Olympus Camedia E-10/E-20 Accessories

My other articles related to the Olympus E-10 and E-20 cameras

Here is a list of accessories for the E-10 and E-20 cameras, some made by Olympus, and some by third parties. I have them all, and I can recommend most, if not all, of them. Both cameras accept exactly the same accessories, without exceptions.

Some of the items on this list have their separate reviews, sometimes very brief, sometimes (lenses!) more detailed. In such cases, the section header links to the appropriate page.

Olympus accessories

FL-40 electronic flash
I like this one a lot. If you shop carefully, you can get it for less than $300. It's expensive, but if you do more than an occasional indoor snapshot, the flash is worth the money.

This is a dedicated unit, taking advantage of the camera's TTL metering via the hot shoe connection. The integration is very smooth in program, aperture and shutter priority modes; a real no-brainer.

The flash head zooms when the lens focal length changes (two positions only, somewhat wasteful). At "Wide" the (metric) guide number is 24, at "Tele" 36, both numbers at ISO 80. This translates into maximum shooting range of 12 and 15 meters, respectively (accounting for a 1/2 EV difference in maximum aperture). The coverage is sufficient for a 28 mm lens angle.

The flash head tilts and swivels, providing bounced light capability. In such cases the built-in flash can also be used, providing a fill light.

You may use the flash mounted on the camera, or on a FL-BK01 flash bracket available as a separate accessory from Olympus. In the latter case you will also need the FL-CB02 cable, to transfer information between the camera's hot shoe and, via the bracket, to the flash. You may also go for almost any third-party bracket with use of another cable, designated as FL-CB05, plugging into the camera's hot shoe and providing another one at the other end (see David Weikel's article on the subject for more).

Both these (and some other) cables are listed at the Olympus USA site. You may also buy them there, if you are willing to pay 50% more than at most independent retailers.

In 2003 Olympus introduced a smaller flash unit, the FL-20, fully compatible with the E-10 and E-20. While it seems too limited in capabilities for these cameras (no bounce/tilt, 1.7x times less power), it costs about 40% of its big brother price, and it is really tiny, the size of a pack of cigarettes. I'm using it quite a lot with the C-5050Z and C-5060WZ cameras, having it always in my bag for occasions when I'm unwilling to take a "real" flash along.

Note of 2004: The FL-40 is out of production, replaced with the FL-50, introduced specifically for the E-1. The new flash (in addition to being about 30% more expensive) has one new feature: the multi-strobe mode, allowing it to synch with shorter times of the E-1's focal place shutter. As the E-10 and E-20 have in-lens shutters, which by definition provide flash synchronization at any speed, this new feature remains unused on these cameras. Draw your own conclusions.

Note of 2005: I have verified that the smaller, less expensive, but quite capable Olympus FL-36 unit works perfectly well with the E-10 and E-20, providing all integration with the camera, plus bounce and swivel. Highly recommended. (This also means that the FL-50 must be fully compatible with the E-10/E-20, as both use the same interface standard.)

Among third-party flashes, I was able to verify that the Promaster 5750 DX, providing all dedicated functionality of the FL-40 at 2/3 of the price, works just fine with the E-10 and E-20; check a separate article on this.

MCON-35 close-up attachment
This is a +3 diopter attachment for close-up photography. It is multicoated and achromatic, constructed of two optical elements.

I've got mine for $90 at B&H Photo: it is nicely made and feels surprisingly heavy. I'm using it for flower pictures, and I'm happy with it. See some examples and focusing distance data in the full review.

TCON-300 3.0x
This one is big and heavy, it comes with a special support arm to connect it to the camera. It provides the effective focal length of 420 mm (it terms of 35-mm format), with just 1/2 EV light loss, i.e., providing the maximum aperture of F/2.8. Wow.

The best price I could find (as of April, 2001) was $500 at Norman Camera; that's where I've bought it.

I am quite impressed with the quality of pictures taken with this lens; see my full review.

TCON-14B 1.45x
This lens attachment will bring you to the effective focal length of 200 mm, preserving the maximum long-end aperture of 2.4 of the original lens.

200/2.4 is not too shabby, and the optical quality of the combo, according to my test shots, is just outstanding (see the full review). This is my favorite lens attachment for the E-10 and E-20.

Using a 49-62 step-up ring, you may combine the TCON-14B with TCON-300 for the effective focal length of 600 mm at F/2.8 (wow!). I was nicely surprised with the image quality from this combo (see a separate article on the subject, with image samples).

WCON-08B 0.8x
This one brings your focal length down to 28 mm (equivalent.), i.e., a moderately wide-angle coverage. The aperture remains at the original F/2.0.

I would much prefer to see a 28-105 mm lens built into the camera. Moreover, this piece of glass is huge: it takes 105 mm filters!

The C-5050Z digital camera
Listing a camera as an accessory for another one may seem excessive, but it makes a perfect sense. For some occasions you cannot afford to be without a backup in case something goes wrong, and carrying two SLRs along may be too much of a burden.

This is a five-megapixel model, with very good controls and excellent image quality, with a sturdy magnesium alloy body, and it weights, with batteries, less than the TCON-14B auxiliary lens. It will fit into your E-10/E-20 accessory bag, if you do some reshuffling and/or decide not to carry all lens attachments at one time. Well, even the finish of the C-5050Z matches that of the E-20, and the camera can use the FL-40 flash.

C-7AU AC power adapter
Unless you really need a power adapter, save your money for something else. I have used mine once. At $50 it is much overpriced; better invest into two sets of NiMH batteries and a Maha charger.

This adapter works with other Olympus Camedia cameras (those which take four AA batteries), but accepts only 110V AC. A separate 220V version is available as C7-AE. This means that you may have to have two of these, or carry a voltage adapter when traveling abroad. Too bad.

RM-CB1 cable release
This is an essential accessory for non-handholdable shutter speeds. I bought it, and I'm not sure I'm happy with it.

It is too expensive ($60), too large, the cable is too long, and the connection to the camera, let's face it, is quite badly designed.

If you want to see the rationale behind this statement, have a look at my mini-review with more gripes.

Recommended third-party accessories
Here I'm listing accessories not manufactured by Olympus, and not necessarily specific to the E-10, but very handy with this camera. I have tried them all and I feel all deserve a recommendation.
Raynox 9mm fisheye: This lens attachment has a focal length multiplier of 0.25 (9mm EFL.). If you were missing wider angles with your E-10/E-20 camera, search no more.

This is an expensive item ($400), and my review is still in progress, waiting for a better weather to take some test pictures.

A good lens cap. The one included with the camera is OK, but it is not easily accessible with the lens hood on. Tamron makes a 62-mm cap with tabs near the center (FLC62); I bought mine at B&H Photo for $6. Small thing, big difference.

Besides, a replacement lens cap from Olympus costs $15. Excuse me?

LumiQuest ProMax System for the FL-40. If you shelled out $300 for the flash itself, the ProMax is more than useful: it's essential. A small plastic gadget, attached with Velcro straps to the flash head, it acts as a diffuser and large-area reflector (one or both). I bought mine ($37) just to try it out, and I'm hooked. More, it folds flat and fits in the back pocket of my camera bag.
A camera bag. Every time I buy anything else than a Tenba, I regret it. B&H Photo carries the full line. For the E-10 I bought the Tenba Traveler P506 ($70), replacing a similar model which served me well for over 10 years. It is reasonably small, strong, well-padded, very well made, and has double top closure.

With some juggling of the internal dividers, the P506 will nicely hold the camera, FL-40, WCON-08B and TCON-14B converters (yes, both at the same time!), the MCON-35 attachment, extra batteries and the LumiQuest system, with the front pocket still not being used at all. Removing the flash will allow you to store the big TCON-300, with the support arm fitting into the side pocket.

If this is not enough, consider the P508, two inches longer, with other dimensions the same. I, however, prefer as small a bag as I can get away with. Actually, I also have the P508, and wasn't able to utilize it much better than the P506.

You may need a few extra Velcro-secured dividers. I contacted Tenba by email, and they quickly shipped me what I needed, at a reasonable price of $5 or so each.

NiMH batteries and charger: not just a choice, but your only chance for survival. I would recommend three sets (four batteries each) of 1800mAh or higher capacity, and a good charger/conditioner. Maha MH-C204F is highly recommended (I keep one in Poland and one in the U.S.). It takes two or four AA (or AAA) batteries, charges them in less than 3 hours, has a trickle charge mode which allows you to keep batteries in the charger indefinitely, and provides the circuitry to condition batteries. Its downside is a separate power supply "brick" which works only with 110V (a separate 220V power supply is available).

When I originally posted this article (December, 2000), the capacity of 1400-1600 mAh was the norm; as of this update (June, 2004), you can go as high as 2200-2300 mAh, a 50% increase. Another advantage of sticking to standard power sources!

Thomas Distributing is a reliable Web source of batteries and chargers; they also provide quite a lot of useful technical information on the subject.

Note of May, 2003: There is a newer Maha charger on the market, MH-401FS. It offers a choice between fast or gentle charge modes (2 or 6 hrs, respectively), and handles each of the four batteries independently. That should provide better results, as differences between individual specimens may be increasing with time. See my C-5050Z accessory page for more.


My other articles related to the Olympus E-10 and E-20 cameras

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