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Old Jul 17, 2009, 6:42 PM   #1
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Default Recommended flash for EOS 400D/Rebel XTi?

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for an external flash, as I'm fed up with the harsh and direct light, produced with the built-in flash in my EOS 400D/Rebel XTi.

Swivel (90 degrees left and right, preferrably 180 degress) and tilt (straight forward to close-to-straight up) is a must. I'm sort of a semi-advanced amateur, but new to external flashes, so I don't know if features like rear-curtain sync and hi-speed sync are just buzz words, I features I'd tuly hate to miss

Canon's Speedlite 430EX II seems fit my needs, but also represents about the maximum I'm willing to pay. The 580EX II seems a bit too bulky or at least too expensive to my likening.

I've heard people recommend Metz' over Canon's flashes, others mention brands like Sigma as affordable, quality alternatives.

Finally I've heard that Canon Speedlites "integrates" with the EOS cameras, in ways no other brands do. Is that true or is just Canon marketing mumbo-jumbo?

I'm currently considering the following flashes:

Metz 48 AF-1 (GN: 48m)
Canon 430EX II (GN: 43m)
Sigma EF-530 DG ST (GN: 53m)
Sigma EF-530 DG Super (GN: 53m)
- what's the difference between the two Sigma's anyway?

Which would you recommend? Should I consider others? Does one miss significant features compared to the more expensive flashes?

I'm sorry for the many questions, but I'm getting confused with marketing speak and numbers I can't relate to . I could really need a human advice.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated!
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Old Jul 17, 2009, 7:28 PM   #2
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I shoot with the 430EX and 580EX (both version 1) and have been pleased with the results from them. I've never used the other options but if I was choosing I would go with Metz above Sigma but probably would keep the Canon as first choice..... no other reason than it is keeping Canon with Canon and I like their gear.

Rear curtain and high speed are both useful features, I use rear curtain when shooting to capture some blur and then freeze a subject as this will freeze at the end of the movement and not the beginning. High speed will allow you to shoot with a shutter speed higher than the flash sync speed of the camera (I think that is 1/200s on the 400D). It will reduce the amount of flash power but there are times when being able to have a fast shutter and still put some fill flash in is great.
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Old Jul 17, 2009, 8:10 PM   #3
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I agree with Mark-

The Canon EX-430 flash is your best bet.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 19, 2009, 6:23 PM   #4
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Hi again,

First of, thanks for the prompt replies (wauv - <1.5 hrs!). I was away for the weekend and unable to check back until now.

Do your pro-Canon recommendations stem from bad experiences with the non-Canon flashes I listed, or rather did you go with Canon from the beginning and never got let down?

I've did some additional research after the first wave of information had settled. I'm curious to whetever my findings below call for different recommendations. I do, of course, fully appreciate and respect if you still recommend the 430EX II, as being the flash giving most value-for-money of the ones I mentioned.

Features
Forgetting about the "ST" Sigma, all the flashes I listed appears to have almost identical features/functions. All have auto-zoom, hi-speed sync, rear-curtain sync, supports E-TTL and re-charges in 4 seconds or less.

Interestingly, both the Metz and the Sigma seem to have a few advantages to the more expensive Canon: The Metz has built-in reflector card, which I hear should give more balanced lighting when doing portraits. The Metz and the Sigma has backlit LCD, which I reckon is quite useful when shooting in lo-light conditions. The Metz, and the Sigma in particular, has longer range (5 and 10 meters respectively) than of the Canon. Whether this difference has any real significance or is neglectable, I'm not sure. What are your thoughts?

Price
While my budget (only just) allows for the 430EX II, another flash might fit my needs and give more value-for-money. Of course, talking about value-for-money does not make sense without talking about price: They're significantly higher here in Denmark than in the US. Also, while the Metz and the Canon are almost equally priced in the US, the Metz is actually 15% cheaper than the Canon here.
  • Canon 430EX II: 2.000 DKK (approx. 380 USD)
  • Metz 48 AF-1: 1.700 DKK (approx. 323 USD)
  • Sigma EF-530 DG Super: 1.500 DKK (285 USD)
Quality
From what I can tell from around the web, Metz seem to be built just as well as the Canon. The Sigma might be slightly cheaper to the touch, but people generally seem satisfied - especially considering its high power and low price compared to the competitors.

Once again, thanks for your time so far, I really appreciate it!

Rasmus
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Old Jul 19, 2009, 7:19 PM   #5
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Rasmus-

I recommended the Canon EX-430 based on its long term durability. The Sigma EF-530 is a good flash, but its build quality is less than the Canon EX-430. If the budget dictates a lower price then the Sigma EF-530 is an OK choice.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 22, 2009, 9:07 AM   #6
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What's wrong with this picture?
1. More powerful
2. More features
3. and less expensive
-> I go for the Metz anyday!
(it also won't go obsolete as you can upgrade its firmware through the USB)


Also the higher guide number of the Sigma come into play when you do a lot of bouncing (make sense? more light - more bounce back) also as the unit put out more light it will also works less hard so its recycle time will be shorter as a less powerful unit that gave out all it got...
Secondly the Sigma EF-530DG Super is a Master or Slave unit whereas both the 58AF-1 and 430EX are Slave devices only (You would need a Master in a wireless multi-flashes set-up - so it's equivalent to a 580EX in this case)

I would stay away from the ST as it's a de-feature unit if you never going to use the wireless feature...

Last edited by NHL; Jul 22, 2009 at 9:37 AM.
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Old Jul 22, 2009, 9:46 AM   #7
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I don't think the ST has FP Mode (High Speed Sync) either. If it does, Sigma isn't showing it in the feature list on their web site.
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Old Jul 22, 2009, 10:09 AM   #8
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My rating:

Sigma EF-530 DG Super (GN: 53m) - Most powerful, most features, least expensive
Metz 48 AF-1 (GN: 48m) - More powerful, more features, price OK
Canon 430EX II (GN: 43m) - Least powerful, less feature, and most expensive

-> Also I don't know why Canon advertises quiet as being a feature - wouldn't you rely on the sound the flash makes when charging up? An experienced photographer would be better off paying attention to the details of his subject in his viewfinder than staring at an icon to know when his flash will be readied...
I have both the 580EX and the Metz 58AF-1, and the audio feedbacks on the flash head is a godsend: short-beep (flash ready), long-beep (flash confirmation), multiple-beeps (underexposure) - I'll recommend the 58AF-1 if the poster can afford it as this unit comes with two heads instead of 1 which works amazingly well!

Last edited by NHL; Jul 22, 2009 at 10:27 AM.
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Old Jul 22, 2009, 10:17 PM   #9
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However you cut it, NHL-

The bottom line is that most users ( and there are many posts be it here or at www.dpreview.com) percieve the Metz Flash, even if it is more powerful to be a VERY complicated flash to use, due to the rather complicated Metz software/flash interface.

That is where the rubber meets the road. As much as we would like to believe that most users use their flash all the time, they don't! They are only ocassional flash users, at best. And when they use their flash the want it to be both simple and easy to use.

Unfortunately, the Metz Flash, be it the Model 48 or the Model 58 is very expensive, but certainly not easy to use.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 23, 2009, 1:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
Unfortunately, the Metz Flash, be it the Model 48 or the Model 58 is very expensive, but certainly not easy to use.
From the quoted prices in Europe, the Canon flash is the most expensive:
  • Canon 430EX II: 2.000 DKK (approx. 380 USD)
  • Metz 48 AF-1: 1.700 DKK (approx. 323 USD)
  • Sigma EF-530 DG Super: 1.500 DKK (285 USD)
... and in the states (from B&H):
  • Canon 430EX II: ($240)
  • Metz 48 AF-1: ($224)
How easier can it get? Have you try?
For E-TTL just slip the Metz on the camera's hot-shoe and turn it on (the flash will transfer the ISO, shutter speed and aperture all automatically) - That's all there is to it!

Actually there's 9 buttons on the 430EX (or 6 buttons, 1-wheel and, and a 3-way switch on the 580EX)... Going from the 430EX to the 580EX is another learning experience (especially when setting the wireless mode)
-> The Metz interface is identical across both 48 and 58AF which just 4 soft-keys (see attached pictures here): http://www.dphotonews.com/Metz-Mecab...n~news-94.html

But the key is flash accuracy (Have you seen the number of Canon flash inconsistencies posts in this forum?) - The Canon's are dead last again in this department: http://www.shootsmarter.com/index.ph...id=114&acat=16
-> Both the 48 and 58AF have an ambient flash sensor on their head which does marvel when work in conjunction with the Canon's E-TTL...

Also if you shoot multiples bodies like I do, you don't have to adapt to a Canon, Nikon (or Sony) interfaces quirks, the same 4 soft-keys works identically on any camera if you happen to own the Metz!

Last edited by NHL; Jul 23, 2009 at 1:55 PM.
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