Ready to buy a Canon Speedlite (I think)

jjd228

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After my last post and the comments it got I think I'll hold off on the remote triggers for a while and spend money on a good external flash. I have some questions, and I actually have a specific need so I'm hoping to get a recommendation.

I'll be attending a convention in August with a model and I want to get a lot of different shots. Some of the locations at the convention will be dark (it's fetishcon in Tampa). Given that, is it enough information for someone to recommend a Canon Speedlite that will be good in that environment? It should also function nicely as an off camera flash triggered by the flash on my camera for other types of shoots.

Also, I'm guessing ttl is important for the convention I'll be at so as not to have to constantly be adjusting settings. Is that correct?

Thanks for your help.

EDIT: Tell me yes or no on this:

http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/speedlite_flash_lineup/speedlite_430ex_ii
 
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wyogirl

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check out this review of this non-canon flash: YN-560 Review Its really a great speed light and packs more power than the canon that you listed.

Also if you are going into a dark convention center room with an on camera flash you need a way to diffuse that flash or else your pics will look just like grandma's snapshots. Normally when I have to use on-camera flash I bounce off the ceiling to diffuse the light but I have to assume that the ceiling will be too high at this event. If this is your first venture into speedlights and flash, all I am saying is try to replicate the expected environment to practice before you go.
 
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jjd228

jjd228

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check out this review of this non-canon flash: YN-560 Review Its really a great speed light and packs more power than the canon that you listed.

Also if you are going into a dark convention center room with an on camera flash you need a way to diffuse that flash or else your pics will look just like grandma's snapshots. Normally when I have to use on-camera flash I bounce off the ceiling to diffuse the light but I have to assume that the ceiling will be too high at this event. If this is your first venture into speedlights and flash, all I am saying is try to replicate the expected environment to practice before you go.

Thank you! I'll check that review. Can you recommend a way to diffuse the flash with an attachment that would work in that dark convention environment?
 

Big Mike

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Thank you! I'll check that review. Can you recommend a way to diffuse the flash with an attachment that would work in that dark convention environment?
You don't necessarily want to diffuse the flash, but you may want to soften the light. The 'only' way to soften light, is to make the light source larger, relative to the subject....which mean makes it larger and/or closer to the subject. Most of the gimicky flash accessories you see for sale will diffuse the light...but won't really soften it. And many, many photographers use them in situations when they aren't helping and are probably hurting.

The best way to get good quality lighting from your camera-mounted flash, is to bounce the light off of a wall or ceiling (or whatever large surface you have handy). The problem with that, is when you are in a large space (convention hall) or outdoors...where there just isn't a convenient surface to bounce off of.

One part of using your flash effectively, is being about to bounce, in order to create your own quality light. But another part of using flash is knowing how to control the quantity of light and balancing that with the ambient lighting. If you can control your flash to ambient ratio, then you may not need to have a bag full of expensive flash gadgets.
 

Big Mike

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Also, my personal opinion is that you'll be better off with the Canon flash (the 430EX II is a good one). The off-brand model may offer more power for your money...but there is usually some sort of compromise, either in features or build quality.
 
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jjd228

jjd228

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Thank you! I'll check that review. Can you recommend a way to diffuse the flash with an attachment that would work in that dark convention environment?
You don't necessarily want to diffuse the flash, but you may want to soften the light. The 'only' way to soften light, is to make the light source larger, relative to the subject....which mean makes it larger and/or closer to the subject. Most of the gimicky flash accessories you see for sale will diffuse the light...but won't really soften it. And many, many photographers use them in situations when they aren't helping and are probably hurting.

The best way to get good quality lighting from your camera-mounted flash, is to bounce the light off of a wall or ceiling (or whatever large surface you have handy). The problem with that, is when you are in a large space (convention hall) or outdoors...where there just isn't a convenient surface to bounce off of.

One part of using your flash effectively, is being about to bounce, in order to create your own quality light. But another part of using flash is knowing how to control the quantity of light and balancing that with the ambient lighting. If you can control your flash to ambient ratio, then you may not need to have a bag full of expensive flash gadgets.

Thanks! I remember I was in a nightclub once and a magazine was there shooting. The guy had an on camera flash that had a big white cone around it like the kind they put on a dog after they cut his nuts off :) What was he getting from that?
 

wyogirl

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what he said....because he explained it better than I did. I have an on-camera flash "softbox" in my bag and it does nothing for me. Bouncing and control are key. If you can, an assistant holding a reflector for you to bounce off of would be nice, but you run the risk of it showing in your pics if you aren't careful.
 

wyogirl

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I have to say that the YN-560 is really a gem, but it is an all manual flash and doesn't have high speed sync. YN also makes TTL flashes and I have the 460 (I think) and it works beautifully. Good recycle rates and great output.
 

cynicaster

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Thanks! I remember I was in a nightclub once and a magazine was there shooting. The guy had an on camera flash that had a big white cone around it like the kind they put on a dog after they cut his nuts off :) What was he getting from that?

Sounds like he had a softbox mounted to his flash. I've never used one of those myself, and I can see how they probably help a little bit with making the light a bit less harsh, but I'd imagine their benefit is limited because they don't address the main problem, which is the "deer in headlights" look to the photos that is caused by the light source being almost coincident with the lens axis.

You could try hand-holding your external flash up and away from the camera axis, or have a friend do that for you, and trigger it with the camera's master function. I've done this in the past and it can produce some neat looking results but the shadows will be pretty harsh without some kind of softening. In absence of neutral-colored surfaces such as low-ish ceilings and walls from which to bounce your flash, there's no extremely simple/light/convenient/compact silver-bullet gadget that will make good speedlight photography in a cavernous convention hall an easy task.
 

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Thank you! I'll check that review. Can you recommend a way to diffuse the flash with an attachment that would work in that dark convention environment?
You don't necessarily want to diffuse the flash, but you may want to soften the light. The 'only' way to soften light, is to make the light source larger, relative to the subject....which mean makes it larger and/or closer to the subject. Most of the gimicky flash accessories you see for sale will diffuse the light...but won't really soften it. And many, many photographers use them in situations when they aren't helping and are probably hurting.

The best way to get good quality lighting from your camera-mounted flash, is to bounce the light off of a wall or ceiling (or whatever large surface you have handy). The problem with that, is when you are in a large space (convention hall) or outdoors...where there just isn't a convenient surface to bounce off of.

One part of using your flash effectively, is being about to bounce, in order to create your own quality light. But another part of using flash is knowing how to control the quantity of light and balancing that with the ambient lighting. If you can control your flash to ambient ratio, then you may not need to have a bag full of expensive flash gadgets.

Thanks! I remember I was in a nightclub once and a magazine was there shooting. The guy had an on camera flash that had a big white cone around it like the kind they put on a dog after they cut his nuts off :) What was he getting from that?
I'd guess he was using something like the Lightsphere . It's one of the expensive and often-misused flash accessories.

Whether or not they work, and how well they may work, really depends on the situation that they are used it. If the indoor location is small enough, then the light from something like the L.S. will spread out and bounce off the walls & ceiling etc. The light then comes back to the subject as soft and omnidirectional. Of course, much of the light goes directly from the flash to the subject. So if the flash is close to the subject, and the walls are far away...then the bounced light will likely be useless.

And if there are no suitable (close) surfaces to bounce that light off of, then most of the light from the flash is wasted (sent off in all directions)...and the only useful light is that which goes directly to the subject. But because it's still a relatively small light source, the quality isn't really improved over shooting the flash without the 'plastic hat'. And the bad part about this, is because most of the light is being wasted, the flash has to fire at a much higher power level, which causes longer recycle times and eats the batteries faster.

The really key to knowing what to get (if anything) and how to use it...is to understand how light works. Too many people buy these things and just stick them on their flash...not really knowing whether it will help or hurt their photos. In most cases, knowing how to control their flash exposure (and flash to ambient ratio) will make you a better photographer than just putting a noodle cup on your flash. ;)
 

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