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Kolbasz
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Starter flash


Not sure if there is such a thing, but figured to ask.

Like the cameras you can get cheaper and crazy expensive, all with pros and cons.

I was curious, is there a decent flash, good for a novice to help light up those indoor family pictures? The built in flash is a waste and taking pictures inside around the holidays can prove difficult when lighting is low.

The obvious answer seems like a proper flash, but with that come all the options, from 50$ to 500+(?). I see the speed flashes and all the models, but don't really know what I need.

I am not looking to break the bank, I just want to ensure I have the proper lighting to make my indoor portraits look presentable.

What's a good canon flash that is both reasonably priced, but also good enough to handle a majority of any novice photographers needs.



Dec 19, 2016 at 04:42 PM
dtolios
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Starter flash


Your priority is "automated use" ? -> You need a ETTL flash for Canon.
Your priority is good light for family shots etc -> you need indirect flash -> bounch flash -> rotating head.

You could go for Canon's own 430 EX which you can find used for good prices here in the B&S, or opt for 3rd party options like the $50 Neewer VK750II E-TTL which gives very respectable results for the price. Ofc you need to account for at least 4x AA NiMH batteries and a charger to w/e the price for the speedlite will be.



Dec 19, 2016 at 05:55 PM
dgdg
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Starter flash


Any of the third party flashes should do.
I like to do bounce flash indoors if the ceiling is white and low.
If you like to take numerous images in a series, look for one that accepts external power.



Dec 19, 2016 at 06:01 PM
coffee_mon
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Starter flash


I was using the Yongnuo YN460 II and it works great but you need to set the levels manually and that can be a pain.

My wife just got me a Yongnuo YN600EX-RT for Christmas and it is wonderful and is almost identical to the Canon 600 flash but at 1/4 the cost at around $114.00 B&H and I will be looking at getting the Interfit Strobies power pack which will allow me to reduce carrying batteries with me.

The thing to look at also is that it allows radio communication to other flashes that support the function and you could look at getting several to work like regular flash units with the YN-3e-RT transmitter and help reduce the amount of equipment.

I have 4 interfit monoblocks and to transport them to a site to set up is a lot of work and the speed lights could get most of what you want done done without all the bulk.



Dec 20, 2016 at 07:33 AM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Starter flash


I have a 430EX and it is a champion. Just keeps on working. I also have a 540EZ that I should use more.


Dec 20, 2016 at 07:50 AM
melcat
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Starter flash


The main specification you're looking for is guide number. This is usually expressed in metres, and flash model numbers often hint at it, e.g. Canon's 580EX II has a guide number of 58. Guide number is defined by the formula GN = distance × f-number, so a flash with GN of 56 will light up a subject 10m away at f/5.6 (at ISO 100, which is assumed by convention).

Obviously that's more powerful than you'll usually need. The reason many keen photographers have such flashes is that when you want to use a faster shutter speed than the sync speed (usually around 1/200s on more expensive cameras) the flash has to fire in many very short bursts so a lot of its power is wasted, so-called "high speed sync". You usually do this when you want to shoot outdoors to fill in the shadows in bright sun, but that is specifically not your use case. In other words, you don't need high speed sync for that and you don't need a high-end flash.

Going back to the GN formula, if your family is sitting across the table from you, you have an f/4 zoom lens, and you're bouncing the flash off a white ceiliing 1.5m above you, you need a GN 16 flash.

You also want a bounce and swivel head and preferably a zoom head. Without the zoom head, you need a higher GN because some of the light is wasted whenever you use a focal length longer than the widest one the flash covers.

E-TTL is nice to have. The older type that had the sensor on the flash itself meant you had to adjust for bounce.

Although there will be used flashes out there for $20 that will do the job for you, I don't recommend you buy one for three reasons:

1. If it isn't a Canon EOS flash, it may have a high trigger voltage. If you know how to use a multimeter to check it's below 5V, this doesn't apply to you.

2. If it's a Canon EOS flash, some of them used an earlier E-TTL system that doesn't work with the digital cameras.

3. Flashes contain an electronic part called an electrolytic capacitor that degrades with time. After 20 years they are suspect.

So we're left with Canon's E-TTL flashes from the last 10 years, and third party equivalents. I don't know details of the models, but I really don't think you need anything as expensive as a 580 EX II or 480 EX.

Edited on Dec 24, 2016 at 05:43 AM · View previous versions



Dec 20, 2016 at 10:31 AM
Kolbasz
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Starter flash


Oh wow, this is all great info, I guess I never thought there would be so much to know about adding a flash to my bag. I was looking from the perspective of the pop-up flash is junk, get a big one, but obviously there is way more to it than that.

I'll look around at some and then try to figure out a good middle ground for price, function and need.

Thanks!



Dec 20, 2016 at 03:22 PM
Methodical
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Starter flash


Buy good one now or eventually spend the money later. Check the link below to get educated on flash photography.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101-start-here.html?m=1



Dec 20, 2016 at 03:31 PM
davesuitor
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Starter flash


Take a look at the new radio enabled Canon 430EX III-RT for $249. Nice unit and looking to the future, will put you on track for the new radio technology.

I have the non-radio 580EX II and the 430EXII and prefer the more compact 430, except when I need range. I recently bought a Yongnou 600RT and the Yn-3 controller and relay like that setup.

On a less than positive Canon note, I have broken my 580EX 3 times. I is large and lives a tough life slung over my shoulder at race tracks, The last time it broke, I replaced it with the Youngnuo 600RT. Cheaper than a repair.

regards,
dms



Dec 21, 2016 at 02:57 AM
Kolbasz
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Starter flash


Is that to say the lumopro listed on that site is a good one that would be with me for years?


Dec 21, 2016 at 03:54 AM
 

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melcat
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Starter flash


Kolbasz wrote:
Is that to say the lumopro listed on that site is a good one that would be with me for years?


I couldn't say anything about its build quality, but I think that flash unit is utterly unsuitable for you because it is a manual flash. I very strongly disagree with Hobby's premise that small portable flash should be shot manually. It may have something to do with having had access to good TTL flash systems since the 1990s, with my old OM-2N. Canon's has a couple of warts but I have found quite complex 3-flash setups do just work in E-TTL. And it isn't that I don't know how to use manual flash—I do so with studio lights and a flash meter.

Surely for your purposes you want to just push the shutter instead of doing Pythagoras in your head as I outlined in my previous post.

It looks like there isn't much money in the flash business for third-party makers any more. Years ago Vivitar was a more highly regarded flash brand than either Canon or Nikon, and Sunpak a decent brand (I've owned both) but I see some bad reviews on B+H for those brands now. Metz used to be top dog but went bust; they seem to be back now, but I have no idea how new Metz compares with old Metz. Maybe the review section of this site has some recent opinions on these brands.

That leaves Canon and Yongnuo (which seems to get good reports here). And it seems you can't get a tilt and swivel and zoom head without going to GN 46 on those brands! That would be the Canon 430EX II-RT mentioned above.


Edited on Dec 23, 2016 at 05:23 AM · View previous versions



Dec 21, 2016 at 04:39 AM
Kolbasz
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Starter flash


Yes, 100% want to push the button and done.

For the flashes with 4aa just out of curiosity, what's the life expectancy? Not a huge factor and I assume several shots, but one post seemed to makes AA batteries seem like a negative so I assumed it was because lack of life/carry/insert word for batteries lasting



Dec 21, 2016 at 06:27 AM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Starter flash


AA are fine unless you are shooting an insane amount. See heavy event/press/wedding photographers.

Eneloop AA batteries with a Maha 8-bay charger would be a good investment.



Dec 21, 2016 at 06:40 AM
Kolbasz
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Starter flash


OK cool


Dec 21, 2016 at 01:07 PM
bogeypro
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Starter flash


I had similar questions a couple years ago & found the Yonguno ETT-L flash gave me everything I needed as a novice. Rotating & tilting head, built-in diffuser, good battery life & easy to get comfortable with. Compared to a Canon flash, nice price too.


Dec 21, 2016 at 02:50 PM
Kolbasz
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Starter flash


Awesome, thanks. That's likely the route I'll take. Thanks


Dec 24, 2016 at 04:28 AM
Michael White
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Starter flash


Do you want on camera or off camera flash? You want >60 watts of light or more? Personally after using a third party ttl speedlight, viviparous 285s, speedotron studio strobes, canon flagship speedlites(550,580&580-2),quantum qflash, and elichrom quadra life's. I'm selling off everything except the two 580s and the quadra kits if I fill need I will expand on the elinchrom lights getting another s and a head each two of the has heads then see what else will run off the same packs as the quadra s currently I have one pack and battery for each head I want a couple of the elb packs then I noticed there's another pack that's has more power than the elb. I might upgrade the 580s to 600s down the road as support will be limited more each year I'll keep my pocket wizard kit consisting of two ac3s, two tt1s, five tt5s, two plus is and a plus iii plus a sekonic module for my light meter. I can use individual ttl groups or all groups on the channel. I also have the sky port transmitter or two and the USB module for a computer and working on getting a wifi module for my iPhone and iPad but those were to change settings from a central position not to trigger the lights I'll use the pw for that unless it's strictly elinchrom lights.


Dec 24, 2016 at 06:19 AM
Michael White
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Starter flash


To continue and be more explicit I would start with either the new 400 series canon speedlites if you cannot afford the 600. Learn to use it in manual mode before moving to ttl mode. And remember this if the light to subject distance is constant use manual mode if not the use the ttl once you understand it. If you need more power there are many ways you can go studio only or location and studio strobes. You can go pack and head systems or all in one units. Then you have battery or mains units. You need to learn the speedlites first before venturing in to the big light arena. You need to know how your going to light a subject before buying the gear to do it. Otherwise you'll be limited to lighting based on your gear. The max number lighting units I can ever see most needing is 4-5 units that's either one studio or one or more speedlights. I key, a fill a background and one or two accents or separation lights this is based on a subject size of four people or less more might need additional fill and key lights for the group. But learn to light with a reflector first the add a light until you no longer need any more. But Lear to light with the reflector and each light throughly before adding the next light.


Dec 24, 2016 at 06:32 AM
ross attix
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Starter flash


Kolbasz wrote:
Not sure if there is such a thing, but figured to ask.



There is, and it is one of those things "do I want to dive into the deep end right away, or take this a step at at time?"

Forget the strobist approach for now (great stuff, but you need to get further down the road before getting into that). For your stated needs, I like the Canon 430EXII, which can be had for $100-150 used on this site. It will give you ETTL, much more power than you get from the pop-up, and it is a little smaller and lighter.

Now, direct flash has an ugly look no matter which brand/size you use. For starters, get a modifier. They are a little pricey, but for $60 new, this works great: https://www.garyfong.com/products/lightsphere-collapsible-speed-mount.

You can find cheaper alternatives if you like, or look for a GF used.

For indoor use, leave the flash in ETTL mode and put the camera in Manual (M) mode. Set your shutter speed to about* 1/15-1/30, and Aperture to 5.6. This is called dragging the shutter, and will open up the background so it doesn't have that "shot in a cave" look that you will get from using full auto.

Slowing the shutter will not affect the exposure on the people at all, it will only add exposure to the rest of the room which isn't being lit by the flash. The flash itself will coordinate with the aperture you have selected, and control its power accordingly. You will start to not have enough power above f/5.6, unless you are close to the subject.

The flash is overpowering the ambient light so that it will effectively stop any motion.

*If using 1/30 SS gives you enough exposure in the back ground, that's great. If not, go a little slower. If you get below 1/15 you may start to have problems with subject motion.

The point of all of this is, and why I said not to get into the Strobist stuff right away, is to take this a little slowly at first, and do some playing around with using a modifier of some sort until you start to get a feel for this. Step 2 might be starting to look at getting the flash off the camera and/or adding a second flash.

Have fun!




Dec 24, 2016 at 12:11 PM
Kolbasz
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Starter flash


I am slowly realizing that getting good pictures means lots of practice and playing alone before prime time at a family gathering. All of this is awesome information, thank you all and merry Christmas!


Dec 25, 2016 at 08:22 PM
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