Substitute for Speedlite flashes? (First post!)

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Gus, Apr 19, 2006.

  1. Gus

    Gus Guest

    Hi - I've been lurking since buying my first slr (a Canon 350D) a couple
    weeks ago. I've got some questions I'm hoping I can get help with.

    I'm interested in picking up a good flash, but find the Speedlite 430EX
    which works with my camera is probably...
    1) overspec'd for what I intend to do (e.g. don't think I'll need
    slave/master capability anytime soon) and
    2) expensive. On the other hand, the built-in flash clearly has a number of
    limitations so I was wondering what are good substitutes for the speedlites.
    Any suggestions, gratefully received.

    Gus, Apr 19, 2006
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  2. Today Gus commented courteously on the subject at hand
    I have a 430EX for my Rebel XT and simply love it. It is, to
    me, an excellent compromise of price, performance, compact
    size, and moderate weight, all of which I why didn't buy it's
    bigger brother Canon 580EX.

    I don't now need a slave, although I could certainly use one
    someday when I might get more serious about doing a better job
    of shooting my primary subject - cars in dark museums, but
    it's 25-30' range is adequate for my current needs, it's eTTL
    is excellent (once I figured out I needed to use the FEL
    button on the back of the camera), and to put it simply, it
    delivers the good for me.

    Expensive is a relative term, I think. I spent $2,150 on just
    two Canon L-glass zooms and $400 on a Sigma which I view as
    money well-spent as I can probably use them when I upgrade to
    a better Canon DSLR next time.

    Can you give us some insights as to the subject(s) you intend
    to use, distances involved, expectations, lens(es), etc.?

    The built-in flash is useless beyond about 10 feet at ISO 100,
    but I do use it for snapshots because I don't need to lug the
    430EX around. For casual shooting, I might also use my Sigma
    zoom, but usually use the Rebel's XT, again for minimum size,
    weight, and obtrusiveness in social surroundings.

    But, if you need or think you want power, then don't quibble
    about price. Or, buy an lower priced brand. In any event,
    whatever you buy, I strongly recommend you get it from a store
    that will give you a 10-day you-questions-asked money back
    guarantee because no amount of research and asking opinions
    really gets it. You simply must take it on some typical
    shoots, learn quickly how to use it, and evaluate the results
    at home to see if it's fitness of purpose suits your pistol or
    All Things Mopar, Apr 19, 2006
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  3. Hi Gus.
    I felt the same way about the 300TL gun which was made to go with the
    CanonT90 back in the 1980s.
    I eventually paid the big bucks to get the 300TL and quickly found it was
    money very well worth spending.

    When I recently bought an EOS350d I didn't wait long before getting a 430EX.
    This was partly because the 350d is not backwards compatible with earlier
    Canon guns (despite what is written in the handbook for the 350d) and partly
    because of my earlier findings with the 300TL.

    I don't expect to need slave/master (although I do have two Minolta
    slave/master guns for use with a Minolta SLR) but I do find the 430EX works
    well with the 350d. I am finding that I experiment more with flash,
    developing new techniques, using the 430EX.

    Regards, Ian
    Fred Anonymous, Apr 19, 2006
  4. I'll suggest a good generic "auto" flash such as the Sunpak 383 Super.
    It'll cost you between $70-90 brand new (compared to the $280 or so
    for a Speedlite 430EX). For most purposes, "auto" mode provides more
    reliable control over exposure than E-TTL II.

    For much more detail, and some background on buying flash for
    Canon DSLRs, please visit: .
    Gisle Hannemyr, Apr 20, 2006
  5. Gus

    Gus Guest

    Thanks Ian and ATM for the comments and observations, which are helpful.

    Will have a look at the 430EX again, although with all the aftermarket
    equipment around for Canon, I'm surprised there's nothing out there that's
    seen as a cheaper run-for-the-money to the Speedlites.

    Gus, Apr 20, 2006
  6. Gus

    Gus Guest

    I'll suggest a good generic "auto" flash such as the Sunpak 383 Super.


    Thanks for this. Very useful and will read throught the link you sent.

    Gus, Apr 20, 2006
  7. Gus

    Slack Guest
    Slack, Apr 20, 2006
  8. Gus

    Jan Böhme Guest

    Gisle Hannemyr skrev:
    It might be difficult to get one these days. I tried to get one for my
    Panasonic FZ20 last month, and ha no success at all with Swedish
    dealers, nor with British ones. The Swedish dealers simply didn't list
    it, wheras it was listed as out of stock with the British web dealers
    shipping to Sweden. And when I checked on Sunpak's website, it doesn't
    seem to be included on their list of current flashes anymore.

    Pity if they have discontinued it, because it was the only generic
    flash with both horizontal an vertical tilt and full non-TTL auto
    capacity that I knew of on the market for new things. I ended up buying
    a used Nikon SB-24 for the same amount of money instead.

    Jan Böhme
    Jan Böhme, Apr 20, 2006
  9. B&H in New York lists it as "in stock" ($80).

    As for Sunpak - if you go into their "Easy choice of right
    flash"-feature on their website, and do not select a specific camera
    brand, you end up at a page that recommend that you get the 383 Super.

    I hope it is not dicontinued. That it is not featured under
    "Products" on Sunpak's site is strange. But it looks as if
    even Sunpak now moves in the direction of flashes "dedicated"
    to a spesific camera system.

    I'm truly puzzled by why people pay premium amounts for "dedicated"
    flashes than can't be used across camera systems when "generic" ones
    work just as well and only costs a fraction of the price.
    Yeah, the older (for film) Nikon Speedlights such as the SB-24,
    SB-28 and SB-26 has a very good auto mode. Because their TTL-mode
    is useless with a modern digicam, some Nikon owners are replacing
    them with DX versions and are selling them off cheaply. These are
    generally very well built flashes and a second hand version in mint
    condition can be a good alternative if a new Sunpak 383 is
    Gisle Hannemyr, Apr 20, 2006
  10. Wow, is it as bad as that? OTF flash metering was a really *big*
    advance against the previous automation based on sensors in the flash
    units. Canon hasn't recovered that in their digitals yet? Ouch.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Apr 20, 2006
  11. Gus

    Tony Polson Guest

    I'm not sure that *any* manufacturer has achieved the accuracy and
    reliability of off-the-film flash control in a DSLR. Any criticism of
    Canon therefore applies equally to the others.

    Personally, I have gone back to non-TTL auto flash control with my
    Metz flashes on the Canon D5 and Pentax *ist D. It isn't as good as
    off-the-film TTL flash control, but it is far more predictable than
    either the Canon or Pentax DSLR TTL systems.
    Tony Polson, Apr 20, 2006
  12. YMMV, but I have both a set of Canon 550EX Speedlites (which I use
    with the ST-E2), and a set of auto flashes (mix of several brands,
    which I trigger with radio controlled slaves) - and I find that the
    auto-based setup in many cases more convenient to use.

    The ST-E2 and 550EX are great in a controlled setting if you have the
    time to work out the lighting in detail a need to be able to use power
    ratios, etc. However, for a quick and dirty setup where you just
    want correct exposure and softened shadows, auto flashes really

    OTF was great, and IMHO Canon's present E-TTL II offerings is nowhere
    near what TTL read of the film was able to deliver.

    It is not necessarely a digital vs. film issue, howver. Nikon's i-TTL
    system (which relies on pre-flash just like Canon's) performs much
    better than Canon's E-TTL II, so it is /possible/ to have some sort of
    well behaved TTL with digital - Canon just haven't been able to
    deliver yet.

    Nikon also let you choose between i-TTL and auto in their units.
    Canon has no auto mode, which I find strange as long as there is
    so many situations where E-TTL II does not work well. (Flash is
    one reason to go for Nikon instead of Canon.)

    As for aftermarket products, I believe Metz will sell you a flash
    (54 MZ SCA-2102) that let you choose between auto and E-TTL - but no
    wireless operation. Sigma will sell you a flash (500 DG Super) that
    supports Canon's wireless protocol - but no auto. What is missing for
    the Canon system is a flash that supports Canon's wireless protocol,
    and also let you choose between auto and E-TTL II.
    Gisle Hannemyr, Apr 21, 2006
  13. iTTL was one of the primary reasons I upgraded from a Fuji S2 to a
    Nikon D200. In studio situations I'm happy to set up lights manually,
    but for other things I really like on-camera bounce with a fill card,
    and auto-exposure is a win for that if the automation is any good.

    The pre-flash is slow and annoying, but since both Nikon and Canon
    have decided it's the necessary approach to digital TTL flash control,
    they're probably right, at least until somebody brilliant does
    something brilliant.
    Ouch, no auto choice? That *is* annoying. Not only might I want it on
    a modern camera, but I also use it when I use the flash on an older
    body that doesn't do TTL anyway.
    Sorry to hear it, I have friends who use Canon. And am generally in
    favor of more good products.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Apr 21, 2006
  14. Gus

    AaronW Guest

    If you want bright flash, non-TTL auto flash is OK. Sunpak 383.

    If you want fill flash, E-TTL is better. Sigma EF 500 DG.
    AaronW, Apr 21, 2006
  15. Gus

    AaronW Guest

    Canon over engineered it. Exposure metering is linked to the AF point.
    So if the user AF and then recompose, the AF point will be off the
    point of interest. So the metering will be wrong.

    If AE is locked with AF, then the point of interest is correct. But the
    overall composition is wrong. So the average part of the weighted
    average metering will be wrong.
    Some Pentax DSLR can do TTL without preflash.
    AaronW, Apr 21, 2006
  16. Gus

    ink Guest

    "AaronW" wrote...
    Hm... is anyone using the Nikon version of the Sigma EF 500 speedlight on a
    D70 or D200? What about "older" film SLRs? Would such a speedlight be usable
    on an F100, for example?

    ink, Apr 21, 2006
  17. Gus

    Tony Polson Guest

    But the results are unpredictable. :-(
    Tony Polson, Apr 21, 2006
  18. Gus

    Jan Böhme Guest

    There was a Brit reporting today in dpreview's Panasonicc forum that he
    finally had obtained his 383 - three months after ordering it.

    Goes to show that a) there at least still are some flashes left, also
    on this side of the pond, but also that b) something rather bizarre is
    going in nevertheless.

    Jan Böhme
    Jan Böhme, Apr 21, 2006
  19. Ah. So they match the performance of the Nikon D100 and the Fuji S2
    David Dyer-Bennet, Apr 21, 2006
  20. Gus

    Tony Polson Guest

    I'm not sure that any DSLR brand currently offers auto flash
    performance that approaches, let alone matches, that of the best 35mm
    OTF TTL auto flash systems such as those of the Nikon F5 and F100.
    Tony Polson, Apr 21, 2006
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