Multiple (Canon) Speedlites

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by calvin_choy, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I started to get interested in setting up some simple lighting using multiple flash units. I have been reading some articles at There are still a few things that I am not really clear off and have problem with following some articles or short light setups from people.Hope someone can get me further :)
    I currently own a 430EX II and a Canon 450D, what I want to know is the following -->
    1. if I get a 580 EX II that can act as a master, will I able to trigger both the 580EX II and 430 EXII wirelessly without additional hardware? if not, what about the 580 on the camera and trigger the 430 wirelessly off the camera.
    2. using off camera flash, do you guys/gals always set the power and zoomfactor manually ? that is . . off-camera flash only manual mode ?
    3. if I am using a flash only off-camera, does is still matter what brand I get if I set only work in manual mode?
    thnx in advance for reading :)
  2. 1. You need additional hardware to trigger both wirelessly. The 580II on camera can trigger the 430. But if that's all you're using it for, it's a bit of a waste.
    2. I do. But if you use a 580II or a ST-E2, you can retain ETTL-II capability. Radiopoppers will also give you that ability.
    3. No. My collection of small lights consist primarily of Nikon SB-2x's.
  3. 1. Yes and no. The 580 must be on the camera (or attached via an off shoe cord) to trigger another flash.
    2. You can use off camera flashes to fire in E-TTL. Personally, I prefer to use manual power since you really don't know at what power the flash will fire otherwise. It's just another variable either you or the camera controls.
    3. Part 1- Put simply, there are two methods to trigger remote flashes: either through a dedicated IR system such as what Canon uses OR by using a remote wireless trigger such as Pocket Wizards. The Canon system will only accurately fire Canon flashes although you do retain the ability to use E-TTL. I also believe you can control the output of each flash in the system via the master flash. IE, if you want flash 2 to fire at -1 FEC. Again, this only works within the confines of the Canon system (Nikon has their own system for Nikon shooters). On the other hand, Pocket Wizards will fire any flash that you can connect the PW to. You need a PC sync input to connect which many smaller flashes don't have but an adapter can be bought. However, by using a PW, you are setting the flash manually, TTL information is NOT transmitted. The advantage to a PW is that since it is a radio signal, line of sight in not too important as it is with the IR systems used by Canon & Nikon. Finally, there are even more 3rd part solutions such as Quantum's Freewire, which are a radio signal (like a PW) that will transmit TTL info (like the Canon system)- but these system, including flashes, run a lot more money!
    3. Part II - So, if you want to trigger a slave wirelessly AND use E-TTL, you will need a Canon flash system (or the expensive Freewire). If you want to trigger a non-Canon flash, you will need a wireless triggering system such as the Pocket Wizard (Alien Bees also makes a cheaper wireless trigger system).
  4. Wow, thank you guys for the quick reply. Very usefull. I think that I will choose the setup everything manually. Atleast I have clear idea what I am doing, and if I dont like the result it will be easier to adjust the flash.
    Great to know that I can use other brands too, will be easier if I want to get some cheap older one flashes which should work fine using them in manual mode. I heard the "old" Nikon's are great. Any suggestion on where I can get them ? or maybe some other brands . . . I only know canon and nikon =/
    if the 580 is not a must to trigger I rather keep it cheap . . . I am just a student heh, all those higher end flashes are too expensive for me.
  5. The ST-E2 is not good in bright light. It works ok in smaller rooms with walls to bounce off of. I had an ST-E2 for about a month and sold it because it's performance was terrible for my needs. Although I use pocket Wizards, you can get a wireless triggering system on the bay for $20. They work fine for the little bit that I have played with them.
    1. If you want to stick with the Canon system and price is an issue, consider used equipment. The 580EX II is the third generation of high-end Canon flashes that can work as masters in Canon's wireless E-TTL system; the 580EX (without the II) and the even older 550EX also have this feature built in, and you should be able to pick one of these up for less than the cost of a new 580EX II.
    2. The Canon wireless multiple-flash system has a fair bit of complexity to it. The short answer is that you can divide your flash units up into as many as three groups and you can control the output of each group. The longer answer is in the EOS flash bible .
    3. You can use non-Canon flash units in various configurations, including wired and wireless connections with one or multiple flash units. But with the exception of a very small selection of third-party EOS-dedicated flash units, you will be controlling them like in the olden days: 100% manually, using the flash units' power controls, zoom controls, physical placement, lighting modifiers, etc. Before connecting any third-party flash units to the hot shoe or PC socket, make sure you check the trigger voltage of the flash to see if it's within whatever limits your camera supports. Most recent EOS bodies support trigger voltages of up to 250V; many older ones only support up to 6V. Many recent third-party flash units use low voltages; many older ones can have trigger voltages of several hundred volts. If your flash puts out more voltage than the camera supports, you could fry the camera's flash trigger circuitry. (That is, unless you connect it using something that provides isolation, such as a Safe Sync.)
  6. *********************read this for multiple light set up on the cheap******************
    Calvin, I have been reading strobist for about a year now and love all the information provided. I have several canon speedlites that I trigger with Pocket Wizards and one Nikon sb-26 that is triggered optically.
    However, there was a post on David Ziser's yesterday for adding off camera flashes for less than $100 for flash, umbrella and monopod. Here is the link - just scroll down to technique tuesday and watch the short video on recession lighting. I wish I had seen this when I was buying gear. I think I will still buy some of this gear in addition to all of my Canon Speedlites. Good luck.
  7. Thanks Mike and Steve - for the information regarding the canon flash system. I don't have to stick with canon gear though, it will be expensive . . . im definetly shopping for some secondhand flashes. I already have one flash (430EXII) I think with a second off camera flash en maybe the Cybersync receivers I will be happy for a while :)
    Michael - thnx for the link, I watched the video and must say that I am pretty impressed. I am particulary interested in the small size of the things used !
    The problem that I have thought with all the nice gears is that I live in europe . . . and so far I know . . . I don't know any companies like B&H and wallmart over here :(. The shipping cost can sometimes be extremely high =/

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