Canon 90 EX for beginner as a Master unit?

Started Jan 4, 2013 | Discussions
DoctorPDA
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Canon 90 EX for beginner as a Master unit?
Jan 4, 2013

I'm interested in the new Canon 90EX flash since my Canon T2i does not have ability to control a flash off camera, and I want to experiment with off camera flash.  Since I'm a beginner, I don't want to spend a large amount of cash (maybe ~ $500 max).

I figured I would get the Canon 90EX ($150) which I could use as a master and for fill flash.  Then I would get a 430 EX II ($250) for use off camera with an umbrella ($100) and practice with off camera flash that way.  Would this set up work?  I'd be willing to pay that much up front to experiment with flash.

Is there any reason I should look into the Canon 580 EX II ($500) or the new 600 EX-RT ($569) they both act as master on the T2i, but I still need another flash (ex. 430 EX II) for off camera, correct?, which would be too much money for me to spend....

Thanks,

Gus

Canon EOS 550D (EOS Rebel T2i / EOS Kiss X4)
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Sailor Blue
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Re: Canon 90 EX for beginner as a Master unit?
In reply to DoctorPDA, Jan 4, 2013

As far as I can tell from the specs the Canon 90EX is NOT a master flash.  In fact the only master flash that Canon currently makes is the 600EX-RT.  The recently discontinued 580EX II is also a master flash and can still be found for sale.

The 90EX would not do what you want.  It is also fixed without the ability to tilt and rotate the flash head.  Frankly it is not worth buying.

E-TTL is really only good if the subject to flash distance is constantly changing, which is not true in most off-camera flash situations.  When you use E-TTL the subject exposure will usually change when you change the ratio of subject to background by zooming with your feet or lens.  The result is that you wind up having to adjust the exposure of every image in post processing to keep the skin exposure consistent.

Most photographers use off-camera flash in the manual power control mode, not E-TTL, so that the stationary subject's exposure is exactly the same every time.  By placing your built-in flash in manual power mode with a power of about 1/64th of full power it can act as a trigger flash for any flash with a built in optical slave indoors.  Outdoors bright daylight can interfere, even with the flash at full power so using a set of budget priced RF triggers like the Yongnuo RF-603 is a better solution.  Check ebay but be sure you get ones that are compatible with your camera.

If you want a good flash that will work in E-TTL mode on your camera but can be used in manual mode off camera the Yongnuo YN-468II is available.  A more powerful flash is the YN-565EX, which will work in E-TTL mode either on or off the camera.  Both these flash units have built in optical slaves and the head can tilt and rotate but neither of them is a master flash.

Speedlights.net | Yongnuo YN-468II E-TTL Speedlite Flash “Mark 2″ (E-TTL II on-camera only)

Speedlights.net | Yongnuo YN-565 EX Flash Review (Equiv 430EX II & ETTL-II on/off-camera)

If you want a master then I recommend you find a 580EX II or a Nissin Di866 II.

Speedlights.net | Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash Review

Speedlights.net | Nissin Di866 II (Mark 2) | Speedlights.net

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BAK
BAK
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Re: Canon 90 EX for beginner as a Master unit?
In reply to DoctorPDA, Jan 4, 2013

I've just read the online manual for the 90EX, and I think your 90EX on camera and 430EX II with an umbrella would work.

Apparently there is no picture-taking burst of light from the 90EX, when used as a master. There's just a pre-flash controlling the 430EX II on a light stand, in your case.

But it will give you wireless control, and E-TTL control, over one external lightstand-mounted flash.

And you can add more flash guns later.

BUT I DO NOT KNOW FOR SURE

I have a T1i that at the moment will not turn on, and I hope the problem is only a dead battery. I wanted to look at flash operating menus on the camera.

BAK

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BAK
BAK
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Well, you now have two different opinions.
In reply to BAK, Jan 4, 2013

I think the 90EX is a "master" and I think you can use it with your (future purchase?) 430EX.

If you go to a good store, you can probably try this out and if it works, buy the 90EX and 430EX II.

BAK

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BAK
BAK
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research is valuable
In reply to BAK, Jan 4, 2013
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ScratchDisk
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A puzzle for you!
In reply to DoctorPDA, Jan 4, 2013

Instead ... what would you like to be able to do, that 2 secondhand (good working order) old 550Ex Speedlites (capable as either Light/IR 'master' or 'slave') couldn't do?

Cheers, Donald

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Sailor Blue
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Re: Canon 90 EX for beginner as a Master unit?
In reply to Sailor Blue, Jan 5, 2013

Sailor Blue wrote:

As far as I can tell from the specs the Canon 90EX is NOT a master flash. In fact the only master flash that Canon currently makes is the 600EX-RT. The recently discontinued 580EX II is also a master flash and can still be found for sale.

The 90EX would not do what you want. It is also fixed without the ability to tilt and rotate the flash head. Frankly it is not worth buying.

When I make a mistake I make a big one.  The Canon 90 EX is indeed a master flash.

I will say that I personally wouldn't buy it since it lacks the tilt and swivel needed for bounce flash.  I can't remember the last time I used an off-camera flash in TTL mode so basically I would still use the T2i built-in flash in manual power mode if I wanted an optical trigger for an off-camera flash with manual power control.

If I wanted an on-camera flash I would probably buy a TTL one since that is the one time I do use TTL, i.e. when the subject and I are moving a lot and the subject to flash distance is constantly changing.  Since I use bounce as much as possible I would go with something like the Nissin Di6222 II or the Yongnuo YN-565EX in the $150 price range.

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DoctorPDA
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Re: Canon 90 EX for beginner as a Master unit?
In reply to BAK, Jan 5, 2013

BAK wrote:

I've just read the online manual for the 90EX, and I think your 90EX on camera and 430EX II with an umbrella would work.

Sailor Blue wrote:

When I make a mistake I make a big one. The Canon 90 EX is indeed a master flash.

I will say that I personally wouldn't buy it since it lacks the tilt and swivel needed for bounce flash. I can't remember the last time I used an off-camera flash in TTL mode so basically I would still use the T2i built-in flash in manual power mode if I wanted an optical trigger for an off-camera flash with manual power control.

I appreciate all of the comments.

BAK.  I now see that the 90EX manual is available online (http://gdlp01.c-wss.com/gds/2/0300009682/01/speedlite90ex-en-es-fr.pdf).  I looked on my menu on my T2i and it does have an option in the Menu for "Flash Control" ("external flash func setting" is listed in that menu), so appears I can control the 90EX via the T2i menu, and also control the 90EX throught the LCD as a Master Unit.

Sailor Blue.  This is my first time buying an off camera flash, and have only used DSLR for the past 6 months.  I don't know if I have enough knowledge yet for manual flash, but I bought a few books to learn about it.  I also have to figure out whether a soft box or umbrella is better for my use (portrait).

I'm leaning toward the 90EX, but now also looking into a long flash cord like this (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/755549-REG/Vello_OCD_U33_Universal_Duo_TTL_Off_Camera.html), which is a Vello Universal Duo TTL Off-Camera Flash Cord (33'), after I read a little of Syl Arena's Speedliter's Handbook.  I don't mind the cord and it's cheaper, and I wouldn't have to worry about line-of-sight with the 90EX.  Does anyone have experience with this?  I would be using it with a 430 EX II.  Thoughts regarding 90EX vs cord?

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ScratchDisk
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Re: Canon 90 EX for beginner as a Master unit?
In reply to DoctorPDA, Jan 5, 2013

Hi, I do have experience of using 'Dual' TTL cords. Canon do not make one - their OC-E3 has a single female hot-shoe.

'Dual' TTL cords can confuse the camera. They are OK under ETTL if only one attached Speedlite is operating in ETTL - for max reliability, have only one female hot-shoe occupied (& that attached Speedlite can be enabled as a 'master/controller' device, if you so choose).

TTL cords from Syl or Flashzebra are of the single female hot-shoe type only (at least, when I last looked).

Good luck. Donald

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DoctorPDA
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Re: Canon 90 EX for beginner as a Master unit?
In reply to ScratchDisk, Jan 5, 2013

Appreciate the responses.

My goal is to take casual photos of family (baby, family) at home.  I'm not a professional, so I don't want to go overboard with spending, but I want better flash than my on camera flash.

I am thinking of getting the flash off camera by getting a 430 EX II ($250) and a Vello E-TTL cord that is 33' (~ $50), and also an umbrella with stand (maybe ~ $75 to $100).  That way I can experiment with off camera flash and hopefully get better photos.  The 90 EX flash is nice, but as you have commented, there are line of sight issues, it won't get any fill flash, and and it's $150.

I could always upgrade later, by getting a master flash (ex. 580 EX II) (that is ~ $500 so a bit much for me now), and use the 430 EX II as a slave, and maybe try a softbox.

I looked into the Yongnuo YN-565 EX Flash ($150), looks pretty nice, but not sure about the quality as compared with the 430 EX II.

Thanks.

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TangoMan
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Here's how to control flashes manually.
In reply to DoctorPDA, Jan 5, 2013
This is my first time buying an off camera flash, and have only used DSLR for the past 6 months. I don't know if I have enough knowledge yet for manual flash, but I bought a few books to learn about it. I also have to figure out whether a soft box or umbrella is better for my use (portrait).

It's really quite simple.

The flash to subject distance determines how much light reaches the subject. (The camera distance is entirely irrelevant.)

The light falls off according to the square of the distance between the flash and the subject. For example:

  • 1 meter = x amount of light
  • 2 meters = 1/4 x amount of light

(but if your light source is very large, the fall off is much less important)

That's only good to know as a general rule and to understand what's going on, but in practice, you put a light somewhere, set a power level and take a test shot. (the "1/4" setting is handy because it lets your light recycle quite fast. 1/8 is even faster but the light output is weaker).

From the test shot, you can do three things.

Too bright?

  • Reduce ISO setting
  • Reduce aperture size (use a higher aperture number)
  • or Reduce the flash power.

You could also increase the flash to subject distance but it's really not practical.

Too dark?

  • Increase ISO setting
  • Increase aperture size (use a lower aperture number)
  • or Increase the flash power.

Moving the flash closer could also be a good solution and alter favorably the lighting of the scene.

Note that nowhere was it mentionned that you should change the speed setting. Changing the speed will not affect the flash, because the flash duration is so short (1/500 to 1/6000) that is can't be interupted by the camera shutter. The camera shutter will however affect the ambiant (continuous) light and you should use it to balance the ratio of ambient to flash lights.

Remember : Manual mode is you friend. Change the aperture setting to control the flash, change the speed setting to control the ambient light. It's that easy! (don't exceed the x-sync speed of you camera or you will get a black bar in your pictures. That critical speed is usually 1/125 to 1/250)

Does that help?

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BAK
BAK
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good idea
In reply to DoctorPDA, Jan 5, 2013

Re>I am thinking of getting the flash off camera by getting a 430 EX II ($250) and a Vello E-TTL cord that is 33' (~ $50), and also an umbrella with stand (maybe ~ $75 to $100).  That way I can experiment with off camera flash and hopefully get better photos<

Good idea, although the cord is probably too long.

Do not buy a Photoflex cord.

I often use the system you suggest, more or less, and it works well.

With that setup you can use e-ttl or you can use manual flash.

And FOR SURE you will get better pictures.

BAK

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DoctorPDA
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Re: Here's how to control flashes manually.
In reply to TangoMan, Jan 6, 2013

TangoMan wrote:

This is my first time buying an off camera flash, and have only used DSLR for the past 6 months. I don't know if I have enough knowledge yet for manual flash, but I bought a few books to learn about it. I also have to figure out whether a soft box or umbrella is better for my use (portrait).

It's really quite simple.

Does that help?

TangoMan----- thanks for taking the time to write your post and your other response regarding umbrella.  Your explanation is pretty simple- I will try that out soon.  I think that is what I'm doing with my 'on-camera flash' on my T2i.  When the flash is too bright, I use flash exposure compensation to decrease the output, and that works just fine.

BAK---- thanks, I thought 33 feet was too long, but the next shortest one I could find on B&H photo was 6.5 feet, which may or may not be enough.  I know they have cords on other sites, but I like B&H's customer service.  I thought I'd need 5 feet each for cord to go from my tripod to the floor, and 5 feet from the floor to the top of the umbrella stand, then I'd need maybe up to 10 feet for cord to go to the site of the stand.

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GHwell
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Re: Used at B&H photo
In reply to DoctorPDA, Jan 6, 2013

I have always had good luck with them  Right now they have a 430  rated 8+ for $69 bucks.

The last one I got from them was a 550   I swear it was old new stock,  still in all the orginal packing and I got it for $259

To be honest the old 550 is a better flash than my 580.  It is right on the money for exposures in ettl and both of my 580's underexpose by 1/2 stop in ettl

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BAK
BAK
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Remember the purpose / advantage
In reply to DoctorPDA, Jan 6, 2013

The purpose and advantage of YOU  buying a 90EX for YOUR T2i is almost exclusively to provide you with a wireless trigger for an external flash that is not physically connected to your camera.

Lots of people find that wires and cables get in the way.

The 90EX on YOUR camera does not give much in the way of "better" light by itself.

OTHER PEOPLE with cameras that have NO built-in flash, such as the 6D and the 5D-III, get two purposes / advantages. They get a straight-ahead fill flash to illuminate under the brims of hats, soften sunny-shadows, etc., and they get the wireless trigger advantages.

Buying a 90EX for these people is a better bet than buying a non-master flash to use for fill because the 90EX costs less and is easier to carry, but --always tradeoffs - doesn't twist and turn like a 430EX II.

And it is better than an STE-2 transmitter because the 90EX will flash.

And another BUT... but the STE-2 is only optical, not radio, and the radio version of the STE-2 works with the radio function on the fancy new 600 model radio /optical flash.

BAK

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