What flash should I get?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Derek Zoolander, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander TPF Noob!

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    I intend to do mostly photos of my family and nephew growing up. What would you all recommend I get to get the most out of my pictures? I will be shooting mostly in door. I have a Canon Rebel XS.

    Or should I skip the flash and try to get a light of some sort (with umbrella or soft box)? If so, any recommendations?

    I think I might prefer the second route considering Ive hated every picture ive taken with my flash...
     
  2. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, I would have recommended Canon's SpeedLites, but I recently found out that they can not be wirelessly triggered by any Canon body? That stinks. Doesn't matter though if you are generally using this for no-fuss-no-muss shots of your family.

    So I would suggest the 430 EX (?). That should keep you covered and provide a suitable dedicated flash.
     
  3. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you are thinking about off camera lighting, a cheap set of radio triggers and a speedlight on a light stand can be very useful and versital. You could go with a 430ex as mentioned above, so you would have ttl on camera and it's still great off camera, or go the non deticated route and get a vivitar 285.
     
  4. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander TPF Noob!

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    Since I'm very new to photography still, please bear with me when I ask what TTL is?

    Also, when you say non dedicated, does that simply mean it just doesnt sit on the camera? I set it somewhere remotely and it flashes? How does it know when to flash? or is that what the radio triggers are for?

    Thanks again Ryan and ANDS!
     
  5. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander TPF Noob!

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  6. Big Mike

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

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    I would recommend the Canon 430EX and I would not recommend that photoflood kit. Flash is much better for shooting people than constant lighting.

    Off camera lighting can make for great photos...but do you really want to be lugging around a light stand when you are just trying to get pictures of your family growing up? Effective use of a camera mounted flash can also be good and is much more convenient.

    TTL stand for 'Through The Lens'...and it means that the flash is metered by the camera...using the reflected light that comes back into the lens. Some flashes have their own built-in metering device and some don't have metering at all. Those would not be TTL flashes. Canon currently calls it E-TTL.

    Basically, E-TTL is like an 'Auto' mode for the flash. It uses a preflash to meter the flash and then adjusts the flash output to match the aperture and ISO settings on the camera.

    A 'dedicated' flash is one that is made to work with the camera. A dedicated flash can take advantage of TTL metering...a non-dedicated flash can't.
    Non-dedicated flashes only get a signal from the camera that tells them when to fire. They must do their own metering or you must set the power yourself.
    Both dedicated and non-dedicated flash units can sit on the camera's hot shoe or be set up off camera...but when used off-camera, you will need something to trigger them.

    Flash can be fairly simple or as complicated as you want to make it. For capturing family memories, I would suggest keeping it simple, which is why I recommend the 430EX. You can get great results by bouncing the flash and it's very easy to use. If you want to move it off camera and get more advanced, you can do that with the right accessories.
     
  7. maulrat

    maulrat TPF Noob!

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    I just got my 430EX in the mail the other day. I have to admit, I love it. It is a great flash to learn off of. I was considering the 580EX II but that would be an extra $175 that I didn't have. The 430EX (not EX II) can be had for under $200. I, again, recommend this flash for the following reasons:
    1. Quality
    2. Cost
    3. If and/or when you reach the point where you need a 2nd flash, the 430EX would still make a good slave.
     
  8. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander TPF Noob!

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    Thank you very much for this thorough answer. What would be the disadvantage to getting the aboved mentioned vivatar flash? It's much more affordable at $85 than $200 for the canon speedlight. I can go with the $200 , but just want to make sure I know what I'm paying for. Looks like both can be used off camera, correct? for either one, what would I need to make it work remotely?

    Thanks again. This forum is going to contribute so much to any success in taking good photos I might have...
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    That Vivitar unit is non-dedicated (one reason why it's so much less expensive). That means that there is no communication between camera and flash (except when to fire). I do believe that is has it's own metering sensor though.

    In practical terms, it means that you would need to match the settings on both the flash and the camera...and when you change the settings on one, you would need to change the other as well. It's not really hard to do but it's not fool proof and it's not as easy as using a dedicated flash.

    With a dedicated flash unit, you put it on the camera and it will match it's output to the settings on the camera, you basically don't have to touch the flash. You can even adjust the FEC (flash exposure compensation) via the camera controls. It's very easy to use and it's pretty much automatic (in E-TTL mode)...but it still allows you to be creative with the camera.

    Also, the 430EX has the functionality to be used wirelessly in Canon's wireless system (more about that later).


    When using a flash off camera, you need to trigger it somehow. Canon does have a wireless system that requires one 'Master' unit and one or more 'Slave' units. The 430EX can be a slave only. The higher end 580EX can be a Master or a Slave and the ST-E2 is a Master only (it's not even a flash). In this system, the remote flashes still have E-TTL functionality and metering. The major problem with this, is that it's range isn't great and unless you are in a smaller room, you need line of sight between units.
    There is also a Canon off-shoe cord, to get the flash off camera with full functionality...but it's not very long...best used for hand held or bracket mounted flash.

    Another way to trigger an off-camera flash is with a cord or radio triggers. The cord is pretty straight forward, it' connects to the camera and to the flash. If the camera or the flash do not have the proper connection points, then you would need adapters. Radio triggers are a very popular way to go because a radio signal is very good and doesn't need line of sight.
    The disadvantage of a 'PC' cord or radio transmitters are that you can't use E-TTL anymore. It becomes manual flash control and metering. It's not really hard to do, once you understand it...but it's not really child's play either.

    You can use either a dedicated or non-dedicated flash for manual off-camera flash. For this reason, many people recommend the non-dedicated units for this type of thing because they are cheaper. A dedicated flash can do both though, which can be a big advantage.
     

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