Do I need a speedlite?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by kristen riley, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. Hello. I am new to photography and a fried has asked me to
    photograph their wedding. It is an informal/family only wedding, so
    not too much pressure. However, I want them to have some good images
    to remember their day. I own a new 20D, Canon 50mm f1.8, kit lens,
    and 75-300 4-5.6 (non IS). The wedding will be in a clubhouse at
    5:00 PM. Will I be able to get decent pictures using on camera
    flash? Or do I need to purchase a speedlite? I will eventually be
    getting one anyway, when the budget can better allow for it. ANY
    input would be greatly appreciated! Kristen
  2. You need a larger/more powerful flash than the pop-up flash. If you are on a tight budget get the 420EX, I had one with my 10D and it had more than enough power for what you want to do although it was limited control wise. If you can stretch your cash the 550EX would be better all around, but if you do not shoot a lot of flash photos it might not be worth the extra cash to you.
  3. Unless you want to stick to the 50 1.8, yes. And a bracket would be good.

    But more importantly.. if i were you I'd politely decline and tell them to get a wedding photographer, it's an important day afterall.
  4. I just found a 550 EX for rental $40.00. I think that might work well.
  5. I agree with what Eoghan and James said. I have been photographing for 21 years (not weddings) but know enough that you can't just turn up on the day with a pro-camera and expect to get pro results. It is the photographer's experience and ability to control the camera to get the results they want that makes great images, not the camera itself. Your friend may not understand this and then be dissapointed that the images from your new 20D don't match their expectations, most probably based on others' professional wedding photos.

    At a minimum practice furiously in advance under similar lighting conditions. Digital is a good experimental and learning tool. The wedding day itself is not the day to be trying to find out how to manipulate the 20D's features.
  6. I should have clarified. They just got engaged last weekend and are getting married on the 19th. Short planning time. Basically, they were happy just to find someone with a decent camera. I think they asked me because I will do it for the practice. They aren't paying me anything (except to cover my cost). They are both close to 70 years old and on a fairly tight budget. It came down to asking me or having no photographer at all. Thanks guys! Kristen
  7. The 550EX is a very nice flash and the flash metering on the 20D is very reliable (a huge improvement over earlier models).

    The suggestion of a bracket is a very good one though it would probably add some considerable cost (you need an off camera cable too). The good brackets both elevate the flash (useful for reducing red eye and shadows) and more importantly keep is centered over the lens when shooting in portrait orientation. This eliminates strong shadowing along the right hand side of the subject when in portrait orientation.

    The cheapest and best way to avoid the problem is to bounce the flash off the ceiling (assuming there is a white ceiling available - not alway true in a church). The 550EX is powerful enough to bounce very successfully.

    Remember to check LCD often. Your 50/1.8 is a nice lens for portraits. With the flash you can use the kit lens for wide group shots. Stop it down several stops to maximize quality.

    Best of luck and remember to enjoy yourself.
  8. fj5


    No offense, Kristen, but I would agree with Eoghan and Geoff about the importance of the wedding. However, I would suggest that you join the pro (or maybe not pro but just more experienced) photographer as an assistant so you can take advantage of the wedding opportunity to really put your new kit to work. I understand that maybe your friend has a limited budget but... THE WEDDING day is a day they would really want to have beautiful pictures to bring back beautiful memories. I'm not saying you can't provide them with beautiful pictures. You probably can and will... but with the pro, it's a little less risky.

    In your speedlite case, I would suggest the Canon 420EX with Stofen Omnibounce would be a good place to start. I find bounce flash brings out amazing results and the stofen omnibounce really does a great job in dispersing light. If you don't plan on using flash much for your own purposes, then consider renting the 420EX instead of the 550EX. I say this because the 550EX has a lot of manual controls you may not be ready to manipulate just yet. The 420EX has some easy but effective automatic features through E-TTL.
  9. If the choice is you or no photographer, then by all means do it. Just make sure it is crystal clear to them that you are inexperienced and have not shot a wedding before and that while you will try your best, you can't promise anything.
    A rental 550EX would do the job very nicely.
    Suggested reading: The EOS flash bible - there is way too much information here to absorb in one sitting, but make sure you read the FAQ at the start and skim through the rest. You can ignore anything dealing with TTL or A-TTL, as your equipment doesn't support these modes; read everything which mentions E-TTL II, which is what you have, and it would also be useful to look at the information on E-TTL, on which E-TTL II is based.
    If the setting is one where bounce flash is appropriate (a ceiling which is white, and not so high that the flash unit can't provide enough light), consider using bounce flash. You'll tend to get softer, more natural lighting, as opposed to the traditional deer-in-the-headlights look of direct flash.
  10. fj5


    Kristen, I just read your latest post... understood. Rent the 420EX or the 550EX, it's up to you. Bounce when you can. Have a blast and make sure to look for those out of the ordinary perspectives that really capture the intimate moments. I wish I had your opportunity! I'd love to shoot a wedding to gain more experience.
  11. Another word of warning. The 75-300 tends to hunt in low light (won't focus quickly and may misfocus). Also its focal length is not very ideal for an indoor venue on the 20D. It might be useful for getting candids at a distance. But as it sounds like it is a small venue, you would probably be better off zooming with your feet. Based on what you have said, I'd pretty much stick to the Canon 50mm and maybe the kit lens for wide angles when you want group shots.

    If you can check out the venue before hand and borrow someone to practice on under the same light, that would be ideal, IMO.
  12. Never forget the white clothes can mislead the metering system. Take test shoots, adjust the fec/ec even try to use manual settings.
    In case you can borrow one go for the ex580 (expensive one, but really fine, I simply love it)
    Many people use metz and sigma flashes for half/third of the price of an 580. It is important to check if the flash can talk the ETTL-II (most of the new flashes and the full ex serie can, I believe). A bouncer can help you a lot, especially if the ceiling dark, painted, or too hihg.
    If you can you should go and shoot test shots on the wedding dress a day before or so.
    And after all, dont follow my practice: I left my brand new ex580 at home and was really angry because of my stupidty :((
  13. I know that I'd be afraid of disappointing people, that's why i said what i did. But if it's you or no one, and they understand your situation, then by all means give it all you've got.

    I'd buy a 420 or 550 EX, whichever you can afford, and and a stofen omnibounce. Then practice as much as you can. Use the kit lens for a few wide shots but I'd primarily stick to the 50mm. You'll have enough to think about without adding zooming to the equation aswell:)

    Try to learn about bouncing the flash and if the light is good, just use it as fill flash, or maybe no flash at all. The flash bible will help a lot, as indicated by someone else. A visit to the clubhouse a week before would also be good if you have the time.

  14. You've had some good advice in this thread, Kristen.<p>

    Here are a few other tips:
    <li>Get a couple of big Compact Flash cards and shoot in RAW mode. That allows you to compensate + or - two stops for inaccurate exposure, and to set the colour balance to whatever you wish later. Shooting in JPEG mode means you have got to nail everything when shooting, with little chance to correct when postprocessing.
    <li>Check your LCD display and histogram constantly for blown highlights, especially in faces and in the bride's dress, if it's white. You may have to shoot a bit under your metered reading to avoid blown highlights.
    <li>As soon as you download your images to your computer, burn a CD of them just as they came off your CF cards. That's your "digital negative" in case anything goes wrong in post-processing.
    <li>Get a good flash bracket, or your shots will suffer from redeye and ugly shadows. I recommend a Stroboframe Press-T or Pro-T. You will also need the Canon off-shoe cord.
    <li>Attend the rehearsal with your camera, Speedlite, and bracket and take photos to check that you are getting good compositions and exposure. Take careful note of where to be, and with what lens, at each phase of the entrance, ceremony, and recessional. Request that the rehearsal be held at the same time of day as the ceremony will be, so you can assess the actual lighting conditions.
    I hope the shoot goes very well, and that the couple is pleased with your work.
  15. Ok, This is my idea, if you want to take wedding pictures, and you got a few days left of time. Go to a wedding photographer and ask to review his portfolio. this will show you what typical photos are included. tell this photographer that you are volunterring your time for a couple of senior citizens and would appreciate a few quick tips if any. as for the flash, simply mounting your flash on the shoe wont give you the most pleasing effect, get a flash bracket. get a good flash that is fully compatible with the 20D as recommeneded by your manual. use the mode AV or Av on your 20D, set the F stop to the lowest number possible for one and two shots, F8 for group shots, and use Flash bracketing so that you take 3 pictures to every one at different levels. Be sure to white balance. bring a lot of CF cards and batteries because you will need to take tons more photos than you think, just so you will capture the best ones. good luck
  16. Above all don't panic with the all the information coming at you. Turn up, have fun, don't stress out yourself or the lucky couple, take lots of pictures, and I am sure they will be thrilled with whatever you produce.

    I have friends who had the fairy tale (multi-hundred thousand) wedding (organized by the bride's family) which both found stressful. On the other hand my best friend was married in the registry with only immediate family in attendance and had the reception in his mother's house. Everyone had a great time. You need wonderful memories not technically perfect photos.
  17. Thats a big learning curve to figure out how to use a 550EX,
    on a 20d and shoot a wedding that will be over in a few minutes...
    Use the 50mm. Bounce the flash. Read a book on wedding photography
    and get the pictures as best you can...Good luck.
  18. Check your histogram. Set the camera so that it plays back after every shot. This is the best way to avoid over/underexposures. What Alistair said. And I'd also take a spare battery for the 20D. You'll most probably want one fairly soon anyhow, might as well get it now. Charge them both fully the night before.

    If it were me, when using the 50f1.8 wide open I would set to center point focussing only and use the focus and recompose technique. (This should help avoid the camera focussing on something other than the subject when using a shallow depth of field.)
  19. short answer: you dont need the canon Ex series. If you're a digital only photographer, you probably dont know what the hell a vivitar 283 or 285 is

    i've used a trio of Vivitar 283's (you can still buy these new for $70 +/-) with off-camera cords, since 1983. 15 years ago I added a quantam bantam battery. Recently i added a Wein voltage regulator thingy as i heard it might damage my eos bodies or g2 digicam

    I've never had a desire to get a Canon Ex flash, because I get excellent results using the 283 or a studio flash using a flashmeter. I use my flash on a bracket or handheld off-cam, and it is a blast to use, especially experimenting with digital with my paltry G2. doesnt the 20D have the cheesy flip-up flash that you could resort to

    whatever flash you get, you need to practice as others have mentioned, and with the digital you get instant feedback. if you have the desire to get the latest and greatest, then get the ex flash...
  20. w.t., what equipment is needed to get started with 283s using a canon 10D? how are they fired when off camera in synch with the camera? can i used them in conjunction with a 420EX? can i use them on the camera's hot shoe?what do cables cost? i'm interested, but haven't a clue how to do anything other than use a 420EX.
  21. all good advise. in my view, there's nothing about weddings different from other photojournalism work if you don't fall into 'wedding photos' stereotype. i shot a few out of curiosity, and they came out really nice and even got published.

    if your budget is tight, get sigma or sunpak e-ttl flash, chinese white paper fan, bounce off the ceiling with fan attached to flash facing forward. i'd use 50mm lens at 2.2-2.8 aperture to get DOF and most available light, focusing on the eyes. consider converting photos into b&w, it may look more striking.
  22. Ben S:
    I use the Vivitar slave that mounts on the shoe of the flash, the main flash is directly hooked to the hot shoe via the coiled cord, 5' or so in length, the sensor from the flash stays on the hot shoe to read the flash, if set on automatic. I think other slaves like Wein will work. Any flash that has a slave will go off when the main flash is fired. I frequently use the vivitar on cam at 1/32 power, for instance, pointed to the ceiling, in order to fire my studio monoflash by slave. There is more than one way to do stuff.

    here's a vivitar link, you can find your way back to flashes. The 283 and 285 have been made for a long time. They are cheap, but dont have the ttl metering that everyone now seems to think they need, unfortunately.

    tom in Seattle
  23. Practice bounce flash and use the 50mm as much at you can.

    Sometimes bounce flash can make old people look older (by highlighting the wrinkles) when working in close quarters with a 50/1.8.

    Use fill flash and learn to use FEC (Flash Exposure Compensation) since ETTL tends to underexpose.

    Practice, practice, and practice while you can.

    For goup shots, use the 18-55.

    I also recommend:
    NiMH batteries and spares for the 550EX. Alkalines are slow to charge. Or rent a TP-E or CP-E2 or 3 if available.
    Spare(s) BP-511A.
    Extra CF card(s).
    Use RAW + small .jpg
  24. WT is right on with the Vivitar 283 or 285! These dinosaurs are professional workhorses because they always work. Just be sure you have a later model with safe voltages for the Canon. My 550EX can sometimes produce inconsistant exposures on my 10d. Canon's E-TTL can be very tricky and one must have good consistant exposures for a wedding.
    Auto-thyrisor exposure has been around for years and may not be the trend but I find it more reliable and easier to control than Canon's E-TTL.
    Yes, I know all about the use of FEC but find it a pain to use in the real world.
    I don't have experience with the "new" E-TTL II but I sure hope it is better. Canon's flash guns are big bucks and seem like poor values when you consider they perform mediocre.
    P.S.-In addition tho Vititar I love to put a Metz 45CL-4 flash on my 10D, shoot with both strobes and enjoy the great "soft" flash images.
  25. Yes, you should have more flash power than the little strobe that is built into the camera, but get it as soon as you can, and get familiar with it. A wedding, is no time to be fooling around, with equipment that you are not familiar with. But, it's really not about the camera, or the flash. Good wedding photographers make good images, because they know how to pose people attractively, like standing at a 45 deg. angle to the camera, and putting their weight on their back foot. Get a few tips from a pro or buy a book, before the wedding.

Share This Page