ST-E2 vs. 550EX for wireless flash

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jonsjons, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. I currently have a 430ex II and would like to start getting the flash off camera, so I've been planning on picking up an ST-E2 controller. After some research, however, I've realized that a used 550ex won't be much more expensive and will have two benefits over the St-E2: controlling three groups of flashes (if I ever get that far) instead of two and providing the option for on-camera fill. Are there any other differences I should consider? Any situations where the ST-E2 would be superior?
  2. The ST-E2 is smaller and lighter, and uses invisible IR pulses rather than visible light to control the remote flash units. Although it can control groups A and B only, its interface is simpler to use.
    In just about every other respect the 550EX is superior. And you could stick a filter over it to cut its output to IR if you really wanted.
  3. I use both, if I could only have one then it would be the 550, but the ST-E2 is good and I like having it. I really like the size of the ST-E2, I use it for product work with DSLR's and also my G10, but when you need a backlight grouping at different power than the key and highlight groups then the 550 is the better way. The best bang for your buck is a 550 and one of these ( ), it allows you two off camera groups and gives you non line of sight flexibility.
  4. I did my research on this and personally I would NOT get the ST-E2. It only controls 2 groups. Plus, you can only use ettl to control the slave flashes. You won't be able to control the slave flashes in manual mode. The range of the 550ex should also be longer than the IR transmitter of the ST-E2. And lastly, you'll have to get batteries that you can only find in certain places. Having the 550ex on top of the camera can also be used as a fill light. You can set the flash ratio to 1:8 where the on shoe flash outputs a fraction of it total output while the off shoe slave output the max if needed.
  5. I had an ST-E2 and loved the simplicity. It's small on the camera easy to use and fast to control the groups. However, it didn't work well outside so I sold it.
    Now that I have the new Pocket Wizard system, I'm thinking of buying another one. It will function the same on the PW's at long range outside as it does short range inside.
    Anyone used the ST-E2 with the PW Flex and Mini?
    M. Scott Clay
  6. Get a 580ex, you can use the 580ex on camera with the 430 or just the 430 and turn the flash off on (oxymoron) the 580ex. Much more versatile than the old ST2E.
    I have the 580ex and two 430exs, great set up for home use, so flexible.
  7. thanks guys. i'm only getting my feet wet with portraits and i'm on a limited budget, so i think a used 550ex will do the job.
  8. I would go with the 550 ex, like you decided to do. I have both and used both. I prefer the ST-2, for inside as it is simple and two groups is usually sufficient for most images. Outside reflectors are cheaper and natural light works very well. However, I started by doing the same thing you are doing as money became available I would buy some thing else. Have also used the 550 off camera with a connector and stands.
  9. What Scott said.
    I too have both a 550EX (two, in fact) and an ST-E2, and depending on circumstances use whichever is more appropriate. As between the 550EX and the 580EX (original and II), sure there are some improvements, especially for 1.6-factor users, since these flashes understand how to adjust the zoom properly on 1.6-factor bodies, but the 550EX is a very capable flashgun, certainly on a FF body.
  10. I love the ST-E2 and use it all the time -- but one thing to consider is that in my experience both the ST-E2 and 550ex are close to useless as wireless triggers outdoors except at very close range and out of direct sunlight. They work great indoors but if you do a lot of outdoor shooting I would recommend a radio trigger.
  11. thanks again. is there anything i should look out for when buying a used flash?
  12. The main difference between the 550 and the 580 is the faster recycle time with the 580. That's a significant issue! However as far as the electronic interface, the 550 seems more intuitive. And I don't like the radiointerference issue with the 580 (I use pocketwizards). I for sure would go for the 550 or 580 over the ST-E2. Not only is it a more versatile setup, the electronic control algorithms are a little better as well.

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