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550EX to 580EX


KatieR 10 6.2k 6
2 Jan 2008 4:18PM
I have had problems with underexposure using the combination of 30D and 550EX since I bought the camera 14 months ago. I was previously using a EOS 3 with the flashgun, but, I imagine because I used print film, I didn't see any problems with this set up. I have experimented with seemingly endless combinations of metering, exp comp, FEC - and still haven't come to a satisfactory conclusion. There is still more to try, but at the moment it's very frustrating.

Meanwhile I have been thinking about an upgrade to a 40D, and wonder if I might also upgrade the flashgun (to either a first or second version of the 580 EX). It might be an opportunity to get a better deal than getting them separately, perhaps.

As far as I have read, there aren't any acknowledged poor combinations (other than basic incompatibility issues) so I am putting problems down to user malfunction and/ or individual unit vagaries!

Any experiences, good or bad, of combinations of 30/ 40D's and Canon flashguns?

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strawman 11 22.0k 16 United Kingdom
2 Jan 2008 5:26PM
I can only talk of the 430Ex gun from the Canon range. I found it worked well with my 300D, and slightly better with the 40D. The only big difference is it recognises the 40D as having a crop sensor.

I borrowed a friends 580Ex and it worked well, plus I could use my 430Ex as a slave, a nice feature.

I detect it working differently, depending on the camera mode. For example in Av it tends to underexpose the flash, but that gives a nice fill-in light, I think.

In Camera manual mode it works well, and generaly, the flash exposure is good, possible erring on under exposure, but not by much.

To my knowledge the 550 does not recognise it is on a crop sensor camera, so does not adjust the beam as narrow as it could be on the powered zoom, so in terms of iluminating light capability the 430Ex is equal, unless you bounce the light and the 550 then has the advantage. I think the 550 is on an older generation of ETTL, but is your 30D not on the same ETTL version as the 40D?

Is it worth poping into a camera store and trying a 580 or 430 to see if there is any difference in metering performance?

Much as I enjoy using my 40D, I am not certain you will find it a big step on from the 30D. It has some nice improvements, but probably not enough to justify the investment.
collywobles 10 3.4k 9 United Kingdom
2 Jan 2008 5:49PM
The 580 additional functions only work if you have lenses that send focusing data back to the flashgun -- and I think this applies only to 'L' lenses.
strawman 11 22.0k 16 United Kingdom
2 Jan 2008 5:55PM
Ah that could explain things, I mainly use the flash with my 17-40.
mark_delta 7 1.3k
2 Jan 2008 7:07PM
Do not discount the new metz 58af1, I have just acquired one after the 580ex blew up on me AGAIN
the results are very impressive and the menu system a absolute breeze, the second tube is most excellent for bounce flash work, its well built, very powerful and has a very handy auto thyristor mode that gives perfect exposure time and time again in difficult situations
KatieR 10 6.2k 6
3 Jan 2008 9:22AM
Thanks for those thoughts. When I first looked for a flashgun I spent time going through the ranges of Canon, Metz and others, so maybe I should revisit them to see what's changed over the years.

Oh, and I too use my flash exclusively with a 17-40 out of interest.
peterjones 12 4.0k 1 United Kingdom
3 Jan 2008 10:02AM
I have 3 550Exs and they tended to underexpose until I changed Custom Function 14 E-TTL II (on all EOS DSLRs I think ) from Evaluative to Average and it doesn't underexpose anymore; apparently the boffins at Canon deliberately set the camera up to underexpose if the function was set to Evaluative.
Try it and see.
KatieR 10 6.2k 6
3 Jan 2008 10:08AM
Peter - thanks. I have changed metering on camera and I did find it improved generally, but I can't remember if I also did the CF 14 setting. I'll check.

Why would Canon set it up like that under Evaluative? If I find the whole theory of protecting highlights at all costs is not quite as "helpful" as is made out. Underexposure causes more noise and a poorer quality result for me.
peterjones 12 4.0k 1 United Kingdom
3 Jan 2008 4:58PM
I quite agree with you Katie, I suspect it is Canon making assumptions about their customers. Like you I rarely underexpose in fact in suitable lighting conditions I often overexpose by a third as a matter of course.
KatieR 10 6.2k 6
4 Jan 2008 9:59AM
Considering that the 550EX was developed when DSLRs were not nearly so available, and many more of us still using film, perhaps they were calibrated to underexpose as would be of more use for slide film. I think it came out roughly with the EOS3 (1998?) or thereabouts.

If this is the case, I'd expect the latest 580 EX to be more accurate for digital use.
Freefall e2
11 675 United Kingdom
4 Jan 2008 10:01AM
Strange I guess but I found the 580EX to overexpose slightly on my 20D - have to dial in a slight compensation to avoid it....
KatieR 10 6.2k 6
4 Jan 2008 10:11AM
The world of flash is a weird one, I've concluded!
Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
4 Jan 2008 12:37PM
Indeed - try using a Canon 580EX on a prosumer! Wink

(Worked rather well actually).
KatieR 10 6.2k 6
4 Jan 2008 12:39PM
btw, I have looked at both the Canon 580 and the Metz 58 af1 and wondered what the differences are... I can't get my head around the specifications.

Does "fully dedicated" mean just that, even with a Metz?
strawman 11 22.0k 16 United Kingdom
4 Jan 2008 1:35PM
With modern cameras, it may be the camera that dominates the exposure calculation and performance not the flash gun. It measures the pre-flash then does the rest.

I read recently that the Canon strategy turns the power level down once the ambient light goes past 10Ev.

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