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Thread: 430 EX II vs. "off-brand" flashes

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    430 EX II vs. "off-brand" flashes

    Hi everyone, I'm just about to get into speedlite photography & I feel totally clueless when looking at what to buy. I shoot hot rods & pinup girls mostly, and I've got a 60D. I'm here for advice because I'm clueless when it comes to flashes...currently the only exposure (hahaha, no pun intended) to flash photography I have is occasionally using the pop up flash for fill to eat up shadows when I'm shooting outdoors. When I shoot indoors now my lighting set up consists of a bunch of shop lights and reflectors & diffusers, so I'm anxious to step it up to the next level.

    Everything I know I want seems to point me to the 430EX II because it's wireless with the 60D for off-camera stuff, tilts & rotates for bounce stuff, E-TTL for idiot proof power, manual for fancy stuff, and a heck of a lot cheaper than the 580. Does that about sum it up?

    So, assuming I'm right in deciding those are the features I need in a flash...what about 3rd party flashes that are half the price of the 430EX? What can't they do that the 430 does, and would I miss it? Does anyone have a flash they recommend I look into?



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    The Sigma 610DG Super is also wireless e-ttl off camera with Canon. It's power output is more on par with the 580EX II. However when you go with third party you run the risk of having firmware issues down the line with newer cameras. I had that happen with my Sigmas-I sent to Sigma and they updated them. It cost me the amount of postage to and from NY.
    Nissin makes some excellent flashes for your camera, I do not know the numbers, but I do believe they also make one that is wireless off camera with Canon. Nissin has a USB port so you can upgrade your own firmware if there is ever a problem. Kinda nice!

    Metz is the last of the ones that I'd consider. However the Metz flashes are about the same price as their Canon equivalents, in which case I'd go Canon instead.

    Those are all for your PRIMARY unit. Now if you are talking off camera secondary units there are a few I'd consider too. David Hobby recommends the Yongnuo flashes and you can read about it on his site Strobist. I have SEVERAL older Canon film flash units that I have picked up on ebay for about $20 or so and they make for an amazing off camera setup. I also have a couple of the Sigma ST flashes (standard) which are not fully manual-they only have high, low and ttl settings. They also don't work wirelessly, however can be triggered by your main flash unit or a trigger/receiver setup.
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    Quote Originally Posted by brush View Post
    Hi everyone, I'm just about to get into speedlite photography & I feel totally clueless when looking at what to buy. I shoot hot rods & pinup girls mostly, and I've got a 60D. I'm here for advice because I'm clueless when it comes to flashes...currently the only exposure (hahaha, no pun intended) to flash photography I have is occasionally using the pop up flash for fill to eat up shadows when I'm shooting outdoors. When I shoot indoors now my lighting set up consists of a bunch of shop lights and reflectors & diffusers, so I'm anxious to step it up to the next level.

    Everything I know I want seems to point me to the 430EX II because it's wireless with the 60D for off-camera stuff, tilts & rotates for bounce stuff, E-TTL for idiot proof power, manual for fancy stuff, and a heck of a lot cheaper than the 580. Does that about sum it up?

    So, assuming I'm right in deciding those are the features I need in a flash...what about 3rd party flashes that are half the price of the 430EX? What can't they do that the 430 does, and would I miss it? Does anyone have a flash they recommend I look into?
    The build quality of Canon flashes is far superior to off brand flashes, as well as the feature set. Being able to wirelessly control your flash is a huge added benefit. I have two 430EX II's and a Sunpak PZ-something or other. I really only use the 430's, but I only have two triggers right now. When I get my AB800, I will be buying another wireless receiver to trigger that one as well.

    I haven't had any experience with off camera TTL flash, but I'd be more apt to suggest that you learn to use the flash in manual mode first.

    I take it you have hot lights now? Incidental light is dependent on all aspects of the exposure triangle. Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Flash photography is less dependent on shutter speed, as long as you are below the sync speed of your camera 1/200, or 1/250s. To be clear, shutter speed has an effect on the ambient exposure only, so it's another thing to think about when shooting in uncontrolled lighting environments.

    So my suggestion as of now is to get the 430EX II. After that, you can pick up some triggers and buy off-brand flashes. I've heard the yongnuo flashes are pretty good and inexpensive.
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    I have some reward zone coupons I need to use up before they expire at Best Buy, so once I factor those in I can actually get a 430ex for less than that sigma MLeeK mentions...I wonder if that's the smartest thing to do right now, then when I start looking for more units once I have a clue what I'm doing I can consider the other brands.

    Quote Originally Posted by MLeeK View Post
    The Sigma 610DG Super is also wireless e-ttl off camera with Canon. It's power output is more on par with the 580EX II. However when you go with third party you run the risk of having firmware issues down the line with newer cameras. I had that happen with my Sigmas-I sent to Sigma and they updated them. It cost me the amount of postage to and from NY.
    Nissin makes some excellent flashes for your camera, I do not know the numbers, but I do believe they also make one that is wireless off camera with Canon. Nissin has a USB port so you can upgrade your own firmware if there is ever a problem. Kinda nice!

    Metz is the last of the ones that I'd consider. However the Metz flashes are about the same price as their Canon equivalents, in which case I'd go Canon instead.

    Those are all for your PRIMARY unit. Now if you are talking off camera secondary units there are a few I'd consider too. David Hobby recommends the Yongnuo flashes and you can read about it on his site Strobist. I have SEVERAL older Canon film flash units that I have picked up on ebay for about $20 or so and they make for an amazing off camera setup. I also have a couple of the Sigma ST flashes (standard) which are not fully manual-they only have high, low and ttl settings. They also don't work wirelessly, however can be triggered by your main flash unit or a trigger/receiver setup.
    Thanks for the suggestions, and for the link to Strobist, looks like I can learn a lot from there. How do you set it up to use the old canon flashes as secondary units? I have a 200E that a friend gave me, and since it has no controls on it at all & crazy bright over-exposed pictures indoors I pretty much never use it...can I set it up somehow off camera to be worthwhile? In the hot shoe that thing is pretty useless for me unless I'm just dumb.

    Quote Originally Posted by o hey tyler View Post
    The build quality of Canon flashes is far superior to off brand flashes, as well as the feature set. Being able to wirelessly control your flash is a huge added benefit. I have two 430EX II's and a Sunpak PZ-something or other. I really only use the 430's, but I only have two triggers right now. When I get my AB800, I will be buying another wireless receiver to trigger that one as well.

    I haven't had any experience with off camera TTL flash, but I'd be more apt to suggest that you learn to use the flash in manual mode first.

    I take it you have hot lights now? Incidental light is dependent on all aspects of the exposure triangle. Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Flash photography is less dependent on shutter speed, as long as you are below the sync speed of your camera 1/200, or 1/250s. To be clear, shutter speed has an effect on the ambient exposure only, so it's another thing to think about when shooting in uncontrolled lighting environments.

    So my suggestion as of now is to get the 430EX II. After that, you can pick up some triggers and buy off-brand flashes. I've heard the yongnuo flashes are pretty good and inexpensive.
    Forgive the dumb question, but when you say hotlights, you mean continuous lighting right? If so, then yes that's what I'm using. Depending on application either a few incandescent bulbs in heatlamp type reflectors, or a pair of halogen floods, or (on very rare instances because it's so harsh) a couple fluorescent tubes. Most of the time I try to shoot where natural ambient light is good enough I don't have to mess with any of those, and learned that if I mix a halogen with an incandescent or anything anywhere near those fluorescent ones that white balance becomes a nightmare.

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    I have two Canon 580EXII flashes and they've served me well for years. For the past month or so I've been testing two Yongnuo YN565EX flashes and have been very pleased with them.

    ETTL is working just fine on them when I use that feature, and of course they work just dandy in manual as well. They work fine alone or in concert with the Canon flashes, and I've used them with 7D directly and the 5DMKII using the Canon ST-E2 Commander. When they're not in line of site, I fire them with my Radio Poppers using the pc sync port they sport, though I recently saw someone on YouTube use a PX receiver to get them to work ETTL by remote as well. I've used my Canon CP-E4 power packs on them for super-fast recycles and longer shooting sessions, and they work with them just like the Canons. Zoom works like the Canons, they go down to 1/128th power like the Canons, etc. The build quality seems excellent to me. They feel solid as the Canons. They use a wheel rather than a locking lever at the hot shoe, and the pivot head doesn't lock the way the Canons do, though they still ratchet like them and have the full range, and I've not had any issues with positioning them just like my Canons.

    In short, I recommend them without hesitation based on my experience with them thus far and, frankly, I'm thinking about buying a few more.
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    To set up an older unit as a secondary-a modifier: either an umbrella, softbox... a stand and if it's not capable of being triggered by another flash then a trigger and receiver setup. Use as a strobe!
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    I went ahead & bought the 430, I love it so far...haven't had much time to play with it but what I've done so far has been pretty cool!

    Buckster, those sound great and the price seems good. I'll probably try one when I'm ready for a 2nd flash, which won't be long if I know my addictive personality at all. hehehe

    MLeeK, thanks for the info. I'm guessing the 200E isn't capable of being triggered by the other one because it's so old but I'll give it a shot in the morning & see what happens. If it requires a trigger I probably won't mess with it but it'd be pretty cool to have a 2nd flash if it turns out I'm wrong!

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    A nice, detailed, full write-up on the Yongnuo YN565EX:

    Yongnuo YN-565 EX Flash Review | Speedlights.net

    Build quality is not an issue with this flash. It's up to par with the Canon it copied.
    Your honest C&C is always welcome and appreciated. For those with such interests: My Gear
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