View Full Version : FL50 Recharge rate

3rd April 2011, 06:38 PM
Hi all,

Just back from my 2nd ever paid job (first one was last night).

I was the official photographer at an open day this afternoon. The mayor and a couple of Celtic first team players attended which naturally alerted the press togs (pushing bunch of peoples they are lol)

1 thing I noticed is the FL50 recharge just isn't as fast as the flashes on the pros Nikon d2x and Canon 5ds, its a pain waiting for the FL50 to recharge whilst the Pros managed continuous shooting through several frames.

I'm guessing it may have been the batteries I was using (some Maplins Hybrids 2100). Can anyone recommend some decent rechargeable batteries that will boost the recharge rate of the FL50 (if its possible) and also some that will last a decent number for shots.

Thanks in advance

3rd April 2011, 07:18 PM
Dear Garrie,

Great to read that you are now earning money from our great hobby. You might like to look at my battery review I posted late last year to help you decide on a good AA battery


I hope all is well

Chris *chr

3rd April 2011, 08:54 PM
Hi Chris,

Thanks for the reply. I'm gonna take a read in bed, thats a lot of info to digest. Thanks for taking the time to put that post together :)

Yeah things are good, thanks. Hope yourself is much the same? I've missed reading a whole 2 weeks of pprune, so looking forward to catching up on that also when I'm back at work tomorrow (its the only thing makes work a little more bearable lol)


3rd April 2011, 09:36 PM
I used to get such horrid results (time recycling-wise) with my FL-36 that I once hired the FL-50, which mightily impressed and certainly lived up to my expectations! However, for 'ordinary' flash use I did some research late last year and came across some very good reviews of the Ansmann 2850 NiMH rechargeable batteries and have been really, really pleased with them. They've made a quite remarkable difference to the recycling time and I'd only ever think about hiring the FL-50 again (if they'll let me :o) for an exceptional event.


4th April 2011, 06:52 AM
Some hints Garrie:

Use portrait orientation often, especially when errrm, doing portraits :) Because of the angle and position of the flash head, the light is spread out more accurately in relation to the subject, and when in P or A modes, the output power of the FL-50 is then reduced thus not needing more time to recharge.

Use the largest aperture possible: with Flash, you control the light, and so why use f8 or higher...? Using a smaller aperture requires more light, thus more power from the FL-50, thus more time to recharge. Also, if you are using Oly glass... then you are still going to get edge to edge sharpness across the aperture range.

Use a higher ISO: Noise from high ISO usually gets worse with less light, but if you are controlling the light you're not going to get dark conditions, as such you could perhaps use a higher ISO - allowing the FL-50 to use less power for the same shot, thus less time to recharge.

There... 3 as a starter... how's that?

4th April 2011, 08:56 AM
Also the E System rental service run by Ian, it has a big battery pack for hire - see the kit rental section. Often the press chaps have a large capacity battery pack connected so that they can fire off several pics at a time.

Also depending on the the lighting conditions ie if the room is darkish ie not in daylight then you will not be influenced by the ambient light and so can run at a shutter speed longer than 1/250 second and so do not need to run the flash in FP mode which consumes more power as the flash burns for a longer but less powerful period.

Naughty Nigel
27th May 2011, 10:15 PM
I know this is an old thread, but for what its worth, there are two external factors which influence recycling times: the amount of energy used in a flash, and the internal resistance of the batteries.

Electronic flashguns work by charging a large electrolytic capacitor (often some 4,700 F) to a voltage of 275 to 300 volts or so. The stored energy is discharged very quickly through a xenon tube to provide an intense light for as little as 1/40,000th of a second, or as long as a millisecond, depending on the amount of light required. Flash duration in Super FP mode is even longer, which is why more energy is required, recycling time is longer, and battery life is shortened.

Modern flashguns like the FL50 use only enough energy to provide the amount of light needed, with the remainder being stored for the next flash. In other words, the less energy that you use to take each photograph, the more that remains in the capacitor for next time, and the shorter the recycling time.

The Music Man makes some valid points about using wider apertures and higher ISO settings to minimise recycling times. I would add distance to these factors, as the light required to light a scene increases as a square function as the distance between the flashgun and the subject increases. Flash diffusers also rob light.

Turning to batteries; all electrical power sources have some internal resistance, and this ultimately determines the maximum current that the device can deliver, and time in which the flashgun can recharge. Low internal resistance allows for faster recycling times. Internal resistance also causes batteries to heat up when large currents are drawn.

Lead acid batteries, such as those used in cars have extremely low internal resistance, and can provide several hundred amps when required. (The typical starting current needed for a car engine in cold weather will be 500 amps or more.) Such a low internal resistance can provide exceptionally short recycling times in electronic flashguns, and some of the larger Metz guns are (or were) available with a sealed lead batteries for this reason.

When it comes to AA sized cells, nickel cadmium cells generally provide the lowest internal resistance (and shortest recycling times), but their capacity is very limited by modern standards. The nominal voltage of a NiCad cell is also quite low at just 1.2 volts, but this is actually higher than most alkaline cells when under the same load, as alkaline cells have much higher internal resistance than Ni Cad cells.

Nickel metal hydride cells have a higher internal resistance than NiCad batteries of similar capacity, but the internal resistance of higher capacity cells tends to be lower. If you need faster recycling times it generally pays to buy good quality NiMh cells of higher capacity.

Alkaline cells have comparatively high internal resistance, which increases as the cells run down, so recycling times will be longer.

I have been using Jessies 2,000 and 2,300 mA/Hr cells for some time, and have found them very good. Self discharge time seems very good (several months), and I have never had one go down yet.

Two other points: Firstly, the discharge curves of NiCad, NiMh and alkaline cells are very different. NiCad cells show an extremely flat discharge curve (owing to their low internal resistance). They will perform well until they are almost flat, and will then fail very quickly indeed; often within one or two flash cycles. NiMh cells have a steeper curve, and will fail more slowly. Alkaline cells, on the other hand, have the steepest discharge curve, and will struggle on for much longer before giving up.

Secondly, rechargeable cells are better recharged slowly than in a fast charger. Once again internal resistance and the electro chemical reaction when charging means that cells become very hot, and may be destroyed by overcharging. The optimum charge for a NiMh cell is about 1.6 times its capacity, which can only be achieved safely by charging in a slow charger. Fast chargers heat the cells up too much, so they are usually timed to switch off long before the cells are fully charged, so you don't actually get the capacity that that have paid for! Not only that, when the cells run down, there will usually be one which runs out first, so that cell will effectively be 'reverse charged', shortening its life considerably.

I have two older Jessies chargers which charge at 150 mA, and switch off after about 15 hours, which equates to 2.25 A/Hr. When charging my 2,000 mA cells I switch them back on again for about six hours after the first charge so that the cells are fully charged. If I forget it doesn't matter too much as a slight overcharge does no harm, whereas excessive charging in a fast charger will damage the cells.

28th May 2011, 09:56 AM
Hi Garrie, Good to hear you getting a foot in the door re paid jobs, hope it leads to more. Regarding your problem with slow flash recharcing, one solution might be to consider investing in the Olympus FP1 Power Grip, it certainly aint cheap at around 400 but it will solve your problem in one go. The grip uses 4 R14 batteries and when used in conjunction with the 4 AAs in the flash gun the result is the fastest recharging time possible. I have been using one for years now and consider it the most useful accessory I ever bought. Ffordes had a second hand one for 199 a short time ago, just make sure you get the FL-CB01 and RG1 cables to take full advantage of the system. As I said its not cheap but you dont get second chances with paid work so you need the right gear. Good luck with your new venture. Ian W.

28th May 2011, 10:38 AM
As IP, I would recommend using the FP-1 but in conjunction with the FS-SHV1 power supply kit. Olympus say that it "provides over 250 full-power flashes with a flash-recycling time of less than 1.3 sec at full power". You won't get any faster than that.

Failing that, if you use rechargeable batteries, you need to use 2600 to 2900 mAh which is the maximum you can get currently. The difference between 2100 and 2900 mAh is quite dramatic when used with something that drains power in peaks. At places such as the 7 day shop, the price you have to pay to get two sets of 4 is reasonable.

28th May 2011, 11:51 AM
I have the FL-36 and FL-50 flash lights (both R versions) and I rarely take the FL36 out of the case as the recycling time is so very, very poor.

I'd be keen to try some "better" batteries but when you have the FL50 and and the flash power grip the FL-36 is always going to be an also ran.

So I'd appreciate a quick one line answer on what to use in the FL36...

Naughty Nigel
28th May 2011, 02:55 PM
So I'd appreciate a quick one line answer on what to use in the FL36...

Either a set of NiCads in good condition, or the highest capacity NiMh cells that you have. Alkaline cells would provide a longer recharge time as they have higher internal resistance.

28th May 2011, 08:25 PM
I use these in my FL-50Rs: 7dayshop (http://www.7dayshop.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=777_3&products_id=108409) without any problems. If I need a faster cycle time then I use my FP-1.


31st May 2011, 09:05 AM
Thanks Steve and Nigel.. or and look they have the battery I need for the garage door opener too! *chr