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Michael Meissner
03-16-2008, 06:46 PM
My local camera store (Hunts in Melrose, Massachusetts) had a store-wide sale last fall, and they had Promaster gear for sale along with everything else. I had previously used a Promaster 5750DX flash on my C-2100UZ. When I moved over to the E-1, I bought the Olympus adapter that was available at time, but eventually moved to the FL-50 flash for the E-1 because I was having some exposure issues, and I ran into some shots that needed FP-TTL mode, which the 5750DX does not do. The adapter that I have only supports the E-1, and not the later cameras, but since that time, Promaster has come out with a new adaptor for the E-300 and newer bodies.

Promaster has two ring flashes, the older Macrolume that does TTL for film bodies, but not digital, and the newer digital Macrolume that supports the digital adapters. During the sale at Hunts, they were unloading the film TTL flash for $50, and I decided it would be interesting to play with it. I already had the non-TTL adapter from my C-2100UZ days, and it works with the flash.

The Promaster comes with a 49mm adapter, a 52mm adapter, and a Cokin P adapter. I also bought the Cokin 67mm adapter from Hunts so that I could use the 14-54mm and 50-200mm in addition to the 50mm lens. I also have tried my 40-150mm lens with a 58->67mm step-up right to the adaptor, and tried it on my C-8080WZ as well.

I have to shoot in manual mode, and often times take a shot, adjust the aperture, and iterate until I get a shot that I think is properly exposed, and I find the 3 color histogram on the E-510 very useful. The generic adapter I have on the flash has 3 settings, full power, 1/16 power, and auto mode. I find myself often shooting at f/11 or f/16 in full power mode, and f/8 in 1/16 mode.

If I want the maximum depth of field, shooting with the C-8080WZ at f/8 gives me more DOF than shooting with the 50mm at f/11 or f/16, due to the 2/3 sensor used in the C-8080WZ.

One concern I have is whether the weight of the ring flash will play havoc with the focusing motors of the lenses. I suspect the 14-54mm and non-SWD 50-200mm will be fine, since they were designed for the Olympus ring flash (SRF-11), which mounts on the bayonet used by the lenses' hood. The 50mm lens needs and adaptor for the SRF-11, so I'm not sure whether the lens actually supports the flash or not. I would be cautious about other lenses.

Promaster is a consortium of smaller USA camera stores, and so it tends to be only available from USA vendors. The typical price for the digital Macrolume flash is $299, the Olympus adaptor is $50, and the Cokin filter adapter is usually $8-10.

On Saturday March 15th, I went back to the store and played around with the digital Macrolume flash and the new Olympus adaptor. As expected, the TTL mode will allow for more automatic photos, and will likely be my next purchase. I will probably sell the film TTL flash to recover some of the costs.

Here is a picture of the E-510 with the 50mm lens and the ring flash mounted, taken with the E-1, 14-54mm lens, and FL-50 flash:
http://www.the-meissners.org/large-albums/camera-hacks/large/2008-03-16-19-11-164-camera.jpg

Here is another picture of the Promaster ring flash with the adapters, again taken with the E-1, 14-54mm, and FL-50mm flash:
http://www.the-meissners.org/large-albums/camera-hacks/large/2008-03-16-19-34-165-camera.jpg

Here is a picture I took with the E-510, 50mm lens, Promaster ring flash, at f/8, 1/250 second, ISO 100:
http://www.the-meissners.org/2008-large-albums/2008-02/large/2008-02-24-18-09-035-stuffed.jpg

Here is the same picture taken with the C-8080WZ, Promaster ring flash, f/8, ISO 50, 1/320 second:
http://www.the-meissners.org/2008-large-albums/2008-02/large/2008-02-24-17-45-031-stuffed.jpg

Here is a more normal flower picture, taken with the E-510, 50mm lens, Promaster ring flash, f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250:
http://www.the-meissners.org/2008-large-albums/2008-02/large/2008-02-24-18-12-038-flowers.jpg