I know the Canon Rebel T3i is a dated camera. However, I purchased it new back in 2012, played around with it, seeing if photography was for me enjoyed it, but sadly it was put on the back burner. I had recently taken pictures at my parents wedding, and I am not goingto say they're the best photos in the world, but they turned out pretty decent. I sent the photos to my parents and they got one printed on a canvas and hung it up in their living room. This has inspired me to get back into photography because when I see it, I know it could have been better, if only I had a means of controlling the lighting as they were back lit by the sun, but the front of their bodies are cast in shadowes. Due to the fact I am still just getting started I ordered a cheap external flash, a Powerextra DF-400, it advertised as working with the Canon Rebel t3i and at the low low price of $28 I figured, why not. Ordered this and I am pondering about ordering a canon 1.8 50 mm lense. I received the Flash today and was eger to try it out, because well, new toys. Installed the 4 AA batteries, put it atop my camera body powered it on. Snapped a photo, no flash. Okay, there is probably a setting somewhere. I am not going to lie I am still fairly ignorant of the camera and all the nefty buttons. Yes, I still believe DSLR's are full of unicorns and leprechauns teaming up with fairys to capture the image I am pointing it at. Okay, with all joking aside, I found the flash settings, enabled flash firing, all the options are enabled however with the flash installed I can not access the external flash settings I get the "This menu cannot be displayed. incompatible flash or flash's power is turned off" I have the unit powered on. If I take the flash off I can access the built-in flash control which is unavailble with the external flash installed. The Powerextra external flash works via test and all the power modes seem to work. Looking at the hot shoe it appears to only have one center pin and a pin the screws down to lock the flash in place. I can take a photo of the external flash mounting pad if needed.
Please advise where I should start
"This menu cannot be displayed. incompatible flash or flash's power is turned off"...return it and get a Canon Speedlite or wait till someone else chimes in with a third party flash that works with the Canon menu. I only have Canon flashes with the 270 Speedlite being my least expensive compact flash. Even though you only see those couple of contact on the hot shoe there is communication between the flash and camera and as you saw yours is not compatible and cannot talk to your camera.
I do apperciate everyones time, it appears as if though the flash is working just fine, I must not have had it on correctly the first time. I am assuming that because this is a manual flash, the flash settings on the camera are unavailable. Perhaps I may invest into a TTL flash to be able to control more settings via the camera settings, but for now this is only dipping my toe into the photography pond.
... Perhaps I may invest into a TTL flash to be able to control more settings via the camera settings, but for now this is only dipping my toe into the photography pond.
If you're truly strapped for cash, it looks like this might still be a usable flash. Assuming that you're willing to take on a bit of a learning curve.
For the price you paid it's not surprising that this flash has no automatic functions or means of communicating with the camera. But it appears to have manual controls to adjust the flash output. There should be plenty of online resources that will explain how to adjust the flash output for various ISO settings, apertures and distance to your subject. Once you start to get a feel for it you'll be able to easily make adjustments on the fly if your shots are coming out over or under exposed.
And from what I glanced at online it looked like this flash can be used off-camera as an optical slave. But that's a little more advanced so don't worry too much about that for right now. I have no idea how well built the flash is, but for under $30 I wouldn't instantly consider to be worthless. And with a little practice you'll likely get more than $30 worth of an education from using it.
"Please advise where I should start"
Where to start is to either return the cheap flash or discard it and buy the correct one. I can't tell you how many times I see folks buy something to just get by or I don't want to spend too much money. It always winds up costing more and adds to frustration. The T3i is fine but you need to get compatible substantially equal gear to enhance its ability. I would suggest you buy a flash that will also be compatible with a newer model Canon camera. Again buy wise at the start because it is always cheaper in the long run.
You say its only $28 dollars but I bet neither you nor I are inclined to throw $28 dollars in the gutter.