Approve the Cookies
This website uses cookies to improve your user experience. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies and our Privacy Policy.
OK
Index  •   • New posts  •   • RTAT  •   • 'Best of'  •   • Gallery  •   • Gear  •   • Reviews
Guest
New posts  •   • RTAT  •   • 'Best of'  •   • Gallery  •   • Gear  •   • Reviews
Register to forums    Log in

 
FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 28 Dec 2005 (Wednesday) 19:16
Search threadPrev/next
sponsored links
(this ad will go away when you log in as a registered member)

FAQ: Which flash should I get for my EOS camera?

 
this thread is locked
tim
Light Bringer
Avatar
50,973 posts
Likes: 355
Joined Nov 2004
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
     
Dec 28, 2005 19:16 |  #1

The question "which flash should I buy for my camera" comes up about twice a day, so I thought i'd write an FAQ to tell everyone the basics. If anyone would like to add more info to this thread please do, i'll merge all information into this first post. If anyone has questions please put them into a new thread rather than cluttering up this one.

The way I think about it there are three classes of flash: Canon, ETTL compatible, and everything else. Canon flashes are always the safe bet, they'll work with any EOS camera now or in the future, and the quality's very good. ETTL compatible flashes are designed to work the same way as the Canon units, their main advantage is usually price (though not always). Other flashes weren't designed to work on EOS cameras, but many with an auto mode will work fine. For most people, the best advice is "buy the best Canon EX flash unit you can afford", but other factors can change this.

Short Answer
--

Buy the 580EX if you can afford it, the 430EX if you can't but want a good flash, a 550EX if you need the power/wireless master at a better price, or a 420EX if you want a cheap, simple flash that will do the job well. See more details below.

Canon Units
--

The best Canon flash is the 580EX. It's the most powerful, has a full manaul mode, the controls are easy to use, and there's only one button to rotate the flash head in any direction. It's a wireless master, so it can control any other EX flash unit without wires. The 580EX is relatively new, so all the latest advances are found in it, such as a faster charging rate than the older flashes, and it has a small white bounce card which pulls out from the flash head. It also has a wide angle panel, which I think all Canon flash units have. The 580EX has a high voltage input port, which can cut your recharge time down from around 6 seconds to 1-2 seconds, depending on the external battery used.

The next model down is the 550EX. The 550EX is a little older, is effectively just as powerful as the 580EX, but there are two buttons to rotate the flash head in different directions. It has a full manaul mode, recharges a little more slowly than the 580EX, and the controls aren't quite so easy to use. The 550EX is also a wireless master, and also has a high voltage input port.

The 430EX is the little brother of the 580EX, and is currently the newest Canon flash unit. It's about one stop less powerful than the 580EX, doesn't have the built in bounce card, and is only a wireless slave, not a master. It has the single button to rotate the flash head. The 430EX has a full manaul mode.

The 420EX is an older unit, similar to the 550EX, but less powerful, and it's a wireless slave not a wireless master. It has no manaul mode, so it can only work in ETTL. This is only a problem if you want to use your flash as an optical trigger for studio lights, as the ETTL preflash triggers the strobes too early. This flash is an ideal flash for someone who wants a cheap easy flash unit for not much money, or for multi-flash setups.

So which flash unit should you buy? If you can afford it, and want the best available, get the 580EX. If you don't want to spend so much, don't need the power, or don't mind not having a wireless master, get the 430EX. If you want the extra power or the wireless master function at a cheaper price, get the 550EX. If you need a cheap, simple, but effective flash, or a wireless slave, get the 420EX.

ETTL Units
--

The Sigma 500 DG Super has a good reputation. It's basically the same as the 550EX, just cheaper, and some say the build quality isn't quite as good but it's fine. The Sigma has an optical slave, which could be handy for some people, but remember that if you try and trigger it with your camera flash the ETTL preflash will stuff things up. The Sigma reportedly does wireless ETTL as both a master and slave.

The Metz units (thread 1, thread 2) have excellent reputations. One advantage of them is they have an auto mode, which is meant to be more consistent than ETTL (thread 3). I've read that the sensor is near the flash head, which makes it difficult or impossible to use a diffuser in auto mode.

See also this thread.

Other Units
--

(This section will hopefully be filled in by someone who knows about other flash units).

More Information
--

http://www.shootsmarte​r.com/infocenter/wc031​.htm (external link) (free registration required, this is a great site)
Non-Canon flash unit discussion.
EOS Bible (external link) recommendations.


Professional wedding photographer, solution architect and general technical guy with multiple Amazon Web Services certifications.
Read all my FAQs (wedding, printing, lighting, books, etc)

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
sponsored links
(this ad will go away when you log in as a registered member)
Curtis ­ N
Master Flasher
Avatar
19,129 posts
Likes: 8
Joined Apr 2005
Location: Northern Illinois, US
     
Dec 28, 2005 21:12 |  #2

Great idea, Tim.
How about adding some links to manufacturer websites?
Here's Sigma:
http://sigmaphoto.com (external link)

Another aftermarket brand that makes E-TTL flash units is Promaster. Their 7500DX is a pretty good unit for the money.
http://promaster.com (external link)
Promaster gear is hard to find online, it's mainly sold in independent local camera shops in the US, I don't know about the rest of the world.

I think what would be most helpful is a short glossary of flash features - Explain some of the terms that a novice wouldn't know, like guide number, motorized zoom, master/slave, FP flash, modeling flash, multi-pulse, AF assist light, etc. A lot of this info is in Scott Berger's FAQ - EOS Flash sticky, but you have to sort through a lot to find it. Maybe there's already a good glossary online somewhere that someone can provide a link to.


"If you're not having fun, your pictures will reflect that." - Joe McNally
Chicago area POTN events (external link)
Flash Photography 101 | The EOS Flash Bible  (external link)| Techniques for Better On-Camera Flash (external link) | How to Use Flash Outdoors| Excel-based DOF Calculator (external link)

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
tim
THREAD ­ STARTER
Light Bringer
Avatar
50,973 posts
Likes: 355
Joined Nov 2004
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
     
Dec 28, 2005 21:16 |  #3

The EOS Bible in the FAQ describes all the technical stuff, I just wanted to help people choose a flash, given how many "what flash should I buy" threads come up. This thread can give people ideas, then they can go research some more if they need more info, I rekon.


Professional wedding photographer, solution architect and general technical guy with multiple Amazon Web Services certifications.
Read all my FAQs (wedding, printing, lighting, books, etc)

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
cjsa
Senior Member
646 posts
Joined May 2005
Location: miami
     
Dec 30, 2005 13:32 |  #4

I was just going to ask what to do, i have the 420ex, but just got an amazon gift certificate and was thinking of movung up.


-Carol
http://picasaweb.googl​e.com/carol.albanese (external link)

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
vjack
Goldmember
Avatar
1,602 posts
Likes: 1
Joined Jul 2005
Location: Mississippi, USA
     
Dec 30, 2005 13:55 as a reply to  @ cjsa's post |  #5

I think a thread like this is a good idea, but if you really want to get people to rely on the information here rather than ask questions, you are going to want to provide a much more extensive comparison of the various options. If someone comes here wanting to know if they what they would give up by getting a 430 instead of a 580, they should be able to find exactly this sort of information. In other words, I expect completing the FAQ is going to require a good bit more work than what you've already put in.



Canon 20D
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
Sigma 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 DC
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
L IS
Canon Speedlite 430EX
Manfrotto 3021BPRO; Kirk BH-1 ballhead
Canon Pixma 4200
< see my gallery (external link) >

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
tim
THREAD ­ STARTER
Light Bringer
Avatar
50,973 posts
Likes: 355
Joined Nov 2004
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
     
Dec 30, 2005 14:33 as a reply to  @ vjack's post |  #6

vjack wrote:
I think a thread like this is a good idea, but if you really want to get people to rely on the information here rather than ask questions, you are going to want to provide a much more extensive comparison of the various options. If someone comes here wanting to know if they what they would give up by getting a 430 instead of a 580, they should be able to find exactly this sort of information. In other words, I expect completing the FAQ is going to require a good bit more work than what you've already put in.

I don't think so - it's not that hard. All the details are above. The 430 is a bit less powerful, isn't a wireless master, has no high voltage power, and has no white bounce card. That's it, really. Flashes aren't that different really.


Professional wedding photographer, solution architect and general technical guy with multiple Amazon Web Services certifications.
Read all my FAQs (wedding, printing, lighting, books, etc)

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
vjack
Goldmember
Avatar
1,602 posts
Likes: 1
Joined Jul 2005
Location: Mississippi, USA
     
Jan 02, 2006 11:38 as a reply to  @ tim's post |  #7

tim wrote:
I don't think so - it's not that hard. All the details are above. The 430 is a bit less powerful, isn't a wireless master, has no high voltage power, and has no white bounce card. That's it, really. Flashes aren't that different really.

I didn't see any mention of AF point coverage. See http://www.the-digital-picture.com …eedlite-Flash-Review.aspx (external link)



Canon 20D
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
Sigma 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 DC
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
L IS
Canon Speedlite 430EX
Manfrotto 3021BPRO; Kirk BH-1 ballhead
Canon Pixma 4200
< see my gallery (external link) >

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
tim
THREAD ­ STARTER
Light Bringer
Avatar
50,973 posts
Likes: 355
Joined Nov 2004
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
     
Jan 02, 2006 14:35 as a reply to  @ vjack's post |  #8

vjack wrote:
I didn't see any mention of AF point coverage. See http://www.the-digital-picture.com …eedlite-Flash-Review.aspx (external link)

That's only an issue for 1 series bodies, and if someone has one of them they probably know enough to read the documentation on the web and work it out themselves, or just ask the question. This thread is meant to be a beginners guide, not a complete buyers guide.


Professional wedding photographer, solution architect and general technical guy with multiple Amazon Web Services certifications.
Read all my FAQs (wedding, printing, lighting, books, etc)

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
bones
Member
Avatar
165 posts
Joined Dec 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
     
Jan 05, 2006 19:01 as a reply to  @ tim's post |  #9

Do most people in the forum go with the top mount Canon (Hotshoe) Units. I just got my 20d 2months ago and am thinking about getting a Metz 45CT-3 which is on an L bracket which keeps the flash out of line with the lens thus eliminating Red Eye. Or does anybody know whether these Non Canon Brands are not compatible????? Just wondering.:p


-EOS 20D.
-EF-S 17-85mm IS USM.
-BG-E2 Grip.

-Mamiya 645-1000s (Film).
-AE Prism Finder.
-Sekkor 80mm Lens

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
bones
Member
Avatar
165 posts
Joined Dec 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
     
Jan 05, 2006 19:03 as a reply to  @ bones's post |  #10

Opps.....Sorry was thinking of one of my old flashes. Metz 45CL-4 is what I was looking at. They are quite powerful.


-EOS 20D.
-EF-S 17-85mm IS USM.
-BG-E2 Grip.

-Mamiya 645-1000s (Film).
-AE Prism Finder.
-Sekkor 80mm Lens

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
scottbergerphoto
Cream of the Crop
Avatar
5,429 posts
Likes: 1
Joined Jun 2003
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
     
Jan 13, 2006 08:10 as a reply to  @ bones's post |  #11

I have a number of Cannon Flash units (420, 550, 580EX). They all work well within the limits of their specs. Wireless ETTL is a major reason to buy EX units. There are other top line companies that make wonderful flashes that work well with Canon. I have the Quantum Q Flash T2D now relaced by the T5D. www.qtm.com (external link)
Regards,
Scott


One World, One Voice Against Terror,
Best Regards,
Scott
ScottBergerPhotography (external link)

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
chancellor
Goldmember
Avatar
1,009 posts
Joined Nov 2005
Location: Alpharetta
     
Feb 05, 2006 22:09 |  #12

Tim, thanks a lot for this thread. I had a conundrum on the 430EX and 580EX and this just resolved it for me. Getting 580EX. Thanks a lot!


5D Mk II|1N|28-300L|35L|85L II|

  
  LOG IN TO REPLY
sponsored links
(this ad will go away when you log in as a registered member)

98,248 views & 0 likes for this thread
FAQ: Which flash should I get for my EOS camera?
FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
AAA
x 1600
y 1600

Jump to forum...   •  Rules   •  Index   •  New posts   •  RTAT   •  'Best of'   •  Gallery   •  Gear   •  Reviews   •  Member list   •  Polls   •  Image rules   •  Search   •  Password reset

Not a member yet?
Register to forums
Registered members may log in to forums and access all the features: full search, image upload, follow forums, own gear list and ratings, likes, more forums, private messaging, thread follow, notifications, own gallery, all settings, view hosted photos, own reviews, see more and do more... and all is free. Don't be a stranger - register now and start posting!


COOKIES DISCLAIMER: This website uses cookies to improve your user experience. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies and to our privacy policy.
Privacy policy and cookie usage info.


POWERED BY AMASS forum software 2.1forum software
version 2.1 /
code and design
by Pekka Saarinen ©
for photography-on-the.net

Latest registered member is Paramveer
2024 guests, 221 members online
Simultaneous users record so far is 15144, that happened on Nov 22, 2018

Photography-on-the.net Digital Photography Forums is the website for photographers and all who love great photos, camera and post processing techniques, gear talk, discussion and sharing. Professionals, hobbyists, newbies and those who don't even own a camera -- all are welcome regardless of skill, favourite brand, gear, gender or age. Registering and usage is free.