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Old Dec 8, 2008, 11:20 PM   #11
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Here are some tips and techniques for using flash from Canon.

http://web.canon.jp/imaging/flashwork/index.html
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Old Dec 9, 2008, 2:26 AM   #12
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The above picture was shot with a Pentax K100D 6-megapixel camera with a Sigma 18-200 lens. (See below for a couple of shots I took with a Canon XTi, Sigma 18-200 & Canon 430ex flash unit.)

(I scan the Canon forum because all my buddies have Canons (Rebel, XT, XTi, XSi) andup until I started playing with flash I was seriously looking at switching to Canon.In fact, when anyone asks me what dSLR they should get, I point out that each platform has their pros & cons, but I always tell them to look at Canon because it is great quality and great value [especially the 430EX<grin>])

I got the Sigma 18-200 lens, and yes, it's nice to be able to zoom in to get a better focal length, but I think the image quality of my friends and family pictures got better more when I got the flash than when I got the longer zoom range lens. Looking back, if I had to choose between the external flash and the longer zoom to improve friends and family shots, I would have gotten the flash before the longer zoom.

The flash improves focus and image quality by providing more workable light to your subject. Get more useable light on your subject and your camera can use a smaller aperture. Use a smaller aperture and your depth of field increases. If your depth of field increases, more of your image is in focus, whether you or your camera was able to properly focus in the first place or not. The flash also helps to freeze motion, which is a big thing with friends and family shots. And when you have an external flash, you can bounce it off the ceiling in order to help brighten up and fill in the background and get rid of unsightly shadows. [Oh yeah, and there is probably less noise to signal ratio problem when you flood the sensor with good light.]

It actually isn't that hard to use flash. And that is why I suggest getting a little more features than you think you need. If you get a nice versatile flash unit that you can grow into, you can just choose a technique here and there (like bouncing the flash off the ceiling) and try it out until you are comfortable with it. Then move on to the next technique / feature.

Like when talking about choosing the aperture and letting the flash do the thinking . . . then you are really going to want FP high-sync speed flash. (The technical reason is that then the flash / camera shutter speed combination isn't limited to a slower shutter speed. But the nice thing of having a nice flash unit is that you don't need to know that. Just put it on FP high-speed sync mode & just think aperture and the camera / flash sorts out the exposure settings for you.)

As for the 420ex missing manual exposure, there is a market for full auto equipment. Like my buddy. I don't ever see him wanting to put the flash unit on manual. But . . . because you are here asking about flash units, it sounds like you might be someone who could appreciate being able to play around with more advanced features, even if it may be down the road.

Hereare a couple of shots I got with my buddies Canon XTi, Sigma 18-200 zoom lens and Canon 430ex flash using FP high-speed sync mode to darken the background and bouncing the flash off a white wall beside the subject. (Flash on camera, just usingtilt to point the flash at the walland letting the Camera and flash sort out all the exposure settings themselves through E-TTL.) With a smart flash, you just point the flash somewhere and let the camera and flash figure out all the exposure stuff. It can be that simple.






Sorry for the long post, but because I was so pleased with how flash improved the image quality of my friends and family pictures, I just like to try to help out someone when they seem to want to explore that path as well.

Take care,
Glen






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Old Dec 9, 2008, 9:29 AM   #13
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trigger1937 schreef:
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I don't see how any flash can ever help the picture focus as all focus is set and done before any flash is every shot.

You mention the 420EX has no manual mode. What do the specifcation always hide this kind of infomration. It is always about tricking someone into buying some product even though it is missing a key feature. They only do this to get price differentials. They know that people don't have months to shop for what they want or don't even know that they need. Is this also why you can't find a web site that will posts some real reviews of these accessories. Some of these flashes cost more than a good lens. If as you say, the flash can really enhance the image, why wouldn't someone write that in a review.
An external flash actually helps focussing in poor light. While focussing, the flash sends a red pattern to help the camera achieve proper focus.

My 0,02$: stick with Canon. My first flash was a top of the line Metz 54MZ3 flash. Did his job fairly well, but not 100 percent reliable results, After a while i knew its limits, and how to work with it. Then i upgraded my camera, form a 10D to a 30D. My Metz did not work well anymore. At the end i got so annoyed whith the whole thing, and bought a Canon 580EX II flash (I need a lot of flash power for some of my photography, not the features). I really whish i bought the Canon straight away. It's really that easy to use, and reliable results.

I've done some photography with the 420 Canon, and it works just as well as my 580 flash. The missing features, you will not miss.


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Old Jan 12, 2009, 12:31 AM   #14
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I appreciate all of the posts that were added to this thread. However, I can't take the advice that many of you have suggested. To begin with, I don't use a flash often enough to justify spending 1/2 the cost of a Camera body just for a flash function. People talk about how important the "Glass" is with a DSLR. The cost of the Canon 580EX will pay for a lot of Glass.

Someday, if I still alive that long, I hope to have sufficient $$$ to get the flash I really want, but for right now, I have to live within my means. I get the feeling several of the people that post on this web site don't have to live by that RULE.

For Christmas I got a Zeikos 680EX flash. It has many of the features of expensive flash units but of course it costs a lot less. I plugged it into my XSi and turned it on and it immedialty was sync to the camera. So far I've taken about 150 pictures with the flash, using Zoom, Bounce, and a very handy tip provided by a guy on the internet that teachs how to make a very effective bounce unit that gets rid of the direct flash but still fills in. It basically points the flash to the ceiling and uses a small reflector to bounce a portion of the flash at the subject. The results are fantastic. I get a very soft light effect. The amount of energy in the flash is controlled by the camera. I clearly need to learn a lot more just to test the unit, but so far it has done everything I have ask and only one picture was bad, only because I forgot to wait till the flash recharged.

I would welcome anyone suggestions on how I would test this unit. It is supposed to have a Guide number of about 140.I need a way to test that. It has 150 degrees to the right and 180 to the left. It also does 0-90 vert. The LCD on the back pretty much matches the Canon information. It is designed to support all Canon ETTL EOS cameras. It has auto and Manual control function. The zoom head is motor driven from 24mm to 85 mm.

When I get more time to test it, I'll provide some information. Yes it is not a Canon, but we will find out if this is good or bad stuff.
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Old Jan 28, 2009, 1:22 AM   #15
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It has been awhile since I added anything to this post so now that I have a little experience I can provide some data.

Glen,.. I have come to agree with your original comments on just how much a Flash can improve any picture. You were absolutely correct. While this Zeikios is just a medium priced flash it has a lot going for it. Any picture I has shot with it on my XSi has come our in great focus. What this has proved to me is that the AutoFocus system in the XSi and the kit lense combined are not as good as most of Canon's point and shoot cameras. This is strange especially since the XSi and my G7 use the same Digi III controller chip,... so it must be the firmware that is different.

Of course the built in lens in the G7 must be better, plus the camera has the Macro function which really gets me in close, and it has a much larger aperture so it is always shooting at a higher f/stop. The result show the difference.

The kit lens, 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 is just never bright enough, even thow the camera has iso up to 1600. As a result I was always shooting at 55mm at f/5.6. When people talk about the sweet spot on any lens, they always point out to stay away from the max mm and wide open. This is the worst combination of any lens. When you add to that poor light, the camera and the lens just don't do a good job of focusing, not to mention that it is the absolute worst depth of field.

Now when I added the flash in evaluation mode, the pictures were all in clear focus. Of course when I was now able to stay away from wide open and max focal distance, I really got some great pictures. I was also very delighted to see that with the flash, I could take excellent pictures even at both maxes. So why does the XSi shoot great pictures when you give it good light,.. the only answer is the Autofocus sensor are not that good in medium light. Now if in normal condition I shoot something at 1/60, 55mm, and f/5.6, and the camera says there is enough light, I would expect to get excellent focus. This is not the case with the XSi. If the subject is something that does not have high contrast, such as a closeup of a flower where the pedals are all a soft magenta, the camera ends up not getting the correct focus. At these conditions the DOF was probalby only 1/4 to 1/2 inch. In just regular daylight the focus was mostly wrong, about 1/2 inch forward of the flower.

So what have I learned,...the easy part is there is always a way to get around the problem,...i.e. the flashwill solve the problem. Does this make me feel better about the XSi as a product.... No. Even Canon states there spec's for Camera and lens is "If it can achieve focus within the Depth of Field it is within the specifications". The problem is in the details. Are they talking about under perfect light and good contrast, or what.

Well enough of my ranting. For those who many want to comment about the Zeikos 690EX, here are some of the specs for the unit and I will attach a couple of pictures I shot with it.

Designed for use on Canon EOS only. The basic features are 0-90 Bounce. Rotate 150d right, 180d left. Motor driven zoom 24-28-35-50-85 focal length, fully automatic via Camera settings. Full Manual mode selection. AutoFocus illuminator [email protected]. Flash duration 1/1000-1/20,000sec. 4-1.5v batteries. 150-2000flashes. Recycle 0.3-9sec

Buttons: Zoom, LCD Backlight, /Freq,Mode,REP,Power,Test,readylight

LCD: Evaluative TTL/Pwr lvl, Distance ind(feet & meter), Zoom pos., Auto/Manual, F/Stop,Bounce, auto check, multi-flash

Other major function: Auto power off, Standby, Flash modes= Eval TTl, M, Multi, TTL supports Program Eval, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority. Manual power mode=selectable from 1/1,1/2,1/4,1/8,1/16,1/32,1/64.

I have not had the chance to test most of these functions but I have test all eval TTL modes via camera controls. I've also tested all modes of Zoom and bounce both in Camera control and Manual. I was very happy to find on the net, the information on how to build the "Perfect Bounce Card". It really works great. The dead on fash has just too much power even when in TTL mode, so bouncing the most of the light off the ceiling and using the bounce card to reflect a portion to the image gives a wonderful "Excellent soft light" efect and gets rid of any flash glare on glassesas well has harsh shadows.

This flash unit does not have the range and guide number of even the 430Ex which has a range of 24-105 and a guide of 42 at the 105. The Zeikos guide at 85 mm is 42 at max power.

The Canon Speedlite has many more features, but this flash has sufficient to keep me happy for a long time. I'm sure I will go after better lenses before I go after a better flash. Sorry for this post getting so long, but I got to say what I wanted to.

I have attached some flowers I shot inside on a cloudly rainy day. The flash bounce was off the side wall and there small bounce card was attached to give some light direct to the flowers. Still don't have a good way to size the image to get it smaller.

The first two pictures I tried to load were too large and would not load. I had to crop the image and compress it to get it to load to this site.????

If you could zoom this to 100% you will see the pedals of the rose are in perfect focus. The shot was at 41mm, F/9, and 1/60sec. with the kit lens.


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Old Mar 7, 2009, 10:47 AM   #16
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Hello Trigger1937!!!

I've been lying low working on a project for my business. But made some progress so I've been coming up for air every now-and-then. <grin>

I'm so glad to hear that you got a flash unit & you're playing around with it & liking it!

That's great!

As for better quality pictures, my guess is that the sensors in our cameras like light. Get it more light with the flash unit (in those difficult light situations) and they have more information to play with. Result is better range of colour and brightness in the capture. (especially if using the flash allows you to turn down your ISO to 100 or 200 or something like that.)

Also, the more light, the smaller aperture the camera can use, thus more depth-of-field. (ie. better chance that the camera will capture what you want in somewhat better focus. <grin>)

& faster shutter speed, so less motion blur.

Also glad to hear that you are bouncing that flash around (along with an attached bounce.) That is the way to go to get away from the traditional direct flash look. Toss that light around and it should look better than the direct-on flash!

Take care & Have Fun!
Glen


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Old Mar 11, 2009, 12:21 AM   #17
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Glen,.. You were always right,... Of course the flash can make all the difference in the world. The great thing about this (and most ttl units)is that it takes all the manual settings out of the equations. The camera and the flash do all of the work, and read the correct settings right through the lens. If I ever shoot a bad flash it is because I didn't set things up right or got too impatient. It is fantastic to take pictures of flowers in a low light room, bonce the HARSH flash off the ceiling or the walls and still get the correct exposure.

I use a copy of the "Perfect Bonce Card" that I found on the Internet and made it myself. It works so great I don't know why everyone doesn't have one. You get the full effect of the bounce off of the cieling or wall plus the bounce card direct about 5% of the light directly at the subject, giving the perfect light without any shadows or harhness. I think I got a great flash for a very low price. It will be good enough to teach me a 100 things,... and maybe someday I'll move on to a better unit. Right now I have not begun to use the many features built into this unit.
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