Canon multi-flash setup


TPF Noob!
Jan 17, 2012
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Greetings all! Just had a question regarding multiple flash units for a Canon T1i. I have several flashes including Sunpak and Vivitar and was curious if they would work with a wireless flash trigger system with the T1i. Basically trying to save some money for now and play around with these flashes instead of investing in Canon. I realize that I would have to resort to metering, manual mode, etc., which does not bother me, but am rather unfamiliar with the digital aspect. I come from a film background that includes commercial photography, so my school of thought is still in the flash meter, strobe packs, etc mode. I'm sure that dedicated Canon flashes would make this a breeze...may still invest anyway but just curious. Thanks!​
Yes they will work with a wireless flash trigger system. You could get a flashlight to work as a wireless strobe if you were so inclined. But they won't be ETTL so you will control them manually. Personally, that's what I prefer, but ETTL certainly has its benefits.

Pocket Wizards are the standard for wireless but are expensive.
I recommend cybersync by Paul Buff.
Canon's proprietary wireless flash system uses pulses of light from a master flash (or IR from the St-E2 non-flash master). The pulses are read by the slaves, pre-flashes are used to determine the exposure (E-TTL). Keep in mind you need a 'master' unit on camera for this system. So that's either a 550EX, a 580EX or an St-E2.

There are some off-brand flashes that supposedly work with this system, but as they will have to have been reverse engineered, some of them may not work as well as Canon gear (not to mention the lower build quality etc.)

If you are comfortable with manual flash metering and exposure, then I'd suggest getting some radio flash triggers. The basic ones don't communicate information for TTL metering etc., they just tell the flash(s) when to fire.

You can get cheap sets for at little as $40. I do also recommend the Cyber Sync triggers. A set (for a couple flashes) may cost you a couple hundred, but that's less than the industry standard, which is the Pocket Wizard Plus II at $160 each unit.

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