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Old Aug 10, 2004, 12:37 PM   #1
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Hello all - I'm new here and only recently upgraded to a Digital SLR - the Canon 300D. I have looking over numerous threads on this board in researching an external flash. Not being a professional photographer and not really seeing myself getting into using multiple flashes in a master/slave situation it sounds like my best choices are the Sigma 500 DG Super or the Canon 420EX. Given my current photography flash needs: family/friend photos, occasional wedding reception- the size of the 420EX appeals as it is more portable. However the FAC would definitely be a bonus, plus the added power (even though I don't think I need it right now - it's better to get it now then realize after the fact I should have gone for more later). People here seem to indicate the Super DG is a cost effective alternative to the 550EX - so I was strongly considering it. However when I look at various pricing websites the Sigma flash does not seem to be offered at very many stores (especially for Canon) - I think BH and one or two others - should I be concerned by this? If stores don't tend to stock a product I'm concerned it may no longer be a good thing. Any thoughts on the matter? Thanks all for your insight in helping another newbie out!!
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 5:21 PM   #2
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The Digital Rebel/420EX flash is a nice-sized combination, but there are exposure problems you have to work through due to the Digital Rebel not being equipped with on-board flash exposure compensation abilities. Read this thread (one of many on this site- check them all out)about the third party software that can enable flash exposure compensation:

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=37

Bottom line...even if you install the hack you need to learn how and when to use flash exposure compensation as it is very necessary in order to get consistently good flash exposures with the Digital Rebel.E-TTL flash metering with the digital bodies is far from fool-proof.
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 10:13 PM   #3
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If you feel uneasy about going with a 3rd party flash by all means, stay with Canon. Size wise they are practically awash 2.82"x4.84"x3.91" vs 3.0"X5.5"X4.6" and so is their weight 10.6 vs 11.83oz. The 420EX is also much simpler to use with only a few idiot lights (and a couple of buttons), as compared to the Sigma which is practically a full featured 550EX with a blue backlit LCD digital panel and a full keypad!

Here's a few thing you'll be giving up though (for practically the same cost as the 420EX): http://www.sigma-photo.com/html/news/500dg_super.htm
1. Higher GN number (ie longer range) which also comes handy when you start bouncing or attaching a Lumiquest for that diffused look.
2. A flash recycles faster when its energy is partially drained than when it's fully bled off (as when a flash put out all it got)
3. A modeling flash feature which let you see the effects of shadows by firing a high speed burst prior to taking a picture
4. Although not supported by the DRebel this high-speed burst also allow for Flash Exposure Bracketing on the 10D in case you may want to upgrade to a different camera in the future (the 420EX does not have theses modes).
5. You can do flash exposure compensation right on the flash (same as the 550EX) which is much more convenient and less restricted than a hack.
6. Rear-curtain function similar to the 550EX can also be enabled from the flash.
7. A built-in 17mm/macro/catchlight diffuser panel
8... Can also be used instead of the ST-E2 (for the same cost as this controller alone) to control your 420EX remotely! :-):-):-)



JohnG wrote:
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However when I look at various pricing websites the Sigma flash does not seem to be offered at very many stores (especially for Canon) - I think BH and one or two others - If stores don't tend to stock a product I'm concerned it may no longer be a good thing. Any thoughts on the matter? Thanks all for your insight in helping another newbie out!!
Who do you think make more profit? A 550EX dealer or a Sigma? :idea:
... A Metz flash is even rarer to find, it doesn't prevent them from making the best flash around!
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Old Aug 11, 2004, 7:29 AM   #4
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Thanks for the input. Let me ask this: since I am relatively new to flash photography - is the Sigma just as easy to use 'out of the box' as the 420? Or because it has more manual controls do I need to know more about the flash before I use it? For $30 more I might as well have the additional features, but if I don't end up doing a lot of flash work I don't want to have a flash I can't figure out how to use.
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Old Aug 11, 2004, 10:10 AM   #5
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JohnG wrote:
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Let me ask this: since I am relatively new to flash photography - is the Sigma just as easy to use 'out of the box' as the 420? Or because it has more manual controls do I need to know more about the flash before I use it? For $30 more I might as well have the additional features, but if I don't end up doing a lot of flash work I don't want to have a flash I can't figure out how to use.
This flash must be getting popular :-):-):-) (I paid only $169 last year for two to complement my 550EX)

The features are there in case you need them otherwise set the 500DG Super to E-TTL (just like on the 550EX) and you're done. Granted a 420EX is much simpler since there's only one mode and one mode only, how can you go wrong here?

BTW I've found that the FEL (Flash Exposure Lock) is much more convenient to use than doing a Flash Exposure Compensation: just press the * button (AEL lock) during flash and the exposure will be correct on whatever subject you have locked on... (ie don't do it on a wedding dress or a black tuxedo for example). You can do this on-the-fly on per case basis rather than set the camera (or the flash) in a compensated mode and forget about it :?

Switching the camera to manual, especially on the DRebel will also help because its metering is now changed to a fixed center evaluative area... The flash/camera is still in full E-TTL mode.
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Old Aug 13, 2004, 7:16 AM   #6
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Thanks again for your help. It definitely sounds like the Sigma is the way to go. Hoping to make the purchase some time next month. I'll follow up and let you know how things worked out for me!
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Old Aug 13, 2004, 2:58 PM   #7
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There is one possible fly in the ointment that I can see.

Correct me if I am wrong.

I think the 420EX is the only flash that encompasses all 7 sensors in the viewfinder. This is important due to the way that Canon decided to implement their E-TTL function. I think the camera determines proper flash exposure by selecting the focus point that is active. Thus, the 550EX only allows for the use of the middle 5 sensors, as do the Sigma. Thus, if your camera has used one of the outlying autofocus sensors to focus on your subject, and you are using a flash, then you will get poor exposure.

Lots of ways around this....but it is worth bearing in mind.
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Old Aug 14, 2004, 9:22 AM   #8
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You're not wrong... It's just not as useful as you think it is

The 2 extra projected patterns from the AF illuminators are only used to help the camera focuses in the dark with its left/right most AF points (the center 5 patterns are the same); However, I've found it tacky to scan people with the IR beams like merchandises at the grocery stores and have disabled this feature through the Custom Function. Try it the camera focuses just fine in the dark unless one tries to aim the camera at a featureless blank wall. IMO what's good is the wider beam if I don't even use or need the 5 that I've already got (beside exercising extra drain on the battery)? :?

Beside linking the exposure to the AF point without integrating the distance info is not one of Canon's brightest idea. This is now fixed in E-TTL2, but then Canon is only the last manufacturer to do so... http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/#digital

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Old Sep 21, 2004, 10:37 AM   #9
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NHL,



Thanks for your help. I got the Sigma flash about 10 days ago and it is GREAT. Having not used a bounce flash before it took some trial and error to get the angle right so the light accurately illuminates the target, but that's the great thing about digital. I'm now getting better at judging the angle so the exposure is better on the first try. I'm also very happy with the size - it is not as cumbersome as I feared. Thanks for your advice!



John
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Old Sep 21, 2004, 1:35 PM   #10
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You're welcome!

Try this: http://www.lumiquest.com/lq931.htm
-> You don't need a wall to bounce anymore... and who says flashlight can't not be warm? :-):-):-)
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