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Old Dec 6, 2008, 7:46 PM   #1
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I'm looking for feedback on several Flash units that will work on the E-TTL Canon XSi. I've seen the Sigma EF 530, the Metz 48AF/can, and the Digital Concepts 952AF/can. If I had the money I would buy the best Canon model but I don't. The features of these units are close but I don't know the relative strength or importance of things like, multiple power settings, Negative till, auto mode, slave mode, and the advantages of each different Display and all of the buttons.

I want to decide on one of these, or a better one in the same price range before Xmas. I don't do a lot of Flash work, but when you need one you gotta have it.

I would appreciate any suggestions. These units seem to be priced between $100 and $170 and the Digital concepts is the lowest but I can't find a good review anywhere.
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Old Dec 7, 2008, 7:49 AM   #2
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you can do what a lot of people do and buy a cheap flash then wishing they had saved their money and bought a good one . you bought a good camera , save your money till you can get a 430ex .
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Old Dec 7, 2008, 3:15 PM   #3
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Hi,

I agree with camerageak.

The Canon 430EX (and its successor 430EXII) are great flash units.

NOTE: You might even be able to get a good deal on the 430EX, because it was replaced by the 430EXII. I've seen the 430EX as low as $269CDN or $200US because of this. (If you can find one.)

And its a nice flash unit. Although less powerful than the 580EX(II), it still has most of the bells and whistles. (E-TTL, Autozoom, manual zoom, Front/Rear/FP (High-speed) curtain sync, Full manual setting availablefrom 1/1-1/64, Tilt & Swivel with built-in wide angle screen that can double as a eye-catch light bounce. In otherwords, its very versatile.

I would suggest hunting around to see how much you could get a Canon 430EX compared to the other units as well.

Take care,
Glen



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Old Dec 7, 2008, 10:57 PM   #4
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I thought I did a good job of asking for reviews of these 3 Flash units. Maybe you didn't see that I said I need to shoot flash shots this Xmas. Since I've purchased my XSi, the world has turned upside down and some of us are really experiencing a very difficult economic crunch. I can't wait till I save enough money, that may be a long time away.

If you have some information about these Flash unit,...please add it. Otherwise, I already know that Canon Flash would be better, is probably the best. The Digital Concept Flash seems to have all the features and function I need for a least 1 -2 years and I could get it for $100. Who knows, it may be the only flash I ever need.

I've seen some other posts that claim the Metz 5xx is competive but it is expensive also, but Metz has the 48Af which is not all that bad but I again have not seen any reviews of it.

Can anyone recommend a good sitewhere they do reviews of Flash Gear?
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Old Dec 8, 2008, 8:24 AM   #5
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Hello,

Sorry.

It's just that I went through the same exercise this past summer. I didn't have a lot of money and ended up getting a cheap flash unit (Vivitar 285HV) thinking that it would do me for a while.

But as soon as I got that flash unit on my camera and started using it, I was completely blown away with how it really improved the picture qualityso I started doing a lot more research into all the bells and whistles of flash units.

About 3 months after getting the cheap flash unit, I realized that I should have just saved up for the more advanced flash unit, because I would have actually sat down and learned how to use all the features. (Especially FP - high speed sync, rear curtain, and I am doing a lot of manual control on the flash unit for off-camera set-ups.) [Yeah. I did exactly what camerageak said don't do. But I didn't know. I wish I did!]

So . . . 3 months later, I was backto square one. I've got $200 saved up towards my nextmore advanced flash unit. (I would have been $300 saved up towards a more advanced flash unit if I didn't buy the Vivitar 285HV), but live and learn . . .

I guess that is why I responded . . .

If I knew then what I know now, I would have just waited.

B.T.W. You said your budget is up to $170 . . . Here is a link to Amazon where I found the 430EX for $187.95.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw...ds=Canon+430ex

Oh, yeah. Not sure if you are aware, but whatever flash unit you get, use theNiMH rechargeable batteries in it. Not the Akaline.The NiMH recharge the flash unit a lot quicker & you'll save money down the road by not having to buy batteries all the time.

Take care,
Glen






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Old Dec 8, 2008, 11:46 AM   #6
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Glen,.. Thanks for you additional info. Since I'm not a professional, or anything close to that, and I don't shoot very much with a flash, I'm not sure I would get as much use out of a top of the line flash as you do. It's like the Canon Camera,.. It has so many features I just use a few of them and stick with it. My life is so full of other activities, I don't spend 5% of my time taking pictures. When I do, it is mostly of flowers and scenery. Right now I'm in a big arguement with Canon about my XSi and I don't feel I've even taken one good picture with it. The photos don't compare to what I am getting with my G7, and I bought the XSi because of the 12 MP and expected sharper images that I could enlarge. So far the focus is terrible. If I don't get this issue resolved I'm going to do everything I can to get my Money back. I truly believe there is some basic flaw in the new AF system for the XSi.

I see there are a few Canon 420EX speedlites, which are the small brother of the 430EX, and don't have the LCD screen, but the rest of the features are very close and the price is quite a bit less. For what I do that may be a better match.

Sakar is a very large company and they own so many Camera and Accessory mfg. Now they just purchased Vivitar and they own Tokina, Digital Concepts, and many other accessory companies. Would you spend $100 on a 420EX before you would buy the 952AF/Can. I talked to Canon and the only Flash they make that they say will work for sure on the XSi is the EX series of Speedlites.


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Old Dec 8, 2008, 3:36 PM   #7
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Hello,

It sounds like you are where I was this summer. I was really unhappy with the image quality I was getting with my digital SLR. But using an external flash (whether directly, bouncing it off the ceiling, wall or using it off-camera) has just floored me on how much sharper an image I am getting.

As for your questions.

RE: Focusing on your XSI . . . Are you using Liveview mode (edge detection)? If so, have you tried using the conventional phase-difference mode (ie. Not Liveview, but focusing with the sensors?) My understanding is that this mode is currently quicker than liveview. (I've been really happy with focus on the XT, XTi & XSi's that I've played with when not in liveview mode.)

RE: 420EX - The main difference between this flash and the 430EX flash is that it doesn't have a manual mode. I believe it has FP high-speed sync mode, although I wasn't able to get this working with the XSi I was playing with at the time. A competent flash unit to use in fully automode. And I guess if you want to get the flash unit off the camera to get some 3D dimensional rendering you can always use an extension cord to maintain TTL. My buddy has this flash and since he never plans to do any manual work, it's perfect for him. I just recently told him that he should get the Gary Fong Lightsphere II and just use the flash more indoors to get really clear pictures.

I'm not familiar with the Digital Concepts flash & finding it hard to find details about its specs on-line. I'm assuming it doesn't have a manual mode & I'm not sure about its support for high-speed sync mode.

My biggest advice with buying a flash unit is definately get one with swivel. (There are actually flash units out there that have tilt, but not swivel) and my biggest question is, when you turn your camera sideways to take a portrait shot of someone indoors, how do you bounce the flash off the ceiling? And . . . having swivel lines you up nicely to get the Gary Fong Lightsphere II which is a great way to make your flash shots even sweeter.)

And . . . be prepared to be amazed at how an external flash well increase the quality of your images.

Here's a picture I took of my daughter with my 6 mega-pixel camera just to see what using flash could do at improving image quality.



Take care,
Glen

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Old Dec 8, 2008, 4:33 PM   #8
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trigger1937 wrote:
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I'm looking for feedback on several Flash units that will work on the E-TTL Canon XSi. I've seen the Sigma EF 530, the Metz 48AF/can, and the Digital Concepts 952AF/can. If I had the money I would buy the best Canon model but I don't...

... I would appreciate any suggestions. These units seem to be priced between $100 and $170 and the Digital concepts is the lowest but I can't find a good review anywhere.
Well I don't have the Sigma EF-530, the Metz 48AF-1 nor the Digital Concept, but what I do have is the EF-500 DG Super(Sigma's older cousin), the Metz 58AF-1, and both the Canon 550EX and 580EX so I can speak from experiences only:

1. The EF-530 is the most powerful of the bunch because it has a guide number of 53(m) as opposed to the 430EX which is only 43(m) - BTW there's two models: the cheaper EF-530DG ST which does not have the wireless capability nor high-speed sync and the EF-530DG Super which does everything the 430EX does except if offers more power (i.e. almost the same features as Canon's 550EX). This is important if you do bouncing as it'll rob the flash of some of it's power when the light beam is reflected from the ceiling or walls

2. The Metz 48AF-1 is also slighly more powerful, it's GN is 48 as compared again to 43 for the 430EX (the 420EX is 42); However the best feature of this flash is its USB upgradeabililty in that in the future as camera features are updated the flash can have it firmware changed (so no need for a 430EX-II for example)... The reason this flash is less expensive than its 58AF-1 brother is because the 48AF-1 is a slave only (similar to the 430EX), whereas the Metz 58AF-1 is both Master and Slaves, and also offered more features than comparable 580EX (dual-head, audio feedback, etc...)

3. I don't know much about the Digital Concept, but from the look of it ETTL compatibility it should work too. BTW I also have the Vivitar 283... from way back,
and if you put your camera on manual (which is the best way to use any Canon dSLR - yes even with Canon's own EX's) any flash with auto mode should work as well and may even produce more consistent results than Canon's own ETTL!
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Old Dec 8, 2008, 7:49 PM   #9
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Glen, Great picture. Is this shot with an XSi. If so, what was the distance, F, & mm, and whatwere the AF conditions. This image is full size but you have cropped it.

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. Your picture is great. What is the lens. I can't get one picture this good. I shot a dozen picture of my wife at 6 to 10' with the built in flash and if I look at the picture in 100% enlargement the focus is terrible. However, Canon says it is within spec. It seems your picture is already zoomed to 100% and cropped. You must have some kind of better lens.

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.

NHL,.. Thanks for all the info. This is finally helping me. Why do you say the best way to shoot is in Manual Mode. Do you mean the Creative Mode. In full Manual I've got to set everything so why not just set the Aperture and let the Camera take care of the rest.

When you are talking about Master and Slave mode, this has got to be only an issue if you need multiple flash units for some kind of studio work. I'm just trying to get ONE flash unit to take a simple picture.

Sometimes I think I'm logged into the wrong forum. It is like I'm trying to figure out how to change the oil in my Volkwagen and everyone else it telling me how to power stear a Ferrari through a 37 degree down hill curve at 135 MPH.

My childern wanted to get something for Dad for Xmas. I have 4 days to tell them what kind of Flash I want and I find out I need to sign up for a 3 month adult evening class on "Digital SLR's for Dummies".
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Old Dec 8, 2008, 9:08 PM   #10
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trigger1937 wrote:
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NHL,.. Thanks for all the info. This is finally helping me. Why do you say the best way to shoot is in Manual Mode. Do you mean the Creative Mode. In full Manual I've got to set everything so why not just set the Aperture and let the Camera take care of the rest.
No I meant MANUAL literally!
When you are in Manual mode with any Canon dSLR, the E-TTL flash remains on automatic... and the metering is still perform by the camera even when the camera is set to manual
-> You can just still set the aperture only and the camera will take care automatically of the flash, the difference here is you can also control the shutter speed (if you need to) - Just try it and watch the various effect as you move the EV scale to the left -2..-1..v..+1..+2 in the viewfinder!

When you are in any of the automatic mode Av, Tv or P the camera will try to do a fill as you only control one parameter and the camera usually ends up picking an undesired shutter speed (camera blurs for one) in Av or wrong aperture (not enough DOF the other) in Tv
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