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Archive 2013 · Canon D30 Flashgun: "traditional automatic" or ...

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Canon D30 Flashgun: "traditional automatic" or E-TTL?

Apologies if this is the wrong forum for this question (any admin out there please feel free to move it...)

I'm looking for a flash for my old D30 to be used for indoor photography when daylight from windows isn't quite enough to keep me out of the noisy high ISO range. It will be used almost exclusively for photographing my extremely mobile baby daughter, and it will be used exclusively as an on-camera bounce flash (never direct). I have a very limited budget and so am debating one of two choices:

1. Buy a high quality old flash that is trigger voltage compatible with EOS cameras and can operate in "traditional automatic" mode. Such as a Nikon SB-25.

2. Buy a second hand third-party E-TTL capable flash, e.g. a Sigma 530 DG Super or equivalent,

No doubt people will have a lot of opinions on exactly what brands I should go for, but I'm more interested in what people think about the choice between "traditional automatic" and "third party E-TTL" given the D30's peculiarities...

Given the shooting conditions (trying to photograph a moving toddler, whilst keeping them from trying to grab the camera!) I want something that will be as easy to set up as possible. I can live with having to crank up/down flash exposure compensation now and again, but otherwise want as reliable behaviour as possible.

From what I've read, the D30 only has E-TTL, not E-TTL II, and unlike later E-TTL cameras doesn't default to "average flash metering" unless the lens is switched into manual focus mode. On top of this the D30 only has three focus hot-spots and has a reputation for very unpredictable flash behaviour if the subject is not in one of them when the flash fires (unless you use FEL, which adds in an extra layer of fiddling). On the other hand, as I understand it, "traditional automatic" flashes will measure the unweighted average light reflecting from the field. My guess is thus that *if* I can keep the subject in one of the focal spots an E-TTL lens will give me better results, but I don't know how fiddly this would be compared to how often a "traditional automatic" operating flash would give me badly off exposures. Does anyone have any experience of this? Bearing in mind I will always be doing bounce flash, which do you think I would get more consistent results with?

As a second question, the D30 can only sync with a flash at shutter speeds of 1/200 or slower. Is 1/200 enough to avoid camera shake on a 85mm lens (which with the 1.6 multiplcation factor is equivalent to around a 135mm lens on 35mm cameras)? Or would I need an FP/HSS capable flash (in which case I have no choice but to go with an E-TTL one)?

And as a final question, can flashes on automatic be low powered enough to let me use a wide aperture in conditions when it is only just too dark to use one without flash? Or is it the case that even on its minimum power a flash will be too strong to allow me to use wide apertures in these situations without resorting to high shutter speeds and FP/HSS operation again?

Sorry for the excessive detail!

Mar 05, 2013 at 04:12 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Canon D30 Flashgun: "traditional automatic" or E-TTL?

For years I used the Vivitar 285HV, which is still available, and I still have one, although I don't use it much now that I have a 7D that allows use of multiple groups of off-camera slaves controlled through the camera's menus.

For your uses, though, I think it would be a good one, and at around US$90 it's a bargain.

The flash's auto sensor can be set for one of four apertures (the exact apertures and ranges vary based on ISO setting), and at ISO 100 can start at f/1.4.

"Flash exposure compensation" is just a matter of changing the camera's aperture from what the auto sensor is set for. On my old film cameras that had aperture rings on the lenses that made "flash exposure bracketing" a simple matter of taking several shots while twisting the aperture ring a couple of clicks in either direction. It's not quite as handy these days, with wheels on the back of the body doing the aperture changes, but is still doable.

The only disadvantage of the 285HV is that the head tilts, but doesn't swivel. If you mount it on a flash bracket and trigger it with a PC cord that's not a problem, though.

As for your second question, it depends on how steady your hands are, but normally shooting an 85mm lens (135mm equivalent) at 1/200 isn't an issue with regard to camera shake.

Mar 05, 2013 at 09:56 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Canon D30 Flashgun: "traditional automatic" or E-TTL?

Consider a used Canon flash that supports E-TTL. Not sure about UK prices, but in the US you can find a good used 420EX or 430EX (original, not mark II) flash in the $100-$150 range.

In basic function, the older models aren't very different from the current 430EX II flash which sells in the US for around $270-$300 new.

The 420EX is contemporary with your camera, the 430EX is somewhat newer. All three models (420EX, 430EX, 430EX II) have about the same power. The 430EX added LCD menus to the 420EX, gives more control when using manual settings, and recycles a bit faster.


Mar 06, 2013 at 11:24 AM

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