Flash Questions

LiveStrong2009

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The time has come that I am interested in purchasing a flash. Even after trying to read up on flash units, many of the details described on retail website confuse me.

When using a flash like a Canon Speedlite 430ex ii as a slave, what are the downfalls? Why do many people have that 3' long cable running between the camera and flash, in order to use it off camera? Could I use an off-brand flash like a Vivitar as a slave, or are they brand specific?

Everything is clear to me as far as using the camera in the hotshoe, but making the flash fire off-camera is confusing me.

What would I need to fire a Speedlite off-camera, without the on-board flash firing? Can I use multiple flash units?

My final question: Why would I choose a Speedlite 580 vs the 430? I can see that the 580 is more powerful, but what additional features would I find useful that the 430 does not have?

Thanks!
 

Scatterbrained

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Have you looked at the different flashes in a store? My favorite feature of the 580exII over the previous flash units is the quick release cam style hotshoe lock. To me this is worth the price of admission on it's own, but I highly value convenience. As far as firing off camera, you'll need a radio transmitter and a receiver. I've seen lot's of people using the Cactus V4s they get off of ebay. Personally I use the PCB Cybersyncs with a cybercommander, but that's more because I also use it in my little home studio. The ultimate is the new set up from PocketWizard,as they do ETTL. If you're on a tight budget you could get a long ETTL cord from FlashZebra.
If you want to use multiple strobes you could get an extra receiver or run a master/slave set up. The 580 will work as a master flash, but I don't think the 400 series will.
 
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LiveStrong2009

LiveStrong2009

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Well, cost is taken into consideration because I am a college student on a budget. However, I have learned my lesson about going the cheap route... with all of my hobbies I have purchased a couple entry level products and regretted it later.

So assuming that at some point I will use more than one flash, would a kit like this make sense and be sufficient?
Cactus V4 Radio Slave Set w/Extra Wireless Receiver - eBay (item 110601593577 end time Nov-20-10 12:24:09 PST)

or

As you mentioned, the 580 can be used as a master flash... To fire the 580, what do you connect to--- in order to fire a slave flash? Wouldn't you still need a transmitter/ receiver to fire the 580?

Imagine taking some portraits of a person in a forest with shadows all around, what would equipment you bring along? Diffuser? Softbox? Umbrellas?

I intend to read a book dedicated to flash photography techniques and equipment soon, but time is tight right now.

Thanks for the reply!
 

kundalini

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... Personally I use the PCB Cybersyncs with a cybercommander, but that's more because I also use it in my little home studio....
How's the CyberCommander working for you? I'm quite interested in having the ability to take readings make adjustments at the camera. Is it accurate? Thx.


OP: I've read the Catus triggers are okay.
 

Scatterbrained

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Accurate with PCB is a relative term. Since I'm using it with all ABs it seems to be ok. I usually have to push all of my images a bit after the fact but I think that's as much the nature of the 5D2 as it is with this system. I do have issues with it firing off the strobes from the camera, so I use the regular transmitter and the cybercommander is used for setting up the lights. Occasionally i have an issue where I'll go to fire off one strobe and all the strobes will fire then the CC will reboot. GRRRR. Oh well, for the money it does what I need it to do and when I have a light backed against a wall it makes adjustments quite easy.
 

Scatterbrained

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On a side note, there is a YouTube video of a guy who uses it in his portrait studio walking through how it works. He sits in a chair and sets all of his lights. That is what convinced me to buy into the PCB system.
 

table1349

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Most of your questions can be answered here and here. The first link is an excellent read for anyone using the Canon EOS flash system. The second is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to go off camera.
 
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LiveStrong2009

LiveStrong2009

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Thank you for the links, I will take a good hard look at all of those. It should give me something entertaining, as I am sitting here in the most boring class in the world--geology!
 

kundalini

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... I do have issues with it firing off the strobes from the camera, ....
I was reading on the PCB TechForum earlier today about this issue. The responses from tech support seemed to be blaming low battery level. Not definitive IMO.
 

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Of course it won't be a software issue... the unit has done it since new with a brand new energizer lithium battery in it. I could see it if I was using some Sunbeam battery from the dollar store but hey, what do I know.
 

Blips

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My favorite subject of photography is this Off Camera Flash use. It is overwhelming if you have no clue how to do it and so easy once you know. Can I get you all interested in a website I maintain? Please take a look at the magazine style OCFworkshop.com blog recently launched and a different approach you might like. (or not) (You can read it on your iPone too.)
If you want to understand e-TTL you should understand manual flash with manual camera settings first and if you master that it becomes easy and second nature.
 
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LiveStrong2009

LiveStrong2009

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Cool, I will be taking a look at that link more when I have some free-time later. Thanks!

Welcome to the forum!! :D
 
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LiveStrong2009

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Well, I guess after reading into lots of these links as well as tons of other information on similar sites, I have decided that a 430exii, probably a softbox, and reflector are the next items on the list for me.

Anybody have suggestions, preferences, or opinions on umbrellas vs. softbox?
 

Blips

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Well, I guess after reading into lots of these links as well as tons of other information on similar sites, I have decided that a 430exii, probably a softbox, and reflector are the next items on the list for me.

Anybody have suggestions, preferences, or opinions on umbrellas vs. softbox?

If you are on a budget and want to start strobist style my suggestion would be;
A manual flash from eBay or other sources; for example the YoungNuo YN-560 $86 or the Lumopro 160, $159 and a 60" umbrella $30 and the Yongnuo RF-602 radio triggers $30. (Just do a google or bing search for what I mentioned and you will find it.) Total price between $150 and $200 (Have it all instead of 1 Canon 430EX II) (The only disadvantage is you can not do TTL)

To get back to your question about the choice of an umbrella (Shoot thru) $30 (any brand will do) or a softbox $130 (Westcott Apollo 28"), you will eventually want both. An umbrella wraps light around your subject while a softbox is more directional but both produce soft light if you stick them close enough to your subject. To learn this whole light deal I would start with a manual flash, a 60" umbrella, less investment and a more forgiving light. And instead of a second flash use a 43" 5 in 1 reflector.

Makes sense?
 
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