Canon Speedlights 600EXRT

The above named speedlights are the latest and greatest in the Canon speedlight range and a little advice to the other Canon users that might save you some cash.

Only purchase if you have a 2012 or later camera.

I bought one of these to add a second light for portrait work and tried using it grouped with my older speedlight, a Canon 430EXII fired by Pixl King radio transmitters. I also have a very old optical slave speedlight which i add into my mix

Canon cameras allow you to control groups of speedlights from the LCD screen when attached via compatible radio transmitters, and I’d been using mine with 2 speedlights for quite a while but with the new 600’s only one speedlight was showing on screen. I could fire off two, but the settings were being mirrored on each flash instead of how i had used my older ones previously, setting the power to each independently.

I had my new flash checked and it was returned with a note saying it worked perfectly. I blamed my old flash, so stupidly went out and bought another 600, but still the same issue.

I had my 5DMKii checked, it too was in good nic and wasn’t the cause.

A check on good old Youtube brought the answer. These new flashes are only fully compatible with newer cameras in radio mode and don’t function properly with 2nd party radio transmitters, only the Canon built STE3 and only on newer bodies.

My dilema was get shot of the new flashes at a loss or upgrade my camera, which i did but it was an expensive lesson.

The flashes have their own inbuilt radio transmission/recievers and with one attached to the cameras hot shoe you can fully operate the 2nd but to get the full benefit you want to add the ST-E3 radio trigger unit which sits in the hot shoe and lets you set each flash output

You can pair ettl with manual etc but you can’t control the zoom remotely, that needs set on each unit manually.

Another negative the trigger doesn’t have any infrared AF assist, which I find quite bizarre. You can have that by making a switch and having one of the flash in the hot shoe but it kind of defeats the point in paying for the trigger, the only way to keep two flashes off camera in low light is to use a torch for helping with AF, set your focus in manual or get a hot shoe cable attachment and connect to the flashes that way.

An expensive lesson, but the flashes are great and grouping is now easy peasy.

This post has come from one of the

Aside

This post has come from one of the groups I belong to on Facebook, you may want to check with the Waverley Station for confirmation of times and vantage points enroute

A wee reminder that the A1 Steam Locomotive ‘Tornado’ (in its shiny new blue livery) is due to arrive in Waverley Station at 1540 on Tuesday 11th June, it’s coming from Newcastle so to the East of the station. Possible photo ops…maybe Regent Rd, Abbeyhill/mount, for an Arthurs Seat backdrop? Jacobs Ladder for a birds eye view or of course in the station itself (which will undoubtedly be packed with ‘spotters’) 😉

 

hope it’s of use to some of you

Photoshop Tutorials

If anyonoe has time to spare over the next week and want some hardcore Photoshop tutorials, then get yourself in front of an internet connected device and watch some of the worlds best photoshop experts who will be showing on http://www.creativelive.com/ from Monday 25th February.

There will be different experts (known as Photoshop Evangelists!) showing live every day and once the live show is done for the day they start showing re-runs and continue to do so until the next days filming begins.

This will continue for the week so more or less any time of the day you can click in and see some great tips and tutorials.

I don’t have a list of the line-up to hand but you can garuntee they will be top notch instructors. This is a free set of workshops while the airing is live or during the reruns, at the end of the week you can purchase any of that weeks offerings as an any time download if you wish.

There’s no registration required, just click on the link and go to the Watch Live tab. There’s also Q&A’s invited via Twitter or through the shows online forum (for the forum you need to put in a username) so you could have your question answered and a demonstration shown by one of the very people that make PHotoshop!

It’s an American creation so bear in mind that the advertised show times will be local to the US and you’ll need to adjust for UK

Creative Live is fab, it’s touted as an online classroom and the classes are mainly photography based, last week had a week of wedding shoots which are filmed as it happened using models and top photographers on location who explained pretty much the full camera to album process, how to get good light, how to pose the subjects and via the forum you could ask questions of the ‘togs as they were posing and shooting, invaluable tips being passed out for free. Tonight there’s a rerun of a course thats been going for the past three days titled fundamentals of photography and learning your way around DSLR’s. If you’d just taken a DSLR out of the box or wanted to knwo how your particular camera worked then an expert was demonstrating and answering questions

It’s a great free resource and if you particularly want a download of one of the courses thats when you pay.

 

Adobe Giveaway

If there’s anyone been considering buying Adobe Photoshop but didn’t know if it was for you or not Adobe are giving away some of their older versions of some of their products and they are available for download here

http://www.adobe.com/downloads/cs2_downloads/index.html – remember to copy the serial numbers as well because they will still need activated on install.

The fact they are giving them away means they are probably no longer going to recieve any updates etc but will give a novice a good feel for the product before deciding if it’s something they could use.

The big download is CS2, it’s got three files so i’m not entirely sure if it’s the extended version or not. For those not familiar the current version is 6.0

There’s also Photoshop Elements 4/5 (current version 10 or 11?) so that gives you an idea that they are older versions but hopefully of some use to some of the members.

There’s also some other products going free on that link as well.

Having downloaded one or two of the versions for another PC I’d advise that they are more suited to non Windows 7 pc/laptops, if you do use Windows 7 be aware when you open one of the older programmes they change your coulour settings while the programme is open but change it back once you close it.

Canon Flash triggers

I’m not sure how many people use external camera flash, it’s something i’m getting more into but still very much just learning and experimenting with but thought i’d do this post

If you do use this type of lighting you will almost certainly want to get the flash off camera and there’s various ways of doing this. You can use hot shoe sync cables which are pretty much idiot proof, you can use Infra-red triggers which utilise the flash inbuilt infra red and and there’s also radio triggers;

Hot-shoe sync cable

The hot-shoe sync cables are are pretty much idiot proof but most of them have a coiled cable which is only a meter long. You can buy longer but they are expensive and if you do get these you obviously benefit if you stay brand specific. I bougt a cheap “universal” type form Jessops and it was such a snug fit that when i tried to remove it from my flash i thought i’d damage the hot shoe. I only used it the once before going back for a refund. (did i say idiot proof….) The drawback to this type of attachment is you’re restricted to talking photos with one hand on camera and the other holding the flash unless you have an assistant or carry a lightstand! Price of the universal cable was about £40 I think, damage that could have been caused was about £500 so won’t be going Universal again anytime soon.

Triggers

The next best way for off-camera flash control is using triggers. There’s lots of them about, you get a transmitter and a reciever as a minimum and can usually buy additional recievers if you have more flashes. Most but not all recievers can be plugged into a sync cable on lighting setups as well so if you have a studio lighting kit you could also use your triggers to fire them.

I’ve tried a few and in my opinion you can’t go wrong if you buy radio rather than infra red.

Infra Red

These type are fairly reliable but get them on a flash in a sunny day and the infra red signal can be overpowered by the sun so you get frequent misfires. Using a fill flash in a sunny day scenario makes a heck of a difference, you can get nice sun filled backdrops and have your subject turn their back to the sun and still have them proper lit up using a fill flash. apart from misfires due to the sun he infra red is also line of sight which means if you had a flash on the floor behind a subject and your intention for that flash was to light up a portion of your background, because the subjects in the way and the flash is pointing to a background rather than at the camera then again, theres plenty scope for misfres.I had Canons St-E2 infra red trigger which was great indoors and while within line of sight but not the best outside. I bought my ST-E2 second hand, it appeared to be fully functioning so I don’t think that had any bearing on how it was performing, the second hand price was £110 and I sold it on for £90. Like most of the branded Canon gear there was someone looking for just what I was selling so it didn’t cost me too much to experiment. It was a transmitter only trigger, it used the infra red built into my flash to fire it so there was a constant blinking red light to put up with.

ETTL

What I should mention is ETTL, if your flash supports it then try and get triggers that support it also.

If you haven’t a clue what ETTL is, in short it’s an Auto mode on your Speedlight (ETTL = Evaluate Through The Lens…..your flash will use your cameras ISO, Aperture and distance from subject settings to calculate the settings needed for the output strength of the flash, to properly exposing your image)

Most flash will have a choice of manual or ETTL.There’s various connotations of this, ITTL, TTL and i’m sure theres an ETTL2 but they basically do the same.You can either set the output power and zoom manually on your flash or use ETTL and it will gauge your lens focal length and match the zoom and it also calculates the distance of the camera from the subject to correctly expose your image. There are limitations in that the zoom is set to be between 14-105mm so if you’re using a wider or longer focal length then your not getting the light into all of your image. My newest speedlight is now doing 14-220mm but most will have the first zoom range mentioned. It’s a powerfull auto mode and it works well in most scenarios.

The reason for mentioning ETTL is that not all triggers support it. The own brand Canon trigger did and it’s a decent feature to have, for my cameras it meant i could have a flash on a lightstand in a softbox or behind an umberella and be able to adjust the flash output from my Camera trigger.

Not all speedlights have the ETTL or it’s equivalent, there are some that are manual only so check yours before buying any triggers. No point paying extra for something that your flash doesn’t support.

Radio Triggers

I’m now using a radio trigger set which does everything i want it to do. I’ve got myseflf a set of Pixl King flash triggers, I did have Pixl Pawns but moved up to the king set because they support both hi-speed sync and ETTL The type I have are Canon specific, they also do them for Nikon and some other branded ones and are sold by a company called UK Highland photographic (i think)

A lot of the triggers max out at the cameras flash sync speed which is usually around the 1/200th per sec shutter speed. (if you’re not sure of yours either attach a flash or use the pop up flash if your camera has one and change your shutter speed to as fast as it will go while in manual) most flash will not have high speed sync enabled as a default and usually it’ll need activated in your flash’s custom menus) If you’ve not enabled hi-speed sync you’ll end up with serious banding as your shutter speeds increase. When the flash is on camera it won’t allow you to pass the sync speed if hi speed syncs not enabled but off camera when your using a trigger it almost certainly will go to whatever shutter speed you want and thats when you’ll get banding issues.

The Pixl Pawns didn’t support ETTL but were a very good and reliable trigger and I still have them as my back ups, if i remember correct they were about £40 and i’ve never had a misfire (that i’m aware of!)

The Pixl Kings were much more expensive, for a transmitter and 2 recievers they were nearer £180 (Santa was due when i added them to my list) but they do everything very well. They can be utilesd in hi-speed sync up to my cameras max 1/8000 per second. At F22 and with that shutter speed i can make a bright sunny day almost pitch black in camera, Why do that and not just wait till night-time? If you want to take a picture of a flower fully open and maybe with a bee hovering about you need to do that during the day and with a fast shutter speed and high F-number you can isolate your image to whatever you capture using your flash and everything else is faded into darkness.

Might need to wait a while for a Bee to come along though!

Hopefully this was informative to some and a bedtime story to others. These ramblings are a direct result of me working over christmas and new year and now i’m on a weeks hols and everyone else is back working. There may be more in the next few days!

Camera Poll

This has probably been done before in this website or in other forms at the club, but interested to see what we’re all shooting with. It may be that us Canon users could swap ideas/knowledge about our particular camera types as could those who share the same camera types from other sections.

Flash

I own a couple of Canon speedlights, a 600RT & 430EX11 and a couple of flash triggers Pixl King.

I’m trying to get my head round the possibilities for groups ETTL etc. anyone familiar and know how these can all be paired? In particular, can i have one set at ETTL and the second as Manual? …..I could read the 180 page manual of course lol