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Powerful flashes for Micro Four Thirds

I am thinking of upgrading from the trusty Olympus FL-600R to a more powerful unit. There seems to be no Olympus nor Panasonic flashes designed for Micro Four Thirds that fits the bill, but the Four Thirds FL-50R is highly regarded. There are also the Metz mecablitz 44, 52, and 64. (The 64 recently replaced the 58)

But is the Metz 52 more powerful than the Olympus 50, which is then more powerful than the Metz 44? Afterall, 52 > 50 > 44. I wish it is that simple.

Like many, I have found it confusing to compare flash powers using the Guide Number (GN) system. GN is a function of ISO and zoom distance, and the quoted GNs are always at the maximum zoom because that maximum compression gives the highest number.

To make a fair comparison, I dug for the user manuals for each unit and locate GN at 50mm (full frame equivalent) and ISO100, which is shown in the last column below. And it turns out the Olympus FL-50R is actually slightly more powerful (GN40) than the Metz 52 (GN38).

Dimensions in mm Weight Zoom GN at max zoom ISO100 GN at 50mm-eq ISO100
Olympus FL-600R 62 x 104 x 98 255 g 24-85mm 36 28
Olympus FL-50R 78 x 141 x 107 385 g 24-85mm 50 40
Metz 44 AF-1 73 x 130 x 106 306 g 24-105mm 44 32
Metz 52 AF-1 73 x 134 x 90 346 g 24-105mm 52 38
Metz 64 AF-1 79 x 147 x 112 895 g 24-200mm 64 43
Yongnuo YN560-III 60 x 190 x 78 350 g 18-105mm 58 42

The new Metz 64 is the most powerful of the lot with GN of 43 at 50mm-eq and ISO100. But at $449 new, it is more than I am willing to pay, and I’m not a fan of the touch screen interface (which is also present on the Metz 52).

That makes the Olympus FL-50R looks like the best option. It is more powerful than the Metz 52, and comes with conventional control dials and buttons. New, it is also $499. But being released since 2007, there are used units around for half that or less.

Another option is to just use the Olympus FL-600R and raise ISO from 200 to 400 or 800. That would result in similar brightness with the FL-50R at ISO 200. I’ve just read this on a forum, and will try it out before deciding whether to pick up a used FL-50/FL-50R or not.


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