Saturday, January 12, 2013

Yongnuo RF-603 + Olympus OM-D

OM-D + RF-603 working happily, excuse the quality, picture taken with my phone
During my DSLR sale, I kept all of my lighting equipment, one of my recent purchases were a couple of YN RF-603 wireless triggering kits (Canon 5D version), I never had a chance to use them on a real shoot with the 5D, however I tested them and they worked as advertised. I bought 2 kits, so I had 4 transceivers, they can trigger 3 flashes from the 5D, and they could be used to trigger the camera wirelessly as well.


Anyway, that's not the point, when I bought the OMD, I ordered an FL600R flash as my TTL, on-camera bounce flash, and I had a couple of YN-560 II powerful manual flashes to be used in lighting setups. I kept the RF-603 kit when I wanted to trigger all three flashes for setup shots, I know the YN-560 II flashes have optical triggers, and the Olympus FL600R can can be controlled remotely from the OMD, but I wanted the reliability of wireless triggers, especially if there are line of sight issues. When I tested the RF-603 triggers, I discovered they don't work with Olympus, I had totally forgot that I bought the Canon version, hmm, I thought, that's a bummer, let's see what I can find on the interwebz. Hit the jump to find out.


First thing, I went to Amazon and checked if Yongnuo made a version of the triggers for Olympus, nope, they don't, so, let's search for "Olympus OM-D and YN RF-603", I found a few results, and it took me a while to stumble on this trigger-saving thread on dpreview.


DISCLAIMER: All the coming methodology and modifications are done under the guidance of The Ginger Avenger's post on dpreview, full credit on this discovery is his, what I want to show is how it worked out on the Olympus OM-D specifically.


I checked his method and found it fairly simple that I didn't worry about breaking my trigger, I followed the instructions on his post, but kept all the pins on my trigger, and put a sticker on it to differentiate it from the others.


Trigger taken apart, I thought first of connecting a wire between the springs of the two concerned pins

Then I decided against it, as it might move around and cause a short or something

Soldering done in 10 seconds

Then a little bit of filing to lower the height, since the pins would be pushing against it

Assembly was very easy, and it worked very well from the first try as you can see below, see that red light? The OMD triggered the flash while taking this picture, that's why you can see the red light, otherwise it would be green during standby.



I found a few replies on the original post stating various sync speed issues, I was worried, the OMD has a maximum sync speed of 1/250, and I am happy to report it worked absolutely well up to 1/200, not too bad, that's the same as my 5D sync speed.


Sync speed, starting from 1/200 on the left, up to 1/500 on the right

Now I can trigger any 3 flashes reliably (my brother & friends have Canon flashes, so I can trigger those with the RF-603 and trigger the YN-560II via the built-in optical slave, for 5 light setups). One more benefit, the modified trigger can be used as a receiver on other flashes, in case I need to use all 4 transceivers on a Canon system.


Finally, I did a burst rate test, the flash recycling time would be a bottle neck, but I wanted to see how fast the triggers could go, so I turned the flash power down to 1/64, and fired away with the OMD at 9 fps, then I did another test at 1/16 power. Here are the results, I was using Sanyo Eneloops on the flash:


  • 1/64 Power: first frame ok, second frame black, then the next 14 frames were ok. An amazing result, didn't think the flash and the trigger can keep up with 9 fps, could be very useful for water drops photography.
  • 1/16 Power: first frame ok, second frame black, 6 frames ok, 4 black frames, then the last one was ok. Respectable, but I wonder about the regular black second frame.

All the close-up shots were taken hand-held with the incredibly versatile 12-50 lens, used in macro mode.


UPDATE: I successfully modified the Canon version of the RF-603 release cable to remotely trigger my OM-D, and it works great.