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Thread: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

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    speedneeder's Avatar
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    What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    While on vacation my one and only TTL flash has started behaving erratically!
    So I was browsing some new flashes and I don't understand why the 580EX II is $160 more than the 430EX II. Can someone clue me in? Are there other flashes I should be considering for TTL metering? (I have some YN-560's for manual flash capability)

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Brian,

    This seems like a decent comparison: http://photo-tips-online.com/review/...anon-580ex-ii/

    I'd say the biggest piece is the fact that the 580EX II can act as the wireless master.

    - Bill

    PS: I'm sure Colin will come along and take us both to school on this one shortly....

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    • 360-degree swivel [270-degree on 430EX II]
    • -7-to-90-degree tilt [vs. 0-90 tilt on 430EX II]
    • dial controller on back vs. buttons (faster, easier to set things)
    • wireless master
    • more power [GN 58m vs. 43m (@iso 100, zoomed to 105mm, iirc)].
    • 1 -> 1/128 power, vs. 1-> 1/64 power on 430EX II
    • PC sync port
    • battery pack port
    • external sensor alternative to TTL metering
    • multi mode
    • catchlight panel
    • more custom functions

    It's more flash for the money. Whether it's worth $160 more is up to you.

    You could be looking at third-party TTL-capable flashes (e.g., Nissin Di-866, various Metz and Yongnuo flashes), but when it comes to reverse engineering something that complex, I tend to think that Canon gear is probably still the right way to go if only for future compatibility. I have a YN-560 and I love it to bits and use it a ton, but it's the simplicity of the engineering that makes it worth the risk for the low-low purchase price ($65 the last time I looked on Amazon). I'm not so sure I'd be willing to risk an additional $100 for a YN-565, if you see what I mean.
    Last edited by inkista; 1st August 2011 at 09:42 PM.

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Hi Brian,

    I'm assuming you're meaning ETTL II, not TTL? (They're vastly different technologies).

    What flash are you using at the moment?

    For portable flash, the 580EX II is king of the road - I use 4 of them!

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    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Thanks Kathy. I'm not sure what a 'master' ability would do for me? I have 3 YN-560's, and I do like using them... when I have time to. They do take me some time to get set up!

    Colin, I guess I mean ETTL II?! I was using a Sigma 530 DG ST, but it has decided to behave inconsistently as of late! I do have fun playing with the manual YN flashes, but I do WANT one flash that can perform in AUTO! lol. The YN's are completely manual, as I'm sure you know. They are fun and very useful for little money WHEN I HAVE TIME to set them up.

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    I was using a Sigma 530 DG ST, but it has decided to behave inconsistently as of late!
    Perhaps a 580EX II in the first place would have been better value for money

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Thanks Kathy. I'm not sure what a 'master' ability would do for me? ...
    Not much with only YN-560s. To use the Canon "master" capability, you need other flashes that can speak the Canon proprietary wireless system (EX/EZ speedlights and the ST-E2). All of the current Canon EX units have "slave" capability, and can be commanded by a "master" unit (550EX, 580EX, 580EX II, ST-E2). The master units have slightly differing capabilities, but all of them can tell off-camera flashes to fire, can communicate eTTL information to the flashes, and can communicate high-speed sync signals (something the pop-up flash masters in the 600D, 60D, 7D, and 1DMkIV cannot), just as if the remote flashes were on the hotshoe. The master unit can also remotely command the power output of the slave units (no more walking around to dial the power levels about to adjust) either through ratios (in the case of the 550EX and ST-E2) and (in the case of the 580EXs) by explicitly setting Manual power levels.

    Having units that can communicate Canon wireless eTTL signals also means you could use RadioPopper PX triggers or the PocketWizard TTL units and retain eTTL, high-speed sync, and remote commanding, but over radio. Whether 3rd party flashes that do eTTL are capable of the same is always a bit iffy (I know someone who had trouble getting the Flex5 and Mini to work with his Nissin Di866), since everybody's aiming at the Canon system and reverse engineering it.

    But, as I said, to take advantage of the master in a 580EX II, you'd need another EX speedlite. And the system is still light-signal based, so you can be limited by range and line of sight, depending on your shooting conditions (indoors, line of sight and range are less restricted, since you can bounce the signal off walls/ceiling/floor). The Canon system is nice but spendy.

    If you really want to save money, I'd say look into getting a used 580EX Mark I (you'll give up a few things, though: PC port, quick-lock lever, camera menu control, external sensor) or a 550EX (where you give up the previous list + 360-degree swivel, the ability to master remote flashes in manual, and you only have ratios and two groups, not three), and then maybe picking up the Yongnuo clone of the ST-E2. Then you'll have wireless automatic.

    The fact that Canon doesn't have a separate term for its proprietary signaling system is a PITA, btw. Nikon calls theirs CLS, and I really wish Canon had a similar term. So, if you are going to buy a Yongnuo flash, don't assume that eTTL function also means eTTL wireless slave capability. The YN-46x units, while they can perform eTTL preflash/meter/adjust function have no wireless slave capabilities. speedlights.net is great at specing everything out.
    Last edited by inkista; 29th July 2011 at 06:43 PM.

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    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Kathy, thank you very much for the helpful information!

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    You're welcome! Flash information is harder to dig out of google, for some reason, than body or lens info, and if you haven't used a flash, the specs and features can be bewildering--not to mention a lot of the spec listings don't mention the features you're interested in for Strobist work.

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    After some reading, I'm not sure I understand a couple things.
    Does either 430 or 580 have ETTL when used off camera without the st-e2?
    They both only function off camera by optical 'trigger' from the built in flash (of my 60D)?

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Does either 430 or 580 have ETTL when used off camera without the st-e2?
    Hi Brian,

    It depends ...

    If the master controller transmits ETTL info (as does a 7D - 60D - a Pocket Wizard TT1 / TT5 Combo - ST-E2 - OCSC - or 550/580/580 II) then yes

    If the unit is triggered from a basic hotshoe or from the PC connection (580EX II) then no.

    With a pocket wizard TT1 / TT5 + AC3 zone controller you can also manually control the flash output (in up to 3 different zones) directly from the camera (although it still does this via ETTL instructions, so has to be an ETTL compatable flash unit).

    Hope this helps!

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    After some reading, I'm not sure I understand a couple things.
    Does either 430 or 580 have ETTL when used off camera without the st-e2?
    They both only function off camera by optical 'trigger' from the built in flash (of my 60D)?
    Just to expand a little on what Colin said, yes, there are ways to trigger both the 430EX and 580EX with eTTL without the ST-E2. You can use the 60D's pop-up flash, or a 580EX II, 580EX, or 550EX, and you will have wireless eTTL. What Colin means by "basic hotshoe" is a non-Canon camera hotshoe: one where only the center pin has a contact, rather than the center "fire" signal and the four eTTL pins.

    The only restriction with using the 60D's pop-up flash vs. a ST-E2 as your master unit is that you will not have wireless high-speed sync, as you would with the ST-E2. And none of the Canon wireless eTTL master units can communicate rear-curtain sync wirelessly for some bizarre reason.

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    The only restriction with using the 60D's pop-up flash vs. a ST-E2 as your master unit is that you will not have wireless high-speed sync, as you would with the ST-E2. And none of the Canon wireless eTTL master units can communicate rear-curtain sync wirelessly for some bizarre reason.
    I should probably add that the "wireless" technology is in fact visible light pulses - which means that if you're shooting outside, the "theory" and "practice" can diverge very quickly when it comes to operating reliably. Since we don't normally take photos of our subjects with the flash units visible in the shot (!) - and controllers like the ST-E2 / 7D / 60D all fire the control signal along the same axis as the lens - in reality it's quite easy to come up with configurations where the slave units just can't see the control pulses (eg flash behind the camera - flash off to the side of the subject - flash obscures from camera by umbrella - flash behind subject etc). Indoors it's a different story, but at the risk of boring people to death, in my opinion, if one wants to get a modular system that works reliably (with many other advantages) then one may just as well cough up and get a PocketWizard TT1 / TT5 combo right from the start. I shoot with it all the time and honestly - I think if I went to a shoot and found it wasn't working - I'd probably reshedule the shoot rather than try to use my ST-E2.

    PS: The latest PocketWizard firmware does 2nd curtain sync by default @ 1/100th & below.

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Thanks Colin and Kathy.
    I thought wireless off camera meant something without optical triggers (aka radio).

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Thanks Colin and Kathy.
    I thought wireless off camera meant something without optical triggers (aka radio).
    Hi Brian,

    Frankly, it would have been nice if Canon had done that right from the start

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Agreed!

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    ... if one wants to get a modular system that works reliably (with many other advantages) then one may just as well cough up and get a PocketWizard TT1 / TT5 combo right from the start...
    Or Radiopopper PXs. You always forget those. If it weren't for Radiopopper, I highly doubt PocketWizard would ever have felt the need to create TTL-capable units.

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    Or Radiopopper PXs. You always forget those. If it weren't for Radiopopper, I highly doubt PocketWizard would ever have felt the need to create TTL-capable units.
    Competition is a wonderful thing

    That aside though, they're not really in the same league as the TT1 / TT5 in terms of capability (ETTL is just the start of what the PocketWizards can do). I don't think they're even programmable are they?

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Good info!
    I do have a YN RF-602 thingy for my manual flashes

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    Re: What makes the 580EX II worth $500???

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    That aside though, they're not really in the same league as the TT1 / TT5 in terms of capability (ETTL is just the start of what the PocketWizards can do). I don't think they're even programmable are they?
    No, they're not. But whatever Canon's wireless sytem can do, the RadioPopper PXs can do. It's the JrXs that are the manual triggers. The PXs have the same ability to pass eTTL, high-speed sync, rear-curtain sync at all speeds (for Nikons), and remote commanding signals (either ratios/zones/manual power levels), etc. that the PocketWizards do. The only additional function is hyper-sync (which is doing the same trick the PXs are doing with studio strobes: getting the flash burst to last the duration of the shutter speed), and the AC3 stuff (iirc. Been a while since I read the Galbraith article on the TTL PWs).

    The biggest drawback to the 'poppers, really, is that you require an eTTL master on the hotshoe to use the PXs (not just for remote commanding, as with the PWs; hence no AC3).

    But then, the PocketWizards are system-specific. If you were (just take the leap with me) to switch to a Nikon camera tomorrow, you'd have to rebuy your PocketWizards in the Nikon hotshoe version. But if you had Radiopoppers, you could just switch your existing set over to the Nikon gear, because they don't use the hotshoe. No waiting for PW to come out with the Nikon version many many moons after they said they would. And radio interference issue with Canon flashes has never been an issue with the RadioPoppers (different frequency band).

    Both systems have strengths and weaknesses, and which ones appeal to you one way or the other are going to depend on what existing equipment you have and what's important to you. The PocketWizards are slick, but they strike me as less elegant and more of a hack, engineering-wise. With Radiopoppers, if Canon were to switch the signalling protocol, RadioPoppers would still work without updating, because they're just passing the signal through--they don't intercept or manipulate the signals in any way; it's clear that PocketWizards are doing both in order to add the functionality they are. With PocketWizards, if Canon changes their protocol, you might have to wait for a firmware update to fix anything that gets broken.

    I'm just saying, I don't disagree with you that the PocketWizard TTL units are terrific. But they're not the only game in town, especially since a lot of us aren't pros.

    Brian: I use those! I love my RF-602s. I initially bought them more as a shutter remote than a flash trigger, but I ended up with three Rx and two Tx units, and I contemplate getting a few more.
    Last edited by inkista; 3rd August 2011 at 03:03 AM.

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