In need of help.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Jixii1270, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. Jixii1270

    Jixii1270 TPF Noob!

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    I am new in the photography world (3 months), and I am looking to buy a Speedlite/flash, but I have no clue what I am looking for. I currently have a Canon T7i with a 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, 10-18MM 4.5-5.6 and an 18-55mm 3.5-5.6. I'm still learning, but I find that I love portraits and street/urban photography.

    My question is what kind of Speedlite do I get, what do I look for in a Speedlite/flash.


     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Look for the power level, and the price you can afford! More powerful models cost more. Canon-brand costs significantly more than Yongnuo or Neewer or Meike. Scantips.com is an excellent site to learn a LOT about flash units! The site's founder and creator is a member here, and he KNOWS his flash stuff!

    Digital Image Basics 101 - All about images from cameras and scanning

    I'd spend $80-$159, generally on a newer, made-in-China, third-party flash. Much more for a genuine Canon-branded model.
     
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  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Be sure the head tilts and swivels.

    You'll find that you can still get good light if you bounce the light from some nearby white/light surface, even when the flash is mounted in the hotshoe.
     
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  4. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Just picked up a used Neewer and it works very well. Had a gig in a dark basement and the Neewer lit the whole thing very evenly.
     
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  5. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If money isn't a big concern and you want automation... Canon's new Speedlite 470EX-AI is pretty slick.

    This is marketed more toward entry level photographers (an experienced photographer would not be likely to use the AI feature).

    The flash measures the ceilings, walls, subject distance, etc. and determines how best to angle the flash head to get the best lighting.



    But not cheap... it is about $400.
     
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  6. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As your first flash, don't expect the flash to meet ALL your needs.
    • As your first flash, I advise caution. Going whole hog, with a high end Canon (or Nikon for the Nikon shooters) flash may seem ideal, but you will spend a lot of $$$ and may not use most of its capabilities.
    • Expect to get another flash in a year or two or three, after you learn more.
    • You have to live within your budget, so you will have to compromise, to get the price down to what you can afford.
    • You will learn how to use a flash and over time will find what the flash you buy can and cannot do, and more about what you want in a flash. That will help YOU plan your next flash.
      • Some of the stuff that I want in MY flash is not something that 90% of the people will want.
    The Yongnuo/Neewer flashes seem like a good starter flash with a decent amount of functionality at about the $100 price point.
    I recall seeing recommendations for the Yongnuo YN568EX IIC-USA E-TTL
    And remember, this is your "starter" flash.
     
  7. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    On the outside, we think of the flash as providing a momentary burst of light ... and it does that. But there are a lot of nuances that result in interesting capabilities and features that separate flashes.

    A completely manual flash is typically the least expensive. But it's up to you to determine how to control the flash power. Most flashes (even many non-expensive units) have at least some capability to automate this so it's often not necessary for the photographer to have to learn to control a flash manually... but still helpful.

    As a beginner, you *probably* want a flash that supports the Canon E-TTL system. This automates how the camera & flash work together to compute the correct amount of power for a shot. Usually (but not always) it will do a good job. This avoids you having to know how to control flash power (something you should learn anyway, but having some automation does simplify things).

    You definitely want a flash that allows the flash head to be tilted and rotated (so you can bounce and feather the light).

    You also want a flash that allows you to focus the reflector so you can have a tight or broad beam of light.

    You also want a flash that can be used and trigger off-camera as a "slave" in an E-TTL system. Canon's latest flashes have radio technology built-in (but the camera does NOT have a radio transmitter built-in so you'd still need a way to trigger the off-camera flash ... either a 2nd flash or a dedicated radio controller can do this). Most flashes that can work off-camera can be trigger via "optical" trigger. Radio doesn't require a line of sight.

    There are many other features...

    High speed sync mode (allows you to shoot at speeds faster than the maximum flash-sync speed)

    2nd curtain sync mode (good for moving subjects in long exposure shots)

    Multi-strobic mode (I've never used this... except to play ... it allows the flash to pulse at a timed rate you control during long exposure shots (e.g. a moving subject shows up in multiple positions within a single shot)

    But one of the biggest features is the power. How much light will the flash be able to throw on a subject at a distance.

    This power is rated using something called a "guide number". Guide number could measured in feet or in meters but most use meters these days (Canon uses meters on their flashes). For Canon brand (and ONLY for Canon brand... 3rd party flashes that are compatible don't do this), the guide number is part of the flash's model number. For example, the 600EX has a guide number of 60 meters. The 430EX has a guide number of 43 meters. The 320EX has a guide number of 32 meters (e.g. just remove the "0EX" from the model number and the remaining digits are your guide number).

    So what's a guide number?

    It's the distance at which the flash can adequately illuminate a subject ASSUMING you are using ISO 100 and the lens aperture of f/1.0.

    The ISO 100 is no problem... but what's up with f/1.0? Who has an f/1.0 lens (although some have been made). The reason for f/1.0 is that is a baseline that makes the math easy. All you do is divide the guide number by the ACTUAL f-stop you plan to use ... and that's your distance (but it would only be that easy if the Guide Number system was based on f/1.).

    So if you plan to use f/5.6, you divide the guide number by 5.6. E.g. suppose you have a Canon 430EX III-RT flash (Guide number is 43 meters). 43 meter is 141 feet. Divide that by 5.6 and you get about 25 feet. That means the flash can adequately illuminate a subject 25 feet away if you use f/5.6 (at ISO 100). Pretty easy once you know the rule.

    You might think 25 feet sounds like a lot...

    BUT... you may be using a flash modifier... a soft box, a shoot-through umbrella. You might be reflecting the flash (bouncing it) off another surface (such as the ceiling or wall). All those things "eat" light (probably at least half the light). Bouncing means it also has to travel a greater distance and if it bounces off a "scattering" surface (diffusion) than the light is considerably more spread out (less light lands on YOUR subject because more of it scatters off in other directions that miss your subject).

    For this reason, it's nice to have a powerful flash when you plan to use it with flash modifiers.
     
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  8. beagle100

    beagle100 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    good advice, yongnuo works fine (but maybe not for future camera models)
    an old used Canon 430exII also works fine
    www.flickr.com/photos/mmirrorless
     
  9. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    My ideas about what flash to buy are “evolving”.

    For the longest time, I’d say you should just buy a Canon flash for a Canon camera... buy a Nikon flash for Nikon camera... and avoid the sub-$100 cheap flashes.

    Part of that was because I would encounter forum complaints about reliability & consistency (e.g. with the Canon E-TTL system or the Nikon iTTL system) and also comments that complained that even when using the flash in manual mode (no E-TTL or iTTL) that the flash didn’t consistently provide the same amount of power on flash after flash.

    But it seems like the quality as improved over time and current models of inexpensive 3rd party flashes are no longer getting the complaints that I used to see.

    I personally use Canon (brand name) flashes with the Canon radio system and it serves me well. I considered getting 3rd party flashes with the “Pocket Wizard” system for E-TTL (but read many complaints about consistency) so I avoided it and went with Canon. NOW that I’m on all Canon gear, it’s no big deal for me to just stick with it.

    If I were buying “today” (now that quality is improved), I might be willing to use 3rd party flashes.

    If I were putting food on my table via photography, then the reliability of the gear and my reputation to provide quality to my clients would be paramount and I’d only buy top gear (there is some 3rd party gear that isn’t cheap ... and is very high quality... e.g. I wouldn’t snub my nose at a Profoto B1x system or A1 system... but they aren’t cheap).

    If I were doing photography for my own personal enjoyment (and I am), then owning the _most_ reliable top-end gear isn’t necessarily as important. Affordable gear that can provide usable results would be more than adequate.
     

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