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Archive 2013 · New to multi-flash...550EX master to a 420EX?
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · New to multi-flash...550EX master to a 420EX?

Actually, new to flash period!

I have my 550EX mounted on my DSLR and my 420EX nearby. The 550EX is on "master" and the 420EX as "slave." Both are on Channel 1. I cannot get the 550EX to fire the 420EX, although the 420EX will flash if I press the PILOT button.

There is a TTL, MULTI, and M mode. Which one am I supposed to be in (on the 550EX)?

And what does GROUP mean? The 420EX is in Group A. Not sure how to get the 550EX in that group...

Also, no matter what I do I cannot stop the 550EX's settings from blinking.

GRRRRR...flash is hard!

Jun 14, 2013 at 03:00 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · New to multi-flash...550EX master to a 420EX?

The Master defaults to group A. Put your 420EX in Group B. 420EX is ETTL only

On the Master set it to ETTL mode then using the zoom button (which controls four different settings) Turn A:B ratios on. Then you should see the display on the Master change to:


(Note: I set my flashes to channel 4)

Your Master Group A on camera will act as fill and the 420ex slave in Group B as Key.

Start with an A:B = 1:2 ratio which will make the slave key light 2x brighter at the subject (incident) than the Master Fill which is a close match to normal ambient light contrast, reproducing detail everywhere.

To arrive at the optimum exposure take a test shot at FEC = 0 as a starting baseline. Evaluate with the playback clipping warning on. Adjust FEC higher until you see the lightest white / closest objects barely start to clip in the warning.

More info on my web site in the Canon flash section: http://photo.nova.org

Jun 14, 2013 at 04:22 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · New to multi-flash...550EX master to a 420EX?

Chuck's instructions are generally correct, but note that he is showing a 580ex, which has slightly different controls. I use a 550ex, but don't have it with me, so I will try to translate from memory.

The "mode" button only controls the flash mode, so hit it to cycle through the settings until you get TTL.

And on the 550 the "zoom" button (I think) only controls the zoom of the flash. For your off camera flashes you would set this to something relatively wide if using a modifier, or to cover the desired lighting area if using bare. For on-camera fill (as in the situation Chuck described) you can put it on the auto setting so that it chooses the zoom based on your lens (but I don't think it takes into account the crop factor) or just set it manually.

So to turn on ratios you hit the SEL/SET button. This basically cycles through all settings (Flash exp comp -> Flash bracketing -> Ratio -> Channel -> Master On/Off). The setting that is flashing is the one you are changing. So push SEL/SET until you see Ratio. Then push the + or - button until you get the type of ratio you want (off, A:B, A:B:C). In this case you want A:B. Hit SEL/SET again.

Now that ratios are on (stuff should still be blinking) you can choose the ratio. Use + or - again to choose 1:2 for Chuck's example. Press SEL/SET again.

At this point you are done. I think maybe it cycles back to the main loop of options, so something may still be blinking, but that's ok. You don't have to make it stop blinking to take a picture.

To answer your question, a group is a set of flashes that all either a) produce the same brightness for their illuminated objects (if in TTL) or b) fire at the same manual power level (if in M). As mentioned, you can only operate in TTL with your 420.

So if you want to be able to control flashes independently, you need to put them in different groups. If you have a bunch of flashes, you could put, say, 3 in group A, 1 in group B and 1 in group C.

The channel setting allows you to choose which slaves are controlled by which master. Useful if you are in a room with other photographers. But you basically always want your flashes all on the same channel.

Oh, and I think there is a 550ex manual that can be downloaded out there somewhere. Hope this helps.

Jun 14, 2013 at 06:32 PM

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