Lately, I've been trying to take wildlife photos in the dark using a radio trigger to power some non-ex flashes. I'm generally shooting subjects about 20m away. It's too dark for my camera to auto focus so I'm manual focusing or pre-focusing on a particular spot. But I'm not getting many keepers. My eye sight isn't the best and I just can't focus accurately or fast enough.
What can I do?
My first thought is to pick up some Canon flashes. I understand that the AF Assist of the ST-E2 isn't very powerful and the 580EXii is better and has more features as a master controller anyway. Therefore, I'm thinking I should pick up a 580EXii (or maybe a Metz 58 AF-2) to use the AF assist, and use this to control a couple of slaves. Does this sound sensible? I've heard that the AF assist on a 580EXii might extend to about 20m. Does that sound right?
Realistically, I'm not going to pick up two or three 600EX RTs. But given that the price difference between the 580EX and the 600EX isnt that big, should I just go for one 600EX and use this as the master controller now and future proof my system? I assume 430EX-RTs aren't that far away?
The ST-E3 lacks AF assist. Am I right in thinking that it won't trigger the AF assist on a 600EX (and even if it could, the lines / grid wouldn't necessarily match my AF points anyway)?
Am I missing something? Is there a simpler or better way to obtain improved night time AF performance?