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Thread: Off-camera flash question

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    Steve Rubelmann

    Off-camera flash question

    I have a Canon EOS 450D and a 430EX-II flash. Can I use this flash off-camera without purchasing another flash unit? I have read the manual and am not getting a clear answer. I may just be missing the obvious. Thanks for any advice.

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Kathy Li

    Re: Off-camera flash question

    No, you don't have to buy another flash, but you do need to purchase additional hardware to trigger the flash off-camera.

    The first camera body models to have a flash "master" in the pop-up were the T3i/600D, 60D, and 7D. Anything older than those models cannot trigger the flash off-camera without additional hardware, and the 430EX II does not have a "dumb" optical slave in it.

    You can purchase a 550EX/580EX/580EXII/600EX-RT/ST-E2 to use as a master unit on the hotshoe if you want to retain eTTL-II, high-speed sync, and remote commanding. However, this system is light-based/optical, and can be limited by range and line-of-sight if used outdoors without anything to bounce the signal off.

    You could also purchase a cheap manual flash (e.g., LumoPro LP160 or Yongnuo YN-560) that contains a "dumb" optical slave that can ignore a pre-flash, and then use your pop-up flash to trigger it. But this is just as vulnerable as wireless eTTL optical system, with the addition that any random stranger with a p&s with the flash on can pop your light off.

    You can also use simple manual triggering methods, like an eTTL sync cable, hotshoe-to-PC adapters and a simple PC sync cable, or radio triggers to pop the 430EX II remotely. You can find a set of Cactus V5 triggers for fairly cheap. They're manual only (no e-TTL, HSS, remote commanding, etc.) but can get the job done, and radio doesn't suffer from optical's shortcomings.

    If you want eTTL and radio together, there are radio triggers that do that, too. Right now, the cheapest option here are probably the Pixel King triggers (you can find a set on Amazon for about $130), the most expensive being Canon's 600EX-RT and ST-E3 combo (about $1000). And there's a range of options inbetween. Just remember that with triggers, the cost will snowball as you begin to add additional lights to your setup.

  3. #3
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    Steve Rubelmann

    Re: Off-camera flash question

    Thanks for the tips. I have a tight budget, so the $1000 range is out of the question, but I will look for the Pixel Kings or equivalent and see how they work.

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Off-camera flash question

    Just me, but I'd suggest not going for the Pixel Kings off the bat. Right now, there are a lot of new entrants in the "low-cost eTTL Radio trigger stakes" (e.g., the upcoming Yongnuo RF-622C), and you might regret getting the Kings in a few months. You also need to know what the eTTL features are, and whether or not you actually need them or are willing to pay for them. A lot of Strobists will tell you they never or only rarely use eTTL with off-camera flash. (High-speed sync is a different matter).

    Think of eTTL as the Av mode analog for the flash power setting. It's very useful for speed and automation if you're in a run'n'gun situation with changing lighting conditions. But for posed portraiture, you may prefer control and consistency of Manual flash power control instead. And most of us use off-camera flash for studio-type lighting and situations. eTTL is more for event photography than portraiture, where adjusting and retaking is out of the question, and how often are you going to be shooting an event with the flash off-camera, vs. on the hotshoe?

    For a first-timer, I'd actually recommend two methods: an eTTL sync cord, and cheap manual radio triggers (Cactus V5, Yongnuo RF-603, Phottix Stratos, or Pixel Pawns). Neither one costs as much as eTTL triggers would, and both give you a taste of both worlds at low cost. I'd also highly recommend reading your way through Syl Arena's Speedliter's Handbook, to get a basic idea of what's out there and how it all can be used.
    Last edited by inkista; 4th August 2012 at 11:22 PM.

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