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Speedlights: 600EX-RT vs 580EXII vs 430EXII

Anthony Perlas , Jun 11, 2012; 01:44 p.m.

Hello!
I was wondering the differences between these three speed-lights? One is $600, the 580 is $500, the 430 is $270.

I am new to photography (check out my photos here seroptics.com) and I noticed that I have problems shooting stuff indoors. Outdoors the image quality turns out to be good. The indoor pictures, no matter how good the composition, shows up as grainy. I would like to fix this. A friend of mine at a dance allowed me to borrow his speed-light and I was able to take better photos indoors that aren't grainy.
If you look at the album here, http://seroptics.com/formal-ceili-2012/, you can easily tell the difference between the pictures that was shot using the camera's flash and those of a speedlight. My friend used the 430EXII. I was wondering if I should just stick with that, or will a 580 or a 600 one show noticeable improvements that is worth the money?

I was wondering if I should go ahead and invest on a $600 600EX-RT or stick with the 430? My camera's flash won't suffice.

Thoughts? Can you compare and contrast? What are the pros and cons of each?

Responses


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Richard Hatch , Jun 11, 2012; 01:56 p.m.

The 600 has features and functions that you probably don't need or can't use... so take that off your list unless you want what it has that the 580 can't do and know what to do with it....
That said... the 580 or the 430 will work for what you are doing. I have a 580 and frequently max out its power so for me I'm happy I got the 580 instead of the 430. More is better but you pay....
I shot all these with a 5DMK II and one 580 in various configurations.
http://www.esfishdoc.com/Gallery/Mindful_Interplay/index.html

OBTW.... HDR on skin is hideous! (my opinion)
Richard

Anthony Perlas , Jun 11, 2012; 02:06 p.m.

Forgive me, Richard! Haha. I am still new to HDR let alone photography. As a new photographer I find HDR amusing!
I shoot with a 55-250mm Canon Lens. I noticed that the 600EX-RT has a zoom function of 200mm. That's the only reason why I would probably get the 600 now that you mentioned it. Would that price difference be justifiable?

WOW Great photos!
I believe I am not supposed to ask for any photo critiques in this board. To prevent myself from getting in trouble as a new member of photo.net, I would like some input on my photos if you are willing. I am a newbie at this field and any help I can get would be appreciated! My email is arfperlas@live.com.

Richard Hatch , Jun 11, 2012; 02:38 p.m.

Anthony,
You don't need the 200mm zoom function of the flash. Most of the time I'm bouncing flash off a wall or a ceiling. For example, most of those images where with the flash off camera in manual mode fired with CyberSyncs and bounced off the ceiling. I was using the 24-70 and a 70-200. You could use the 580 on camera with the 55-250 and as long as your subject is not beyond the range of the flash and you can still shoot at focal lengths the flash does not actually zoom to.
I think a lot of the cost of the 600 is in its wireless abilities. Your camera may or may not be able to utilize that function.

G Dan Mitchell , Jun 11, 2012; 03:00 p.m.

The 580 has a "zoom function," too.

Dan

Robin Smith , Jun 11, 2012; 03:12 p.m.

So does the 430, although not up to 200mm. I recommend the cheapest for you: the 430, the rest is overkill and unnecessary given your avowed beginner status. Even if you weren't a beginner, I'd still recommend the 430 as I do for most people.

Duane Loya , Jun 11, 2012; 03:19 p.m.

I use the 320EX for $249.99 I selected this one because of the LED guide light that helps in low light situations and is on when you are shooting HD movies in low light. You can see what this baby does here; http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/speedlite_flash_lineup/speedlite_320ex#BrochuresAndManuals
This speedlight might also be a solution for you too.

Larry West , Jun 11, 2012; 03:44 p.m.

If you are new to flash photography, then you probably don't need to go for the 600EX-RT right off the bat. The 430EX II will do you fine, and you can upgrade later, when your needs change.

I bought a 430EXII to go with my 7D, and it's been just fine for my use. I have a Gary Fong collapsible Light Sphere to go with it, which helps broaden the light into a more pleasing spread. Unmodified flash can create harsh shadows and is generally considered unflattering to your subject. There are many flash modifiers out there, from those that broaden the light coming from the flash, to those that concentrate it for more power at greater distance.

Dan Ferrel , Jun 11, 2012; 03:48 p.m.

The 430 and 580 are the older versions. The 580(I and II) are now discontinued. The 600 is new.
With Canon EX flash units you'll find that the name, 430EX 580EX etc.., have the guide number in their name. 430EX is a 43 (meter) guide number, 580 is a 58 gn, 600 is a 60 gn. Just so you can see the differences in power. This is somewhat misleading though as that guide number (gn) is measured at the flash's max zoom. On the 430 and 580 I believe they have the same range, 24mm-105mm, but the 60 goes to 200mm, so the extra power does somewhat come from that. The zoom on a flash covers the same angle of view that a lens of the same focal length is, i.e. 50mm zoom on the flash will be just as wide as you can see with a 50mm lens.

The 600EX now incorporates a radio receiver. You'd need a ST-E3-RT or another 600EX to use that, but if you plan on going eTTL with radio capability to get your lights off camera you'd not want to buy a 430, only to have to buy a 600 later anyways. If you only plan to have the light on camera the 430 isn't a bad light at all, I own 2 and they work very well.
The 430EX can be an optically triggered slave to a 550EX, 580EX (I or II), or ST-E2, or Canon 7D or T3i or T4i. This is not to say that the flash can be triggered by anything else that flashes, it's an eTTL optical slave. You need an eTTL optical Master to make it work.
The 580EX can be Master or Slave. It also has external metering (not sure if the 600 does but the 430 does not). This is getting complicated but lets just say that yes it is a better flash than the 430 and it's more than just a jump in the gn.

There's also other flash units that I won't go into. What camera do you own? What lenses? That will likely be of better use to help answer your question. If your camera is capable of shooting as master with the popup then you may be able to get away with a 270EXII for now and just use it as a slave flash.

Here's a comparison between the 430 and 580 (link) This site doesn't have the 270EXii or the 600 yet, but you can see the differences between the 430 and 580. If I had it all to do over again, I would have got the most powerful eTTL flash I could, which at this time would be the 600. Either that or get as least expensive replacement as I could and save my money until I could get the 600. But that replacement would be based on the camera I owned at the time.

Anthony Perlas , Jun 11, 2012; 04:03 p.m.

Thanks for the input Dan!

I use a Canon T3i and I shoot mainly macro/telephoto with my 55-250mm lens. I also have a 18-55mm.


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