Steve's Digicams Forums

Steve's Digicams Forums (
-   Flash (External) (
-   -   Strobes vs. Canon Flash, etc. (

FaithfulPastor Sep 1, 2010 10:16 PM

Strobes vs. Canon Flash, etc.
So I've been reading, but I am still a bit lost. So, I'm going to post my thoughts and hopefully you smart guys (and girls) can step in and straighten me out.

Currently, the only lighting I have is my Canon 430 EX External Flash.

I keep reading that I need to get the flash off the camera and use additional lighting for portrait work.

First, I like strobes that flash, rather than those that give off constant light (and heat).

So I've looked at those strobes and softboxes and all that. (I do not have a studio to work in, so I need my stuff to be portable. And I don't think this the direction I want to go.

Here's my idea: I think I want to buy a Canon 580 EX to go along with my Canon 430 EX. I am told that the 580 can be configured to cause the the 430 to fire. (If that is accurate, how do I do that?)

I want to then purchase two stands and two reflector umbrellas. With those two flashes, those two stands and the two umbrellas, I think I'll have all the light that I need, or at least the same amount of light that the bigger strobes and clumsy light boxes offer. By using two battery operated flashes, I can take the gear outside where there is no electricity to plug into.

Is this a good plan or am I missing the boat? Don't forget to comment on the 580 controlling the 430 too, and if the 580 is off the camera, how do I signal it to fire?

Thanks so much for your help in making me a better photographer.

Faithfully yours,

Mark1616 Sep 2, 2010 3:14 AM

Hi FP,

You have some good questions here and I hopefully can answer them quickly as my wife wants us to go out ;)

Unless you have a 7D (I know you have a 5DmkII) then you must have the trigger flash on the camera, in this case that would be the 580EX. You can also use an ST-E2 on the camera which is just a trigger.

If you only have the 580 and 430 then you must have the 580 on camera. There are some cheap triggers coming in that you can find on eBay and when back in the UK I will be trying these out.

The next consideration is the power of the flash if you are using outdoors. They won't have the guts for more than a single person if you are trying to beat bright sunlight. For that you need a quantum flash.... big money but soooo nice!

For mornings, evenings, cloudy etc as well as indoors then this is good setup to have.

You can get some great shots with OCF, much more pleasing than with direct on camera flash.

These two shots were taken with the 580EX on my 5DmkII set only as trigger and the 580EXII off camera held by a willing family member to light the subject.

Check out this blog for far more information than you can ever imagine on shooting with off camera flash. There are lots of tutorials that I have a look at from time to time what should be really helpful.

You can start OCF with what you have by getting a long flash cord, it's not as convenient but will allow you to start and learn. I always suggest learning to light with one flash first. Do everything in manual including the flash. The above shots were at about 1/16th power with the head zoomed to 105mm (something else that is great for changing the look of the light). I set the ISO and aperture for the correct exposure of the subject lit with flash and the background is then exposed by the length of the shutter speed. If it is too dark then a slower shutter, too light and a shorter shutter. Make sure you have a shutter speed of less than 1/200s so the whole frame is exposed (shutter sync speed).

Mark1616 Sep 2, 2010 6:23 AM

Forgot to mention there is also a flickr page for strobists that has some great stuff, much better than my examples.

FaithfulPastor Sep 2, 2010 9:24 AM

The Canon "Speedlight Transmitter" or ST 2 will allow me to shoot in TTL mode as long as I use Canon dedicated flashes.

Will any other transmitter allow me to shoot in TTL, dedicated mode? The ST 2 has a robust price, then I'll get to buy another flash. Yikes!! It's getting expensive again!

Is there another model of wireless transmitter for Canon?

Mark1616 Sep 2, 2010 9:27 AM

I think there are some pocket wizards that offer TTL feedback and there might be more, but we are talking major money. Off camera flash and TTL is really not that clever as it is guessing too much what you would like and will give a lot of variation. If you want to shoot off camera flash or studio lighting well you need to go manual.

FaithfulPastor Sep 2, 2010 9:29 AM

I thought you'd say that..... :)

Mark1616 Sep 2, 2010 9:35 AM

Going back to the TTL thing. Taking my two shots as examples, probably I could have achieved the results with playing around with flash compensation, but then as soon as I change the framing the lighting mix is changed so it will be poorly exposed. Using manual I have the same exposure shot after shot, I can get closer, further away, use a longer/shorter lens, adjust the background exposure with shutter speed and still my subject is exposed as I would like. The only way you change the subject exposure is move the flash distance, flash power, flash zoom, aperture or ISO.

NHL Sep 18, 2010 10:26 AM


Originally Posted by FaithfulPastor (Post 1136585)

Is there another model of wireless transmitter for Canon?

Yes the Nissin Di866: ;)
Its a Japanese knock-off of the Metz(dual-head) at a lower cost
-> Like the German counter part this flash has a USB port so it won't go obsolete with newer cameras...

I have the ST-E2 BTW:
But I fell in love with the Nissin:

What you'll find out pretty soon with this portable flash(es) setup is their power consumption, hence the need to change batteries as their recharging time get longer. Nissin also has a good solution for this as indicated in the previous link, their portable fast-charge battery can power two heads also with the appropriate(Canon) dedicated cords

I do have to say something nice about the ST-E2 is it allows for ratio changes between the heads more quickly by just pushing an up or down buttons, instead of going through the menus (on the Master flash)

Also because of their limited power a portable setup like this will run you into the inverse-square law pretty fast even more so with the softbox/umbrella you are thinking about...

algold Sep 24, 2010 8:01 AM

If you want to take your flash off camera and still have TTL flash control, your cheapest route is to buy an off camera TTL cable. I have a YongNuo OC-E3b (3m long) and it works a treat. Flashzebra cords up to 10m long are well regarded as well. Another option is to get either a Canon ST-E2 transmitter ($225), or it's Yongnuo knock-off for $150:

Another option is to get either a 580ex or Metz 58 AF-1, which can work as a master unit/transmitter. Both are great, Metz is about $100 cheaper.
yet another option to fire your off camera flash in TTL mode is to get a set of PowerWizards: MiniTT1 transmitter to put on camer ($200) and FlexTT5 (transmitter/receiver) to put your flash on ($230), or just 2 x FlexTT5. They will give you full TTL flahs + High Speed Sync with a range of up to 240m.

If you can manage with manual off camera flash (without TTL), just get a light stand, brolly, brolly/flash holder, PC sync lead about 5-10m long and PC to hotshoe adapter and have some fun. Instead of the sync lead and adapter you can get a cheap set of radio triggers (transmitter + receiver). Not as quick as TTL flash, but more consistent, and the whole kit will put you back less than $100. Add a reflector to it (DIY, or a collapsible one) and you are good to go.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 5:29 AM.