New Old Gear

In spite of my rants to the contrary, I spent some more money on a couple of used Four Thirds items; a second FL-50R flash and an Olympus EC-14 1.4x teleconverter.

Olympus EC-14

Both came from the same photographer who decided to sell his extensive Olympus Four Thirds system and move on to a Nikon D3 system. With my limited budget the best I could do was pick up the teleconverter and the flash (although I sure wish I could have picked up some of the SHG lenses he was selling).

My biggest reason for purchasing the EC-14 was to add a few more millimeters of focal length to the far end of my 50-200mm. With the EC-14 my 50-200mm becomes a 70-280mm f:4-5 telephoto zoom. In practice the E-3 detects the lens as a 70-283mm f:4-4.9. It's interesting how the measured values are slightly off on the far end of the range.

Construction Workers
Construction Workers
Olympus E-3 w/50-200mm + EC-14
1/320s. f/4.9, ISO 100, 258mm

In general use the E-3+50-200+EC-14 is no different in handling than the E-3+50-200mm. With the EC-14 I can now reach a little farther than before. That means I can fill the frame better at the same distances, or stand back a little farther than before (whether it's a 12 foot gator at one of the parks or a radar speedtrap).

The image above was taken wide open, hand-held, at base ISO. No special post processing, it was converted straight from the raw file. The focus was reasonably accurate and the shutter speed was right above the minimum recommended reciprocal for the focal length (258mm).

Ol' Blue
Ol' Blue
17mm missing front cosmetic piece

And finally, another shot of my slightly busted M.Zuiko 17mm, which I've given the nick-name Ol' Blue, for the bright blue plastic ring that is now fully exposed on the front of the lens. For both the EC-14 and this image I used remote control with the E-3. Both flashes were set up with one flash 45° to my left, with the second 180° on the right back side. For both images the front flash used the bounce card that comes with the FL-50R. For the EC-14 the rear flash was direct and 1/2 the output of the front flash. For the 17mm both flashes were set to the same power level and both were using the bounce card. The "background", if you want to call it that, was a single piece of 8x11" white printer paper.

There are times when I need to photograph small pieces of hardware, and the second flash will make it easier to do this. I had thought of purchasing a ring flash, but this has turned out to be cheaper and more flexible for other types of photography. And it's more fun to learn how to do lighting with two flash units as powerful as the FL-50Rs.

I wish I had the budget to invest multiple thousands of more dollars into another system (Canon 5D or Nikon D700, for example). But I don't so I can't. And the two items I just purchased used were cheap enough to fill in some capability gaps in the gear I currently have. And I might mention that even though both items were used, they were in immaculate condition. Their used prices were 40% less than brand new. And I can certainly live with that.


  1. I'm in a similar situation to you - I wish I had the money to invest in a switch ... but then again, I'm not so sure. There isn't really a system which offers quite what Olympus (still) offers me, although of course there are all sorts of caveats on that. I can't see a realistic alternative to the 50-200 anywhere else, for a start, except maybe from Pentax. And that would be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. In real world use I can't say that there are many photos that I've lost because I chose Olympus. And just because development of 4/3 seems to be at an end, it doesn't mean what is available today is useless, nor that it has no future usefulness.

    By the way, you should try the EC-20 on the 50-200 as well if you get a chance. It works beautifully.

  2. Good purchase, Bill, and I'm quite jealous of your 50-200 (tho the 40-150mm certainly isn't bad, and could even be considered a great bargain, yours is in another league me thinks).

    I found these Olympus flashes too expensive, so I got an 'el cheapo' Yongnuo YN-460II, and learned to live without TTL. That thing works so well that I later bought a second one for Mitchie (my wife, who has an E-PL1). And even my latest purchase, a 300Ws studio flash was way cheaper than any of those Olympus system flashes (200€ with a 9 ft. stand and a 36" octabox).

    I thought about switching as well, but first, my Olympus more or less provides everything I need so far, and secondly, I can't spend anything on photo gear right now. So a D700 or a 5D2 or a D7k have to wait until I really would need something like that. Plus I would sooo miss my macro. And those buttons on my E-520 which I reach 'blind', with the eye to the VF.

    No, my Oly works quite well at base ISO or - if you expose carefully enough - up to ISO 400.


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