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Archive 2013 · Canon flashes
  
 
Gyroscope
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p.1 #1 · Canon flashes


Being pretty clueless when it comes to flash photography I have decided it is time I learn. I want to get to know off camera flash and do flash enabled black background photography and be comfortable enough to do a bit of people photography during my travels. I have a 7D which seems to be a good option for flash with its built in flash controls (unlike my 5D2's) and I have an old 420ex. My main question is should I consider upgrading to the 430ex II? Will this give me any real benefits long term or should I just stick with the 420? Also should I get some sort of transmitter or is it fine to just use the on camera flash as the trigger for now?


Jan 29, 2013 at 09:11 PM
GC5
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p.1 #2 · Canon flashes



I'd suggest trying out the combo you have for now until you have learned its limitations. You can also see if your local library carries any books on photographic lighting, which might give you some ideas/starting points.



Jan 29, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Monito
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p.1 #3 · Canon flashes


I do off-camera flash with an old 420 EZ (that's Z) in manual mode (flash and camera) and a cable between the two. I hold it off to the left and up or bounce with my left hand and hold the camera with my right hand. It's a lot easier than it sounds, especially if you preset the focus (for example at group events).

Buying a more sophisticated flash will give you benefits "long term", but if you use what you have (plus buying an extension cable) then you can learn plenty about light and flash. When you've exhausted that you'll be ready to buy an upgrade flash and may even have saved up to get something fancier than the 430EX II (or whatever is current at the time).

So, buy now or later, doesn't much matter, but my route would be later (I have Alien Bees and stands for more sophisticated work).

The OC-E3 cord is the way to go. I cobbled together something simpler and cheaper from a hot shoe adapter and a connector cord.

http://www.henrys.com/1879-CANON-OC-E3-OFF-CAMERA-SHOE-CORD.aspx



Jan 29, 2013 at 09:39 PM
jerrykur
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p.1 #4 · Canon flashes


My suggestion would be to put the flash in manual and live with that for a while. The Strobist blog is a great help.
Also check out Chuck Gardner's posts when you want to go with ETTL. Chuck knows more than almost anyone about how to managed Canon ETTL to get what you want.




Jan 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM
jason.alabama
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p.1 #5 · Canon flashes


The absolute first thing you should do is pick up a copy of "Speedlighter's Handbook" by Syl Arena.

Then perhaps "Light - Science and Magic".



Jan 29, 2013 at 10:32 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #6 · Canon flashes


jason.alabama wrote:
The absolute first thing you should do is pick up a copy of "[The Speedliter's] Handbook" by Syl Arena.


I second that; it's specifically directed at Canon's Speedlites, although much of it is applicable to other brands as well.

http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X

I'd also recommend On-camera Flash Techniques and the sequel, Off-camera Flash Techniques.

http://www.amazon.com/Camera-Techniques-Digital-Portrait-Photography/dp/1584282584

http://www.amazon.com/Off-Camera-Flash-Techniques-Digital-Photographers/dp/1608952789



Jan 29, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Gyroscope
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p.1 #7 · Canon flashes


Thanks for all the responses. I've actually heard of Syl Arena (on the TWIP podcast I think) but had forgotten about his work. I'll get his book. Cheers.


Jan 29, 2013 at 11:09 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #8 · Canon flashes


Gyroscope wrote:
...should I get some sort of transmitter or is it fine to just use the on camera flash as the trigger for now?


A radio transmitter will allow for triggering a remote flash in conditions where the pop-up flash won't work (remote can't see flash due to being in a soft box, optical signal washed out by bright sun, etc.), but to get remote power adjustment, automatic metering, etc. you have to pay relatively big bucks.

I use my 7D to control multiple Speedlites, including one inside a 28-inch Apollo softbox, and it works well enough that I'm not tempted to get a radio trigger for now. It works in small to medium-sized rooms just fine, where bounced light can reach the slaves, and outdoors I usually only use one flash anyway.

A full-time pro would probably want radios, but for us hobbyist and pleasure shooters it's less of an imperative.



Jan 29, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Gyroscope
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p.1 #9 · Canon flashes


Thanks BrianO that helps my understand it sounds like the 7D flash acting as master would be enough. So if I did buy a 430EX I could still use my old 420 ex as a secondary off camera flash at the same time as well.


Jan 30, 2013 at 01:07 AM
cputeq
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p.1 #10 · Canon flashes


jason.alabama wrote:
Then perhaps "Light - Science and Magic".


Great reference book, and trying to duplicate some of their scenario shots will teach you just how much work controlling light can be



Jan 30, 2013 at 02:21 AM
 

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qburke
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p.1 #11 · Canon flashes


I'm a big fan of Yongnuo flashes. If you're planning to do manual off-camera flash, they're great - cheap and powerful.


Jan 30, 2013 at 05:07 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #12 · Canon flashes


Gyroscope wrote:
...if I did buy a 430EX I could still use my old 420 ex as a secondary off camera flash at the same time as well.


Correct.

Canon's optical wireless system can handle three "Groups" of flashes. The Master -- whether a built-in flash or a hot-shoe/cable-mounted Speedlite -- is always Group A, and Slave flashes can be assigned to Group A, Group B, or Group C.

On your 7D's flash menu you'll find a set of sliders for adjusting the A:B C ETTL ratios (Group C works a little different from A and B, but that's beyond the scope of this little post), or for setting the power of Group flashes when in Manual mode.

You could have the pop-up flash set to Group A, your 430EX to Group B, and your 420EX to Group C, for example.

Or you could set the pop-up and your 420EX to Group A, and your 430EX to Group B.

Or other combinations.

You can also set the Master flash not to fire (it'll only fire the command and control preflashes, but not a flash for exposure), and only have Slaves contributing to the image.

It can be pretty confusing until you've done it a few times...or a few hundred...but eventually it becomes very intuitive.

Get the Speedliter's Handbook for sure; the Canon manuals aren't very good at going beyond "push this button to do this..." and then practice what you're reading about.

Have fun!



Jan 30, 2013 at 06:25 AM
Michael White
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p.1 #13 · Canon flashes


First of all welcome to the world of better pictures promoted by OCF. Or otherwise know as off camera flash. I would recommend picking up several books and reviewing a few web site prior to investing in more gear so that you can get the proper gear for your uses.

In my other type of shooting it is fairly easily to figure out which tools you like. Go to a range shoot a match with what you have and most will offer to let you Tyra their equipment out. Doing this allows you to try different products and find the ones that fit you. In photography the closes I can think of is join a club or group and go shoot with them and when you see something you like ask to test it.

But that takes knowledge before hand of what you want done and how to do it. For flash photography my heros are Joe McNally, Syl Arena, and severa others. Here is a list of books that need to be read and studied before and after you start buying your new gear so that you learn the rules befor breaking them.
1) The Speedliters Handbook by Syl Arena
2) The Momment it Clicks by Joe McNally
3) The Hotshoe Dairies by Joe McNally
4) Sketching Light by Joe McNally
5) The Lighting Workshop by Chris Bucher
6) Captured by the Light by David Ziser
7) Light, Science and Magic
8) Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography by NK Guy

Also hit these websites
1) Strobist.com
2)Joe McNally's blog
3) Moose Peterson's blog
4) Zack Arisis
5) KelbyTraining.com
Plus any photographer that you like,admire want to emulate

Here is the best method for improving you photography
1) Learn to get the best out of your camera without a flash
2) learn to get the best out of you camera with the built in flash
3) next add a reflector ans learn to get the best out it and your existing gear.
4) now buy a master Speedlite and add it to your toolbox of learning
5) now when you mastered the above go out and buy an additional Speedlite that matches your first or gives more features. Ie 550->580->580ex2->600
6). Once you have enought speedlites to pull off any shoot you have going the switch to adding mono block lights either one at a time or as a set since you should know how to use them in place of your speedlites in a short time.

It all is built on the previous stage of knowledge so if the foundation isn't there the knowledge will be flawed. So learn to get great natural light images and what makes them great and how could it be better. Look at the master painters and early master photographers they all had something in common. The learned how to master light wether it was ambient or man made. That is what makes a great image great is what is lit and what is in the shadows and what is in between.



Jan 30, 2013 at 09:28 AM
Gyroscope
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p.1 #14 · Canon flashes


Thanks guys. In my flash research i discovered that the new 90ex designed for the eos m can actually be used as a flash master on dslr bodies. This would be a good option for a 5d or 1 series body - much smaller and cheaper than a 580 or 600. Interesting.


Jan 31, 2013 at 06:15 AM
Kisutch
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p.1 #15 · Canon flashes


Cactus v5, Nikon SB 24 or 28. Good to go! For me Canon 580 etc, were a waste of $$$ Easiest way to get going with OCF is to use a big soft light as a key, and ambient as fill (IMO). See strobist.com for choosing a modifier to get soft light. Or bounce off ceiling...


Jan 31, 2013 at 06:57 AM
Gyroscope
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p.1 #16 · Canon flashes


I've just been to the strobist.com site. What a fantastic source of info!


Jan 31, 2013 at 10:42 AM
clarence3
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p.1 #17 · Canon flashes


Gyroscope wrote:
I have an old 420ex. My main question is should I consider upgrading to the 430ex II? Will this give me any real benefits long term or should I just stick with the 420?


jerrykur wrote:
My suggestion would be to put the flash in manual and live with that for a while.


I've got a 420EX. It doesn't have Manual controls. ETTL or Slave only.

I also have four 550EX's. They have manual controls plus can serve as Masters or Slaves. Very affordable on the used market... $150 on ebay. 5-10% less power than the 580EX or 580/II, slower refresh cycle, but at less than half the cost and without the pesky RF noise or flash tube ozone burnout issue of the 580EX-II when used with PW Flex.



Jan 31, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Kisutch
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p.1 #18 · Canon flashes


Yeah, I like the 550ex's too. I have 580II, four 550's, four Lumopro LP-160's, PCB Einstein studio strobe, and several Nikon SB-24/26/28. For my use, which is manual off-camera stuff, I've found that [for the speedlites] the Nikons are by far the best value, followed by the 550ex. The SB-28 is nice because it's newer and ~$80, but I'm not sure how power and recycling time compare to the 550 ex (anyone?). If you get a set of cheap radio triggers (that can connect via hotshoe), then you won't have to worry about synch chords, synch ports, master units etc., which makes things pretty simple for getting going. The cheaper radio triggers still function extremely well in terms of actuall triggering, the only issue (in my experience) is you have to take extra care to make sure they are firmly locked to your camera/strobe. Most complaints on forums boil down to bad connections, from what I've seen. Have fun.


Jan 31, 2013 at 09:59 PM
scottam10
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p.1 #19 · Canon flashes


Agree with clarence3, as far as I know you can't set the flash power manually on the 420EX.
- this is a pretty big limitation if you want to use it off-camera strobist style, you won't be able to adjust the power if you trigger it by radio (eg pocketwizards)
- however you can control the 420EX wirelessly in ETTL, triggering it with your 7D pop-up flash
- the 430EX allows you to set flash power manually
- 430EX also has faster recycle

The 420EX will still work perfectly on-camera in ETTL



Jan 31, 2013 at 10:13 PM
scottam10
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p.1 #20 · Canon flashes


PS also check out http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/


Jan 31, 2013 at 10:16 PM
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