Thursday, November 27, 2014

Noel's Flash and Flash Accessory Buying Guide 2015

If you are looking to add a flash or two to your collection, here are some options for your Christmas list...

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For Canon, you have two options:

Consumer-Canon 430EXII $400
Pro- Canon 600 EX-RT $600
If you can still find one new, the Canon 580EXII $600

DO NOT BUY THE 270. It's a crap flash that doesn't have manual power settings. Waste of money.

The basic differences, other than price, is the 600 is more powerful, has a strobe/mutlitflash mode, and can be used as a commander(will fire other off camera Canon flashes using wireless)
If you are thinking about getting into doing portraits or wedding, I'd spend the extra $$ and get the 600. If you have a 7D or 60D/70D, your pop-up flash can be a commander...otherwise you'll need to buy a 600 to act as the commander and then another flash. Better to buy a different wireless system in that case(see below)

You may still be able to snag a 580...just make sure it's new.  Never buy a used flash as you have no idea how many times it's been fired.

For Nikons, you now have a few more options...but not really...

These are the two you want:
Prosumer: Nikon SB-700 $400
Pro: Nikon SB-910 $539

Same as Canon, other than price, the SB910 is more powerful, has more modes, and again can be used as a commander. Now, with the Nikon's, if you have a COMMANDER built into your pop-up flash(which you would if you had a D70/D80/D90, D300s/D700, etc) you could get by with the SB700. SB910 also has a built in OPTICAL slave that can be triggered by any flash. The SB910 is probably the best flash you will ever own! AVOID THE SB-900!!! It has overheating issues!!!

The Nikon SB-600 might still be available, but since it doesn't show you the range of the flash on the back LCD, it's useless. DO NOT BUY THE SB-500 OR SB-400. Doesn't have MANUAL power control and is a small crappy flash. Unless you can get the SB-600 for under $200, forget it.

If you want to do more with your flash, here are some things you'd like to have:

This will allow you to take your flash off camera and get better lighting or more interesting lighting(top lighting, monster lighting...)

Nikon SC-28 $70

Canon OC-E3 Cord: $124

unfortunately, the Canon flash cord is only 2 feet long, pretty much useless...
A better option would be to grab one from which has 3 foot and higher ones.

It's a great accessory to have so you can get shots like this:

Another option for doing off camera flash is getting a wireless system. As mentioned above, if you have the higher end flash, you



Pros: These things work on radio signals, so they work through walls, outdoors, up to 1600 feet away!!!

Cons: You need one for the camera, and one for each flash. Unless you'd like to try this hack/mod/whatchamacallit I came up with. They can be expensive...

Pocketwizard has realized this however and put out a less costly option this year!

The Plus X's costs just $100 each (or cheaper as a two pack!) and have all the awesome features!

There are also the PLUS IIIs which are $200 each with tax, and you need to have at least two (one to trigger, one to receive)
If you want to do TTL with Canon, you can get the MINI TT1 transmitter $200 with the FLEX TT5 transciever $250 for each flash. Personally, I never use TTL with flash, so I would recommend the PLUS II's

There are other brands, but Pocketwizard is the standard for sure. There are also lots of cheap ones off E-Bay, with varying degrees of quality.

Another one that is pretty good is the Cactus series. No where near the range of the pocket wizards, but they'll work great for portraits/studio work. They run under $100 for a set that includes a transmitter and one receiver. You can buy extra receivers if needed.

If you can do wireless flash, via the camera or with the pocket wizard, and want to do nice portraits, get this:

Nikon Umbrella Kit $189 Comes with big umbrella, heavy duty stand, and a case!

Or the cheaper version, the Wescott $80

If you like using filters(and have gotten that free pack of lee filters from me in class!!) you would like a filter holder.

Lumiquest FXtra $24.99

Pretty cool, it has a holder for the filters too!

With filters you can do cool shots like these:

There are an isane amount of modifiers to get better lighting with the flash.

Check out some of the various options here:
Garry Fong
Opus Easy-Go

Happy Flashing!!!!

Here's the full list of buying guides for 2014!


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I hope you find these tips useful!
If so, it would be awesome if you could download the FREE version of my LearnPhoto365 Photography Assignment Generator Apps on the app store, a unique photography app that's meant to inspire you to take great photos!

Perfect for anyone taking part in a Photo 365 challenge, there are over a hundred individual assignments and hundreds of thousands of potential random ones. Versions available for iPhone/iPod and iPad, including free versions so you can try them out! Full details, including reviews and tour videos of the apps can be found at Even if you only download the free version that would help get it up the app store lists!

I am a big fan of buying local when possible, for a few reasons.

1) You are supporting a local business
2) If you have any problems, the local people are usually easier to deal with. Buying from an out of province/country dealer, if there is a problem, you will most likely have to pay to ship it back to them. There could also be warranty issues if buying from another country

if you are in Saint John, Future Shop is your best bet as they have brought in more equipment since Applebys closed Fredericton, head to Harvey Studios. (Tell them Noel sent you!) or Ivan's in Moncton.

If you want to buy online, Henrys in Toronto(also Halifax) is a great store that I've dealt with personally and for the Telegraph and had no issues with. Also Vistek. 

Avoid buying from ebay, unless it is from a reputable dealer. I've seen lots of "great deals" where you seem like you are getting a whole lot of extras...but in reality, it's a bunch of extra crap. bad lenses, crappy tripods, no name brand memory cards...not worth it.

If buying something off Kijiji or craiglist, make sure you try it out. If the seller won't let you try it out, that's a good warning sign...

Once you've bought a new camera, check out some of my photography courses so you can use it to it's fullest potential! More info can be found at, on contact Noel at

Noel Chenier

Photographer and teacher
Connect with Noel on INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or via EMAIL 
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