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Author Topic: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!  (Read 7088 times)

Skirball

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2013, 04:12:33 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 strongly recommend against it, and put another +1 for Yongnuo.  You don’t know whether or not you’ll get into flash, or off-camera flash, and the 600 is a big investment.  Especially when you start adding in light stands, modifiers and a host of other supplies.  Get a cheap flash, if you end up getting into off-camera flash you’ll end up owning a lot more than one, so it won’t go to waste.

Personally I’d grab that refurb 430exII that was mentioned above.  It’s a reliable Canon (it is nice to have a reliable flash or two), you’ll have eTTL on-camera, and cash left over for accessories and the inevitable second flash you’ll get if you get into it.  I’d take some of that money and buy some cheap wireless triggers.  I love my Yongnuo RF-602s, but if I was to rebuy today I’d probably drop a little more cash for the 622s with eTTL.  The nice thing about the 602s is they’re dirt cheap ($25 for a set), so you can outfit a bunch of strobes for cheap.  If you grabbed that refurb 430 ($200) and a set of 602s ($25), you could be in a grand total of $300 for wireless flash with a stand, umbrella, and some accessories.  You don’t need off-camera eTTL to start.  And if you want to upgrade to an eTTL wireless, the 602s won’t set you back much, and you can always use them as a remote shutter trigger.  When you’re looking to expand your lighting setup, don’t hesitate to fill out your strobe lineup with some cheap Yongnuos, not every strobe needs to be high end.  I have a Canon 430 and 580, and Yongnuo 460 (2X) and 580 (can’t remember if that’s the number).  If I need eTTL or reliability, I grab a Canon.  When I need to put a light over water or stuck up on a pole, I grab a YN.  When I’m doing more complex lighting I use the basic YN 460s for background lighting or adding more juice, while the Canon speedlites are there for key and fill that needs to be more delicately controlled.  It works.

I'd also highly recommend spending some time reading Strobist, there is a wealth of information on that site and it doesn't suffer for the gearism that is on this one.  Edit:  just saw this was already mentioned.  It's worth stating twice, awesome site.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 04:14:09 PM by Skirball »

Marsu42

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2013, 07:20:57 PM »
My advice after been there, done that what you wrote: Really first get and read "Syl Arena: Speedliter's Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites", *then* decide what to buy. I regularly miss my bus stop because the book is so interesting and nicely written. It doesn't cover the 600rt, but you figure out the menu yourself, won't you :-p ?

Of course a dozen of 600rt are great (or just one for on-camera flash with a bracket) - but for multi-flash setups there are lots of other options that won't cost you €500 per flash, and with Canon's rf system you aren't able to trigger anything other than 600rt flashes (thanks, Canon) - so do read this book and take an informed decision.

Another one I have is this http://www.amazon.com/Canon-Speedlite-System-Digital-Field/dp/111811289X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364245252&sr=8-1&keywords=canon+speedlite+system it covers the 600 in very great detail including all custom and personal fuctions and when you would use each setting. But it isn't as good a read and doesn't cover as much hands on stuff as the Syl's Speedliters guide.
+1 - I've also got this one and it's boring, very few rather mediocre examples, it's basically a manual with some creative appendix. Skip it.

http://www.amazon.com/Bill-Hurters-Small-Flash-Photography/dp/1608952827/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364245243&sr=1-2&keywords=small+flash+techniques+for+digital

Is it worth it to get this book in addition to Syl's?

fonts

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2013, 01:44:31 AM »
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 strongly recommend against it, and put another +1 for Yongnuo.  You don’t know whether or not you’ll get into flash, or off-camera flash, and the 600 is a big investment.  Especially when you start adding in light stands, modifiers and a host of other supplies.  Get a cheap flash, if you end up getting into off-camera flash you’ll end up owning a lot more than one, so it won’t go to waste.

Personally I’d grab that refurb 430exII that was mentioned above.  It’s a reliable Canon (it is nice to have a reliable flash or two), you’ll have eTTL on-camera, and cash left over for accessories and the inevitable second flash you’ll get if you get into it.  I’d take some of that money and buy some cheap wireless triggers.  I love my Yongnuo RF-602s, but if I was to rebuy today I’d probably drop a little more cash for the 622s with eTTL.  The nice thing about the 602s is they’re dirt cheap ($25 for a set), so you can outfit a bunch of strobes for cheap.  If you grabbed that refurb 430 ($200) and a set of 602s ($25), you could be in a grand total of $300 for wireless flash with a stand, umbrella, and some accessories.  You don’t need off-camera eTTL to start.  And if you want to upgrade to an eTTL wireless, the 602s won’t set you back much, and you can always use them as a remote shutter trigger.  When you’re looking to expand your lighting setup, don’t hesitate to fill out your strobe lineup with some cheap Yongnuos, not every strobe needs to be high end.  I have a Canon 430 and 580, and Yongnuo 460 (2X) and 580 (can’t remember if that’s the number).  If I need eTTL or reliability, I grab a Canon.  When I need to put a light over water or stuck up on a pole, I grab a YN.  When I’m doing more complex lighting I use the basic YN 460s for background lighting or adding more juice, while the Canon speedlites are there for key and fill that needs to be more delicately controlled.  It works.

I'd also highly recommend spending some time reading Strobist, there is a wealth of information on that site and it doesn't suffer for the gearism that is on this one.  Edit:  just saw this was already mentioned.  It's worth stating twice, awesome site.

The point I suggested the 600RT is mainly for ETTL and future-proofing his investment. Yes, you can also do the 430ex, but the main point is for ETTL because of your moving subjects. I wouldn't go for a third party now, because you need reliable flash right now

Ido

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2013, 04:00:56 AM »
I was somewhat in the same position as you.
I also have a 60D, and I bought my first external flash last month.

Even though I could afford the 600EX, I didn't buy it simply because it was an overkill for me as a hobbyist (features and power output)

I mainly wanted to use the flash off-camera, so with the 60D it's not a problem as long as you have a visual between the slave and your pop-up flash.
I ended up with the 430EX-II, and I am extremely happy with it.


I've been reading through this thread, and I've seen many useful links, and I would like to contribute  as well :)
http://strobox.com/ - This site is awesome for learning flash photography and might give you some inspiration.

Good luck  :D


Edit: Oh! be sure to get at least 4 Eneloop batteries
« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 04:56:54 AM by Ido »
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Marsu42

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2013, 04:07:48 AM »
The point I suggested the 600RT is mainly for ETTL and future-proofing his investment. Yes, you can also do the 430ex, but the main point is for ETTL because of your moving subjects. I wouldn't go for a third party now, because you need reliable flash right now

You make it sound as if 3rd party flashes are Chinese trash/throw-away products - I don't think this is the case anymore. Yes, for mission-critical work (like weddings) less components might be an advantage, and with Canon cps you have instant replacement of defective units - but for other multi-flash setups the price difference is so immense.

I got my 600rt because a) the af assist beam covers the 5d3/1dx af spread and b) the 200mm reflector. But for other slave flashes I certainly won't pay €500 per piece.

Canon might have less expensive version of the 600-RT out.

Problem is, if (if!) this happens then the "small" flash will also be crippled like the 430ex2 (less head rotation, no ext. power power, ... , ... , ...) and still be much more expensive than strong optical 3rd party flashes.

The main drawback of the rf system: If they don't release cheap rf triggers your're limited to the Canon's system as you cannot trigger optical ettl slaves at the same time. Canon prevented the 600rt to work in dual rt/optical mode though I don't see any reason other than marketing/money grabbing (thanks, Canon!).

RLPhoto

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2013, 09:48:54 AM »
Welcome to the rabbit hole that is flash photography. Personally, if I had to do it all over again, I'd buy a 430II straight off and put most of my money in alienbees.

Marsu42

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2013, 10:50:45 AM »
Personally, if I had to do it all over again, I'd buy a 430II straight off and put most of my money in alienbees.

Could you elaborate on that?

RLPhoto

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2013, 10:54:09 AM »
Personally, if I had to do it all over again, I'd buy a 430II straight off and put most of my money in alienbees.

Could you elaborate on that?

A 430II for basic fill flash, bounce, and AF-assist beam use. For off-camera a B800 or Einstein with VML's can do far more stuff than just speedlites. I'm a sucker for big octo-boxes and beauty dishes and a speedlite would limit me too quickly.

Not saying I haven't speedlited smaller stuff but it just doesn't offer me what AB's do.

Skirball

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2013, 11:34:27 AM »
The point I suggested the 600RT is mainly for ETTL and future-proofing his investment. Yes, you can also do the 430ex, but the main point is for ETTL because of your moving subjects. I wouldn't go for a third party now, because you need reliable flash right now

430ex has eTTL, as does the 580.  As does a couple of the Yongnuo.  Why does he need reliable flash right now?  While he's learning doing dog and portrait photography?  Regardless, I think you're highly underestimating the ability of Yongnuo flashes.  Their issue is in QC, not long term reliability.  Mine are every bit as reliable as my Canon flashes.

And the only thing you're future-proofing by getting a 600RT, is that you have to buy the highest end Canon flash, and the not yet released options that will also come with a high pricetag (and create a great used market of 430 and 580s) if you want the system.

Don Haines

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2013, 11:39:37 AM »
And if looking at using longer lenses, the BetterBeamers allow a much more concentrated flash....
The best camera is the one in your hands

Marsu42

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2013, 11:57:48 AM »
I'm a sucker for big octo-boxes and beauty dishes and a speedlite would limit me too quickly.

Thanks!

And if looking at using longer lenses, the BetterBeamers allow a much more concentrated flash....

Needless to mention the nice thing about the 600rt is that the 200mm reflector is built-in (just like radio) and doesn't need a wiggly attachment - I like shooting with the 600rt for fill flash with my 70-300L when running around outdoors. But if attachments are ok, there are much better and cheaper options than Canon's current isolated solution.

and create a great used market of 430 and 580s

You wish - at least on German eBay the prices are still very high, that's one reason I bit the bullet and got a 600rt. It seems at least atm few people are willing to switch to the 600rt... and I don't think that'll change if the 430ex-successor price is also very high.

Concerning reliability: Canon's 580ex series is known to have a bug when the flash breaks when doing successive high power hss flashes (this is fixed in the 430ex2 and 600rt)...

Skirball

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2013, 12:05:19 PM »
In comparison to the 600EX-RT the 430EX II has restricted bounce capability,

True, and it's obvious that Canon intentional does this to lower models.  I can't say it's affected me much, but it's also why I support having a variety of different models (if you get into flash), from the simplistic YN 460 that can't even zoom, to a 580exII that can do it all.  You only need 1 flash with full rotation, anything off camera can be adjusted as needed.

just over half the range,

By my math it's 71.7%.  If we're going to round so loosely I think I'd call it 75% not 50%.  The 580 has 96.7% the range.

an ancient counter intuitive menu,

Mostly irrelevant if you're wireless triggers.  Though I admit ignorance on the subject, I shoot mostly manual so all I do is turn the flashes up or down.

and will almost certainly never be compatible with the current RT system.

Of course not.  The whole assumption is that you use some of your savings getting third party wireless triggers that don't box you into Canon's RT system.

It can't take an external battery pack, be triggered via the cheapest and most universal PC connector method,

You're right.  But the 580 can.  And I don't see much of a need for more than 1 (the on camera unit).  If you're going to do serious studio work you need to invest in a wall unit like ABs.

it doesn't have a bounce/catchlight card.

I don't find much use in them, they're too small.  If I need some bounce I'm grabbing one of the (much bigger) pieces of posterboard cutouts that I keep in my pack for this purpose.  I find it to be significantly more effective, those much goofier looking as well.

It can't act as a controller for other flashes

Again, the whole point is to use third party triggers.  I've tried the Canon line of sight triggering with my 580/430, and it's nice as a backup, but once you go Radio you never really go back.


and it doesn't have a plethora of custom functions and personal functions that can be useful and fun.

Like what?  I feel like the majority of "strobists" that are doing creative work with their strobes are shooting manual anyway.


I'm not trying to say the 600RT is a bad flash, I'm just saying it pigeonholes you into the Canon system, where as the third party/Frankenstein approach is cheaper and leaves much more flexibility. But hey, if you have $2200 laying around for a basic four light system, have at it.


Fatfaso

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2013, 12:06:56 PM »
Ok. If you want to get good results, but not spend an arm and a leg, here's what you need to get:

1. Yongnuo 568 (start with 1 and if you find you want to shape the light more, you can buy 1 or 2 more). Cost: $170

2. Yongnuo 622c radio triggers. These are inexpensive and give you full ETTL control from your Canon camera menu. Cheaper than Pocket Wizards and more than good enough for a beginner. Cost: $90 for a set if 2

3. Go to creativelive.com and purchase Speedlighting 101 with Mark Wallace. It's a 3-day web workshop that will teach you everything about off-camera flash. Cost: $150 and worth every penny.

4. Go to Flickr and take a look at the strobist group. You'll get an idea of the kinds of pics you'll be able to achieve with 1 speedlite, 2 speedlites and so on. Cost: Free

5. Purchase a cheap air cushioned light stand from Adorama or B&HVideo along with an umbrella holder. Cost: Around $45

6. Purchase convertible 45 inch umbrella (removable black top and shoot through white underneath. Cost: $30-$45

If you get all of that you should have a cheap-ish 1 light set up that will allow you to take portraits that have nice soft light. If you decide to get a softbox, I recommend the Cheetah QBox over the Lastolite Ezbox. It's cheaper, comes with accessories.

Bottom line, the Yongnuo 568 gives you all the features of Canon's previous flagship flash (558 ex ii), with only a small decrease in power it lacks the built-in radio triggering of Canon's 600ex-RT, but so what? If you buy the 600, you're limited to working with only Canon flashes, which are very expensive. The Yongnuo gives you high speed sync and ETTL at a very reasonable cost and the 622c radio triggers can be used with Canon or Yongnuo flashes, which helps to keep the cost down.

Keep
In mind, this is coming from a guy who owns a 558exii and a 600ex-RT. Hope this info helps you out. Off-camera flash is sort of a hassle, but its completely necessary if you want to be able to control the light in your pictures. Have fun!
« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 12:14:29 PM by Fatfaso »

jcollett

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #28 on: March 28, 2013, 12:36:25 PM »
My recommendation is to find a used 220EX flash.  While it cannot be turned for bounce flash, it can be modified to do so.  Its strengths are its size (small), has AF assist light, take 4 AA batteries so it gets lots of flashes on a charge and recharges very quickly.  Oh, it can also be found quite cheaply compared to other e-TTL flashes so you can explore this area of photography without spending a lot of money.  Even if you get more equipment later on, this flash will still get used for daytime fill light shots.  The larger flashes are often times just too bulky in many situations unless you are on a dedicated photo shoot.

I know Ken Rockwell is a controversial figure but his review of this product has merit.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/flash/220ex.htm

For more powerful, manual flashes, the LumoPro LP160 was king.  However, the one place in the US that had them are out of stock and won't be getting any more as an updated model is due this year, the LP180.

http://www.lightingrumours.com/lumopro-confirm-development-of-next-generation-lp180-flashgun-3225
« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 12:46:13 PM by jcollett »

Skirball

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Re: First external flash? Lots of beginner's questions!
« Reply #29 on: March 28, 2013, 01:05:44 PM »
http://www.lightingrumours.com/lumopro-confirm-development-of-next-generation-lp180-flashgun-3225

Holy crap, I didn't know that YN released a 560 iii with integrated RT that is reverse compatible with the 602 and 603 transmitters.  For $86?  That's huge.  Looks like the website is sold out; not surprising.

Of course it doesn't do you a lot of good if you're using the 622 triggers or another brand, but that's pretty neat for the price.

Also of note, their website says that it has Salve [sic] mode.  I don't know what this is, but I always forget my chapstick, so I'm very excited.