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Posted: 12/19/2005 7:06:43 AM EDT
As the weather gets colder, I find myself doing more indoor shooting.
I try not to use the built in flash on my 20D, as the pictures look a bit on the harsh side, and I sometimes get anoying reflections from the flash.

I am using the 24-70 F/2.8 and usually open up the aperature, and crank up the ISO from ISO 800 to 3200. However, when I do this the pictures come out on the soft side (grainy looking).
Camera shake can be a problem to, and I am more limited when it comes to selecting a higher shutter speed.


I am thinking I need a good flash with a diffuser. What are the key things I need to know about shooting with a flash?

What models/features do you recomend.

I was thinking maybe a 420EX...

What good would it do me to buy, say a 550 or 580EX?
What capabilities would I gain that I cannot live without ?
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 1:34:21 PM EDT
C'mon Canon users; help this guy out!

All the Canon shooters I know (pros) use the top-end flashes (5xx series). Being a Nikon guy, I don't really know their specific features though I'm guessing that they chose them because they wanted the most powerful camera-mounted flashes available that were fully Canon-compatible.

You're right about using the built-in flash. They're simply there for convenience for folks who just want point-and-shoot simplicity. A separate flash with a diffuser will allow you to keep the ISO back down in the 100-200 range so your pictures aren't so grainy/soft. The diffuser should be detachable in case you need to shoot at maximum flash range.

Other aspects of shooting with a flash? Lots to cover. Depends on the effect you're trying for. Ask for advice at your dealer, try one of the online forums or post a specific question here. Good luck.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 1:45:03 PM EDT
I have a 420ex and it's very handy. I shoot on a rebel. The 5 series gives you a few more options, light output, and also slave light control if you're doing multi flash. If you're going to be doing that sort of thing or need the features get a 5xx...otherwise, a low-cost promaster might even be more than sufficient if you're just trying to get an external flash. E-TTL i think is what the 20 does, so look for a flash that's compatible with that.

As for shooting, the less direct for short distance shots, the better...diffusers are nice, bouncing is good. Longer distance shots might require direct flash of course. Moving the light source further from the center line of the shot helps prevent red eye, as well.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 7:39:02 PM EDT
get the 550ex or the 580.

The big advantage of these is that you can use them as a master/slave.

(I don't think the 420 can be a master.)

The 550/580 also have a wider range of output than the 420. (They go as low as 1/128 whereas the 420 goes to 1/64)


There's so much to know about shooting with a flash that I don't know where to start.

Link Posted: 12/19/2005 7:41:18 PM EDT
+1 on the 550EX
Link Posted: 12/20/2005 4:00:47 AM EDT
Thanks..

Looks like the 550 or the 580 is the way to go.

This little hobby is getting very addictive
Link Posted: 12/21/2005 2:43:30 PM EDT
I have a 20D and went back and forth between the 420and 580EX. Finally got the 580EX. This flash allows you to take great flash pictures out-of the-box. I have had mine for about a year now and never regretted it.

There is a good tutorial on the Canon website at:

www.photoworkshop.com/canon/index.html

Click on EOS Speedlite Tips under Tips and Techniques.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:37:46 PM EDT
Just as a follow up, someone asked about a budget flash for a 20d over at Fred Miranda the other day:

www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/327653
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 9:47:49 AM EDT
I have the 420EX and I can say that it handles most everything I run across the need for flash for. It has the ablility to rotate the flash head and angle the head for bounce, and plenty of power for most indoor shots. It's not light but not too heavy either. It has enough reach to get to people up on stage directly, but I'd rather not do it since I hate the 'blast of light' effect direct flash creates.

Like I said, so far I have not met a flash photo that it couldn't handle. However my use of flash is usually limited to family gatherings and indoor shots. I rarely tote it along for anything else.

Look at the feature comparison and decide if you need/want the extras on the 550 / 580. It does have lots of goodies that can come in real handy if you want to go out beyond family pics and informal portraits with your flash
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 10:04:54 AM EDT
I am interested in fill flash for outdoor shots too..

Say I am standing under an over hang or next to a tall building that is casting a shadow in front of me. If I adjust the flash straight ahead, will this help to eliminate the shadow in the picture?

I hate the shadow in this one




Here the shadow is cast on the subject...would fill flash eliminate this shadow?


Link Posted: 12/27/2005 10:08:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2005 10:10:17 AM EDT by ProfessorEvil]

Originally Posted By pv74:
I am interested in fill flash for outdoor shots too..

Say I am standing under an over hang or next to a tall building that is casting a shadow in front of me. If I adjust the flash straight ahead, will this help to eliminate the shadow in the picture?

I hate the shadow in this one

tinypic.com/j8isua.jpg




No. Sun is going to be the overpowering influence in that shot. It might help mitigate it a very tiny bit....Try a different time of day.



Here the shadow is cast on the subject...would fill flash eliminate this shadow?


tinypic.com/j8iryu.jpg



Same answer, but at closer distance would be more likely to help a tiny bit. (all answers IMO.)
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 10:13:18 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2005 10:15:15 AM EDT by NoVaGator]

Originally Posted By pv74:
I am interested in fill flash for outdoor shots too..

Say I am standing under an over hang or next to a tall building that is casting a shadow in front of me. If I adjust the flash straight ahead, will this help to eliminate the shadow in the picture?

I hate the shadow in this one

tinypic.com/j8isua.jpg


Here the shadow is cast on the subject...would fill flash eliminate this shadow?


tinypic.com/j8iryu.jpg



I typically only fill flash people to lighten up faces. YMMV

In your first pic, you're halfway there....the image is properly exposed for the background. You could use fill manually to get the building lightened up. At that distance, 1/4 power would probably work.

Link Posted: 12/27/2005 10:16:13 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ProfessorEvil:

Originally Posted By pv74:
I am interested in fill flash for outdoor shots too..

Say I am standing under an over hang or next to a tall building that is casting a shadow in front of me. If I adjust the flash straight ahead, will this help to eliminate the shadow in the picture?

I hate the shadow in this one

tinypic.com/j8isua.jpg




No. Sun is going to be the overpowering influence in that shot. It might help mitigate it a very tiny bit....Try a different time of day.



Here the shadow is cast on the subject...would fill flash eliminate this shadow?


tinypic.com/j8iryu.jpg



Same answer, but at closer distance would be more likely to help a tiny bit. (all answers IMO.)



Sometimes, there is no option to try another time of day...thats the thing that sucks about tour groups...you only get one chance at a good picture...


So when is fill flash most usefull?
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 10:19:59 AM EDT
550ex here. Master/slave ability.

Get something directional and something to which you can attach diffusers.
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 10:47:58 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2005 10:55:23 AM EDT by NoVaGator]

Originally Posted By pv74:

So when is fill flash most usefull?



its most useful for portraiture.

but you can also use it for landscapes if you have a feature in the foreground that you want to illuminate.


Here's an example (it's actually over-filled, but that's the way people like 'em)


There's no way to get the quaint New England church and the rider properly balance here unless you fill. This is noon sun. you can see the shadow from the bike coming straight down. The rider's face would be totally shadowed w/o fill.
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 10:48:38 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2005 10:53:11 AM EDT by Grunteled]

Originally Posted By pv74:


Sometimes, there is no option to try another time of day...thats the thing that sucks about tour groups...you only get one chance at a good picture...


So when is fill flash most usefull?



- When there is some backlighting of the subject.
I don't care much for it here though as it creates an obviously "unreal" photo due to the lighting. It's a personal thing but I've never seen one that way I liked.

- To lighten up shadows from hard outdoor mid-afternoon light.
Here again, I find it hard to do in a way that is subtle but yet effective. Too much and you loose the sense of directionality in the light and overdo the small highlights. To little and you still have hard shadows that are kind of ugly. That said I have seen it done very well in portraits, and some shots of architecture.

Your first photo.... well you might be able to get a little of the shadow killed but I doubt it would improve a lot.

Second photo.... Here you may see some benefit to it to keep the shadows there but lighten them a bit and reduce the contrast some.


ETA: You are right about there being no choice sometimes on when you take the picture. You just have to go in knowing that mid-afternoon is not condusive to prize winning photos. You can still get a nice picture, but a flash isn't going to work any miracles. Usually it's just making the best of a bad situation.
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 6:40:44 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2005 6:41:30 PM EDT by Grunteled]

Originally Posted By NoVaGator:

Originally Posted By pv74:

So when is fill flash most usefull?



its most useful for portraiture.

but you can also use it for landscapes if you have a feature in the foreground that you want to illuminate.


Here's an example (it's actually over-filled, but that's the way people like 'em)
63.147.61.47/8863/8863-111-029f.jpg

There's no way to get the quaint New England church and the rider properly balance here unless you fill. This is noon sun. you can see the shadow from the bike coming straight down. The rider's face would be totally shadowed w/o fill.




Good example NG!

First off let me say that IS a perfect example of it's use. I'm not dogging the results in anyway as I understand why it is done. It is also a perfect example of why I hate using it. To me it makes it look as though a bike was superimposed on that picture. All the other shadows and highlights say the light is comming from directly above but it's as though an angel is apearing on the pavement in front of his face.

Now again.... for outdoor action you are kinda stuck with it. Nobody really wants to look at a dark grey biker or football player or runner so you use it, but there is very little way to make it look natural. You can see the biker's face and that's what everyone wants when they pose in front of a scene or building so a good flash does help make that happen.
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