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April 8, 2007

Hot Flashes

We’ve been asked to photograph the wedding of some good friends in a few weeks. The challenge for us has been that the wedding is scheduled for dusk – which means low-light photography. To photograph in low-light you need either a faster f-stop or added light. of course, a faster lens still requires a steady hand but even the steadiest of hands will still come out blurry. Therefore you would need a tripod. but a tripod at a wedding is like putting on makeup while on a rollercoaster. Therefore, the only reasonable solution is using a flash.

Typically, the built-in flash on any camera is only good for casual use. The light doesn’t go very far and is usually more distracting than effective. Plus, the recharge time is too long for taking lots of pictures. What you want is an external flash. Enter the Speedlite 580EX II Flash.

Manufacturer Description
Further development of Canon’s flagship Speedlite has led to the production of the 580 EX II. This is the premier Speedlite for all photographers, including professionals. Newly designed to match with the EOS-1D Mark III in terms of improved dust- and water-resistance, body strength, and the ability to control flash functions and settings from the camera menu (EOS-1D Mark III only). Other features include improved communication reliability through its direct contacts, and recycling time is both 20% shorter than the 580EX and is completely inaudible.

Speedlite 580EX II Flash Highlights
Approximately 20 percent faster recycling time compared to 580EX
Superior build quality, including a metal foot for higher rigidity
Max Guide No. 58 at 105mm setting (GN 190, feet)
Auto conversion of flash coverage with compatible digital SLR cameras
White Balance info communicated instantly to compatible digital SLR cameras
Full swivel, 180 degrees in either direction
AF-assist beam, compatible with all AiAF points on every EOS SLR
Dust- and water- resistance to match the EOS-1D Mark III

Unfortunately, the new Speedlite Flash doesn’t come out for another few weeks and the previeous version of the Sleedlite 580EX is not easy to find. So we considered the Canon 430EX Speedlite Flash instead but as Ben, from BKM Photography, pointed out –

I think I remember reading that the recycle time on the 430 is 7 seconds… If that’s right, you may want to re-consider getting the 430 for wedding work. 7 seconds is an eternity when shooting weddings

7 seconds would be an eternity so I am probably going to get the older 580EX from Circuit City this afternoon. Either in store or online depending on price and availability. After all, we’ll need time to play with our new flash before using it at an actual wedding.

Note: I ended up getting it at Ritz Camera for a good price. Now we just need to learn how to use it. Any tips?

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1 comment

  • At 9:13 am on April 9, 2007, Radioactive Jam commented:

    Can you get time onsite before the wedding? If not, how about a similar venue. Try some experimental shots to gauge “actual” flash illumination fall-off over expected shooting distances, shadow hazards, the dreaded red-eye – is the flash mounted above the viewfinder? Can you get a height extension? – and maybe even some real-world recycle times, especially if/when they vary with battery level. Of course these are all fairly obvious details, but still.

    Have fun!

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