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Old May 21, 2010, 11:44 PM   #1
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Default An external flash?.....Or a new lens????d

I just recently bought the Canon XSi, kit lens, and telephoto lens (IS on both). Now, I'm thinking about either getting an external flash (probably the Canon Speedlite 430ex ii). JohnG has some excellent shots using bounced external flash. I'm just wondering if mine would be that sharp and clear, since my lenses are cheaper and I don't know how to do anything with a RAW image. I also thought about the Canon f/1.8 50mm lens. Most reviews say that this lens is cheaply made plastic BUT very good for the price. I need something that will allow better indoor shots of kids. Any thoughts? I know absolutely nothing about external flashes other than you can swivel them so that the light is directed in different places. But, when you attach the flash to the camera, does it still automatically fire when you presh the shutter button? I keep seeing things about a remote. So, I guess I don't really know what the remote would be for. Thanks in advance.
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Old May 22, 2010, 1:04 AM   #2
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Even with a f/1.8 lens, you would probably need to be using very high ISO settings in order to get shutter speeds which would prevent motion blur of little ones indoors, so my recommendation would be for the flash.
The head of the flash (most) can be tilted to point from straight ahead -called direct flash, to straight up at the ceiling, or somewhere in between - called bounce flash. The light reflecting off the ceiling is spread out more, giving a softer and more even illumination, so you don't get the harshness seen in direct flash. Since the duration of the flash pulse is somewhere around 1/1000th of a second or less, it will give you clear, sharp pictures even of two-year olds. If you choose a flash which is designed to operate with your camera, it will fire automatically when you press the shutter button, and work with your camera's auto-exposure to give correctly exposed shots.
Remote flash, which I think you are asking about, is when the flash unit is mounted off the camera, and used to give secondary lighting, such as back light or side light. (usually) This may be something to pursue later on, after you are more comfortable with using the flash on-camera, and when you want a different lighting effect.

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Old May 22, 2010, 1:57 AM   #3
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The kit lens with a flash is not bad.

There are some photos in this thread with the 18-55 with a metz 48.

So it will do a good job with the kit lens to freeze the action.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...s-dancing.html
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Old May 22, 2010, 1:58 AM   #4
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If your kids are as fast moving as mine and don't stay still, a flash would be a better option to "freeze" them.

For more info on Canon flashes and how to use them:

Canon Flashworks
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Old May 22, 2010, 10:25 AM   #5
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Tonya,

As I'm fond of mentioning - I think you'll be a bit frustrated trying to use a 50mm 1.8 indoors for moving kids. Great lens if they're nice and still. But shallow DOF, motion blur and missed focus plus image noise due to high ISO will be more frustrating than learning to use a flash properly.
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Old May 22, 2010, 10:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
As I'm fond of mentioning - I think you'll be a bit frustrated trying to use a 50mm 1.8 indoors for moving kids. Great lens if they're nice and still. But shallow DOF, motion blur and missed focus plus image noise due to high ISO will be more frustrating than learning to use a flash properly.
... and as I'm fond of mentioning, a large apreture lens lets you see what the photo will look like before you take it; with a flash, you don't know what the photo will look like until afterward. Therefore, a large aperture lens is easier to learn to use than a flash is. Then, with flash, there's the 'Velvet Elvis' effect where the subject is correctly illuminated but the background is dark. Lastly, the 50mm f/1.8 II is a lot less expensive than the 430EX II.
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Old May 22, 2010, 12:43 PM   #7
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tonya-

I think that the external flash will give you the biggest "payoff." However, you will need to master good flash technique to get the best results. Get a good flash with good power/light output like the Canon EX-430 or the Metz 48 or higher.

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Old May 23, 2010, 9:40 AM   #8
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Just to emphasize what Sarah said: if you get a flash, get one with lots of power. That will allow you to bounce and/or diffuse and still have enough light to do what you want.

It will a take a bit of time to figure out how to use the flash, or to use a really fast lens. The LCD review on your camera will serve well for looking at the results of the flash, but not as well for looking at the results from a fast lens since the screen is to small to show smallish focus problems.
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Old May 23, 2010, 11:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
... and as I'm fond of mentioning, a large apreture lens lets you see what the photo will look like before you take it; with a flash, you don't know what the photo will look like until afterward. Therefore, a large aperture lens is easier to learn to use than a flash is. Then, with flash, there's the 'Velvet Elvis' effect where the subject is correctly illuminated but the background is dark. Lastly, the 50mm f/1.8 II is a lot less expensive than the 430EX II.
fortunately, this being about photography, the OP can look at photos and decide for themselves which method produces results they prefer. Here's a link with photos from TCAV showing the benefits of available light as well as some photos from me showing flash use.
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wh...-budget-3.html

in both cases we're talking just general family photography:
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Old May 23, 2010, 11:08 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone. I tried my kit lens with built-in flash this morning (using the self-timer) taking pics of myself just to learn. This was indoors next to a window with the camera on a tripod. The ones I took without a flash were too dark. But, the ones with the flash caused a shadow edge completely around me. Will bouncing a flash solve this "shadow edge" problem? Is the Canon Speedlite 430 ex ii good enough to give me nice results? I really want to get both the flash and the lens But, I'm also having a little trouble with focus on the kit lens. I THINK it's focused when taking the pics (using AF), but then when I look at them on the computer, they're not focused right. These are not always motion shots either. So, I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong there....when the focus is off on a still shot.
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