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Gib Robinson wrote:
I found Syl Arena's book "Speedliter's Handbook - Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites" VERY useful. It goes through virtually all the issues addressed in this thoughtful thread -- batteries, flashes, modifiers, stands, cords, etc. etc. My recommendation would be to get that book and let it guide you.
Arena does NOT recommend the ST-2, and neither do I. I own one along with the Pocket Wizards that work with Canon flashes. The Pocket Wizards are wonderful but for what you want to do, a short cord and a longer cord should be just fine.
For a short cord, I use this on which allows you to use two flashes. Even if you don't plan to buy or use two flashes right now, it will give you that option later.
Universal Duo TTL Off-Camera Flash Cord - 3' (0.9 m)
Coiled DesignUse Your On-Shoe Flash Off-CameraAllows Full TTL FunctioningUse with Two Flashes in Manual ModeCreate Unusual Lighting Effects
B&H # PEOCDU3Mfr # OCD-U3
Arena's book also got me using a longer cord without coils: Interfit NSTR137 Multi-Fit TTL Cord for Nikon/Canon/Fuji Cameras (32'/10m). The longer cord will allow you to set you a flash on a tripod or stand and move around while you photograph.
As for flashes, Arena's book looks at all the Canon possibilities and one or two cheaper third-party options. A good used 580EX would be my recommendation but Arena's discussion will lay out the plusses and minuses. Dollar-for-Dollar, I think Arena's book would be your best initial investment.
P.S. Modifiers (diffusers) are a wonderful topic to explore and Arena does a good job. If you do use a long cord and a stand you can use somewhat larger diffusers that don't work well on camera. Soft light has big advantages.
Thanks for hte recommendations. Sounds like Arena's book is highly regarded. I checked it out on Amazon yesterday, and hit defintely gets great reviews. I think that will be my next purchase, then from there I'll decide what other assescories I'd like.
I'm leaning toward picking up a cheap wireless trigger rahter than going for a long cord for off camera, even though I'll loose E-TTL that way. But I'd rather not be draggin the cord around.