Flash Recommendations for EOS 350D


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fWord

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#1
*sigh* Everytime I post here, I seem to be asking questions.

I'm always full of questions. :embrass:

Anyway, Christmas is almost here, and I'm pretty sure my relatives will expect me to do a good family photograph for them. I've hardly used the built-in flash otherwise, because I don't like the way this harsh light source works...it does the job pretty well in producing ghostly-faced people.

So the next thing that came to mind was to hunt for an external flash. I managed to chat up with someone nice at the B&S forums for a deal on a Canon 420ex, but the burning question still remains:

With a budget of just $200++, what are the flashes that I should consider for a 350D?

I've seen others use third-party brands such as Metz, Sigma and Sunpak...even Vivitar. Is it worth considering these as well? Any compatibility issues or limitations I need to watch out for?

Hope to have some advice from you folks here...I'm a complete newbie with external flashes, so I'm thirsty for lots of information, hopefully before Christmas.
 

di0nysus

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Get canon flash. not sure if other flashes will be supported by 350D's ETTL2. With $200, there's only EX420 2nd hand. or EX380 for <$200, both not in production anymore. Problem with non EX5** with 350D, is that it'll be a hassle to dial the FEC, I haven't found short cut yet...

Haven't really tried 350D inbuilt flash, but if controlled well, won't be too ghostly, use a decent exposure, and maybe -1/2 stop on the flash, and shld be quite alright. The built-inflash shld never be taken for granted, else canon wldn't put it there, it does serve a purpose if one uses it well, it does factor an 'advantage' over bodies w/o built-in flash..doesnt it? :p. You can also search on how to diffuse the inbuilt flash as well.

or just get EX430, EX550 or EX580..u can always save up later... ;P

merry xmas. next time you can do a search before posting.
 

kiwitan

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Get the Vivitar 285 HV. A used one costs about $70-80 in good condition. New is $130 from TCW.

fWord said:
*sigh* Everytime I post here, I seem to be asking questions.

I'm always full of questions. :embrass:

Anyway, Christmas is almost here, and I'm pretty sure my relatives will expect me to do a good family photograph for them. I've hardly used the built-in flash otherwise, because I don't like the way this harsh light source works...it does the job pretty well in producing ghostly-faced people.

So the next thing that came to mind was to hunt for an external flash. I managed to chat up with someone nice at the B&S forums for a deal on a Canon 420ex, but the burning question still remains:

With a budget of just $200++, what are the flashes that I should consider for a 350D?

I've seen others use third-party brands such as Metz, Sigma and Sunpak...even Vivitar. Is it worth considering these as well? Any compatibility issues or limitations I need to watch out for?

Hope to have some advice from you folks here...I'm a complete newbie with external flashes, so I'm thirsty for lots of information, hopefully before Christmas.
 

fWord

Senior Member
Jun 23, 2005
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#5
di0nysus said:
Get canon flash. not sure if other flashes will be supported by 350D's ETTL2. With $200, there's only EX420 2nd hand. or EX380 for <$200, both not in production anymore. Problem with non EX5** with 350D, is that it'll be a hassle to dial the FEC, I haven't found short cut yet...

Haven't really tried 350D inbuilt flash, but if controlled well, won't be too ghostly, use a decent exposure, and maybe -1/2 stop on the flash, and shld be quite alright. The built-inflash shld never be taken for granted, else canon wldn't put it there, it does serve a purpose if one uses it well, it does factor an 'advantage' over bodies w/o built-in flash..doesnt it? :p. You can also search on how to diffuse the inbuilt flash as well.

or just get EX430, EX550 or EX580..u can always save up later... ;P

merry xmas. next time you can do a search before posting.
Thanks for the advise. The reason why I posted here was to get additional information on flashes, in particular the 3rd party ones. What I've found through the searches and threads here is the general consensus that a Canon user should only get a Canon flash. And at my budget, it basically only left me with the 2nd hand 420ex, or one of those that is fully functional on film bodies only (540ez?).

My Dad told me that if I can find a manufacturer that specializes in flashes, I might be able to get something that represents good value and works well.

I am now prepared for the worst...facing Christmas without an external flash. Of course, I could diffuse the in-built one with a handkerchief or a few layers of tissue. :bsmilie: At the end of the day, I don't think any of my relatives are going to be picky over flaws in a photograph.
 

fWord

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Jun 23, 2005
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#6
kiwitan said:
Get the Vivitar 285 HV. A used one costs about $70-80 in good condition. New is $130 from TCW.
Wow...didn't know flashes go for so cheap. But is it any good?
 

ob1canob

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May 30, 2005
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#8
JediForce4ever said:
go down to the shop and test it out!;)
I think it's best to check out the spec first and see if it supports the ETTL2 requirement for EOS350D. I made a terrible discovery for not doing that first. I blew up my old 3rd party Sunpak flash, which I've been using on my old SLR EOS 10, on my 350D. I didn't know they were incompatible and I thought everything should be fine since both my cameras are Canon-built. Boy, was I wrong and learn it the hard way. I finally bought a Sigma EF 500 DG which is compatible for my 350D. For S$200, I think you'll probably have to look at 2nd hand too for this flash.

Get a diffuser if you don't want to get white ghostly faces or just simply get a bounce card. All the best to you to learn particularly during christmas.
 

fWord

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Jun 23, 2005
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#9
JediForce4ever said:
go down to the shop and test it out!;)
Heheh...it sounds too good to be true. So I gather that you second the recommendation for this flash?

Are there any inherent limitations to using this flash on a Canon body? I read that there's no more TTL. Does that mean that I need to manually set it?
 

fWord

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#11
JediForce4ever said:
no..i dont recommend or anything..just asking u to go test out for a hands on preview.:) coz i also dunno abt this flash:confused:
Ah I see...not a lot of time left for me to go around playtesting though. I know it's lazy for me to sit around and hope for instant answers, but a n00b like me has no chance at getting a decent flash, and I couldn't tell a crap one from a really good one.

But, this Vivitar flash has some really stellar reviews on the internet, for a price that is hard to beat.
 

fWord

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Jun 23, 2005
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#12
ob1canob said:
I think it's best to check out the spec first and see if it supports the ETTL2 requirement for EOS350D. I made a terrible discovery for not doing that first. I blew up my old 3rd party Sunpak flash, which I've been using on my old SLR EOS 10, on my 350D. I didn't know they were incompatible and I thought everything should be fine since both my cameras are Canon-built. Boy, was I wrong and learn it the hard way. I finally bought a Sigma EF 500 DG which is compatible for my 350D. For S$200, I think you'll probably have to look at 2nd hand too for this flash.

Get a diffuser if you don't want to get white ghostly faces or just simply get a bounce card. All the best to you to learn particularly during christmas.
Thank you for the advice. From what I've read so far (not much), the Vivitar flash doesn't support TTL metering, but instead relies on it's own sensor to determine how much the output should be. People have set it to Auto, which they claim has worked well.

Speaking of blowing up a fuse, the opposite might actually happen in this case. Seems like the older Vivitar models have a high 'trigger voltage' that will damage the camera.

The plan is to get a flash together with an Omnibounce, and I'll try tilting the flash a little upwards towards the white ceiling to get more natural light. My only concern about this is that it might result in shadows under the chin.
 

ob1canob

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May 30, 2005
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#13
fWord said:
Thank you for the advice. From what I've read so far (not much), the Vivitar flash doesn't support TTL metering, but instead relies on it's own sensor to determine how much the output should be. People have set it to Auto, which they claim has worked well.

Speaking of blowing up a fuse, the opposite might actually happen in this case. Seems like the older Vivitar models have a high 'trigger voltage' that will damage the camera.

The plan is to get a flash together with an Omnibounce, and I'll try tilting the flash a little upwards towards the white ceiling to get more natural light. My only concern about this is that it might result in shadows under the chin.
You are right that the blowing-up could happen either way. Most important is to check things out first. That's the idea for my comment.

Only way to avoid shadows under the chip is perhaps direct flash. Perhaps you want to consider getting the Lightsphere which is great in diffusing over Ominbounce. Try to search for some sample shorts in the forum.
 

di0nysus

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an unsuitable flash may damange the camera body as well, if some circuit shorts, then jialat jialat. you can either browse B&W here or ebay etc, or go to TCW to 2nd hand stuff, or just borrow/rent one. There're a few CS'sers who does that. I've 420/550EX but I've a wedding to shoot on 26th.

if u'r getting a flash w/o ETTL, then gd luck experimenting with the manual settings to get proper flash output, (some flashes can't be adjusted, there's just 1 power output!)

Other than that, if your assignment is not a paid job, then flash might not be critical, the in built flash might be good enough for many ocassions. Go try on your friends, family, indoor/outdoor, night/day conditions with the inbuilt flash, vary the FEC and see the results for yourself, and if u do those test, it'll be nice to see you posting here to show us what a GN13? tiny inbuild flash on a DSLR can do. : )
 

solarii

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Oct 20, 2005
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#15
The in-built flash on the 350D is competent if you combine it with a tripod to allow you to drag the shutter. A well exposed background will go a long way in making built-in flash shots more pleasing.

Get your subjects to stand further away from the background to minimise harsh shadows. Results aren't as good as a proper flash gun but its good enough for family use. Besides you need to know how to use a flash gun properly to get good results. If you get one now you don't have much time to experiment.

And the shadows under the chin thing isn't a real issue if you know how to use the flash. I've bounced flash without and a bounce card/diffuser and the shadow was hardly visible.
 

fWord

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Jun 23, 2005
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#16
ob1canob said:
You are right that the blowing-up could happen either way. Most important is to check things out first. That's the idea for my comment.

Only way to avoid shadows under the chip is perhaps direct flash. Perhaps you want to consider getting the Lightsphere which is great in diffusing over Ominbounce. Try to search for some sample shorts in the forum.
At the moment, I'm pretty much going on the basis of what everyone is saying here. Thankfully, it's also one of the quicker ways to learn, next to experimenting. Pity the time is so tight this time, but it's not the first time it's happened. Though I can't say for sure now, I find myself constantly needing/ wanting something in the last minute.
 

fWord

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Jun 23, 2005
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#17
di0nysus said:
an unsuitable flash may damange the camera body as well, if some circuit shorts, then jialat jialat. you can either browse B&W here or ebay etc, or go to TCW to 2nd hand stuff, or just borrow/rent one. There're a few CS'sers who does that. I've 420/550EX but I've a wedding to shoot on 26th.

if u'r getting a flash w/o ETTL, then gd luck experimenting with the manual settings to get proper flash output, (some flashes can't be adjusted, there's just 1 power output!)

Other than that, if your assignment is not a paid job, then flash might not be critical, the in built flash might be good enough for many ocassions. Go try on your friends, family, indoor/outdoor, night/day conditions with the inbuilt flash, vary the FEC and see the results for yourself, and if u do those test, it'll be nice to see you posting here to show us what a GN13? tiny inbuild flash on a DSLR can do. : )
Good idea. It is not a paid assignment...just casual family photos. Using the internal flash alone would save me some money for now, and also save me the hassle of searching for an external one. I'll just wait to see how it goes. If I cannot come up with something solid in the next few days, I'm going to give it a miss for a time being.

But if the magic solution arrives, then I'll put in the effort to make it happen.

BTW, I understand FEC is Flash Exposure Compensation, but from my past course of study, we've used that as an abbreviation for Faecal Egg Count when studying Parasitology.
 

fWord

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#18
solarii said:
The in-built flash on the 350D is competent if you combine it with a tripod to allow you to drag the shutter. A well exposed background will go a long way in making built-in flash shots more pleasing.

Get your subjects to stand further away from the background to minimise harsh shadows. Results aren't as good as a proper flash gun but its good enough for family use. Besides you need to know how to use a flash gun properly to get good results. If you get one now you don't have much time to experiment.

And the shadows under the chin thing isn't a real issue if you know how to use the flash. I've bounced flash without and a bounce card/diffuser and the shadow was hardly visible.
Not sure if that's considered a slow-sync flash, but it was what I was considering for this occasion. A tripod is almost necessary anyway because I have to be in the photo as well. The room is quite small unfortunately, with the sofa right smack against the wall. Most of my family members' heads will be no more than 10 or 15cm from a white wall.

The flash pretty much lights up the whole background anyway since the room is so small. The only exception are the left and right extremes of the frame, and the corners. I find it difficult to expose everyone's face correctly because my relatives tend to arrange themselves unevenly, or squeezed into three rows just to fit the frame. With that, some people always get the face well-exposed, and others just come out looking overly tan. If all it takes is a handkerchief to get a smoother, more even exposure throughout, then that's good, because it's easy to fix.
 

solarii

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#19
fWord said:
Not sure if that's considered a slow-sync flash, but it was what I was considering for this occasion. A tripod is almost necessary anyway because I have to be in the photo as well. The room is quite small unfortunately, with the sofa right smack against the wall. Most of my family members' heads will be no more than 10 or 15cm from a white wall.

The flash pretty much lights up the whole background anyway since the room is so small. The only exception are the left and right extremes of the frame, and the corners. I find it difficult to expose everyone's face correctly because my relatives tend to arrange themselves unevenly, or squeezed into three rows just to fit the frame. With that, some people always get the face well-exposed, and others just come out looking overly tan. If all it takes is a handkerchief to get a smoother, more even exposure throughout, then that's good, because it's easy to fix.
Based on the situtation you described, you can easily improvise with lamps etc. Direct some light behind your subjects to reduce/remove the harsh shadow created by head-on flash. To counter the flash-fall off at the edges, try turning on more room lighting and scaling back a little on the flash to balance ambient with flash. Shoot in RAW cos you're probably gonna have to do WB correction later.
 

fWord

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#20
solarii said:
Based on the situtation you described, you can easily improvise with lamps etc. Direct some light behind your subjects to reduce/remove the harsh shadow created by head-on flash. To counter the flash-fall off at the edges, try turning on more room lighting and scaling back a little on the flash to balance ambient with flash. Shoot in RAW cos you're probably gonna have to do WB correction later.
:thumbsup: Thank you...good advice. By scaling back the flash, do you mean dialing down the flash exposure compensation by 1/3 or 1/2 stop?

White balance is certainly another issue. The room is lit by tungsten lamps, so there's a yellowish cast throughout. The flash throws out a powerful enough beam to get an accurate white balance on the subjects, which is Daylight, but the edges of the room will still hold a yellow cast. What do you recommend for this situation? Which white balance setting should I choose?

Yesterday, I experimented a little with three old jelly cups stacked over my built-in flash, and it produces a less harsh light that is also slightly warmer in appearence. I might end up using this contraption because there's no time left to get a new flash. And if I can make do with this, I'd save a few hundred bucks. It's no bounce flash, but it just doesn't look as ugly as a direct flash does.
 

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