A reader asks:
Hi Michael. I attended your photography talk at Bare Oaks during the FCN festival, and read both of your books. Now I want to get some flash equipment.
I went to [large photo retailer in Ottawa] looking for a good deal. But they said if I wanted a flash I could trigger wirelessly with my Canon T4i, I had to get at least a CANON SPEEDLITE 600EX-RT, currently selling for $499. That’s considerably more than I was expecting to pay, and at odds with your statement that this equipment was inexpensive. Is there something more affordable I can get? Can you recommend a good starting flash kit?
Sure! Yes, I held a talk about photography, and yes I said that, and yes I was right.
The 600EX flash can be a “sender” (telling other flashes what to do, the “master flash”) and a “receiver”: the flash, off-camera, that does what it is told (the “slave flash”).
The cheaper 430EX can be only a slave. There is an even cheaper flash that can also be a slave, the 320EX. Both of these can be used because the T4i can use its pop-up flash as the “master flash”. Problem solved!
One thing to keep in mind: there should be an optical path between the pop-up flash on the camera and the slave flash or flashes. And outdoors, you may find the pop-up is not always powerful enough, But it saves you hundreds of dollars, so you may want to live with that!
Photo retailers do not always know, or they may want to just sell you the higher priced item. My friends at Vistek and in Henry’s Oakville and Mississauga stores do not do this, but elsewhere – well, be prepared with knowledge (and feel free to ask me).
Michael, perhaps you could at some point add your thoughts on some of the more common 3rd-party flash makers? A Phottix Mitros, for example, is a hair over half the price of a Caonon 600EX and claims to have virtually identical specs. And a four-light setup using (manual, non-TTL) Yongnuo YN560-II costs about the same as a single Mitros.
Will do! Good idea.
What about the Yongnuo YN-560EX? It says it will do TTL flash and only costs $100.
The YN-560EX is only TTL when used off-camera, optically slaved from a Nikon or Canon commander. Put it in a hot shoe and it reverts to manual mode. Yongnuo’s true TTL model is the YN-565EX.
For what it’s worth, the YN-560II units I have are, so far, proving to be completely problem-free and nearly as well built as their major-brand counterparts.