580EX on camera with 420EX as slave. Help?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Breanna, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. Breanna

    Breanna New Member

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    Hi all- I'm fairly new to off camera flash. I usually just bring my cheap little 420EX along and bounce it around when I need extra light. However, I am interested in purchasing the 580EX (original or II, haven't decided yet) so that I am able to move the 420EX off camera. Since the 580EX works as the master unit, do I still need any type of transmitter/receiver system, or will the manual with the 580EX tell me how to work the two flashes together?

    I currently have a Vivitar 285HV that I use off camera with a cheap-o transmitter/receiver system that I got on ebay for like $30. I don't like it, which is why I am interested in working with the Canon Speedlites instead.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    You won't need anything else to fire (& control) the slave (420) with the master (580).

    There are pros and cons to this system though.

    Firstly, the pros are that you get E-TTL metering for your slave flash or flashes. So just like you have auto flash metering when the flash is on the camera, you can have that from the remote slave flash. Pretty cool. You can even change the ratio of the remote flash, right from the mater unit.

    On the down side, this system uses light pulses for communication. That means that when outdoors, you pretty much need line of site between master and slave. You can sometimes get away without line of site when indoors, but only when there are enough surfaces for the light to bounce around. Also, the brighter the light you are in, the worse the connection will be. So out in the sun, this system sucks.

    Now, if you were to stick with a radio system, you don't have to worry about line of site, you get a much more reliable connection. But the downside is that *most* radio trigger systems don't allow you to use the fancy features like E-TTL etc. But a benefit of that, is that don't need a $500 580 flash for that.

    If you want off-camera E-TTL, then go for the Canon system (or the new Pocket Wizard system). But if you just want a better system than your cheap E-bay triggers, then I'd suggest something like the CyberSync or Pocket Wizards.
    I went with the CyberSync as an upgrade to my cheap radio triggers and they have been perfect for me so far.
     
  3. Breanna

    Breanna New Member

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    Thanks, Mike. I'm clueless about Pocket Wizards. No clue how they even work. I just need a basic two flash set-up. Since I already have the 420EX, I would like that to be one of them. I'm fine with ditching the Vivitar. Can you just tell me what I would need? :lol: There is no "Here is how a Pocket Wizard works, dummy!" section on their site!
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    The Pocket Wizard Plus II (the one I linked to), is a very easy to use device. Each unit is a 'transceiver', which means that it can be either a transmitter or receiver. So you would need at least two of them (three for a two-light set up). One of them attaches to the camera and the others attach to the flashes. It doesn't even matter which PW goes where, they automatically detect which one is sending and which ones are receiving.
    If your flash doesn't have a sync socket, then you would also need a hot shoe adapter like THESE.

    If you can use those cheap E-bay triggers, you can use a PW. Although, the PW Plus II doesn't have a hotshoe like your E-bay receiver probably has.
    The main drawback to the PWs, is that they cost something like $180 each...and you would need two or three of them. That's why I went with the CyberSync system.

    HERE is a link to some assembled kits for off-camera flash. They have three different triggering options; wired, wireless with cheap radio triggers and wireless with Pocket Wizards. I still think the CyberSync is a good option, but these kits offer everything else you would need.
    Even if you only need a flash, their LumoPro LP120 was designed with this type of thing in mind.
     

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