Any reason NOT to get the Sigma EF-500 DG Super Flash ???

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by jtice, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    I am going to order a Canon 30D, and want to get a nice flash for it.

    I want it to be as powerful and versitile as I can, but the Canon 580ex price tag is killing me. Its also rather large.
    And I am concerned about out growing the 430ex.

    Then I saw the Sigma EF-500 DG Super for MUCH less $$$.

    How does it compare to the others?
    Is it going to work just as well with the 30D as the Canon flashes?
    Is it lacking any features the others have?

    Thanks
    ~John
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I've heard this debate before...there are pros and cons for each choice.

    One thing I always hear is that the Canon units have a better build quality than the Sigma. The Sigma should work well with the 30D and the E-TTL metering.

    I think one of the main differences is that the Canon flash units work together in a Slave/Master relationship. I'm not sure if the Sigma is compatible, even if it is, best to stick with Canon to Canon. This is really only important if you plan on using multiple flashes or wireless off camera flash. If you just need the flash on the camera, the Sigma should work just fine,

    The 580EX isn't really that large, I don't think the Sigma is smaller, is it?

    I recently purchased the 430EX. It's close to the price of the Sigma but a bit less powerful. Should still be plenty of power for me though. Ideally, I would prefer the 580EX (or even an older 550EX)...but the 430EX is significantly cheaper.
     
  3. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the welcome Mike.

    yea that is the main thing I keep hearing about them, that the Canons are made a bit better.
    I only have a $40 slave flash now, and it has taken a bit of a beating over the last year, so I figure I am ok there.

    The Sigma says it can be a slave and a master.
    So it seems it would trigger my slave flash just fine. (mine just flashes when it sees another flash, even works with pre-flashes)
    What really makes it act as a master anyway?
    Seems there is more going on here than just letting off a flash that the other slave flashes can see?

    Do the Canon flashes use a different method for their slave/master communications?

    I would like to do multiple flashes in the future.
    But I was under the impression any slave flash would work.
    I would hate to have to buy a $250+ Canon slave flash each time I wanted to add another flash.

    I am just having a really hard time justifying DOUBLE the cost for the Canon 580ex I guess.

    Thanks
    ~John
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure how the Sigma works it's E-TTL but it's probably the same as Canon...the flash fires a pre-flash and the camera meters the reflected light, then the flash fires again with the shutter. This messes up your optical slave because it will be triggered by the pre-flash.

    I seem to remember that the Sigma has a built-in optical trigger, so that it can be used as an optical slave...but not if you are using a Canon flash as the master (that includes the built-in flash). The Canon wireless system works via IR, rather than optical. The huge advantage of this, is that you can retain the E-TTL metering, even when the flash is off the camera. It can even control up to 4 units and set the ratios. This is very expensive though. The 550/580 can be the master or a slave, the 420/430 can only be a slave...and then there is the ST-E2, which is a master sending unit without the flash. Very expensive.
     
  5. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    The cheapo slave flash I have now actually will work with pretty much any master flash.
    I am not sure if it is only optical though, it MAY also have IR.
    It has a setting, to fire on the first, or second flash. So it works fine with pre-flash cameras.
    I made sure of this when I bought it, due to me using it with regular point and shoot Canons, which have pre-flashes. (at least in auto mode)

    So, the 580ex, will use IR to trigger the 430ex?
    And the 580ex will tell the 430ex what setting to fire at? (what power)
    OR..
    Was that just the ST-E2 that does that?

    Seems that is going to get much more expensive than I would like.
    If I want to use multiple flashes, I will just have to live with the cheaper ones, acting as optical slaves as I have been with my Point and shoot cameras.

    although, this statement from you has me a bit confused and concerned...
    """I seem to remember that the Sigma has a built-in optical trigger, so that it can be used as an optical slave...but not if you are using a Canon flash as the master (that includes the built-in flash)."""

    Wouldnt I be able to use the cheapo optical slave I have now with the Canon 30D builtin flash, and say, a 430ex, or Sigma 500DG on it?
    I would think that it would work the same way as i have been using the point and shoot ones.
    In that, my slave would just fire when it saw the cameras flash.
    And if the 30D builtin flash, or the 430ex/500dg used a pre-flash, that I would just set my slave to fire on the second flash,
    just as I have with the point and shoot cameras.

    Am I missing something?

    Thanks
    ~John
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Oh, I didn't know your slave trigger had the 2nd flash option...then you should be OK for it to work with a Canon master.

    Maybe I am wrong about the Sigma slave function, I haven't read the specs in a while.

    Either the 580 or the ST-E2 will act as a master to the 430 via IR and tell it what power to fire at. Really, the only difference is that the ST-E2 does not have a flash it's self. Many people prefer to just buy another 580 and set the flash not to fire, the IR will still trigger the slaves.

    I think you have it right...but I'm no expert.

    One thing I've heard, is that Canon flashes don't work well when used on an optical trigger. Sometimes they fire once, but then need to be turned off and on, before they will fire again.

    Another option for off camera flash is radio remotes. You put a sender on the camera and a receiver on the flash. The most talked about brand is Pocket Wizard. Very reliable but rather expensive. You can buy cheap radio slaves on E-bay for less that $40 (or even less than $20). These are not as reliable or robust as the P.W.s but you can't beat the price. You do loose the E-TTL metering that you get with the Canon IR system...but it isn't all that hard to figure it out with manual power adjustments...especially with digital.
     
  7. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    Thanks alot Mike, you have been VERY helpful.

    I think for now, I am going to go with the Sigma 500DG Super.
    Seems the only thing I would really be missing is the IR communication of the Canons telling each other what setting to fire at.
    While that is a really neat feature! I think I can work around it, and end up with well under half the cost.
    My main concern is the Sigma being a good ON camera flash for my 30D.
    And it seems it should work just fine for that, and I can still trigger my cheaper optical slave flashes with it.

    I saw the pocket wizard and similar products last year when I got my cheapo slave.
    They are certainly an option I may look into later on also.

    The only thing I am concerned with, is I may want to trigger OFF camera flashes, withOUT the ON camera flash going off. (for glare reasons)
    In that case, the Canons would be the better route to go, but for the money, I think I can just solve that problem with the Pocket wizard, or other similar devices later down the road.

    If anything, I could always use the Sigma as a slave down the road, if I want to get the Canon 580ex later on.
    Then all I am loosing is the Canons settings control of the slaves, which I can live without.

    Thanks alot for the help !
    ~John
     
  8. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    I have both and all is said above.

    Sigma works fine as a slave to the 580 as master (was using that tonight).

    580 is easier to use and better built.

    But Sigma does a decent job and has plenty of features to make it worth the savings over the Canon. My main gripe with the Sigma is in High Speed mode if your shutter speed drops below the Sync speed of the camera it switches High Speed mode off and you need to go back into the menu to turn on again. With the canon it just stays on. Very useful when shooting fill in daylight.

    Other than that I like the Sigma.
     

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