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External Flash for Canon Rebel xti - which to buy?

Bonnie Morgan , Apr 02, 2009; 08:40 a.m.

I am currently using a Canon Rebel Xti, and am looking to buy an external flash unit. I just got into photography about six months ago, and do not like the images my on camera flash unit provides. Is there a big difference in buying between a Quantaray and/or a Canon external flash? I guess I should ask, should I buy a canon or a third party flash? I mainly want to do portrait photography, and small events (small wedding, family gathering, etc.) I am on a budget, so I can't afford the top line flashes. I just would like something basic, yet will be useful as I build my collection. I plan to buy a softbox/diffuser to soften the flash. Ultimately I would like to get an in home studio set up, but that may be a ways down the road. Any suggestions?
I welcome all responses.
CanonChic09

Responses

ed lusthoff , Apr 02, 2009; 10:25 a.m.

I would stick with the Canon flashes. They are made for the cameras. I would start with the 580 EX, then maybe go to the 480 EX as a slave flash. Would invest in a flash bracket also this will give you more versatility than just having the flash above the camera.

B.J. Scharp , Apr 02, 2009; 10:44 a.m.

I recently got a 580EXII flash for my 400D (XTi), and I love it. Full control at your fingertips. The 430EXII won't be much worse probably, but the interface will be slower (buttons instead of wheels). I've also heard very good things about the Metz flashes (I actually only chose the 580 over the top-model Metz because of the weathersealing on the 580EXII, as I photograph a lot in swimming pools).

One warning though: The small size of the XTi doesn't go well with the heavy combination you get when putting this big flash on it, unless you have very small hands. I used to hold the camera with only two fingers (middle and ring), and my pinky floated on the bottom, but with the flash I found the camera too heavy (the small ridge below the shutter button cut painfully in my middle finger). I added a portrait grip to the setup, which solved this completely, but it does mean that if I have to use the camera for a reasonable amount of time, I'll have to bring the grip as well.

As for Canon vs off-brand, only you can decide. Make sure you get a real TTL flash though. Before purchasing the 580, I used an older `automatic' (thyristor) flash, and while power was sufficient, the ease of control provided by the E-TTL has really improved my flash photos. I used to prefer available light, but now I'll use available flashlight as well :-)

And a final tip: Get some gels for the flash.

Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA , Apr 02, 2009; 02:15 p.m.

I would stick with the Canon 430EX, if not the II version, the original. There are other alternatives, but for where you are now, and for what you are doing, it is still the best choice, IMHO.

jr miller , Apr 07, 2009; 08:33 p.m.

Buy the 580EX I or the new MK II. The power and control they possess beats everything else in Canons lineup. Plus you get a ready master trigger system when you add strobe nom. 2.

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