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Old Mar 22, 2011, 4:53 PM   #11
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depends on the level of the flash, the high end di866, metz 58, and canon 580 are all about the same in performance.

At the next level down, the 430 exII and metz 50 are the same, while the di 622 does not have HSS.
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Old Mar 22, 2011, 5:06 PM   #12
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My 2.5c (cdn) worth

The Canons work well!
I actually am not fond of the new menuing system on the 580ex-mkII, and having to drill through all kinds of menus to get to a feature or setting.
IMHO: The original 580ex was much easier to use, but the new model does have a convient jack to plug in a radio trigger.

And a lot of its functions can be controled through the custom function menues in the newer camera bodies, a feature the camera disables if it detects a non canon flash is attached.

I also am using flashes from Vivitar and Sigma, all are working fine.

The Canon flashes are solidly built, work well, and are overpriced.
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Old Mar 22, 2011, 5:07 PM   #13
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... Another small details.
-> Ever try to change the flash batteries during a wedding or in a dim banquet room quickly?
On most flashes including the Canon's the + and - battery terminals have to line in correctly with their respective slot. In the Di-866, they all go in the same direction so no more second guessing...

Another 'pro' idea that Nissin has carried over from the old Metz 45: the entire battery pack slide out (so you can swap theses cartridges quickly if you bought some extras and already pre-loaded them).
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Last edited by NHL; Mar 22, 2011 at 5:13 PM.
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Old Mar 22, 2011, 5:13 PM   #14
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Ha, my ancient Vivitar 3700 (about a million years old and still going strong) has that feature!

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Originally Posted by NHL View Post
...
the entire battery pack slide out (so you can swap theses cartridges quickly if you bought some extras and already pre-loaded them).
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Old Mar 22, 2011, 5:14 PM   #15
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well I shoot 3 metz with my canon 60D and t1i, and it just works as well as the canon product. So with metz, nissin and to a degree sigma it is not an issue if it works. It is more price and interface.
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Old Mar 23, 2011, 3:34 AM   #16
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There is a real wealth of very useful and helpful advice and knowledge shared! Thanks to you all. I would like to write a long in-depth reply to each person's post- but that would get a bit out of hand.

So instead, I'll try to write a rather 'summary' response - with a few further questions or points that I would prefer some further input on if possible!

1. There are many people who have responded here who are long term Steves forum friends (eg John, Peri, NHL, Hards, etc). Their gear knowledge as well as their photographic skills are much admired.

2. I had a number of NHL's bird shots particularly in mind when I was referring to 'highlighting colour of birds / wildlife' in my original post. I've seen some amazing stuff there. I know it's both technique and right gear that's needed. John has consistently pointed that out, particularly in relation to sports too.

3. My 7D does have a whole menu set for controlling flashes, and it seems fairly intuitive. That would be handy (and negate the 'GUI' better on the Nissin point).

4. I might use the flash/flashes on my Canon 350D at times, or even on another camera. So then the better user interface on the Nissin is a better, plus by having a Nissin if I ever switch brand it's a plus. (though I doubt it - I've too much invested with Canon and I like the Canon gear).

5a. I've generally found the 'Canon brand' gives me more consistent results in 'unusual situations' (eg just changing to manual focus on the Sigma lens changes exposure slightly - don't know why). So Peri's and Hard's points about that I sort of appreciate as the 'safer bet'.

5b. Peter P - I take your point that you wrote: "The Canon flashes are solidly built, work well, and are overpriced." That's probably how I think about some Canon lenses! eg when I bought my 70-300mmL I was 'sold' on it being such a solid performer (sharp / contrasty at all settings, great IS, fast/accurate USM focus and tank-like build... but not so cheap!) Nevertheless, I was sold and duly parted with my hard earned cash! .....

6. I like the idea of a sub-light however. That sounds very useful, for what I might use from time to time and doesn't add 'bulk' of needing a second flash, etc. Though the possibility of 2 flashes if that's important is something I might consider in the future.

So I have a few other questions:

1) Does the infra-red focus assist work the same on all flash units? (ie that can light up a basically pitch black room and obtain focus, and yet be set for the flash not to fire eg a long exposure on tripod?)

2) So it's true that if I have a non Canon brand flash, I can't control ANY other flash from the 7D in-camera menu?

3) I do appreciate the 'mostly weather sealed' nature of my Canon 7D (with the 70-300mmL and also the Sigma EX 10-20mm weather sealed, while the Canon 15-85mm being quite 'spray resistent'). What about other brands? Are they very sensitive to eg a light spray or mist? Quite often I might be out eg bushwalking (aka 'hiking' for most of your northern hemispherans) - and like to have the weather sealing as a 'precaution'. I've not had an issue to date, even with my Canon 350D, which was subject to eg some waterfall mist and bit of sea spray time to time which I always carefully wiped off.

4) What about wide angle or telezoom? As I understand external flashes need to adjust to that - can all the flashes mentioned by people above go from my current 'APS-C zoom range' of 10mm (Sigma) to 300mm (Canon) without problems?

5) What about battery life? Any major differences? I don't expect to be doing thousands of fill flash photos at one event, but maybe up to a few hundred (eg 300) at some longer - eg long weekend or week) events where if I didn't need to recharge, that would be a bonus. I have 2 batteries for my 7D (about 2000 photos in total) and 3 for my Canon 350D (about 1500 photos in total), which pretty much always sees me through without a recharge unless I'm shooting some crazy sports or unusual situations. But I woudn't need to use flash for most of these. I would consider a battery pack if this helps (but don't want it to be too 'bulky'). How many flashes do you (users) get on the average recharge of batteries without battery packs?

6) Is there a difference in 'speed' - both i) recycling times and ii) maximum 'shutter speed' possible? I remember reading some years back about a sort of burst flash possibility (and how external flashes do this). So would some of the flashes be better than others in these 2 regards?

7) jdnan - thanks for your very helpful posts, especially your first one really set the scene!! Have you (or others) made or heard comparisons of the 'flash focus noise' of the Nissin Di866 with others (eg Canon 580EXII)? Sometimes, eg at church or in events, I like to be as inconspicuous and unobtrusive as possible.

8) shoturtle - thanks for your helpful posts. You wrote that "At the next level down, the 430 exII and metz 50 are the same, while the di 622 does not have HSS." What is HSS? Is that like info of TTL transmitted to the flash or something?

9) Can all function more or less the same for master and slave flash settings (I'm not talking about detailed things here, but eg if I get a Nissin Di866 now and then get a Canon 580EXII - can either or both be used as slave / master or are there limitations and issues with that? Am I right in understanding I can have my Canon 7D in the middle and then say flash 1 to the right and flash 2 to the left and fire all 3 at the same time? (Canon 7D's in-built flash as well as both external flashes)?

Well this is a long post now (I rarely can write well succinctly!) - so I'll put it up and look forward to more help (thanks again!) I hope my numbering eg 1. 2. and 1) 2) is useful in answering the parts that you may wish to comment on.

regards

Paul
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Old Mar 23, 2011, 7:25 AM   #17
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Based on your response I think you should stick with Canon even though most other flashes have better features set (and more affordable)

However I'll attempt to address your concerns:

1) Does the infra-red focus assist work the same on all flash units? (ie that can light up a basically pitch black room and obtain focus, and yet be set for the flash not to fire eg a long exposure on tripod?)
Yes - Although their patterns are different, and the most useful center pattern is the only you'll ever need...
However; Most dSLRs do not need this infrared beam as they focus in low-light pretty good. It's only used on featureless object like bare wall and smooth surfaces where the camera can't focus. There's also an "etiquette" issue, while this laser show is cool most educated photographers usually do not scan their subject like merchandises at the checkout counter... and some subjects may found it offensive (I always turn them off for this reason)!


2) So it's true that if I have a non Canon brand flash, I can't control ANY other flash from the 7D in-camera menu?
What do you want to control?
Flash Exposure Lock (FEL), and +/- flash compensation are available on camera to control any flash.
If you want to customized the flash only like accessing its c.Fn
functions I don't see how this is beneficial as it'll remain cryptic on the camera.
Now on a Metz or Nisssin, theses functions are clearly spell out in plain english on their respective GUI so you don't even require a manual such as adjusting for power down time (which have even more choices here than Canon two choices), AF-beam disable, modeling flash etc...


3) I do appreciate the 'mostly weather sealed' nature of my Canon 7D (with the 70-300mmL and also the Sigma EX 10-20mm weather sealed, while the Canon 15-85mm being quite 'spray resistent'). What about other brands? Are they very sensitive to eg a light spray or mist? Quite often I might be out eg bushwalking (aka 'hiking' for most of your northern hemispherans) - and like to have the weather sealing as a 'precaution'. I've not had an issue to date, even with my Canon 350D, which was subject to eg some waterfall mist and bit of sea spray time to time which I always carefully wiped off.
Like you I tend to be be very protective of my gear - Just to let you know I shoot mostly from my kayak and have been to the rain forests at least several times a year, sometime shooting in the rain with my Bigma (not weather sealed) and none of my flashes have failed yet... I also crawl in the mud to get closed to the birds:
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wi...07-motmot.html
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wi...rd-series.html
-> Splashes are OK, just don't dunk them in the water

4) What about wide angle or telezoom? As I understand external flashes need to adjust to that - can all the flashes mentioned by people above go from my current 'APS-C zoom range' of 10mm (Sigma) to 300mm (Canon) without problems?
Yes they all do - Long end is easy on APS-C camera; However at 10mm wide end, it will be a challenge to any flash and you'll need some kind of external light modifier

5) What about battery life? Any major differences? I don't expect to be doing thousands of fill flash photos at one event, but maybe up to a few hundred (eg 300) at some longer - eg long weekend or week) events where if I didn't need to recharge, that would be a bonus. I have 2 batteries for my 7D (about 2000 photos in total) and 3 for my Canon 350D (about 1500 photos in total), which pretty much always sees me through without a recharge unless I'm shooting some crazy sports or unusual situations. But I woudn't need to use flash for most of these. I would consider a battery pack if this helps (but don't want it to be too 'bulky'). How many flashes do you (users) get on the average recharge of batteries without battery packs?
This is a function of the batteries and your shooting style, i.e. not the flash - Longer distances less photos, shorter distances more photos
Do get NiMh rechargeable hybrid batteries as they have a higher current rating and will make the flash recycle faster as well as last longer

6) Is there a difference in 'speed' - both i) recycling times and ii) maximum 'shutter speed' possible? I remember reading some years back about a sort of burst flash possibility (and how external flashes do this). So would some of the flashes be better than others in these 2 regards?
See #5 above

7) jdnan - thanks for your very helpful posts, especially your first one really set the scene!! Have you (or others) made or heard comparisons of the 'flash focus noise' of the Nissin Di866 with others (eg Canon 580EXII)? Sometimes, eg at church or in events, I like to be as inconspicuous and unobtrusive as possible.
Since I'm the only one who has all the flash brands I can send you an MP3 recording of each flash brand when they zoom - Shoot me a private message

8) shoturtle - thanks for your helpful posts. You wrote that "At the next level down, the 430 exII and metz 50 are the same, while the di 622 does not have HSS." What is HSS? Is that like info of TTL transmitted to the flash or something?
Only the old Di622 does not have HSS, the new one i.e. Di622 MrkII has it as well
See here: http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fl...non-t2i-2.html

9) Can all function more or less the same for master and slave flash settings (I'm not talking about detailed things here, but eg if I get a Nissin Di866 now and then get a Canon 580EXII - can either or both be used as slave / master or are there limitations and issues with that? Am I right in understanding I can have my Canon 7D in the middle and then say flash 1 to the right and flash 2 to the left and fire all 3 at the same time? (Canon 7D's in-built flash as well as both external flashes)?
Yes I use this all the time - Both Metz and Nissin work with Canon's wireless seamlessly
Bear in mind how beneficial the 3rd party flashes are here: Their cost multiply quickly with each additional head you acquired.
As an example you can get two(2) Di866's for the cost a single 580EX and get started right away... Whereas if you need to buy a 2nd 580EX then at $1000 you can get a decent 2 Einstein's system above (which can do things unimaginable on a speedlight) when combined with their Vagabond power pack!!!

-> It's a no brainer - Hence why I stopped after my 1st 580EX and tried the Metz and then get hooked by the Nissin's
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Last edited by NHL; Mar 23, 2011 at 10:21 AM.
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Old Mar 23, 2011, 10:03 AM   #18
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Hi NHL,
on this point at least the ii) part I think he may have been asking about high speed sync.
Syncing with the shutter above 1/250, where the flash fires multiple times at reduced power through the curtain movement.
Which my 580 will do, but neither my vivitar or old sigma will, if I remember right it was one of the features that the camera claimed would only work with the real 580's.
Not sure if the nissin or metz will manage high speed sync.

Really have to go have me a look at these nissins now. gee thanks.

Quote:
6) Is there a difference in 'speed' - both i) recycling times and ii) maximum 'shutter speed' possible? I remember reading some years back about a sort of burst flash possibility (and how external flashes do this). So would some of the flashes be better than others in these 2 regards?
See #5 above

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Old Mar 23, 2011, 11:42 AM   #19
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Hi Peter

HSS works on all the flashes mentioned, even on the older Sigma EF-500 DG Super. I don't know which Sigma you are referring to... (BTW this is also how the modeling light works by stretching out the flash pulses, but more so one can see)
They also go by their other name FP (Focal Plane as on the MF format).

-> Actually because the older EF-500 DG Super which no longer works correctly in E-TTL wireless, it adds to my Canon a feature of manual control over one wireless group in E-TTL which was not offered on Canon's but standard on a Nikon system.
Another gripe why don't Canon top-end flash comes with dome diffuser and filters/holder like on an SB-900? At least if you charge extra show something for it!
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Last edited by NHL; Mar 23, 2011 at 11:59 AM.
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Old Mar 23, 2011, 12:02 PM   #20
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The Sigma EF-500 DG Super are a couple of the Sigma's I have.
Terminology! Seems if I read that right High Speed sync should work with them too.
Poking the menues I do see the Fp option, will have to test it out

Last summer Sigma replaced the circuit boards in my EF-500 DG Supers free of change. Made them up to date and fully compatible with the newer bodies like the 5D mkii and 7d.
All ettl-ii functions are working, including wireless between multiple 500 DG supers flashes.

That is one thing I really like about Sigma, if something goes wrong with compatibility they will fix it free of charge. Even long after the warrany period has expired.
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