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NNDman Nov 26, 2003 11:21 PM

Canon 420EX vs. 550 EX
I plan to purchase a Canon EOS Rebel and am considering both these flash units. I understand that the 550 is more expensive but may have a longer flash range. I plan on shooting Friday night high school football and will need good range. Will the 420 provide this? Also, I understand the 550 is a little heavier and bulkier. Will this be a problem. I like to shoot some pics vertically. Thanks for any replies.

eric s Nov 26, 2003 11:25 PM

I hate to say it, but unless you are talking about pee-wee football, neither flash will be good enough. The longest range you can really expect is around 20-35 feet. And that is with a really good (i.e. large fstop/small aperture number) lens.

I have the 550EX, and on a large field, I don't see how you'd use it (and I've played soccer on olympic sized fields, so I understand really well how large big fields get.)

Now, you might (and its a long shot) be able to use something like the Better Beamer flash extender. It uses a fernel lens to focus the flash so it has longer reach. Some report upwards of about 100 feet. Personally, that sounds really amazing to me. But in the end, they are supposed to only gain you about 1 stop (or double your shutter speed) and that isn't always enough (the diff between 1/60 and 1/120 isn't much with moving players.... both aren't fast enough.)

What lens will you use to do the football photography?


NNDman Nov 26, 2003 11:56 PM

Looking at 55-200 or 75-300. will also be shooting other sports. 75-300 would probably be really good for daytime baseball?

ACSmith Dec 1, 2003 11:25 AM


Originally Posted by NNDman
Looking at 55-200 or 75-300. will also be shooting other sports. 75-300 would probably be really good for daytime baseball?

I use the 75-300 for both night and day sports (mainly soccer, football, baseball). I've seen negative posts/comments about it, but it has given me some really nice shots (especially for the price vs a pro-quality lens). Day baseball shouldn't be a problem. Post some of your results in the Sports/Action forum here!

btw --- In my experience, Eric is right on with his comments about flash being useless for shooting night sports. One comment - if you're regularly shooting at the same field you'll learn which areas are lit better than others. Take advantage of this and it'll help your results.

eric s Dec 1, 2003 1:51 PM

Yes, go with the longest lens you can get. You'll need it.

As to the 70-300.... I did a bit of research at two sites I trust and they both say the same things. Slow AF, not very good optically (but doesn't stink), push/pull zoom, pincushion distortion at long end. On the good side, they said that if you stop it down it works better and for the price it isn't that bad.


Greg Chappell Dec 3, 2003 12:24 AM

In addition to a longer lens to get as close to action as you'd like, there is an accessory that might be able to get a 550EX flash to where you want it to go, and it's called The Better Beamer. Bird shooters, like Moose Peterson, use it on their flash units to extend the working distance of their flash units. It attaches to the flash head via velcro and has a lens that narrows the flash beam and extends the distance it travels.

eric s Dec 3, 2003 1:15 AM

Ya, I suggested the better beamer as well. It's not perfect, and it's not easy to use but it can extend a flash out upwards of 100 feet.

I've never heard of anyone using it for sports. I fear the area it will cover won't be big enough... the center will be lit but the rest will be under exposed. They aren't expensive, though... so if you have some spare money it wouldn't be hard to get one and try it.


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