Off Camera Flash Help -Lighting Noob-

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MattSepeta, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y

    I have been shooting for a couple of years now, and I am looking to start doing some more serious portrait/action work. I am going to start shopping for some off camera flashes.

    Here's the thing: It confuses the heck out of me!

    I have a Canon xti and use a 580Ex speedlight on top. I am planning on upgrading to a 40d or 50d in the near future, so I want to stay compatible.

    Here is my question- Strobes can be either radio or flash triggered, right? Do you guys have a preference?

    Does anyone have any reccomendations for some cheap, basic flashes? Maybe a kit?

    Any advice period?

    Thanks alot, I know I sound like a fool, but I dropped out of my photo degree before I could take a lighting class :rolleyes:

    Thanks for any input
  2. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007

    You can

    If you want "real" off cameral lighting, Alienbees are a great investment and have reasonably priced radio triggers.

    I personally don't like oncamera primary trigger flash because you always have that main flash messing with the image quality.

    Is this for studio/home work or location shooting?

    Lots of things to consider.
  3. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    If you are shooting events (ie any place that anybody else may have a camera) radio is the way to go. If you are shooting in a studio, optical triggers work and are about 1/20th of the money. If you try to shoot a wedding with optical triggers, every person with a crappy camera will trip your strobes. They will not be ready when you want them and all of their pics will be completely blown out as they will meter in the dark and then have your strobes make the scene glow. There is a reason PocketWizards are so prevalent (but very pricey).

    EDIT: The other (really expensive) option is to use your 580 as a master and 430's or 580's as slaves. This allows you to control the intensity of each flash from your camera. This system uses IR to transmit the signals though, so line of sight is your friend. I am actually surprised how well the IR works inside, a 580 on a camera by my eye fires a 430 hanging by my waist every time so it seems to accept bounced infrared pretty well.
  4. canonguy macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2009
    You will want strobes that are "flash triggered". But use a radio transmitter or a cord to set one off... which will trigger the others. You don't want to use a camera top flash to trigger the strobes unless your 580ex is factored into the exposure.

    For a kit...all depends on what you want to spend... some of the newer speedlites can be used as "slaves" meaning you can set them on tripods and trigger them with your cameratop. This is probably the cheapest way to go.

    If you are planning to shoot professionally... I would urge you to consider a 5D or 1D with a full frame sensor rather than a 40D or 50D. It is the difference between being a professional and an advanced amateur.
  5. durhamj macrumors member

    Nov 22, 2008
    studio work

    1st I am not familiar with your particular camera....

    For studio work get strobes that can be flash triggered, but also have the option to cable in a radio trigger, in case you want to use the same strobe outside or at a special event.

    In my home studio I use a Wein infrared trigger and peanut receiving triggers cabled into the strobes. In a pinch or when I am lazy, I'll use the on-camera flash in manual mode with its power output turned all the way Down. In most situations my strobes are 3 to 4 stops higher than the minimal on-camera flash.
  6. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y

    This will be for primarily location shooting. ie Skateboarders jumping down stairs, snowboarders sliding hand rails, and some location fashion portrait shooting.

    For a budget I would say about $400. I saw that you can grab 430's for around 200, would 2 of those on tripods be a decent way to go?

    Any reccomendations for radio transmitters?
  7. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    The ebay radio triggers are cheap and low quality. They work for some people, some of the time, but they are really really inexpensive. For radio triggers, PocketWizards are used the most, but you are looking at 200 each, so you would need 3 pocket wizards for $600, plus a cheap manual flash for ~$100.

    As you are the only one taking pictures, the cheapest way to go is a pair of manual flashes (~100x2) plus optical triggers (~15x2). Now you have 3 flashes that fire at the same time, two off camera for less than $250. Pretty sweet deal.
  8. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y

    Any reccomendations for some affordable "manual flashes" or optical triggers?

    I like the sound of this setup though.
  9. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
  10. ukuleleman macrumors member

    Jul 19, 2009
    off camera flash

    Since you have an XTi there is another possible way for you to go and that is via the Canon ST-E2 Speedlight transmitter.
    It fits onto your hot shoe and will control 3/4 Canon flash units.
    It uses infra red light to trigger the flash units so line of sight is preferable, but indoors there is sufficient 'bounce from walls etc that this is often not a problem, but outdoor work can be affected by bright sunlight.
    I have my two 580 Speedlights on stands and shoot them through umbrellas and the ST-E2 works like a charm for me, it acts as the Master with my flash units set to Slave.

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