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Thread: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

  1. #1

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    Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Ok, I got this flash. I've been trying trail and error to do indoor portraits of family. Sometimes a roof bounce works, sometimes not. If I point it at them then it way to much.

    I have looked for tutorials online but can't find anything. Can anyone give me beginners help please. I've never had a flash before and only got my first dslr a few months ago (bridge camera for a few years before). So I really do need it explained in baby talk

    Thanks,

    Dave

  2. #2
    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Kind of depends on what effect you're going for I think. If you don't mind the light pointing straight at your subjects, point the flash directly at them, and use some form of a diffuser. A really good, inexpensive way is to shoot through a collapsible reflector without any of the reflective covers on it. This kind of makes a quasi-soft-box. Then, if it's still too much, you can dial the flash down a bit.

    Does that help at all?

  3. #3

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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    Kind of depends on what effect you're going for I think. If you don't mind the light pointing straight at your subjects, point the flash directly at them, and use some form of a diffuser. A really good, inexpensive way is to shoot through a collapsible reflector without any of the reflective covers on it. This kind of makes a quasi-soft-box. Then, if it's still too much, you can dial the flash down a bit.

    Does that help at all?
    Thank you Andrew. I just bought a diffuser for it from ebay for about $2. All feedback for it said it fits great.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    I have a 270EX flash and use it modified with a Joe Demb Photojournalist Flip-It diffuser/reflector
    ( www.dembflashproducts.com ).
    When the 270EX was introduced, what is now called the Photojournalist Flip-It was called the Mini Flip-It. I was not sure that it would fit the 270EX and neither was Joe. He told me to buy one and if it did not fit, he would take it back. The Flip-It fits great and helps provide decent bounce light using the 270EX. Of course, the little flash is not powerful to light up a great area but it does work.

    Adjusting the reflector on the Flip-It to 45 degrees forward will help provide fairly decent lighting when you are shooting in the portrait position. Since the 270EX can only tilt but, cannot rotate, it is not possible to bounce the flash off a ceiling when the camera is held vertically and I detest direct flash except as flash fill outdoors.

    I like a lot of things about the 270EX and don't like several things about the little unit.

    I like that it is lightweight and I hardly know that it is on my camera. The unit recycles very fast and seems to shoot forever on a pair of AA batteries. I also like that I can use this in HSS mode with cameras of 40D vintage and later...

    I don't like that it cannot rotate. I also dislike that I cannot use it directly for fill flash outdoors with my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens and lenshood (I always shoot with a hood) because the hood casts a curved shadow at the bottom of the frame. I also don't like that my original model 270EX doesn't have slave capability (I'd love to use it as a slave).

    Canon has solved the slave problem by bringing out the 270EX ii but, I wish that it would have been possible to convert the original 270EX to be triggered by my 550EX or by the wireless function of my 7D camera.

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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Thank you the help Richard.

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    This is just me, but if the size of the 270EX isn't that important to you, I'd say return it, and get a flash with a head that swivels as well as tilts, manual power control, and more power output.

    The 270EX is terrific if you need the ultra in portability, but it's restricted in function.

    The first problem is that the head only tilts, it does not swivel. You can't point the light behind you or to the side, and with bouncing, choosing the direction of the light, as well as the bounce surface itself is very important. A tilting head only lets you throw the light forward, and all light is going to be on-axis. Essentially 75% of the directions you could be bouncing in are not available to you. When you do bounce flash, the thinking involved is generally to figure out where you'd put the softbox if you were in a studio, and then bounce from that spot. With a flash that doesn't swivel, you can only put the softbox somewhere directly in front of you, and that's not always where you want the softbox to be.

    The second problem is that you can only control the flash power through eTTL. If you try using cheap radio triggers to make it fire off-camera, you have no way of controlling the flash output.

    The third (and largest problem) is that the unit is power-limited. It's only about a stop more powerful than the pop-up flash. Light falls off over distances, and when you bounce, you're increasing the distance to your subject. The larger the venue, the more power you need.

    That said, when you bounce the light, pointing the light straight up into the ceiling (90 degrees) is not going to be flattering for any subject. It's straight-down lighting. Pointing the light up at a 45 degree angle can bounce the light, but you need to hit your subject. Think of it like pool bank shots: angle of incidence = angle of reflection. You need to finesse the angles and the distances properly to get the light on your subject.

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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    This is just me, but if the size of the 270EX isn't that important to you, I'd say return it, and get a flash with a head that swivels as well as tilts, manual power control, and more power output.

    The 270EX is terrific if you need the ultra in portability, but it's restricted in function.
    I agree 100% I'd suggest a 430EX II as a minimum.

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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Thank you for taking the time to reply Kathy. I was offered the flash cheap for 75 so can't take it back. If it's not really any better than my inbuilt flash I might ebay it and try and get my money back.

    I wish I had the money to get one Colin.

  9. #9
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyline View Post
    Thank you for taking the time to reply Kathy. I was offered the flash cheap for 75 so can't take it back. If it's not really any better than my inbuilt flash I might ebay it and try and get my money back.
    It's better than your inbuilt flash (one stop more powerful, and tilts), but it's only a step up better. An older, used 430EX (mark I), 550EX, Nissin Di-622 (or a Sigma or Metz unit) would give you a lot more function.

    But if you really can't afford that much, there is an alternative. Be aware that you do get what you pay for. There's a company in Hong Kong that's doing very very inexpensive flashes. They're called Yongnuo. They don't have a great reputation for build quality or copy consistency, and some of their flashes have been known to die early. But their QC appears to be improving each year and they are warrantying their units. And they make TTL-capable flashes for bargain prices. It won't be a 430EX II, but in some ways (ironically), it might actually be better for off-camera flash work.

    The YN-46x series or YN-565EX might be what you want to look at. The YN-565EX is brand new, goes for 110, does TTL, swivels (270 degrees), tilts, has about the same power output as a 430EX, and also has optical slaves, wireless eTTL slave capability, and a PC sync port. If that's too rich for your blood, the YN-468 II (65), YN-467 (50), and YN-465 (45) are similar, but don't have the wireless eTTL slave capability. Speedlights.net goes into some detail in reviewing the different models and describing the differences. You can purchase these flashes directly from Yongnuo on eBay, but it's generally better to find a local seller with a warranty and return policy, given that returning a bum unit means posting it back to Hong Kong. For us in the USA, Amazon has a bunch of sellers who offer us this stuff at prices lower than the eBay ones.

    Because the Canon technology has been reverse-engineered for these flashes, however, future compatibility and function are more compromised than getting a 430EX II. But some folks are really happy with theirs. Personally, I have a YN-560 all manual (no eTTL) flash and love the hell out of it. Whether you want to take the risk is up to you.

    BTW, since I used the term so much, I should probably describe eTTL (or, more formally, e-TTL II). This is the electronic communication scheme that Canon uses for its flashes to talk to its cameras. eTTL capability means that the camera can automatically set the power output level of the flash, based on through-the-lens (TTL) metering. The camera tells the flash to send out a small "preflash" burst of a known brightness, meters it, and then adjusts the flash's power based on that data. Upshot: you don't have to dial in the power level of the flash yourself. Think of it as like having Av shooting mode on the camera: based on metering, the camera can get ambient exposure into into the right range quickly, but it may not be completely accurate or consistent from shot-to-shot. Flashes also have a manual mode, much like M mode on the camera, which let you lock the power output setting and be accurate and consistent, but it takes longer.

    eTTL is good if a) you don't know how to set the flash, or b) you're shooting run'n'gun style at events where your lighting is going to change dynamically, and you may only have one chance to take the shot. Just like Av. M mode is good for when you can adjust and reshoot, just like M mode on the camera. And just as you can use exposure compensation in Av mode, you can also use flash exposure compensation for the flash power in eTTL.

    If you get into off-camera flash lighting with studio-type setups, eTTL becomes less important. But for a first flash, it's typically best to have a flash that can do both modes: so you can use it on- and off-camera with equal facility.
    Last edited by inkista; 6th December 2011 at 08:56 PM.

  10. #10

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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Kathy, Thank you very very much for taking the time to explain all that

    The ebay link... They don't deliver to the UK, but there are other place I could get one. I will have to get Christmas out the way and get the pennies together for that YN-565EX.

    Thank you again.

    Dave

  11. #11
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    You're welcome. BTW, the wireless eTTL slave feature of the 565EX is only going to be useful if you already have a master unit. That would mean a 550EX, 580EX, 580EXII, ST-E2, or the pop-up flash of a 600D, 60D, 7D, or 1DMkIV. If you don't have one of those things, then it's probably not worth paying extra for it. The Nissin Di-622 has the same capability, and (unlike the YN-565) is also capable of high-speed sync, iirc.

    The wireless eTTL feature is where Canon flash units talk to each other via blinking lights. It's great on the one hand, because you get a lot more functionality than flashes simply yelling "fire!" at each other (like they do with dumb optical slaves--e.g., the S1 and S2 modes on YN flashes). It allows for eTTL auto power-setting, remote commanding, and (if you're using Canon flashes, not Yongnuo) high-speed sync. But it sucks because it's blinking lights. This means the sensor on the flash has to be able to see the signalling flash's head (one reason we like swivelling heads). And bright sunlight can overpower the signalling. So, this system is limited in range and by line-of-sight.

    This is why most folks move on to radio triggers. But that's another discussion.

    High-speed sync is where you can use a shutter speed higher than your camera body's maximum sync speed (usually around 1/200s). This is because of how the shutter in the camera works, and how much faster the flash burst is than any shutter speed. Again. Another discussion.

    Flash can get really big and deep and fascinating very quickly. My suggestion would be to head over to neilvn.com and look at Neil van Niekerk's articles on using on-camera flash (particularly bouncing), before hitting the Strobist for off-camera flash information.
    Last edited by inkista; 8th December 2011 at 08:44 PM. Reason: typo

  12. #12
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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    If ready cash is really a problem and when isn't it a problem? A used 430EX (Mk-i) can be had for a bit less than the 270EX and quite a bit less than the 270EXii.

    Climbing another rung down on the price ladder, the 420EX is a more versatile flash than the 270EX and should be available used at a quite bit less than a new 270EX.

    You are sacrificing manual capability and the 420EX is a bit (but not much) less powerful than the 430EX. However, it both tilts and swivels and has HSS capability. It also has slave capability so it can be used as a slave with the 550EX or either of the 580EX brothers plus it can be used off camera wireless with cameras such as the 7D, 60D and T3i which allow off camera wireless sync.

    It is not the flash you want for the Strobist uses but, then again, neither is the 270EX.

    I am certainly not comparing the 420EX with either of the 430EX models. The 420EX loses hands down in that contest. However, when compared with the 270EX (for a primary flash when you are using a DSLR camera) the 420Ex is a much better choice and is less expensive than a new 270EX.

    Please don't bombard me with 430EX or 430EXii vs the 420EX posts. I agree that they are not comparable. However if you are quite short of money, you cannot get a 430EX or 430EXii for $85 USD and the 420EX has been sold recently on eBay USA for between $85 and $100 USD. The 420EX can provide you with a very basic, well built, flash at a very-very low price...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 6th December 2011 at 10:54 PM.

  13. #13

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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Thanks again Kathy. The bouncing link looks most interesting.

    Thank you Richard for you help. Like I say I was offered the 270ex for 75 in new/as new condition so took it. There is a lot for me to read and chew over now before I buy a better flash. I will definitely have to wait until after Christmas before I can even think to start saving.

  14. #14
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    If you can manage it with the Christmas season coming up, I recommend that you add a Joe Demb Photojournalist Flip-It to your kit. This little diffuser/reflector really improves the lighting from a bounced 270EX. It is not terrible expensive at $28 USD... http://www.dembflashproducts.com/flipit/models/

    Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    You may be able to find an equivelent to the Demb Photojournalist Flip-It on your side of the pond. I seem to remember that there were some Chinese copies being sold in the UK...

  15. #15

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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    Thank you Richard, Looks good. I've looked on ebay but can't find Photojournalist Flip-it. I tried Google but it only brought up the link you gave.

  16. #16
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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    I bought a 6' coiled cord flash extension, from B&H for my G12. I can handhold the flash in any position I want, or mount it on a small lightweight tripod. I also have one of those slip on diffusers for my 270ex, all round it makes a very effective little flash. That is unless, you want to light up an auditorium.

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    Re: Canon Speedlite 270EX help please

    My slip on diffuser should be with me any day now Steve.

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