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Thread: Lens vs. Flash

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    Lens vs. Flash

    I got my Cannon XTi last Christmas and I am looking to start building out my camera equipment. I am debating between getting a flash and a macro lens. I take a lot of family shots (holidays, birthday parties, vacations, etc) but have also been enjoying doing more close up scenery (flowers and such) using the lenses that came with the camera (a telephoto and wide angle).

    Any recommendation on which would be a good next purchase?

    Thanks for any help.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    I'd go for the flash (580EX II) - shoot through umbrella - and PocketWizard TT1 / TT5 combination - with that lot you can start to put together some seriously good family portraiture. Macro lenses are fun, but photography is ALL about the light and one needs to get the light right for both portraiture AND macro photography.

    If you're interested, I've written a series on portraiture here ... you might like to have a read through these.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    What's your budget? And do you have a fast prime and a tripod?

    To me, a fast prime and a tripod are more basic pieces of equipment than a flash, and going into off-camera flash... well, I tend to call that swallowing the red pill. I think a few people jump into the Strobist thing a bit too early these days, without actually learning the basics of exposure, metering, eTTL, on-camera flash, and bouncing, first. And let's face it, bouncing an on-camera flash is hecka easier to keep up with spontaneous/event shooting than off-camera flash is.

    If you are going to get a flash, be absolutely certain you're comfortable shooting in full Manual mode and doing the exposure triangle thing, first. Because ambient exposure is like juggling three balls (iso, aperture, shutter speed). Flash photography is like juggling five balls (iso, aperture, shutter speed, flash power, flash distance) while on a highwire (ambient/flash balance). And depending on your budget, you'll want to nail down whether you're going to be shooting on-camera, off-camera or both and whether or not you can afford eTTL II. While 580EXIIs and TTL-capable PocketWizards or Radiopoppers are great toys, not everybody can afford $800+ to get a single light off camera, and maybe getting an all-manual flash and Yongnuo RF-602s or Cactus V4s or V5s (or a built-in dumb optical trigger) might be more your speed, where you can spend less than $100 to get a single light off camera.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    Hi Kathy,

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    To me, a fast prime and a tripod are more basic pieces of equipment than a flash, and going into off-camera flash... well, I tend to call that swallowing the red pill. I think a few people jump into the Strobist thing a bit too early these days, without actually learning the basics of exposure, metering, eTTL, on-camera flash, and bouncing, first. And let's face it, bouncing an on-camera flash is hecka easier to keep up with spontaneous/event shooting than off-camera flash is.
    I think a lot of people put off getting into off-camera flash because of the perception that it's too difficult, but in my opinion, there's two things they don't realise (a) It can make a dramatic difference to the quality of the shot, and (b) with fully ETTL compatible hardware the camera takes care of all the calculations just as it does with the flash mounted on-camera. Sure - there's more to it if one wishes to delve deeper (and we're happy to help with that too), but in essence, exposure compensation and flash exposure compensation are relatively simple concepts, and once they're understood and practiced then that's certainly "broken the back" of the learning curve.

    If you are going to get a flash, be absolutely certain you're comfortable shooting in full Manual mode and doing the exposure triangle thing, first.
    Why? I agree that it's a technique us professionals often use for the sake of consistency, but the camera has all kinds of wonderful wizardry for doing these kinds of calculations for us, so in the beginning at least, why not just run with them? Even on commercial shoots I'll often STILL just be using Av mode with a little EC / FEC dialed in to suit. Lightmeter stays tucked away in one of my camera bags

    Because ambient exposure is like juggling three balls (iso, aperture, shutter speed). Flash photography is like juggling five balls (iso, aperture, shutter speed, flash power, flash distance) while on a highwire (ambient/flash balance).
    Nah - juggling is much harder 'cause I have to do everything manually (and trust me, I juggle REALLY badly) thankfully the camera - for the most part - juggles all of the above for us I'm not saying it's not important to learn it at some stage, but as we all know, learning about photography is a life-long journey - and nothing says we can't enjoy letting the camera do some of the thinking for us at times.

    And depending on your budget, you'll want to nail down whether you're going to be shooting on-camera, off-camera or both and whether or not you can afford eTTL II. While 580EXIIs and TTL-capable PocketWizards or Radiopoppers are great toys, not everybody can afford $800+ to get a single light off camera, and maybe getting an all-manual flash and Yongnuo RF-602s or Cactus V4s or V5s (or a built-in dumb optical trigger) might be more your speed, where you can spend less than $100 to get a single light off camera.
    Personally, I take your point - and although I don't necessarily disagree with it, I've know a LOT of folks who've started out taking the cheap route - and then having to spend more money to do the job properly. Sure, some of this equipment isn't cheap (but then again, neither are cameras / lenses / filters / tripods / software), but you definately get what you pay for.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 27th December 2010 at 08:57 AM.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    I am with Colin on this. Although it need not cost a fortune for ETTL compatibility. I use a 430EX II and a 5m ETTL cable and I can assure you that it will give you far more flexibility in your shooting than a fast prime. I really would like Kathy to expand on why a fast prime is more fundamental than a flash unit. Even the lack of a tripod can be overcome but the ability to introduce controllable light sources into your photography is a basic requirement if you really mean business. I do understand the arguments given for available light photography but to me that is a self imposed (almost masochistic) restriction to your art.

    I had little real knowledge of exposure triangles or manual control when I bought my DSLR but the flash unit was purchased at the same time as the camera and even with the very basic mantra of shooting indoors manually and outdoors in Av mode with flash made a staggering difference to my work and that in its turn kept my enthusiasm well fed.

    The common perception that using flash is complex is incorrect with todays equipment. It made to seem more so by the way certain photographers insist on using the 2 exposure model to illustrate a learning technique. I understand it (now) but it did not teach me how to use flash with my camera. The exposure triangle is not a complex concept to grasp but again it is often poorly taught. Yes I have lost sleep over it in the early days but that was down to waffly atrociously written articles on the subject not its inherent complexity.

    If you really must have a fast prime try a 50mm f1/8. It is less than 100 new and between 40-50 mint. You will soon make your own mind up whether it is an essential or an extension of your tool kit.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    If you get into serious macro work you will still need some sort of flash for a lot of your shots.

    Some people insist on a 'proper' macro ring light but I have found that a Speedlite can work OK and will also be used for all those other flash requirements. And for the way I tend to take real life macro photos a Speedlite is a lot more durable than a lens ring light.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I think a lot of people put off getting into off-camera flash because of the perception that it's too difficult, but in my opinion, there's two things they don't realise (a) It can make a dramatic difference to the quality of the shot, and (b) with fully ETTL compatible hardware the camera takes care of all the calculations just as it does with the flash mounted on-camera. Sure - there's more to it if one wishes to delve deeper (and we're happy to help with that too), but in essence, exposure compensation and flash exposure compensation are relatively simple concepts, and once they're understood and practiced then that's certainly "broken the back" of the learning curve.
    I really think it depends on what level of mastery you're starting out at when you add the flash, and I'm probably hanging out on boards with a lot of amateur first-time dSLR shooters who got a flash their first week, but are on such low budgets, they went cheap 3rd-party and don't actually have real eTTL II functions.

    Re: going manual...
    Why? I agree that it's a technique us professionals often use for the sake of consistency, but the camera has all kinds of wonderful wizardry for doing these kinds of calculations for us, so in the beginning at least, why not just run with them?
    Because if you don't actually understand exposure and metering, it's going to be hard to "fix" it when it doesn't come out quite right. FEC can only get you so far. And the default Av/Tv flash on the Canon side does tend to limit your ability to balance flash against ambient, unless you mess with the camera's custom functions. And even then, you're still going to have to balance either at the fill end or mostly-flash end of the spectrum.

    Just as "P" mode makes it tougher for some people to learn what their camera's actually doing, because it's taking care of all the nasty implementation details, eTTL can sometimes obscure what's actually going on. And there's also the fact that if you are going to go forward to professional portraiture, then the same amount of money could get you to monolights instead--and at that point you're still going to have to learn manual lights. And speedlights are power-limited compared to monolights. Power with flash is like max. aperture on a lens.

    Even on commercial shoots I'll often STILL just be using Av mode with a little EC / FEC dialed in to suit. Lightmeter stays tucked away in one of my camera bags
    Yes, but you know how it all works. Are you honestly saying that you should ALWAYS shoot in Av with eTTL using nothing but FEC with off-camera flash at all times? Because the default settings on the Canon side are set for fill proportions and there are a lot of very confused newbies who don't understand why, when they're shooting in low light, they still get a shutter speed long enough to get camera shake blur even though the flash went off.

    Knowing WHY using a Custom function to shift your shutter speed with flash for Av mode to 1/200s makes the difference it does is kinda key on this one.

    Nah - juggling is much harder 'cause I have to do everything manually (and trust me, I juggle REALLY badly) thankfully the camera - for the most part - juggles all of the above for us I'm not saying it's not important to learn it at some stage, but as we all know, learning about photography is a life-long journey - and nothing says we can't enjoy letting the camera do some of the thinking for us at times.
    Sure. But implying a 580EXII and TTL PocketWizards is the only path open for every newbie is where I think you're mistaken (as the next poster noted, a 430EXII and an eTTL cable works, too for considerably less cash). Some folks take to Strobist work with manual-only lights like a duck takes to water, and being able to spend $450 on a single speedlight, vs. spending $450 on three manual speedlights and having a classic key/fill/rim setup may be a no-brainer on the other side of the equation than the one you're pushing: and worth it to chuck eTTL.

    Personally, I take your point - and although I don't necessarily disagree with it, I've know a LOT of folks who've started out taking the cheap route - and then having to spend more money to do the job properly. Sure, some of this equipment isn't cheap (but then again, neither are cameras / lenses / filters / tripods / software), but you definately get what you pay for.
    True. And I do also agree that too many people are ditching the possibilities of eTTL II and going straight for manual-only because David Hobby says so. But I do know that if I hadn't had iso/aperture/shutter speed down, most of the lessons out there on contolling ambient/flash balance would have been very puzzling. But in the US, the $450 you pay on a new 580EX II could also pay for a monolight set up with radio triggers.

    I own a 580EX, a 430EX, an ST-E2, and an SB-26 as well as Yongnuo radio triggers. I'm not ignorant of eTTL flash photography and its advantages. But I also know not everybody can afford TTL-capable gear or needs it. And there are advantages with the manual gear, like, when I'm shooting with my S90 you better believe I reach for the SB-26 and its built-in "dumb" optical slave.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    I really would like Kathy to expand on why a fast prime is more fundamental than a flash unit.
    Because knowing what aperture can do for you to me is more basic. A newbie typically grabs a 18-55 kit and possibly adds a 55-250 IS. Not knowing that both of those lenses are slow ones, limited to f/5.6 on the maximum aperture. It's kind of hard to control DoF when you can't limit it any farther than f/5.6 or to understand how much more light an extra stop of aperture can get you when you never have one.

    I don't dispute that a flash is more flexible in that it can be used with every single one of your lenses (ditto a tripod or monopod). But as I said, I think a fast prime is a more basic piece of gear. Then again, I shot with a film SLR for two decades with nothing but a 50mm prime and no flash, so I might be prejudiced.

    Even the lack of a tripod can be overcome....
    Not without limiting your compositional choices on longer exposures. IS will only get you so far.

    ... but the ability to introduce controllable light sources into your photography is a basic requirement if you really mean business.
    Ah. So Ansel Adams and Cartier-Bresson didn't mean business?

    I agree that lighting is something every photographer should learn, simply so they can choose whether or not to use it. And there are people out there covering up ignorance with "but available light is the only true way!" crap (although in these post-Strobist days, far fewer than there used to be), but I do think there are also completely legitimate reasons for choosing not to blast everything in sight with strobes, too. And I still think it's a more advanced subject than the exposure triangle, because lighting knowledge builds upon basic ambient exposure knowledge.

    If you really must have a fast prime try a 50mm f1/8. It is less than 100 new and between 40-50 mint. You will soon make your own mind up whether it is an essential or an extension of your tool kit.
    Pretty much my feeling. In the US, a 430EX II is more than twice the price of a 50/1.8 II, and can easily become less than you want once you dive into flash. I've run into quite a few posts from people who start out with a 430EX or 430EX II first, from budgetary concerns alone who eventually get a 580EX II and wish they'd started there from the first. You rarely hear that about the 50/1.8 II, because the price is so much lower, and everybody tells you its shortcomings (plastic build, rotten manual focus tools, wonky AF in low light) up front. Figuring out what having no PC port, no stroboscopic mode, only 270-degree swivel, no master capability, and less power on a 430EXII means in practical usage is a bit harder, especially without any flash experience.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    although I think the question has been adequately answered - I'll give my 2 bobs worth anyway
    I started my expansion of equipment with similar thoughts and possibly the same camera body and I did get the wee 50mm 1.8 plus the cheaper 430 EX II speedlight.....
    which do I use now a lot more than the other?

    the speedlight hands down
    and flash does frighten me too - I go to indoor sports and use fast primes a lot, but that is a very specific area/interest.

    In the general family and flowers creatures area I often use the flash and just this week took it off the camera for the first time, so now another area is opening up which means a few more steps backward before i go forward again, but that's the fun of it

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    Hi Kathy,

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    I really think it depends on what level of mastery you're starting out at when you add the flash, and I'm probably hanging out on boards with a lot of amateur first-time dSLR shooters who got a flash their first week, but are on such low budgets, they went cheap 3rd-party and don't actually have real eTTL II functions.

    Because if you don't actually understand exposure and metering, it's going to be hard to "fix" it when it doesn't come out quite right. FEC can only get you so far. And the default Av/Tv flash on the Canon side does tend to limit your ability to balance flash against ambient, unless you mess with the camera's custom functions. And even then, you're still going to have to balance either at the fill end or mostly-flash end of the spectrum.

    Just as "P" mode makes it tougher for some people to learn what their camera's actually doing, because it's taking care of all the nasty implementation details, eTTL can sometimes obscure what's actually going on. And there's also the fact that if you are going to go forward to professional portraiture, then the same amount of money could get you to monolights instead--and at that point you're still going to have to learn manual lights. And speedlights are power-limited compared to monolights. Power with flash is like max. aperture on a lens.


    Yes, but you know how it all works. Are you honestly saying that you should ALWAYS shoot in Av with eTTL using nothing but FEC with off-camera flash at all times? Because the default settings on the Canon side are set for fill proportions and there are a lot of very confused newbies who don't understand why, when they're shooting in low light, they still get a shutter speed long enough to get camera shake blur even though the flash went off.

    Knowing WHY using a Custom function to shift your shutter speed with flash for Av mode to 1/200s makes the difference it does is kinda key on this one.
    I don't disagree with any of that - but - perhaps it comes down to how people want to approach learning photography. My suggestion to newbies is to simply jump in - make mistakes - and then fix those mistakes; some they will figure out for themselves, the rest we can help with. If someone wants to leave no stone unturned and/or take it up as a career then perhaps a more formal & structured approach is warrented, but the whole field is so wide and deep that I think there's a serious risk of overloading people in many areas if we're not careful ... hence my suggestion of letting them jump in - use the automation - and then help them "fill in the blanks" on an as required basis. That's something we do a LOT of here - and I don't think there are many problems we don't solve.

    PS: Canon only assume fill-flash in Av mode down to 10 to 12EV - below that it assumes primary illumination.

    Sure. But implying a 580EXII and TTL PocketWizards is the only path open for every newbie is where I think you're mistaken (as the next poster noted, a 430EXII and an eTTL cable works, too for considerably less cash). Some folks take to Strobist work with manual-only lights like a duck takes to water, and being able to spend $450 on a single speedlight, vs. spending $450 on three manual speedlights and having a classic key/fill/rim setup may be a no-brainer on the other side of the equation than the one you're pushing: and worth it to chuck eTTL.
    I'm not implying it's the only path forward, but I think it is fair to say it's a robust one and a flexible one. And it makes best use of modern automation so that any newbie stands the best possible chance of achieving good initial results.

    I own a 580EX, a 430EX, an ST-E2, and an SB-26 as well as Yongnuo radio triggers. I'm not ignorant of eTTL flash photography and its advantages. But I also know not everybody can afford TTL-capable gear or needs it. And there are advantages with the manual gear, like, when I'm shooting with my S90 you better believe I reach for the SB-26 and its built-in "dumb" optical slave.
    I'd assume that if the OP can't afford it, then he won't be buying it ... and he's not shooting with an S90


    Because knowing what aperture can do for you to me is more basic. A newbie typically grabs a 18-55 kit and possibly adds a 55-250 IS. Not knowing that both of those lenses are slow ones, limited to f/5.6 on the maximum aperture. It's kind of hard to control DoF when you can't limit it any farther than f/5.6 or to understand how much more light an extra stop of aperture can get you when you never have one.

    I don't dispute that a flash is more flexible in that it can be used with every single one of your lenses (ditto a tripod or monopod). But as I said, I think a fast prime is a more basic piece of gear. Then again, I shot with a film SLR for two decades with nothing but a 50mm prime and no flash, so I might be prejudiced.
    But everyone has to start somewhere. I have several L-Series fast primes and it's very seldom that they're ever used in the "fast region" simply because the DoF is too limiting (not to mention the limitations of a single focal length). I know it's a popular recommendation to "get the nifty 50/1.8" for low-light work ... and then the next question is "how come the left eye is in focus, but everything else is soft?"
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 27th December 2010 at 08:38 PM.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    ... perhaps it comes down to how people want to approach learning photography.
    Oh, definitely. I'm a theory-first then practice-practice-practice learner. Classic toe-in-the-pool and ramping up learning style. For me, if I don't grasp the theory, I'll be forever puzzled.

    PS: Canon only assume fill-flash in Av mode down to 10 to 12EV - below that it assumes primary illumination.
    Really? I've seen newbie shots posted on boards asking "what went wrong"? where it's lower than that.

    I'm not implying it's the only path forward, but I think it is fair to say it's a robust one and a flexible one.
    Well, as long as you have those radio shield things. I just think it would be nice to note this is not a common option amongst those doing off-camera for the first time due to the expense. Also (being a nitpicker), I think mentioning that if you're a Nikon shooter, you're seriously SOL with this path (as the TTL PWs still aren't easily available for Nikon) and that Radiopopper PXs might be a better solution for your SB-900--but you may not need them if you have a master in your pop-up.

    [my using an SB-26]
    I'd assume that if the OP can't afford it, then he won't be buying it ... and he's not shooting with an S90
    Yes, but he might be shooting with an A650IS, or even cheaper crap P&S, and that can still use the SB-26, or a Yongnuo 560, or Nissin flash in the same way. And that can't use the 580EX II (no built-in dumb optical slave). You don't need a dSLR and big bucks to do off-camera flash. IF you've mastered manual flash.

    But everyone has to start somewhere. I have several L-Series fast primes and it's very seldom that they're ever used in the "fast region" simply because the DoF is too limiting (not to mention the limitations of a single focal length). I know it's a popular recommendation to "get the nifty 50/1.8" for low-light work ... and then the next question is "how come the left eye is in focus, but everything else is soft?"
    OTOH, there are also the inevitable, "how do I get bokeh?" questions. It's easier to teach someone the virtues of stopping down, though, if there's actually a place to stop down from...

    I'm just saying I think aperture is more basic photography knowledge than flash, and that flash is not necessarily as large a part of some types of photography (landscape, wildlife, street shooting) as knowing how to control your aperture is for all types of photography. Basic doesn't mean 'better'. It means basic.
    Last edited by inkista; 27th December 2010 at 11:56 PM.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    Oh, definitely. I'm a theory-first then practice-practice-practice learner. Classic toe-in-the-pool and ramping up learning style. For me, if I don't grasp the theory, I'll be forever puzzled.
    Being a bloke though means I only read the manuals when I can't figure it out by other means (I hate "manual labour")

    Really? I've seen newbie shots posted on boards asking "what went wrong"? where it's lower than that.
    Actually, I got that wrong - it increases by around 1/2 stop per stop from 13EV to 10EV, not 12EV to 10EV as I mentioned above - sorry for the confusion!

    Well, as long as you have those radio shield things. I just think it would be nice to note this is not a common option amongst those doing off-camera for the first time due to the expense. Also (being a nitpicker), I think mentioning that if you're a Nikon shooter, you're seriously SOL with this path (as the TTL PWs still aren't easily available for Nikon) and that Radiopopper PXs might be a better solution for your SB-900--but you may not need them if you have a master in your pop-up.
    Nah - it affected the USA frequencies a lot more - plus - I have my TT5's mounted seperately to the flash mount, and connect them via off camera shoe cords. Misfires ("going nuclear") even at normal ranges is more of an issue (albeit not a big issue, but just enough to be annoying). I've been doing my best to help LPA design (identified one bug so far, but still working on the rest) the new AC3 Zone Controller was long overdue though. To be honest - with regards to expense - I think that a lot of people fail to appreciate that what they're buying in to is a photography SYSTEM; if they're struggling to buy just a body then they're going to be stuck with both hands tied behind their backs for a long long time because they're going to NEED lenses - tripods - and other equipment. A common thing we're asked here is "how do I take better portraits" ... I think a lot of the time they're referring more to "photos of the family" rather than portraiture as others might see it, but none-the-less, the ONLY way to achieve quality portraiture is by using quality light. I've written several lessons here to try to help people do it "on the cheap" (using reflectors etc), but at the end of the day, flash just removes so many of the limitations (and by "flash" I'm really meaning off-camera flash; especially for "walk around the park" type shots where an on-camera bounce really doesn't produce the best result).

    I certainly agree that manual flash is a cheaper option - and to be honest, for a given power and distance it's really not that hard - but it's still my first preference to let newbies just trust the electronics initially, as generally, the cameras can make better decisions that they can. I should stress though that that's just a starting point -- personally I'm never happy "just leaving it at that", and wouldn't be able to sleep well at night if there were some option that I wasn't familiar with.

    Yes, but he might be shooting with an inherited A650IS, or even cheaper crap P&S, and that can still use the SB-26, or a Yongnuo 560, or Nissin flash in the same way. You don't need a dSLR and big bucks to do off-camera flash. IF you've mastered manual flash.
    Well he might, but he said he was using an XTi, so I think that gives us a clue

    OTOH, there are also the inevitable, "how do I get bokeh?" It's easier to teach someone the virtues of stopping down, though, if there's actually a place to stop down from...
    For sure, but usually the creative side of things follows after the basics.

    I'm just saying I think aperture is more basic photography knowledge than flash, and that flash is not necessarily as large a part of some types of photography (landscape, wildlife, street shooting) as knowing how to control your aperture is for all types of photography. Basic doesn't mean 'better'. It means basic.
    I agree, but it's not a difficult concept to master. Again, I'm going back to what the OP stated his intents were though "family shots (holidays, birthday parties, vacations, etc)" with "close up scenery (flowers and such)" thrown in for good luck, and for those, I still maintain "best bang for your bucks" equates more to a quality portable light source than the limitations of a fixed focal length with limited DoF wide-open.

    Anyway, great discussion Kathy ... hopefully lots for the OP to take onboard
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 28th December 2010 at 01:14 AM.

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    Wow, thanks for the responses, didn't realize that this question would set off such a heated discussion .

    Based on the below information and talking to a few friends I am going with the Canon Speedlite 580EX II. I'll add the off camera options to my wish list for the next major holiday.

    Thanks again,
    Bert

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    Quote Originally Posted by bkmar1192 View Post
    Wow, thanks for the responses, didn't realize that this question would set off such a heated discussion .

    Based on the below information and talking to a few friends I am going with the Canon Speedlite 580EX II. I'll add the off camera options to my wish list for the next major holiday.

    Thanks again,
    Bert
    Hi Bert,

    Nah - we don't do heated discussions here (I could point you at a few sites that do though!).

    Seriously, I think we're all guilty of presenting things only as we see them from time to time - so it's good to get things presented from the perspectives of others. As I've said before, it's not important that we all agree, but I think it IS important that we thoroughly outline the reason we each reach our respective positions so that others can get the benefit of understanding the circumstances surrounding each position. If you go away having gained enough quality information to make a quality decision, then I feel we've done our job well.

    On a final note, when you grab the 580EX II, I'd suggest robbing the piggy bank just a little more, and grabbing a PC sync cable and hotshoe adaptor so that you can get the flash off the camera (dirt cheap and will add tremendously to the versatility of the unit in many situations).

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    Actually, wouldn't recommend the PC cable. Colin's been singing the praises of eTTL, so I'm not sure why he'd recommend that as your path--especially since you already blew the big bucks on an eTTL capable flash. Get an eTTL capable sync cable instead. It won't cost much more than a PC cable and hotshoe to PC adapter for your camera. Just make sure you watch the length. Most of these hotshoe-to-hotshoe cables are made for using a flash bracket, not for off-camera work and so are relatively short, but you can find or hack longer ones.

    Otherwise, you might as well have just gotten a $160 Lumopro LP160 for your off-camera work, because with a PC sync cord, you have to work with the flash in manual. The very thing Colin's been insisting I'm wrong to claim as need-to-know knowledge.

    [Don't worry--as on-camera flash for bounce, it's still the bee's knees; you didn't throw away your cash].

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    Re: Lens vs. Flash

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    Colin's been singing the praises of eTTL, so I'm not sure why he'd recommend that as your path--especially since you already blew the big bucks on an eTTL capable flash. Get an eTTL capable sync cable instead. It won't cost much more than a PC cable and hotshoe to PC adapter for your camera. Just make sure you watch the length. Most of these hotshoe-to-hotshoe cables are made for using a flash bracket, not for off-camera work and so are relatively short, but you can find or hack longer ones.
    Basically because - for quality portraiture, without significant limitations, it's going to be important to get some serious distance between the camera and flash ... the canon OCSC only stretches to about 4 feet, and I wouldn't touch the 3rd party knock-offs with a barge pole (too many problems with them). Basic triggering doesn't suffer the same issues and thus extends the usability of the purchase dramatically for relatively low cost, without sacrificing reliability. Other options have already been pointed out, but as the OP has replied, that's not on the menu at this time.

    Otherwise, you might as well have just gotten a $160 Lumopro LP160 for your off-camera work, because with a PC sync cord, you have to work with the flash in manual. The very thing Colin's been insisting I'm wrong to claim as need-to-know knowledge.
    The difference is that with a $160 Lumopro you'll ALWAYS be working in manual mode, because that's all it does (and frankly I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole either); with the 580EX II + a PC cable, manual operation becomes a lower cost initial OPTION, not something he'll need to throw away and spend more money on as his skill and needs develop. You get what you pay for.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 28th December 2010 at 08:42 AM.

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