Portrait Lighting Question

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by mc5581, Nov 11, 2007.

  1. mc5581

    mc5581 TPF Noob!

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    Hello all!

    Have been browsing these forums for a while and would really appreciate some advice on equipment.

    I'm looking to buy some lighting equipment for potraits. I will normally be using a Canon 20d with soft focus lens on a roaming basis, taking pictures at events etcetera but would like to do the occassional portrait session at friends' houses.

    I am choosing between a 430EX speedlite and a 580EX speedlite as the aftermarket flash for my mobile pictures and was wondering whether I could use this for portraits, too?

    I plan to use the speedlite as the trigger and main flash whilst purchasing a Bowens 500 (used with an umbrella on a boom stand) for the background light.

    Could this set up produce OK-looking results? I cannot find any sample images from similar set ups. The plan is to start of with this and get more equipment when I have more money - I'm a poor student at the moment :wink:

    Any input would be much appreciated!

    Matt
     
  2. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    Have a look at alien bees, They are inexpensive, can be portable and I think you will get better results.
     
  3. mc5581

    mc5581 TPF Noob!

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    Sorry, should have said . . . I'm based in the UK - alienbees aren't an option. Would the proposed set up work?
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I see some problems with your proposed set up. The 430 & 580 are dedicated Canon flash units and have the ability to communicate with the camera for E-TTL metering. This is one reason why they cost so much.

    When using studio lights, you can't really incorporate E-TTL metering. The Canon flash & camera use a pre-flash to meter the scene and then a 2nd flash for exposure. If you are using that flash to trigger the studio lights, the pre-flash may trigger the lights and it wouldn't be ready when he 2nd burst fires. Also, the metering may be thrown off.

    Basically, when using studio lights, you need to have the camera in manual mode and also control the lights manually. You could use the Canon units in manual mode, but you could buy much cheaper units to do the same thing.

    Also, did you say that you wanted to use the Canon as the main lights and the studio lights for the background? For good portraits, you will want to have the main light away from the camera.

    You can use Canon units off-camera...and still keep E-TTL metering...but you need to have a master and a slave. The 580 can be either a master or a slave, the 430 is a slave only and the ST-E2 is a master (but with no flash). This is a neat system, which allows you to control a slave or several, from the master...but it's an expensive set up.

    My suggestion would be either get a set of 'studio' style units or for a more portable set up, get a few cheaper 'hot-shoe' flash units with a radio slave system.
     
  5. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    You can easily put the 430 or 580 on a light stand in manual and trigger it either with a PC cable or a remote, and as long as the Bowens has an optical slave (I don't know anything about this product), it will fire, assuming you are in a darkened room with not much ambient.
     

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