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Author Topic: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!  (Read 6815 times)

Roy

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First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« on: March 24, 2013, 10:44:25 PM »
Hi all,

Started a similar thread over at DPReviews.com. Posting this here as well, to get as much good advice/many good answers as possible.

Just watched a few YouTube videos on flash photography, and found them to be very interesting. I've never used external flash before. I have a Canon EOS 60D and a Fujifilm FinePix X100, and I mainly shoot portraits of friends and family, as well as my dog (using a 50mm f/1.2L and a 24-70 f/2.8L), in addition to some street and landscape with my X100. I'm looking into buying my first external flash (would love a multi-flash setup later), and would like some advice on which one to get. This is mainly for my 60D and portrait/dog photography (compatibility with my X100 would be nice, but not at all required). I don't mind paying more for more features, but if a flash has features I'm never going to use, I'd rather spend my money elsewhere (or on several flash units).

Apart from specific advice on what flash to get, I have a few other questions:

i) What do I need for them to sync wirelessly with my 60D? (Does this require a 'master' unit sitting on the camera?)
ii) Are Canon Speedlites better than third-party alternatives in any way?
iii) What should I look for, specs-wise?
iv) I can afford a 600EX-RT, but I'm guessing there are features I'm guaranteed never to use, and that I'm better off spending money on several other units?
v) Are there any 'must-have' flash accessories?

Thanks a lot, and I apologize in advance for all the questions!

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First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« on: March 24, 2013, 10:44:25 PM »

fonts

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2013, 11:54:33 PM »
Hi all,

Started a similar thread over at DPReviews.com. Posting this here as well, to get as much good advice/many good answers as possible.

Just watched a few YouTube videos on flash photography, and found them to be very interesting. I've never used external flash before. I have a Canon EOS 60D and a Fujifilm FinePix X100, and I mainly shoot portraits of friends and family, as well as my dog (using a 50mm f/1.2L and a 24-70 f/2.8L), in addition to some street and landscape with my X100. I'm looking into buying my first external flash (would love a multi-flash setup later), and would like some advice on which one to get. This is mainly for my 60D and portrait/dog photography (compatibility with my X100 would be nice, but not at all required). I don't mind paying more for more features, but if a flash has features I'm never going to use, I'd rather spend my money elsewhere (or on several flash units).

Apart from specific advice on what flash to get, I have a few other questions:

i) What do I need for them to sync wirelessly with my 60D? (Does this require a 'master' unit sitting on the camera?)
ii) Are Canon Speedlites better than third-party alternatives in any way?
iii) What should I look for, specs-wise?
iv) I can afford a 600EX-RT, but I'm guessing there are features I'm guaranteed never to use, and that I'm better off spending money on several other units?
v) Are there any 'must-have' flash accessories?

Thanks a lot, and I apologize in advance for all the questions!

My two cents.

Only real advantage Canon Speedlight has over third party is ETTL - which tells the flash the "correct" amount of flash FILL power to throw unto the scene.

Seeing as you will be photographing moving subjects then this might be a good advantage for you. I'm not too familiar with the 60D but looking at a quick glimpse I see it has no pop-up flash which means you need a master for Off-Camera. With that fact alone, I would go with the Canon 600-Ex-RT. ATM it's not much more than the 580 plus. You will also want the ST-E3-RT at minimum. It will trigger the 600 pretty reliably from what I hear. This will all come out to about $900. Instead of the ST-E3-RT you can do a second 600-Ex-RT to take advantage of IR focus assist (patch coming soon) and extra fill.

To Add: You don't NEED extra modifiers but I would recommend a Rogue Large FlashBender + Diffuser Panel ($45 for handheld Off-Camera, plus it's sweet how versatile it is); a light stand; diffuser umbrella (has a removable cover); umbrella adapter; and a 5 in 1 reflector.

Also re-reading your post, the 600-EX-RT is definitely the way to go if you want to add more flashes later. We should hopefully see a 430 - RT version of the less expensive flash.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 12:01:35 AM by fonts »

pierceography

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 12:16:13 AM »
I'm not too familiar with the 60D but looking at a quick glimpse I see it has no pop-up flash which means you need a master for Off-Camera.

Incorrect.  The 60D has a popup flash, so you could use a single speedlight off camera in slave mode without additional equipment.

I would also recommend the 600RT, though.  The fact that Canon has finally introduced a radio capable speedlight makes it worth its weight alone.  You could also look into strobes.  Paul Buff products are fantastic.
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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 01:03:54 AM »

Incorrect.  The 60D has a popup flash, so you could use a single speedlight off camera in slave mode without additional equipment.

I would also recommend the 600RT, though.  The fact that Canon has finally introduced a radio capable speedlight makes it worth its weight alone.  You could also look into strobes.  Paul Buff products are fantastic.


Thanks for the correction!

kphoto99

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2013, 01:04:48 AM »
Hi all,

Just watched a few YouTube videos on flash photography, and found them to be very interesting. I've never used external flash before. I have a Canon EOS 60D and a Fujifilm FinePix X100, and I mainly shoot portraits of friends and family, as well as my dog (using a 50mm f/1.2L and a 24-70 f/2.8L), in addition to some street and landscape with my X100. I'm looking into buying my first external flash (would love a multi-flash setup later), and would like some advice on which one to get. This is mainly for my 60D and portrait/dog photography (compatibility with my X100 would be nice, but not at all required). I don't mind paying more for more features, but if a flash has features I'm never going to use, I'd rather spend my money elsewhere (or on several flash units).

Apart from specific advice on what flash to get, I have a few other questions:

i) What do I need for them to sync wirelessly with my 60D? (Does this require a 'master' unit sitting on the camera?)
ii) Are Canon Speedlites better than third-party alternatives in any way?
iii) What should I look for, specs-wise?
iv) I can afford a 600EX-RT, but I'm guessing there are features I'm guaranteed never to use, and that I'm better off spending money on several other units?
v) Are there any 'must-have' flash accessories?

Thanks a lot, and I apologize in advance for all the questions!

I would recommend the Yongnuo YN568ex.
You can use it as the flash on the camera or as a slave to the flash on your 60D. It has ETTL, second curtin and HSS (high speed sync) and it is powerful, well build on the outside (don't know on the inside) and not very expensive, about $170 on ebay.
I highly recommend it as your first flash. If you later buy 600EX-RT you will be able to use the YN as an optical slave.

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dexstrose

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2013, 02:39:32 AM »
That black foamy thing is interesting. I would have gotten that if I didn't have a flashbender.

Do read his site for more info on flash photography and that black foamy thing, very informative.

http://neilvn.com/tangents/about/black-foamie-thing/

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2013, 02:39:32 AM »

boateggs

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2013, 02:41:49 AM »
If you want to spend less, Canon is having a refurb sale and the 430exII is $203 right now. It will work as a slave to your on camera flash. If you are worried about the quality of Canon refurbs, myself and many other people will attest to the quality (I have a refurb 430exII, lens and camera, all are both are great, no problems). I'm glad I got mine, it was a way for me to experiment and start learning about real flashes.

http://shop.usa.canon.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10051_10051_204273_-1
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 02:43:33 AM by boateggs »
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Hillsilly

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2013, 04:51:56 AM »
i) Depends on how sophisticated you want to get and how much you want to spend.  At the cheap and easy end, radio triggers like the Cactus V5s would get you started with good range and reliability.  But its not significantly more expensive to get a more sophisticated system.  The key question is whether you need a system that incorporates high speed synch.

ii)  Canon flashes are well made and you won't have many future compatability problems.  But there are a lot of manufacturers out there.  Metz has a good reputation for quality.  Nissin, Yongnuo, Sigma etc provide similar specs to Canon in cheaper units (of course with build quality to match the price).  My own collection of flashes include Minolta, Sunpak, Vivitar and Nissin as I use an antiquated radio triggering system and system compatability isn't a concern for me.  But I think the 600EX and Canon's new radio triggering system is a game changer.   If I was flash shopping now and it was in my budget, I'd give the 600EX serious thought.

iii)  If you are serious about using the flash on the Fuji, you should be looking for one with an auto mode (AKA Auto Thyristor) and/or a manual mode.  Unfortunately, this rules out some of the cheaper Canon flashes.

The 600EX has an auto exposure mode.  Rather than the camera determining the correct exposure and flash output, the falsh calculates this - you key in the aperture and ISO and the flash uses a small sensor on the front to determine flash output.  I haven't used a 600EX (so do a little more reading), but in theory, this should mean that it can work well with other cameras, like your Fuji.  You would simply put the flash in auto mode and it should deliver the right amount of flash.  If it's not perfect, you would simply dial in some flash compensation.  But the beauty is that it will put you in the right ballpark for flash output straight away.  The results might not be as consistently good compared with ETTL with the Canon bodies, but it should work well most of the time.

Alternatively, you could also use the flash on the Fuji in manual mode and use a little trial and error.  With a bit of practice, you can pick this up pretty quickly.

iv) A multi flash set up gives you some interesting options.  Your list of gear suggests you know what you're doing.  Given what you normally photograph, do you see yourself ever using more than one flash?

v) Flash stand, umbrellas, reflectors.
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Roy

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2013, 02:52:35 PM »
Wow, thanks for all the great replies! :) I have read through all the posts, and I guess I'll be going for the 600EX-RT (I saw that one person suggested a Yongnuo unit), the Speedliter's handbook, and The Black Foamie Thing (!). I'll also get a nice stand, umbrellas and reflectors when I get to know my flash a bit better.

Also: If I'm going to a multi-flash setup down the road, would the only sane thing be to add more 600EX-RTs due to the RF? Would just like to know what I'm committing myself to.

Thank you so much, everyone! If I've forgotten anything, or if there's anything else a flash newbie should know, feel free to post it here!

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2013, 03:06:07 PM »
Wow, thanks for all the great replies! :) I have read through all the posts, and I guess I'll be going for the 600EX-RT (I saw that one person suggested a Yongnuo unit), the Speedliter's handbook, and The Black Foamie Thing (!). I'll also get a nice stand, umbrellas and reflectors when I get to know my flash a bit better.

Also: If I'm going to a multi-flash setup down the road, would the only sane thing be to add more 600EX-RTs due to the RF? Would just like to know what I'm committing myself to.

Thank you so much, everyone! If I've forgotten anything, or if there's anything else a flash newbie should know, feel free to post it here!

I would continue with the Canon RF system down the road. While you get used to flash by the time you feel pretty secure about your skills with one, Canon might have less expensive version of the 600-RT out.

Roy

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2013, 04:06:57 PM »
Wow, thanks for all the great replies! :) I have read through all the posts, and I guess I'll be going for the 600EX-RT (I saw that one person suggested a Yongnuo unit), the Speedliter's handbook, and The Black Foamie Thing (!). I'll also get a nice stand, umbrellas and reflectors when I get to know my flash a bit better.

Also: If I'm going to a multi-flash setup down the road, would the only sane thing be to add more 600EX-RTs due to the RF? Would just like to know what I'm committing myself to.

Thank you so much, everyone! If I've forgotten anything, or if there's anything else a flash newbie should know, feel free to post it here!

I would continue with the Canon RF system down the road. While you get used to flash by the time you feel pretty secure about your skills with one, Canon might have less expensive version of the 600-RT out.
Good point! Thanks!  :)

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2013, 04:24:27 PM »
I recommend this book too. It has taught me a great deal as a flash n00b myself.
http://www.amazon.com/Speedliters-Handbook-Learning-Craft-Speedlites/dp/032171105X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364189042&sr=8-1&keywords=canon+flash+book


I've heard many recommendations on this book, and have been eyeballing it for  a bit...but the fact that it is over 3 years old kinda bothers me, especially with respect to the newer radio flash tech Canon is going towards.

Is this book still really relavent due to it talking only about optical flash sync'ing if using multiple flashes?

I've heard good things about it....wanting to hear a few more good things before buying or deciding to wait to see if a newer edition is coming around the corner....

Would one of his newer books be better to get?

http://www.amazon.com/Lighting-Digital-Photography-Snapshots-Portrait/dp/0321832752/ref=la_B0030620A4_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1364243134&sr=1-2

TIA,

cayenne
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 04:26:28 PM by cayenne »

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2013, 04:24:27 PM »

Beamengine

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2013, 05:14:23 PM »

Roy

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2013, 01:11:59 AM »
Thanks for the advice!

@Beamengine: Great link! Thanks!

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2013, 01:11:59 AM »