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Archive 2012 · Need some advice on flash trigger choice

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Need some advice on flash trigger choice

I'm finally deciding to start dabbling in lighting techniques.

Have been reading Strobist's blog and his Lighting 101/102 guides.

I have a dilemma and would appreciate any insight from folks who have been in my position:

Currently have a 580 EXII and am looking for a flash trigger/transmitter setup.

1) I looked at the Pocketwizards. Their Mini and Flex combo for the Canon sounds like a good setup except that I'm reading in the reviews that folks note issues with the 580 EXII and the 5D MkIII (which is also happens to be the body I have).

2) I am considering the new Canon 600 RT flash. From the reviews, folks are raving about it and it should work with my 580 EXII but its probably the most expensive option here.

3) Another option is the ST-E2 Canon transmitter. However, I don't have any first hand experience of the drawbacks, but I'm reading that the flash has to be in the LOS, which can be an issue if I'm using an umbrella to diffuse my lightning.

Many thanks!

Oct 21, 2012 at 05:09 AM

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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Need some advice on flash trigger choice

The 580EX II produces radio interference on the same frequency that controlTL operates on. You have 2 options here:

1. Get the flash modified to reduce RF noise. These mods are done by a third party and void your warranty. Iirc Canon won't repair a flash whose PCB has been modified by the user and it isn't as effective as the AC5/AC7.

2. Use PW's AC5 or AC7 soft/hard shields. This more or less solves the problem and at this point you're only losing a little bit of range compared to a less noisy flash. But, this is only really relevant if you're trying to fire a strobe a football field away. (see a test here: http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-10050-10598)

All of this is moot, however, since the 5dmk3 is not officially supported by LPA Design. There is beta firmware out, but expect issues as they continue to iron it out.

As for the 600RT, yes it will work with your 580EX II but it will work in the same way the ST-E2 would: line of sight wireless triggering. That being said, if you're dead set on RF TTL triggering the 600RT is currently the best option with the 5dmk3.

The ST-E2 is a infrared system that requires line of sight and can also be overpowered outdoors by bright sunlight. This would be best if you were working indoors at close distances with flashes un-obscured by modifiers (i.e. on a shoot through umbrella). Otherwise it's finicky at best, doesn't work at all at worst.

Being that you're just starting to dabble in strobist techniques, any reason you've only considered TTL triggering options? Most of the strobist 101/102 stuff can be easily accomplished with some inexpensive RF triggers (Yongnuo RF-602's highly recommended here). You have to set the exposure manually from the flash, but this is pretty much the norm for portraiture.

If you're a lot of wedding/event type photography, or you're doing a lot of e-shoot/senior location shoots and you really want the convenience then it's definitely worth it. Otherwise, a set of regular triggers will serve you fine.

Oct 21, 2012 at 10:47 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Need some advice on flash trigger choice

I'll echo what Kirivon said:

If you're doing "studio" lighting, using manual flash adjustments is the way to go, and walking over to your lights to change the output isn't usually a major problem; once you have them set you may do several shots at the same level, just changing the pose and such.

Using inexpensive radio links like the RF-602 or options from Phottix is a good way to get started.

If you're doing fast-paced location work, where you need ETTL or remote-manual control, then ETTL-capable radios are the best way to go; but they're a leap up in price.

If you have the 5D Mark III, then I'd suggest getting the new 600EX-RT for off-camera flash, and the new ST-E3 radio transmitter for the camera. By the time you factor in the cost of new a transmitter, a receiver, and -- in the case of Pocket Wizard -- the RF shields, going with the new Canon gear won't be the much different cost-wise, but the convenience factor of everything being designed from square one to work together will be great.

You can still use your 580EX II in either Manual or with the built-in Auto Flash sensor, and trigger it from the flash of the 600EX-RT as long as you're not using the latter in ETTL. (The preflash for exposure calculation would prematurely trigger the 580EX.) You'd only need to attach an inexpensive optical trigger to the 580EX II.

Here's one that's compatible with Canon flashes (most aren't):


This one is handy because it has an 18-inch long cord so that you can aim the sensor at the triggering flash, while the triggered flash is in a soft box, around a corner, behind a scrim, etc.

Oct 22, 2012 at 01:02 AM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Need some advice on flash trigger choice

if you can afford it go with phottix odins. They are worth every penny.

Oct 22, 2012 at 06:29 PM

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