Flashes are the "necessary evil" for those who like to shoot events in scarce light or like to stop motion. They also have a space in balancing light under challenging situations.
- "Bring your own light". You don't have to wait, you will make it happen.
- Flash packs are highly portable. Very small packages.
- Battery powered. This means NO WIRES! You can setup a flash literally anywhere, they don't need a power outlet.
- Not enough power. For some situations, they just don't throw enough light. E.g.: When area to be lit up is too big or subject is too far.
- Battery power. On long sessions, you may run out of power.
- Harsh light. This can be fixed with modifiers, but very few people use them together.
- Expensive. At $200-$400 a piece, they are close or even more than studio strobes.
If you decide to go with flashpacks, here are some tips:
Be careful with off-brand flashes. The bets part of a flash pack is that it does TTL ("Through the Lens") metering. This means that the camera controls much more on the flash than just the firing instant. If you purchase an off-brand (not the brand of your camera) you risk that they might not be 100% compatible. Check first.
Look beyond power. There are other specs on a flash, like recycle time, the time that it takes to recharge the circuit and fire again. Read beneath the lines.
This is the brand for Nikon Flashes. Nikon has a great feature, almost all "prosumer" cameras are capable of "commander mode" which will allow your on-camera, pop-up flash to trigger the off-camera units.
This is Canon's response to the above. The Canon solution is more expensive right off the bat as it requires a triggering device.
The lowest cost Canon is the 430 EX II, it is NOT capable of triggering other devices.
Here is a 430 EX II package with a BRACKET.
The first Speedlite pack capable of triggering other devices is the 580 EX II.
The alternative is to get a ST-E2 remote trigger.
In my opinion, if you already own a bracket, I would never buy a 580 EX II. Instead I would purchase a 430 EX II + ST-E2. This way I can always fire the 430 on the bracket from the ST2. Little bit more clumsy than mounting the 580 on the showm but I can split them too!
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