Getting a SpeedLight

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by washington, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. washington

    washington New Member

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    Hey everyone,

    I own a Canon T2i, and came to sense that I need to get a speed light. I plan on spending no more than $600 for one. Ive seen the Canon 580ex II, and I think signs are pointing that way. Any other options should I look into?

    Also should i get accessories to go with it .. such as a transmitter, or a sync cord? Im afraid to buy something cheap, knowing I will have to upgrade sometime down the road.

    Any advice is great!

    -Thanks
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member

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    *moving to lighting subsection --- yes we have one now!!*


    The Canon 580EXII is the top of the line flash for canon at present so its certainly got the top features on the market for a speedlite flash; a high power rating, fast recycling speed, a range of more advanced modes and operations, a good level of weathersealing against the elements (not fully weather proof but decent).
    There are some other 3rd party options which can have very similar or even higher power ratings and are well built; they will lack some of the more advanced controls and the auto might be more simple. Many will mostly be usable in manual mode only and if you get into off-camera flash work you might well find yourself in full manual mode for reliable output results - in that area the 3rd party options can prove to be cheaper, just as effective units.

    In the end the call is somewhat up to you on this front; there is certainly nothing wrong with going for the 580EXII and leaving your options open.

    Accessories wise that gets a little more complicated as there are cheap and effective options and more expensive ones depending how far you want to take your budget and how much you feel you need to invest. Top range option would be a Pocket Wizard but that carries a high price. There are some cheaper brands on the market for radio remote controls which are generally what you want to go for if the flash is being used off-camera. The cable connections are typically only any good for flash brackets mounted to the camera itself (you can get long cables, but cables are easily tripped over).


    My advice is to get the flash and maybe either a cheap set of radio triggers or a short cable release and to experiment; find out what and how you use the flash and then start to consider what other options would best suit your needs and situations. I've you've more idea now on how you're going to use it (eg studio, portraits) then we can give some guidance on what options might be better as well as suitable diffusion addons to consider.
     
  3. daithi33

    daithi33 New Member

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    Hi Washington, very goog advice given by overread. The big thing is whether you are planning to use your flash off camera. If you are there are cheaper options with as much functionality as the flash you are proposing to purchase.

    I use my strobes off camera and they are all the same model as my camera. I am planning to get more lights for creative purposes. I will be going the 3rd party route on these. I know a great site with excellent prices and very good customer service. Contact me through my FB page for details.
     
  4. pgriz

    pgriz Well-Known Member

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    I have the T1i, the 580ex II, the 430ex II, and third-party flashes, along with an off-camera cord, PC cords, cheap radio triggers (Yuongo), and various stands, brackets, etc. The 580 is a very versatile flash, and has many options (ETTL, manual, master/slave) and is flexible in terms of positioning. The ETTL control is inconsistent (very good with direct flash, less so with bounce, and even less so with light modifiers), but that seems to be either a Canon thing, or maybe it's just me, so I've been learning to do off-camera flash primarily in manual mode and have had much better results. I shoot all kinds of scenes from macro to halls (but strictly as an amateur), and I've found the off-camera flash(es) to give more pleasing results. If ETTL is not an issue for you, you can go with much cheaper flashes as you won't have to pay for the ETTL circuitry and features. On the other hand, I am very happy with the performance of the units I have - I just have to pick the right combination of tools for the specific job at hand.
     
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  5. bazooka

    bazooka New Member

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    It really depends on what you are going to do with it. I have a 580EXII and I do off camera flash for with portraits and such (no event photography) and I hate having to use it. It doesn't seem to be as powerful as my LP160's and the pc port is intermittent when I use my receivers on it. It's built well and has plenty of features, but for my shooting, I don't use them and prefer to use the much-easier-to-use LP160.

    I have had a 550 EX, sold it. I have a 580EXII and am considering selling it. But I can't get enough of these LP160's.

    Having said all that, if I am shooting an event that I don't have control over and I need on camera flash, I would find the 580EXII to be indispensable, but only really for the ETTL functionality. I imagine a 430EXII would fit the bill just as easily.

    And I have had issues with getting the Canon wireless system to work, to the point that it appears to me to be completely useless...
     
  6. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot Well-Known Member

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    IMHO, it's always good to have one flash capable of TTL metering for those times you need to just pop a flash on your camera and go.
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Good to see a Canon user whose experiences with the actual effectiveness of E-TTL flash metering coincide with mine...that is to say that E-TTL's results are "inconsistent". I have a 580 EX-II, and agree that E-TTL exposure control is not as consistent as I would like it to be, probably due to the fact that my two Canon cameras are totally color-blind in terms of both flash and ambient light metering. For off-camera use, the camera maker flash units cost a LOT of money for the flash power they give you. What is sad about E-TTL control is that is does not seem to be as good as "old-school electric eye" flash metering that is used on a Sunpak or Vivitar auto-thyristor flash unit. The old-school "18 percent gray" kind of dumb automation is actually very repeatable, and very easy to adjust the camera to or against; the E-TTL system's problem stems from the "evaluative" aspect so often taking a flyer....and futzing things up royally by evaluating things poorly. The camera maker speedlights are a BIG financial commitment; for some uses they are quite good, and they are all built well, but for off-camera use, I am not convinced that they are worth the money.
     
  8. bazooka

    bazooka New Member

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    Same experience here... on camera ETTL is inconsistent.
     
  9. washington

    washington New Member

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    Hey guys thanks for the input, the 580ex 2 seems like the best bet for me. Either way I decide to shoot photos, it will be perfect in any situation. I hope to use the flash on and off camera; personally since I'm a student, I'm still trying to figure out a path I would like to follow portraits, action, etc..

    What would everyone recommend for a lower budget, but just as 'good' flash? Also what do you guys use it for in your own personal use, just so i can get an idea??

    Thanks
     
  10. rfarrenphoto

    rfarrenphoto New Member

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    i would maybe consider the 430ex2 over the 580ex2. The output is very similiar and can be used with off camera accessories. I own two 580ex2's and two 430ex2's and i find the 430ex2 work pretty well compared side by side, especially considering the price difference. you loose the movement in the head however on the 430 ex2 which does rotate a complete 360 for bounce flash. The 580ex2's also have a question design flaw that is exacerbated when used in HSS mode. Check out flash problems here. even more of a problem it seems with pocket wizard flex range! just a heads up!
     
  11. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot Well-Known Member

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    If you're not using it on camera, check out the LumoPro 160. It's about $160 and is a nice full featured flash made mostly for off camera work. It has 4 or 5 built in sync options which include an optical slave and a 3.5mm miniphone port (much better than PC).

    Which reminds me, if you purchase the 580EX II, it has a pc sync port that's screw lock. Buy a screwlock cable if you use it. If not, you will have issues. PC ports aren't the most reliable and I would end up with a good bit of misfire until I finally broke down and bought a 3.5 to pc screwlock for my PWs.
     
  12. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member

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    VI since you've brought it up I've often wondered what the advantage is with a PC sync port over using the hotshoe slot on the wireless remote - or is it purely to allow you control multiple flashes of the same unit?
     
  13. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot Well-Known Member

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    You can get it to closer to the center of the modifier and it's generally sturdier. Remember the old Catcus triggers that were 2-3 inches tall and had the flash mounted on top of them? I can bungee a PW PII to the head of my 580EX II and have it as one nice portable unit.

    Going to be doing a test run in DC for putting together plans fro the Capital area Strobist group to have a photo scavenger hunt. Light weight and mobile is the key.
     
  14. washington

    washington New Member

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    Alright cool, ill definitely look into the lumopro 160 as well. However one question, since I'm new to lighting; What is the pc sync port and the basics of the sync options??

    Thanks
     
  15. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Having a PC port ON the flash itself greatly reduces costs when rigging multiple flash units together; Vivitar 285HV units come with inexpensive 7-inch PC cords. 285HV's will rubber-band back-to-back almost perfectly. SO it is very easy to put two of them together, and use ONE, single optical slave or one receiver to trigger a second flash, which is connected directly with a PC cord to the first flash. Same goes with using FOUR 285HV units mounted together in a semi-circle, and fitted inside of a 10 inch diameter piece of PVC pipe fitted with a Fresnel lens, and designed to make a High-Speed, motion-stopping flash unit for bird and insect photography. Because the flashes all have PC connector outlets, only "ONE" expensive radio trigger and only ONE expensive beam-interruptor trigger, or only ONE sound trigger is required--to fire multiple flashes, perfectly in synchronization, and with no extra bulk or weight to speak of. And YES, these 4-Vivitar, PVC pipe, Fresnel-fitted multi-flash units are an actually DIY reality used by a couple of my bird and insect photographer friends.

    A PC connector fitted with a top-quality PC synch cord, such as a Paramount brand cord, and not some Chinese $4 POS, works wonderfully. PC outlets are very handy to have, and they separate the flash mounting from the flash connecting aspects. PC cords can KEEP the flash CONNECTED, even when the flash is moved out of the shoe, such as when it is hand-held, held by an assistant, or simply layed down on a table or placed on the floor.
     

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