Benefits of external flash

Dylan

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Can anyone tell me the benefits of having an external flash (speedlite etc)? I'm wondering if it is worth the extra money and what I might gain by having one. Also, does anyone have experience with a Canon Macro ring flash? This thing looks like it would be very helpful and I'm wondering how it works. Thanks,

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JDP

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One of the biggest benefits to having an external flash is you can aim it up/down left/right - not to mention it raises the light even higher off the camera, and the higher the flash, the less likely you'll getred eye.
Also, with the light aimed up, skin tends to look more 'natural'.

And if the ring flash is what I'm thinking it is - it's mainly there so when you're doing extreme closeups with flash there isn't a shadow from the lens, since the flash is at the end of it. Works wonderfully for that, but they do tend to have less power due to being mere inches from the subject :)
 

hobbes28

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An external flash has a multitude of uses. You can use it indoors to take photos and bounce the flash from the ceiling, wall, floor, window, whatever to give interesting lighting to the image. It also, when bounced, gives a more even light than using the on camera flash and is less direct.

An external is also further away from the lens so if fired directly toward the subject, the chance for red eye is dramatically reduced. It's a more powerful flash so if you want to take a picture in the harsh sun, it can act as a fill flash to reduce the shadows. Also, when shooting a mixed subject, like people and a sunset background, it will allow for you to meter off of the sun and still brighten up the foreground as well.

I've never personally used the Canon ring flash but know people that do and it is great for taking macro images. It acts sort of like a round florescent (sp) bulb that lights up a close subject for you to capture detail and have excellent lighting. Otherwise, you either have to use natural light or bounce something and hope the light covers it. The on camera flash will usually be blocked by the lens when wanting to take a macro shot.

Hope all that mumbo jumbo rambling helps. :D

ETA - sorry for the repeat there. I type a lot slower than JDP ;)
 

ksmattfish

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More power. More control. Less red-eye.

Ring flashes are designed for macro-photography. Used for other subjects they cause a ring shaped catchlight, but other than that it would end up being similar to a built in flash as they are about as close to the lens axis as it's possible to get.
 

Torus34

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A cautionary note:

There are many older flash units available. Buying one can give you a much more powerful/versatile unit for your money than you can get by buying a new one.

But there's a possible problem. Some old units have a very high 'trigger' voltage. That's the voltage that runs from the flash unit through your camera's internal contacts when you trip the shutter. Modern digitals usually have an upper limit of around 24 vdc. There is a possibility [I don't know how great it is,] that a high voltage could 'fry' your camera's internal contacts.

Flash trigger voltage is easy to check. Just measure the voltage at the flash-to-camera contacts when the flash unit is fully charged. Start with the voltmeter at its highest setting and work down the scales to protect the voltmeter.
 
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Dylan

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Wow thanks for all the input everyone. That helps a lot. I'm just getting into photography and I can see how this will help me a lot. As for the ring flash, it's a pretty cool concept however I had no idea how much they cost. I priced it at around 650.00 or so. Way way out of my budget. I like to shoot macro's but I think I'll invest in a good tripod instead. Thanks again for the help.

Dylan

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