What do expensive external flashes have the cheap ones lack?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by anubis404, Oct 12, 2008.

  1. anubis404

    anubis404 TPF Noob!

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    What do cheap external flashes lack that fancy speedlights have besides faster sync?
     
  2. Mike30D

    Mike30D TPF Noob!

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    I believe some of them don't have ETTL. They may not have the wireless capabilities either.
     
  3. anubis404

    anubis404 TPF Noob!

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    Whats ETTL?

    My thinking is, there must be some major differences between a $15 vivitar and a $300 speedlight.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    weathersealing - top range flashes (least the 580M2) are weathersealed
    flash sync speeds
    flash head power - also the range of flash effect - these will be greater on the higher end market ones
    ETTL - basically from my understanding is automatic flash metering - ie you don't have to understand flash manual settings control to use the flash to good effect
    the ability to be a master flash unit - ie to be able to triggor other flash units (slaves) to fire in a multi flash setup
    durability and build quality.

    Besically if the more expensive units were not worth thier price the pros and advanced amatures would not use them - they would use the cheaper gear and spend the money on something else.
     
  5. tenlientl

    tenlientl TPF Noob!

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    I'm still not sure what the flash sync speed means? Just last night I was playing around with my built-in flash. There were settings I did not understand
     
  6. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The sync speed is the fastest shutter speed that you can use with a flash. Usually 1/180 or up to 1/250.
     
  7. GeneralBenson

    GeneralBenson TPF Noob!

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    Are there ways to get higher sync speeds? I know my pentax only syncs at 1/180th. I know most seem to be at 1/250th and a few are 1/500th, but I've heard of people shooting higher than that. How can you get faster sync? Is it with triggers and such?
     
  8. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Some flashes do offer "high speed sync" but usually they eat up a lot of power reduce their usable distance from flash to subject. There are some other triggers such as the radio poppers that allow faster sync speeds, but that is a whole other subject.

    Usually with a cheap flash you trade off one ore more of the following: TTL metering, Power, recycle time, power adjustment, and/or build quality, etc.

    There are some very good third party flash units, you just need to identify and understand their abilities and limitations.

    For example, putting together a stobbist kit, you don't care about TTL metering, but you do want as much power as possible especially using umprellas and other modifiers and you want a flash that easily lets you adjust the powwer setting. Fast recycle is nice but usually you can afford a moment between shots because you will likely be repositioning your model or subject anyway. Something along the lines of a Vivitar 285 fit this description well.

    Now I you are shooting a wedding, you need Lots of power especially to bounce in big halls, fast recycle time, and TTL metering is quite useful in a fast paced environment where there are no second chances to get the shot. You really need a a Canon 580ex II, or top of the line Nikon.

    Really most flashes in the sub $60 range are junk, around $100 there are some pretty decent units, some limitations, but very useful for many things. getting up in the $250+ range are where all the really good units fall.

    Just for general picture taking and hobbyist use the $100-250 range is a good balance of price and features IMO.
     
  9. tenlientl

    tenlientl TPF Noob!

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    If I wanna shoot at like 1/400, is there a way to use my built in(sync speed of 1/200) WITH an external? So built in flash goes first, the second flash will be from the external?

    I'd like to know this before I decide to get a flash. Which is not soon, but I would like to know what I'm dealing with.
     
  10. TBAM

    TBAM TPF Noob!

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    This may be a "duh" moment. But, the reason why you can't sync over 1/180 on most flashes, is because hypothetically, if you were using faster shutter speeds than that, the shutter would be closing faster than the flash was firing. So you would get a much lesser effect of the flash.

    A flash that would fire with the same intensity of light, but fast enough to keep up with faster shutter speeds, would be quite difficult to obtain without spending a good deal of money.
     
  11. anubis404

    anubis404 TPF Noob!

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    I'm just looking for a cheap flash to do some casual portraits and to get a better flash range. What is there to meter on a flash?

    Like, take this flash for example. What are the major downfalls?
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2008
  12. Joves

    Joves No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The flash output for the given settings of the camera for one. That is the advantage of iTTL, the flash and, camera talk to each other to give you the best results.
     

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