Off-camera flash advice plz

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by anubis, May 22, 2009.

  1. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2003
    #1
    I have a Canon Speedlite 580ex and a Canon Speedlite 430ex. Normally, I put the 580ex on the hot shoe and set it to master, and put the 430ex on a tripod off to the side set to slave. This works OK in portrait/engagement photo shoot situations where I have time to ensure that the 430ex has line-of-site to the 580ex's sync flash. The problem comes when I'm trying to shoot weddings; things happen at a very high pace and I'm usually moving around a lot. It's impossible to trigger a slave flash reliably during any part of a wedding because of how much moving around there is.

    I need to upgrade my flash system. The first thing I need is to switch to radio sync so that I don't need direct line-of-site to the slave. One of the things that I really like with the Speedlites is the ability to quickly dial in a ratio of flash power so that the slave or master can output much more power than the other. Are there any solutions that allow me to keep a hot shoe flash while also supporting the ability to specify master/slave/group output ratios?

    Is there another solution I should look for? Should I ditch the speedlites and switch to a fully third party lighting system? The requirements/parameters are that I rarely have reliable access to electric outlets and the system has to be pretty portable and work both indoors and outdoors in a huge variety of shooting situations. Thoughts?

    Thanks!
     
  2. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #2
    Pocket Wizard or Pocket Masters (forgot their real name) has a new flash trigger, which is has a hot shoe on it so you can still mount your flash gun. Should check it out.
     
  3. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #3
    Pocketwizards are the expensive, but reliable answer, the newer ones can be transmitters or receivers, so you don't have to worry about failure of one particular type if you carry a spare. They have some new TTL stuff, but I haven't really looked at it other than on their Web site. Radiopoppers are, I think the new "Gee Wiz" thing and support High Speed Sync- and the impetus behind the new PW stuff. The Chinese-made eBay sold remotes aren't as reliable as PWs, but reports are that on certain channels, or with slight mods, they can be given enough range to work fairly reliably.

    I think the new TTL stuff from PW and the Radiopoppers do this.

    If you have good modifiers, and the flashguns give you enough power, then spend your money on one of the trigger options that work with the system you have. If you need more coverage and don't mind the bulk, then I'd probably hold out for the new Alien Bees that'll work with a square wave inverter (giving you a zillion inexpensive battery options including the car jump-start thingies.) I think they also are selling some wireless remotes that allow you to adjust power levels per-head now. If you're going to do a lot of location work, I'd recommend a shoot-through over a softbox for sheer ease of setup if you go that route. I never travel with a softbox anymore and honestly prefer the round catchlights.
     
  4. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    I've just got myself a set of Cactus v4 wireless triggers/receivers.

    http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/product.php?productid=17204&cat=274&bestseller=Y

    I got 3 receivers and 2 transmitters. I've only used them once on a job so far (they arrived last week) and I had one miss fire from a couple of hundred shots, so I'm happy enough with that. No TTL/wireless control over the remote flash output, but you get what you pay for.

    PW have greater range, allow TTL/wireless control and I guess better reliability, but they cost one hell of a lot more! So far I'm happy with the Cactus kit I bought (all in (with a few extra accessories) for just over £100!) Shipping from Hong Kong took about 8 days. Like I say, not used them extensively yet to give long term feedback, but definitely happy so far - I don't use this sort of trigger system a lot so have no need for the expensive kit right now. You can do a Google and get a YouTube review where it shows a load of misfires, but his test is drastically flawed in that he puts all the receivers right next to each other. Totally unrealistic scenario and they interfere with each other.
     
  5. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #5
    I can see issues with transmitters in close proximity, but if you're getting bad enough RFI for a receiver to have issues with another receiver in close proximity, then the level of quality sucks and you're likely to have issues at some locations that you'll never figure out.
     
  6. anubis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2003
    #6
    Thanks for the responses. I checked out the radiopoppers web site. Looks like the P1 system would work for me, but the installation looks pretty ghetto (have to tape an optic fiber to the infrared receiver of the slave). Then I went to the PW web site and their flextt5 system looks like it would also work for me, but damn, over $440 for one transmitter and one receiver! But I guess that's the price I have to pay in order to maintain the E-TTL metering with manual power/ratio control on the master.

    Thanks again!
     
  7. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #7
    If you do ten portraits/engagement/weddings a year, that's <$11/event/year for a 5-year period for exactly what you want from the first tier vendor- seems pretty ok to me ;)
     
  8. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    Nice system, just read the strobist review. Well worth it if you're going to use them a lot. My Cactus system has it's faults, but for what I currently use it for it is more than good enough for now. If I ever take my needs further I think I'll definitely go for the PW Flex/mini system going on what I just read.
     
  9. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #9
    Damn, my local photography shop is going to bring in a few cactus but the problem is...I don't have a flash gun yet! Noooooo
     

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