if you're shooting direct flash... but you shouldn't actually 
be using direct flash either.  Stick the flash in a Stroboframe 350, 
readily available on the bay for $20-25
A T-32 works fine if mounted on a bracket but the Stroboframe 350 is all 
you need for an OM-1.  The power bounce grip 2 is OK for TTL use with a 
T-32 but places the camera off the lens center line which is not good if 
you have to use direct flash... leads to objectionable shadows.  The 
T-32 also has limited power selection for manual flash... only full or 
1/4 power.  The Vivitar 285 offers 4 stops and the Sunpak 383 5 stops. 
But this is generally not terribly important unless you're using the 
flash in close-up work.  In more typical flash work where you're 
bouncing the flash to soften the light the problem is getting enough 
power, not cutting it back.

I think the Vivitar 285 might have a slightly heavier grade of plastic 
in its case than the Sunpak 383 but I don't consider the Sunpaks 
delicate in any way.  If anything the Vivitar's are known to have 
"tender feet".  Look on the bay and you'll find lots of people selling 
metal replacement feet for Vivitar 283/285's.  I think the Vivitar 285 
is probably more heavily used by pro's but I don't think it has much of 
anything to do with robustness.  The 383 has greater manual control and 
a swivel head but these are not terribly important to shooting something 
like a wedding.  The 285 had a zoom head (which may or may not be 
important) but it also has larger and less fiddly controls which may or 
may not be important.  I'm comfortable using either one (I have many 
flash units) but my flash of preference at the moment is the Canon 
540EZ.  The 540EZ is the epitome of film-era TTL flash for Canon (like 
the T-32 was for Olympus) but is not usable in TTL mode on a digital and 
has no auto mode like the T-32.  But I only shoot flash in manual mode 
and the 540EZ is cheap ($60), powerful (about like a T-32) has tilt, 
swivel and a motorized zoom head, lighted control panel and a seven stop 
power control range.

Happy flash hunting

Dr. Flash

Leandro DUTRA wrote:
> 2008/3/2, Moose <olymoose@xxxxxxxxx>:
>> Leandro DUTRA wrote:
>> Not much point to a T series flash with the OM-1n. The T20 is especially
>>  close to the lens, making it a red-eye monster. The T32 is better, but
>>  why pay for all that TTL circuitry that you can't use?
> I already have a T-20.
>>  There is an endless supply of flashes in the more conventional, vertical
>>  form factor that minimizes red-eye, available used for a song. Many have
>>  much more control over output than the T series, which were, after all,
>>  primarily designed for TTL.
> Still learning on flashes, not sure what I need here.
>>  I know there's the Vivitar 283 & 285, and various SunPak models. Digging
>>  through a drawer, I find a SunPak Auto26SR with twist, tilt, zoom head,
>>  auto operation with it's own sensor or manual operation with five power
>>  settings from full through 1/16. I can't imagine I paid more than $10-15
>>  for it. More likely came free in a kit I bought for something else.
> I have heard bad things about SunPak quality, is that just trash talk?

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