Canon Flash and ST-E2 question
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GFountain
Registered: Jan 04, 2009
Total Posts: 495
Country: Canada

I do landscape photography but would like to try to get some indoor flash experience. Forgive my newbe type questions. I have a 430ex and a ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter. I want to pick up another Canon flash but not sure what model (old or new). Also can I can mix say my 430 with a 580 or 580ll? How many remote flashes can the ST-E2 master? Product and some portrait uses.

Would appreciate any advice.
Thanks
Greg



Steve Wylie
Registered: Feb 13, 2007
Total Posts: 1153
Country: United States

The ST-E2 will trigger as many flashes as it can see, as long as they're in groups (the manual from Canon explains how that works...two groups are straightforward; a third is a bit more complicated). The ST-E2 operates on line of sight, and is not a radio trigger. So the receiving eye of the flash has to be oriented to the front of the ST-E2 or the flash won't fire (that's the biggest limitation of the ST-E2) . You can combine the 430 with a 580 EX or EXII.



GFountain
Registered: Jan 04, 2009
Total Posts: 495
Country: Canada

That's what I wanted to know. Thanks Steve.

Greg



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8527
Country: United States

Adding to what Steve said, indoors -- especially in smallish rooms -- the Slave Speedlites may be able to be triggered with the bounced light from the ST-E2 (which is infrared, not visible).

I don't have an ST-E2, but I've triggered one of my 580EXes using the pop-up flash on my 7D even with the 580 in a softbox with the diffuser fabric in place.

I have three Speedlites, and at different times I've used three Speedlites in A:B C Group mode, two in A and one in B, and all three in A; it just depends on the configuation I need.

If you have them, you could trigger more than three Speedlites, but only in three groups; so you couldn't independently control a key light, fill light, hair light, and background light, but you could use the same power level for more than one light in a group and place them as needed. And of course you can always set the flash power manually and have as many different power levels as you have Speedlites.

I highly recommend the book The Speedliter's Handbook as a well-written guide to the creative use of Canon Speedlites. It covers multiple flash use and the complexities of wireless remote control very well.



Michael White
Registered: Jan 21, 2007
Total Posts: 1172
Country: United States

First off the st-e2 will fire up to three groups of flashes. IiRC there is no limit to how many flashes can be in a group.

Now here's my advice:

If all you ever plan to get is a second Speedlite you can get by with a second 420 if you do not need light from the camera's hot shoe while triggering the remote or off camera flash.if you wish to be covered or if you think you will want to use more than two speedlites wirelessly or stay out of bright areas when using wireless flash then you need a speed light that can act as a master in place of the st-e2 you'll need a 580 or 600 Speedlite you could use a 550 if you can find one. The prices of used 550 are around $100, 580 is $200 and the 580 EXII are going for $300. Or that appears to be the prices is saw last weekend here.



gpop
Registered: Jul 16, 2009
Total Posts: 1260
Country: United States

I could be wrong, but I think the st-e2 only controls two groups A-B with no group C function at all.



GFountain
Registered: Jan 04, 2009
Total Posts: 495
Country: Canada

Great info guys. Thank you!

Greg



hugowolf
Registered: Nov 11, 2011
Total Posts: 588
Country: United States

gpop wrote:
I could be wrong, but I think the st-e2 only controls two groups A-B with no group C function at all.

That is correct, and that is why it is called the ST-E2 not 3. It will however trigger any flashes in Group C; so fully auto flashes like the 420ex are out as far as Group C ETTL - you have to set Group C flashes manually when using the ST-E2.

There probably hasn't been enough distinction made in the thread between triggering and control. The ST-E2 will trigger any Canon remote compatible flash units, no matter what group they are in or out of; and in reality ETTL is problematic for off camera flash units whether they are studio lights or shoe mount type units.

The FEC controllable Group C has always been a strange part of the Canon flash system.

Brian A



cgardner
Registered: Nov 18, 2002
Total Posts: 9376
Country: United States

What the st-e2 was designed for is A:B ETTL ratios. It it one of the earlier EX series devices, arriving on the market with the 420ex flash which is ETTL only. The ability to set manual power and control three groups was first implemented with the 550EX flash, the first to have Master/Slave/Off (solo) modes.

Canon never updated the ST-E2 for 3 groups and manual power, probably because it planned to move flash control to the camera as it finally did with the 7D. But then it switched to radio control with the 600EX-RT and ST-E3.

If doing static set-ups like portraits, products, etc. manual mode is the better choice because it keeps the exposure the same shot-to-shot. With ETTL the metering is computing the ratio with each shot and it varies, and movement of scene content will change it. For example if doing portraits of different people the difference in clothing will affect the metering and you'll need to tweek FEC for each one. With M once the Master Fill / Slave Key is set to record the full range of black suit / white shirt it will record anything put in front of the lights with a full range.

So I wouldn't recommend buying the ST-E2. Invest instead in a 550EX or 580EX to use in the hotshoe as master. If you don't want to also utilize it as your centered fill source you can disable the main flash and it will just act as the controller. You'll be able to remotely control three groups in ETTL or M mode.

The C group works like this in ETTL mode:

C is intended for background lighting only and assumes that's where the C flash will be aimed. The manual warns to not let it hit the foreground because it messes up the A:B ratio metering.

First you select the A:B ratio (fill / key) you want on the foreground. Then by comparing the separate A, B, and C metering pre-flashes the camera guesses how to balance the group C background with the foreground.

You look at the shot. If you want the background lighter/darker than the initial guess at the 0 setting for group C you adjust it up/down on the Master flash. If you want it a stop lighter change Group C from 0 to 1. To make background a stop darker change it to - 1.

In M mode A, B, and C are set by power level and there is no metering. So you can use the C group flash for tasks like rim/hair light.

In general any time you use more than two flashes its better to use M mode vs. ETTL because it is more consistent and easier to set-up. Adjust the group used for fill until you get the shadow detail visually, then adjust the group used for key to get the highlight detail guided by the clipping warning. Then adjust C for background or rim light to taste.



jstephens62
Registered: Feb 09, 2006
Total Posts: 1107
Country: United States

I would recommend the Speedlighter's Handbook for learning flash, I find it quite useful.



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8527
Country: United States

jstephens62 wrote: I would recommend the Speedlighter's Handbook for learning flash, I find it quite useful.

Minor correction: it's The Speedliter's Handbook. Syl uses Canon's spelling, rather than Nikon's, because it's oriented toward the Canon system.

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

I agree 100%, though, with the recommendation; I've had it for several years, and found it invaluable.



hugowolf
Registered: Nov 11, 2011
Total Posts: 588
Country: United States

Wow, Chuck Gardner back after an almost six month layoff, are we blighted or privileged?

How have you been Chuck, I hope the hiatus was not due to ill health?

Brian A



cgardner
Registered: Nov 18, 2002
Total Posts: 9376
Country: United States

hugowolf wrote:
Wow, Chuck Gardner back after an almost six month layoff, are we blighted or privileged?

How have you been Chuck, I hope the hiatus was not due to ill health?

Brian A

I took a break from photography and forum participation to spend more time with SWMBO (and work on the golf game). Nearly forgot how to type But it's getting too cold now to play until noon so I now have time to kill.

Opinions vary on the first question, but there's always the option of the hide button.



aaronguer
Registered: Feb 11, 2012
Total Posts: 1
Country: United States

I'M glad to see Mr. Gardner again!
Welcomeback!



GFountain
Registered: Jan 04, 2009
Total Posts: 495
Country: Canada

cgardner; thanks for the great reply. Very appreciated.

Greg



cgardner
Registered: Nov 18, 2002
Total Posts: 9376
Country: United States

GFountain wrote:
cgardner; thanks for the great reply. Very appreciated.

Greg


I've got a section on Canon flash on my tutorial site: http://photo.nova.org

I bought into the Canon system in 2004 with a 20D camera and a pair of 580ex. E-TTL vs E-TTL II metering is determined by the model body and the 20D was one of the first to use the E-TTL II zone based evaluative metering. There was very little information about how it actually worked, so I experimented, gleened infomation from Canon white papers, and e-mailed Chuck Westfall of Canon with questions.

I did tests to visualize what the A:B ratios produce and others to compare all the possible ambient / flash metering modes. I concluded that the quickest route to correct exposure with detail everywhere in ETTL mode is:

1) Start by setting shutter / aperture / ISO to keep the brightest ambient highlights under clipping. Why? You'll blow them even more when the flash overlaps.

2) Set FEC = 0. That's the default "I think this is right" guess. Will it be right? Only some of the time, but always startting from the 0 baseline makes it easier to grasp when and why it doesn't sometimes.

3) Set ratio to A:B= 1:2 Master A / Slave B. That should match scene range to sensor indoors on most camera sensor ranges, or be very close.

4) Take a shot and chimp. Adjust FEC until solid whites are just at or below triggering the clipping warning. It's not possible to objectively judged midtones and shadows in the playback if the highlights are not exposed the same way consistently with detail, ideally with an eyedropper reading of 250.250.250 on white paper.

The only thing that should be clipping are the specluar reflections. Why? When you look at a white object what provides the clue to 3D shape besides the shadows in the low parts? The specular highlights on the high points. If the solid highlights clip those 3D shape clues are lost, which is why blown highlights look flat in photos.

5) Once the highlights are dialed in, examine how well the A:B=1:2 starting baseline did in the shadows by looking at the detail in the playback. Adjust A:B ratio to 1:1 for lighter shadows, to 1:3 and greater for darker. Once FEC is dialed in for the highlights correctly under clipping the metering wiill keep them the same when you change ratio. But if you start with clipping highlights in the ambient or the flash before shifting ratios the metering will get confused.

I shoot the majority of shots with 1:2 to capture the full range of detail, tweeking as needed in Photoshop when I see the results in the RAW file.

What is seen in the playback is a JPG. RAW results will have more "headroom" but if you plan to create JPGs at the end of a RAW workflow for the Internet the 16 bit > 8bit JPG process will clip highlights and shadows. So the camera playback on the camera is a fairly accurate rendering of what you can expect at the end of a RAW>JPG workflow. By way of analogy if your end product is an 8' long board you need to cut the tree into 9' logs to allow spoilage during finishing.

If the RAW highlights are exposed on the "bleeding edge" of the solid white clipping at capture they will clip the the JPG in ways you might not notice, such as the red channel in skin highlights clipping which gives them an odd, waxy, yellow look.







GFountain
Registered: Jan 04, 2009
Total Posts: 495
Country: Canada

Chuck, i shall look at your tutorial. Many thanks!

Greg



Michael White
Registered: Jan 21, 2007
Total Posts: 1172
Country: United States

I highly recommend studying chucks tutorials and the Speedliters handbook to truly learn how to use this magical device called a Speedlite and practice the different techniques illustrated from this sources of inlightment.



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8527
Country: United States

gpop wrote: I could be wrong, but I think the st-e2 only controls two groups A-B with no group C function at all.

hugowolf wrote: That is correct, and that is why it is called the ST-E2 not 3.

Then why isn't the ST-E3 called the ST-E5?



susslaps
Registered: Jul 14, 2005
Total Posts: 225
Country: United States

I agree that Mr. Gardner's tutorials are great - they've helped me immensely!



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