Flash suggestions for Canon 350D

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by sothoth, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

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    Thanks in advance for any suggestions on this. I have a Canon 350D and would like to get a flash. If you've had good/bad experience with a particular model let me know. I don't have the cash to put out $400, and ideally I'd like to keep it under $200 if possible.

    I usually shoot outdoors (landscapes) with my dSLR and only shoot indoors with a P&S. However we have a baby on the way (due in Feb) and I'd like to welcome him to the world with higher quality indoor shots. So... the flash will mostly be for indoor shooting, candids of the family and portraits.

    I don't expect to be a huge flash user but then again, having never invested in a flash for my SLRs or dSLRs, I'm guessing I may find a few new uses for it when I have it, so I don't want a bottom of the barrel model.

    I saw a canon speedlite or two for sale (used) on adorama, the 380ex and the 420ex (I'd prefer the latter since it swivels). Both seem reasonably priced.

    I'm mostly curious if anyone has tried those or is happy with a 3rd party flash, since I don't know diddly about flashes. Or... I suppose if you think the two I mentioned stink or something, you should let me know. :)

    Thanks!
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    I'd suggest the 430EX or the older 420EX.

    When talking about third party units...some are made to work with the camera like the Canon ones are but it's not always a perfect match. A good example is the Sigma 500 Super...but it's about the same price as the 430EX.

    The important part of using a Canon (or other dedicated flash) is the metering. The flash communicates with the camera so that the flash power is set based on the light that comes back into the lens of the camera. This is called E-TTL metering (electronic through the lens). Basically, the flash fires a pre-flash, the camera meters it, then tells the flash how much power to use for the actual exposure. Makes it very easy to use.

    On the other hand, you can save a lot of money an get a flash that does not communicate with the camera, other than when to fire. These flash units will usually have their own way of metering (a sensor on the flash body). These can work well...but the difference is that you have to match the settings on the flash, to the settings on the camera...and make adjustments as things change.

    Lastly, you could use a flash that doesn't even have a way to meter the light at all...it just fires with as much power as you set it to (or just full power all the time)...and you would have to calculate what aperture to set the camera/lens at.
     
  3. Chris of Arabia

    Chris of Arabia Herding cats since 1988... Supporting Member

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    I can happily recommend the 430EX, or even the 580EX. Makes life very easy and they play nicely with the ST-E2 should you be able to invest in one some time in the future.
     
  4. Urban Grimshaw

    Urban Grimshaw TPF Noob!

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    I've been doing a lot of research on this the past couple of days and asking the same question (topic further down the page).

    I was surprised there wasn't more on the market, but the two immediate contenders for your price range seem to be the Canon 430 EX and the Sigma EF 500 DG SUPER.

    It would seem the Sigma is very similar to the more expensive Canon 580 EX, only missing some minor features, but lacking in the build quality of the Canon.

    Quality or quantity seems to be the question between the two, so depends on what you prefer.

    There's also cheaper Sigma kits which, I presume, will be similar to the Canon 430 EX in terms of features.
     
  5. Urban Grimshaw

    Urban Grimshaw TPF Noob!

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    Something I've been wondering, and it's interesting what you say here about how a flash meters the light, as I just assumed it would talk to the camera and estimate the light needed.

    My question is this. Will a dedicated flash compensate for a difusor, whether it be off the shelf or home made?
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    Yes. A dedicated (or even a non-dedicated but 'Auto' flash will compensate for a diffuser because they measure the light that is coming back to the camera from the subject.

    If you have a diffuser, the flash just has to work extra hard (put out more light).

    Now if you were using a manual only flash, and calculating the exposure...then you would need to account for an diffusers etc.
     
  7. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for this, it's matching fairly well with my initial guesses except I didn't know about the differences in metering and some of the finer points.

    When you say the Sigma isn't a perfect match, can you clarify what you mean?

    About the non-metered, the only flash I've had was an old Vivitar that is of the non-metered variety where you adjust flash intensity based on the distance to your subject, which isn't very helpful for candids around the house or if your subject is an ADD child that moves quickly. :) I think I can safely rule out this type of flash as it's perhaps no better than the pop-up on my 350D in terms of getting good exposure indoors.

    Thanks again!
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    Well, at least the pop-up flash still uses the E-TTL metering...so the exposure wouldn't be a problem...but the quality of light isn't great. You could get a better light with a manual flash, but the exposure would take some work.

    Actually, from what I've heard...the Sigma 500 actually works pretty well. It would be an example of one that works well. I'm sure you could Google to find a comparison of the Sigma unit to the Canon units.
     

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