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Thread: What makes a flash a good flash

  1. #1

    What makes a flash a good flash

    Im trying to buy a flash for my 5d, but dont know why i should spend 400 bucks on the 580 versus 150 for a different one. whats the main difference?

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    It is a little diffuclt to list the differences, when we do not know what the other Flash is . . .

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    I think that the old addage "you get what you pay for" applies well for flash units. Personally, I'd never consider anying other than a 50EX II if buying new - they're very smart - very powerful units; what I don't want to see is someone who's learning about flashes buy a cheapie because they think "it looks alright" ... only to discover 5 months later just why it was so much cheaper in the first place (ie "not powerful enough" or "not fully compatable with E-TTL II" metering - or "Not compatable with the new pocket wizards which you now want to use").

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Quote Originally Posted by caspill View Post
    Im trying to buy a flash for my 5d, but dont know why i should spend 400 bucks on the 580 versus 150 for a different one. whats the main difference?
    As WilliamW said it's a bit difficult, but judging by the prices at B&H I would guess that you are comparing the 580 to the 220. For your money you are getting more flash with regard to light output and features.

    Edit, Colin beat me to the punch, but he is absolutely correct.

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Then if it is a choice between the EX220 and EX580MkII . . . the EX 430MkII might be a reasonable compromise - it has many functions simlar to the 580MkII.

    ***

    I have the EX580.

    I do not use Flash very much at all: but I agree with Colin, and Bill44 you get what you pay for.

    I would not skimp, neither on powewr nor functionality, I mean . . . you bought a very swish Camera, didn't you?

    WW

    WW

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    I do not use Flash very much at all: but I agree with Colin, and Bill44 you get what you pay for.



    WW
    Which is exactly what I said.

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill44 View Post
    Which is exactly what I said.
    I suspect that Bill W just put the comma in the wrong place Bill

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Some additional info about the canon flash system can also be found here

    My advise, if you can afford a 580 then go for it.
    It has lots of power and possiblities also when you want to expand your flash equipment and work remote.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 10th March 2009 at 09:40 AM. Reason: Fix hyperlink

  9. #9

    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    I'll have a try.

    The first two digits from the Speedlite model number is the "guide number". The guide number basically tells you how far the flash can throw the light, in feet, at ISO 100 with the flash zoomed in as far as it will go. (Basically throwing all the light forwards out of the flash.) Obviously the light can carry on to infinity... I guess I mean how far the flash can travel, be reflected back and be seen by the camera. Because light brightness falls away very quickly with distance (inverse square law) flash units with high guide numbers are putting out way more light than less powerful units. So, the 580EX II has a guide number of 58, hence can send the flash 58 feet. The cheaper 430EX II (which I have) can only fire the flash 43 feet. (I have simplified this a little bit, clearly lens aperture is involved, and I am not sure anyone would really try and stand 58 feet away from their subject!)

    Another difference between the 580EX II and the others in the Canon range is that only the 580EX II can talk to other Speedlites. If you were ever planning a mini studio using this type of flash, you'd want the 580EX II and not the others. (Well, you'd need at least one 580EX II, but perhaps use 430EX IIs as slaves.)

    I'm no flash expert, btw, all completely new to me! I've just got a 5D MK2 which has not built-in flash, so have been reading up prior to buying the 430EX2.

    HTH,

    Graham

  10. #10

    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    well then let me say this, im in the end wanting to have a full lighting set up with a couple umbrellas and all of that, if im going to save up and spend 400 bucks on the 580, should i just not even drop that money and just keep saving toward the full set up? if i get an on camera/offcamera flash im using it to shoot subjects that will probably be within 5 to 6 feet of me. what would be the benefit of having the 580 versus others then

  11. #11
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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    So do I detect that you might even have considered studio flashes as well? Elinchrom /
    Bowens / Interfit etc (there will be lots of others brands dependent on where you are in the world). This is then a whole different world and probably a different question.

    Being a Nikon user I had the SB800 (now superceded by the SB900) and it really could do everything including make your breakfast for you. I would imagine that the top of the range Canon will be likewise.

    This can also be used as a wireless commander for other units, or as a slave to another commander unit in addition to independent usage. It is this flexibility that you are paying for amongst many other features. I find this very useful having SB200 subsidiary units, but I know of many who would say the SB800 and its like have so many functions they never get to learn them all.

    I can set up to 3 separate groups of three flashguns at different points around the room and adjust their characteristics. This sounds as though it might be what you are trying to achieve?

    However a studio 'in a box' setup will be cheaper in most cases and you will get stands / softboxes / brollys and other accessories included in with the package at a price likely to be less than a number of flashguns plus stands etc. Do you intend to have any other uses for it apart from providing a studio set up? Are you wanting to have flash lighting which is more comfortable for the sitter or lights that provide permanent light and are easier to meter, but melt your model after a while? There are also some fluorescent types which are cooler. As I say worthy of a whole discussion alone.

    Something like a Metz flash (sorry our US friends understand these 'flashes' as 'strobes', sorry guys), are almost de rigour for many wedding and press photographers, they are very powerful and sit on a bracket with a high capacity battery and or separate power pack. They are not however 'dedicated' units unless you buy the appropriate modules (eg Nikon/Canon etc) and there are different modules even for different cameras in the ranges. Good if you might change brands as you only have to change the module to ensure dedication.

    Beware though of buying secondhand, some of the older units will fry the delicate electronics of todays digital cameras. My old Vivitar 285 which did sterling work in the film era for some twenty plus years would not be suitable even if it still worked. It had a GN of 120-140 and was bought specifically for its ability to throw light effectively up to 85 ft. Dated now, but not many units have such longevity or indeed such power.

    From what you have said so far though, I would investigate the studio lighting set up, before making a decision.

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Originally Posted by Bill44
    Which is exactly what I said.
    Yeah. It was a mistake: my punctuation was simply incorrect:


    I do not use Flash very much at all: but I agree with Colin and Bill44, you get what you pay for.

    (i.e. I was agreeing with BOTH of you.)

    No offense was meant to you, Bill44. Sorry for any confusion.

    WW

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Quote Originally Posted by caspill View Post
    well then let me say this, im in the end wanting to have a full lighting set up with a couple umbrellas and all of that, if im going to save up and spend 400 bucks on the 580, should i just not even drop that money and just keep saving toward the full set up? if i get an on camera/offcamera flash im using it to shoot subjects that will probably be within 5 to 6 feet of me. what would be the benefit of having the 580 versus others then
    There are a couple of ways that you can do it ...

    - if you get studio strobes then you're pretty much limited to studio strobe type work.

    - Plan B would be to get a couple of 580EX II's, and mount them and the umbrellas on seperate light stands (cheap as). Initially you could trigger them with a PC cable (and dual adaptor) - get a Canon ST-E2 (great indoors, not as reliable outside), or eventually get 3 of the new pocket wizards to have a wireless ETTL-II setup.

    If you go the 580EX II way you can also use it on camera or off camera in places where you won't be able to put studio strobes. Only downside is the batteries - you might like to get an external power kit for them (that's what I do) - happy to give you more details or some photos of my rig if you're interested.

    The 580EX II approach is certainly the most versatile.

  14. #14

    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Im trying to achieve shots like the image below, have a lighting rig mainly for outside shots, this is my band and our promos. The photographer used two different umbrellas for lighting. i have no idea where to even look to learn about that kind of lighting and gear. also would i be able to use the 580ex ii for things like these as well? if so it may be worth getting to have for the live setting at shows and for additional lighting at shoots. let me know what you think
    Note, those pictures are a LOT darker then the ones i submitted but you may get the idea, outside setting with the same kinda of lighting rig as show on picture 2.

    sbh-228-243-.jpg


    gage-lighting.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 11th March 2009 at 04:10 AM. Reason: Insert Image Inline

  15. #15

    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    also colin if you wouldnt mind uploading some pics of your rig that would be awesome

  16. #16
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Quote Originally Posted by caspill View Post
    Im trying to achieve shots like the image below, have a lighting rig mainly for outside shots, this is my band and our promos. The photographer used two different umbrellas for lighting. i have no idea where to even look to learn about that kind of lighting and gear. also would i be able to use the 580ex ii for things like these as well? if so it may be worth getting to have for the live setting at shows and for additional lighting at shoots. let me know what you think
    Note, those pictures are a LOT darker then the ones i submitted but you may get the idea, outside setting with the same kinda of lighting rig as show on picture 2.

    If the first image was taken on location, (i.e. a real train and a real train line outside), and if the sky is an accurate indication of the daylight at the scene the photographer would have required quite powerful location flash heads to get that side light effect; to keep it diffused, and also keep the exposure for the sky without dragging the shutter, and considerably.

    Also it appears that there was a diffused hair light, from top camera right.

    Therefore: IMO NO, you would not be able to easily create that lighting effect with two EX580MkII portable Flash heads.

    Please note that executing good lighting technique on at a site location, and mixing it with daylight or other ambient light takes training and practice.

    WW

  17. #17

    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    for some reason those uploads are quite a bit darker than the actual shot, i dont know how to show you the actual shot though

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Please note that executing good lighting technique on at a site location, and mixing it with daylight or other ambient light takes training and practice.
    I'll back that statement 100%

    I've got a wee bit of a suggestion for you ...

    Pop onto amazon.com and grab yourself a copy of Joe McNally's "The Moment It Clicks" - it's a wonderful book - many many many insights into how Joe captured a wide array of subjects - VERY strong emphasis on lighting - damn entertaining - AND - highly motivational. I think it would be a great eye-opener for you into some of the equipment, setups, and techniques that you'll need for this kind of shooting. (not to mention some darn good photos - and not a copy of photoshop in sight) (adds a whole new dimension to the phrase "getting it right in camera").

    PS: Id recommend the book to others as well if you're looking for a little treat for yourself

  19. #19

    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    thanks colin! and everyone ill pick it up

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    Re: what makes a flash a good flash

    Quote Originally Posted by caspill View Post
    thanks colin! and everyone ill pick it up
    Let me know what you think

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