Is an external flash easy to use?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mares, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. mares macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2009
    Hi! I'm going to a wedding and I am planning to borrow an external flash a canon 580 EX - is that compatible with a canon xsi?

    also is it easy to use an external flash? Can you suggest quick tips?

    so far I've read that you have to know how to adjust the light
    so you can bounce the flash from ceilings (dont know if I am using
    the right terms :)

    anyway thanks is advance!
  2. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    The base concepts are easy, but may require practice depending on your camera/flash capabilities- you'll have to read the flash's manual or find advice from a Canon shooter for specifics- but the things you want to look for are "fill flash" and being able to adjust the flash's power, preferably with flash compensation rather than full manual. Nikon's flashes do "Balanced fill" and "iTTL" automatically, and I can't imagine Canon doesn't have the equivalents. You may also want to Google "dragging the shutter" and if you're shooting outdoors, "High speed sync" or "FP sync." If you've got time to do it, the "better bounce card" works well and takes a quick trip to Wal-Mart and 20 minutes of fumbling around to make and another 5 to find the optimal shape.

    I find that about 2/3rds of a stop of negative flash compensation works well for fill flash, giving more pleasing shadows to the subjects than the default settings. The times I've played with a Digital Rebel's onboard flash the settings seemed to be good at about the same level, so a bit of negative flash compensation should do wonders.
  3. Acsom macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2009
    For wide angle shots the 580 has a pull out diffuser that spreads the flash. I also use a diffuser of another sort, one that softens the flash; the Sto-Fen Omni Bounce. The 580 is compatible with the xsi, and bouncing the flash is easy and intuitive. If the wedding is this weekend, use the auto sync settings. If it is next month, take a couple days and experiment so that you can get predictable results.
  4. Ryan1524 macrumors 68000


    Apr 9, 2003
    Canada GTA
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Is a camera is to use? Yes. But is it easy to get images that others would want to see? That's harder. Same with a flash. Just turn it on and it works perfectly but you may not like the result

    Advice: (1) Practice BEFORE the wedding. I'm sure you will have some time. The more you use it and try a few things the better.

    (2) Never aim the flash directly at the subject. "Modify the light somehow by bouncing and or defusing it. Just aim the flash at the ceiling it there is a nice low while ceiling or a nearby wall. A defuser can be anything. I've used white paper from the inkjet printer and blue tape to make one. An empty plastic milk jug works just as well as a very expensive name brand defuser (unless the goal is to impress a client, then the jug fails big time.)

    The wide angle defusers are good because that send some light to the subject directly but most of it to the walls and ceiling to project general illumination.
  6. mares thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2009
    thank you!

    Thank you for all your helpful replies :)

    Will try all your suggestions! :)
  7. TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    If all you need is a stronger flash, then it's very easy to use: put it on your camera and switch the flash on. But you can do a lot more with an external flash, so more freedom equals more complexity if you want use it.

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