A Flash, You Say? 285HV? 430EX?


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Jun 14, 2006
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Toronto, ON
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Looking to get a flash in the next week or two, and I've heard some pretty good things about the 're-released' Vivitar 285HV. Thoughts on that versus a Canon Speedlite, say the 430EX (other than price; 285HV is $100 cheaper on Henrys)?

As well, with the camera I have, what other options for flashes would be out there? I'm new to buying flashes, having not bought them before, and it seems like only some brands work with some models/makes?
I've heard the 285HV's are good off camera flashes but for an on camera flash I'd have to say I'd go for the 430EX with it's because it can talk to your camera. I have one and they are very nice. Sigma also has some flashes that have TTL. You might want to look into one of those.
The Canon unit will communicate with the camera to give you E-TTL metering...which is a great thing to have. It's not absolutely necessary...but it's much better than having to set and recheck your settings on both the camera and flash each time.

The non-dedicated flash units are nice because they are cheap...and some people prefer the no-nonsense approach with simple flash units...rather than having to rely on Canon's E-TTL algorithms.

Personally, I'd suggest the 430EX if you plan to use the flash on the camera (or on a bracket with a cord). But I'd recommend a cheaper unit if you want to start using off camera flash.
That's the thing - I'd like to be able to quickly and competently (once I manage to get enough practice in using it to know what I'm doing, that is) use it both on-camera and off-camera. On-camera for things such as covering events and whatnot where it's neccessary, off-camera for portraits, etc. How does the 430EX hold up off-camera, in comparison to how the 285HV holds up on-camera?
Well, the 430 will work just fine off-camera...as long as you have a good way to trigger it. The cheap radio slaves are notorious for not playing well with Canon units. I have the 430 and a cheap radio slave and I can confirm this. You could use something like Pocket Wizards, but a pair of them will cost quite a bit.

The other option would be to use Canon's IR slave system...but then you would need a master and a slave...and the 430 can only be a slave.

So I guess it depends on how you want to use the flash when off camera, and how much you want to spend.

Most other brands of flash work better with the cheap slaves.
the 430 will still work just fine off camera with a sync cable though.

I have a sub-question; the OP uses a 40D, can you connect one flash to the PC sync out on the camera, and still use the hot shoe with a radio trigger, to fire other flashes?
I have a sub-question; the OP uses a 40D, can you connect one flash to the PC sync out on the camera, and still use the hot shoe with a radio trigger, to fire other flashes?
As far as I know...yes. The PC socket and the hot-shoe will both trigger at the same time...the only issue that I can think of is the timing...they might not all fire at exactly the same moment...so you might not be able to sync at 1/250...but something slower should be fine.
Just bought the 285HV...didn't have a 15' cable in, so that's on order so it won't be stuck to my hot shoe/6" away, but yeah, played around with it in the store

I have had a 430ex and I just ordered the 285 so I can have them both off camera. I trigger the 430ex with skyport radio slaves and the 285 with an optical slave from www.flashzebra.com

Check otu flash zebra. This guy makes custom cables for just about anything you could need and knows a lot about flash photography if you have any questions. I've ordered a few things form him and have been very happy

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