Which flash for 350d, home portrait snaps

K

Keyman

Guest
Got a 350d a few weeks back and started to learn, loving it. Following good advice from forum members, I now use a little PP and got a 50mm 1.8 lens.

Most of my photos are family shots/snaps and now starting to find maybe the onboard flash is a bit too harsh and maybe because of the dim lighting at home, the background can be relatively dark too. Maybe external flash is the answer.

Searched through a few posts and kind of narrow it down to a few flash. Sigma 500 ST or Super, 430ex or 580ex. Being a mid class working family man, I do not want to overspend, but if it got be to the big bucks 580ex, so be it.

The question in simple term is, which is best flash for home snaps under the following circumstances.
1. Beginer photographer, the easier to use, the better.
2. Want to achieve reasonable quality, is the bigger flash also a reason for a better photo, i.e. allow faster exposure (one year old daughter here) and brighter overall (background).
3. Can I get away with the cheaper flash, does the auto setting work well, all that stuf to do with TTL metering? (absolute newbie here)
4. Is there a particular one easier to use with bouncer or diffuser under auto or easy to use settings.

Any advice on which flash is most welcome, also if there is any tips on settings or setup, please advice. :)
 

T0MAT01

Well-known Member
I've got the 430EX on my 350D, it's simple enough to use and will give great results indoors using the bounce mode (if you've got white ceilings ;) ).
I don't think the Sigma flashes make use of ETTL2.

The 580EX is it's big brother (guide number 58 meters instead of 43), but unless you're going to need a hugely powerful flash then the 430EX will do you fine.

BTW if the onboard flash is giving harsh results then try taking off a couple of clicks of flash exposure compensation in the main menu.


HTH.
 
K

Keyman

Guest
The harsh result using on board flash regularly comes off the misses oily skin type face. It is almost like a reflector bouncing the light straight back from the forehead and cheeks, actually see light rather than skin colour sometimes. The baby's face is fine but I suppose I would like it a little warmer.
 

Peakoverload

Active Member
Most of my photos are family shots/snaps and now starting to find maybe the onboard flash is a bit too harsh and maybe because of the dim lighting at home, the background can be relatively dark too. Maybe external flash is the answer.
Maybe. The reason for the dark background is that the light from the flash is falling off after a certain distance. This is something you will encounter with all flash guns as the only light source that can avoid producing this at all distances is the sun. That said the more powerful the flash gun the further you can be from yoru subject and the further your subject can be from the background before you see the light falling off in this way. The power of the flash gun is measured by the guide number, the higher the number the more powerful it is.

Searched through a few posts and kind of narrow it down to a few flash. Sigma 500 ST or Super, 430ex or 580ex. Being a mid class working family man, I do not want to overspend, but if it got be to the big bucks 580ex, so be it.

The question in simple term is, which is best flash for home snaps under the following circumstances.
Hmm, not really the correct question to ask as the best flash gun in any situation will generally be the best flash gun that you can buy, which in the models you mentioned, is the 580EX. Instead the question I think you meant to ask is "Do I have to buy the 580EX or will a 'lesser' flash gun suit my needs under the following circumstances?"

1. Beginer photographer, the easier to use, the better.
Hmm, this isn't as straight forward as you would think it would be. Ultimately any flash gun can just be whacked on the hotshoe and set to Auto and will then behave just like the on board flash, just better quality light. The easiest to use flash guns are those that don't offer much in the way of other features or have much in the way of manual controls. However all the flash guns you list have a range of features and manual controls so there isn't really much to seperate them in this regard

2. Want to achieve reasonable quality, is the bigger flash also a reason for a better photo, i.e. allow faster exposure (one year old daughter here) and brighter overall (background).
More powerful flash doesnt mean faster shutter speeds. The max shutter speed with ANY flash gun is determined by the x-sync speed of your camera which is generally 1/125th of 1/250th. This is the maximum shutter speed you can use with the flash under normal circumstances. Many flash guns also have a mode called FP or Focal Plane which allows you to use any shutter speed beyond the x-sync speed. The way this works is by strobbing the flash but it also means that you don't get the full power of the flash and so the light will fall off sooner resulting in the black backgrounds. To answer you question the choice of speedlite will be determined by the size of room you shoot in, how far away you are from your subject, how dark the room is and how far the subject is from the background. The 430EX has the lowest guide number of those you listed and so won't be as flexible as any of the others so I personally would look at either of the Sigmas or the 580EX.

3. Can I get away with the cheaper flash, does the auto setting work well, all that stuf to do with TTL metering? (absolute newbie here)
Yes you can get away with the cheapest flash, especially as the Sigma is actually a nice flash gun and more powerful than the 430EX. The auto settings do work well especially if you use Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority modes on your camera. In these modes the camera will meter the scene and if there is enough light it will only use the flash as a fill light, if the scene is too dark it will use the flash as the main light source - this is one of the aspects of TTL metering. TTL metering is pretty complex but thankfully you don't need to know too much about it if you don't want to but basically one of the things it does it measures how far the subject is from the camera (based on focal length and where you are focused to) and works out what the correct exposure should be for it.

4. Is there a particular one easier to use with bouncer or diffuser under auto or easy to use settings.
Nope. All are dead simple and the same. Simply angle the head to bounce it or chuck on a diffuser and that's it.

I own the Sigma EF 500 Super DG which has served me very well and is just as good as the 'old' 550EX. Admittedly the 580EX is better than the Sigma but for your needs I really see no point in paying £350 when £150 will buy you a very, very nice flash gun. I personally would buy the Super version over the Standard version simply because the Super is that bit more versatile and a £150 is such a small amount to pay for a flash gun that offers all it does. However the Standard one at £100 would also suit your needs perfectly so it's up to you really which you get.

HTH
 
K

Keyman

Guest
To save a few quid, it might be the basic Sigma 500.

4. Is there a particular one easier to use with bouncer or diffuser under auto or easy to use settings.

I suppose to re-word it a little differently on point 4, how does the camera work out the correct exposure under auto, with light intensity may well be different between a direct flash and a bounced/diffused flash. So is it real time processing on calculation of correct exposure? Maybe the question should have been, is there a cleverer flash which does more auto calculation with the camera so I can forget about the manual setting.

Bare in mind I am a Newbie, so maybe it is a totally wrong question.
 

Peakoverload

Active Member
I suppose to re-word it a little differently on point 4, how does the camera work out the correct exposure under auto

That's TTL Metering. When the flashgun is in auto it will use TTL Metering and the camera will work out the correct exposure. When you angle the head the flashgun will detect the angle of the head but depending on the angle you use, how reflective the surface is, how far away the subject is etc etc you may need to use flash exposure compensation but generally speaking all you do is angle the head and press the shutter release. When you use a diffuser the flash gun or the camera have no idea that one is fitted and so no compensation is automatically added so a diffuser will reduce the power of the flash but generally speaking this is rarely a problem and if it is just use flash exposure compensation.

Maybe the question should have been, is there a cleverer flash which does more auto calculation with the camera so I can forget about the manual setting.
I've barely ever used my flash gun in manual.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
.
..I don't think the Sigma flashes make use of ETTL2.
HTH.

They do.. look HERE
I agree with Peakoverload regarding its performance/ price ratio .
The 500 DG Super costs less than the 430Ex and is quite capable ( I needed to :rtfm: to get more out of it). It has wireless masre and flash capability and can also be triggered by the built in flash.
I have both of them and while I prefer the Canon ( It is easier to figure out) but not really better ...I could just as easily use the Sigma if it was all I had
 
K

Keyman

Guest
Just used some non-exist budget and bought a 2nd hand 70-300mm IS. :D

So on the flash, the cheaper the merrier, looks like a Sigma 500 ST. Hope daughter will forgive me on using the compatible flash (I don't think it is a compromise) on her one year old birthday party next week. :thumbsup:

Thanks all for very good advice. Now hope I won't 'blind' anyone on the day.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
No ...... not .the 500ST, :( the DG Super:smashin:

Whatever you buy, Practice with it Before the big day
 
K

Keyman

Guest
What do I loose out on a ST? I really have no plan on slave flash etc. Is there some important function I will be missing for my purpose on a 350D. Are they the same power? The £ difference is approx £40.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
What do I loose out on a ST? I really have no plan on slave flash etc. Is there some important function I will be missing for my purpose on a 350D. Are they the same power? The £ difference is approx £40.

To be honest I could not really give your an accurate list .
I only know that from reading the manual, The DG Super has a lot more ( than even a 430ex) .
If you get more "techie" ( like using flash exposure compensation) I couldn't guarantee the ST would support it
I guess my thinking is that electronically the DG Super is more like the built in flash with more power...and that the "pain" of the price difference would soon be forgotten when the use of those extras come in much later
 

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