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Posts: 3
Registered: ‎06-17-2018

Best flash for a 6D

Hi guys,

I have just bought a 6D. I'll use it for portraits and occasional weddings. What would be the best flash for this model please? (I don't want to spend mega bucks, but want to buy Canon!)

A photographer and friend recommended the Canon Speedlight 430 EXIII. I have not seen so many for sale online, I am mostly seeing the EXII. I appreciate any advice you can give please.

Many thanks!

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Posts: 3,845
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Best flash for a 6D

If you delete the trailing "0" from the model number of any Canon Speedlite flash (at least any flash currently on the market) the remaining digits are an indication of the flash "guide number" in meters.

 

In other words, the 600EX RT or 600EX RT II have a "guide number" of 60 meters.  The 430EX II and 430EX III RT have a guide number of 43 meters.

 

What's that mean?

 

The "guide number" is the distance at which the flash can adequately illuminate a subject IF the camera is using ISO 100 ... AND the f-stop is set to f/1.0.

 

The ISO 100 is no problem... but the f-stop of f/1.0 isn't typically possible (Canon used to make a 50mm f/1.0 lens years ago but that lens isn't available today).  So why use f/1.0??

 

Answer:  It makes the math easy.

 

It turns out if you divide the guide number by the f-stop you ACTUALLY plan to use, you'll get the proper distance.  e.g. if you use a 430EX II (guide number is 43 meters) but you are shooting at f/5.6, you simply divide 43 by 5.5 and you get about 7.7 (I rounded that value) meters.  That's about 25 feet.  If the "f/1.0" baseline wasn't used for guide numbers, the math wouldn't work ... so it's really just a convenience to use that baseline.

 

25 feet may sound like a lot ... and remember this is all at ISO 100 ... you could raise the ISO if you needed to.  Each 1 stop of ISO will increase the distance by a factor of 1.4x (technically it's the square root of 2 but we can round it to just 1.4 for simplicity) ... HOWEVER... things get complicated when you start to shape the light by doing things like bouncing it off a ceiling or wall ... or shooting through alight modifier such as a soft-box, etc.  

 

I started in photography (decades ago) as an apprentice for a professional photographer and we did a LOT of weddings.  Usinga  "side-light" (the assistant holds an off-camera flash) greatly inproves the quality of the photos.  But back in those days, the off-camera flash was triggered via a light-slave so that the off-camera flash pops when it sees the on-camera flash pop.  Unfortunately it also pops when it sees ANY camera flash pop (meaning all the wedding guests with cameras).    It also required line of sight.

 

The flashes with "RT" in the model name can use radio to communicate ... much more reliable, no false-flashes, and doesn't require line of sight.

 

I think ultimately you'll want the 600EX II RT ... but maybe you just start out with the 430EX III RT (for financial reasons) and add a second unit later.  I switched to the radio system almost as soon as it was released (I had wanted radio for a while and was looking at PocketWizard units ... but they sufferred from some reliability issues).  The Canon system gives me full E-TTL II compatability and radio.  I now own a couple of 600EX RT flashes and an ST-E3-RT transmitter.  You can mix & match all the "RT" flashses... they all know how to talk to each other.

 

The other nice thing about the 600 series (Canon's flagship flash) is that it has a terminal to plug in an external battery pack.  This gives you not only more battery power ... but also much faster recycle time.  At a wedding, that's extremely helpful to not miss shots because the internal batteries are getting low and are needing more time to recycle.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: Best flash for a 6D


@DonnaRichmond wrote:

Hi guys,

I have just bought a 6D. I'll use it for portraits and occasional weddings. What would be the best flash for this model please? (I don't want to spend mega bucks, but want to buy Canon!)

A photographer and friend recommended the Canon Speedlight 430 EXIII. I have not seen so many for sale online, I am mostly seeing the EXII. I appreciate any advice you can give please.

Many thanks!


If you're going to be a wedding photographer (and get paid for it), buy nothing less than the 600EX-RT II. You do not want to scrimp on the quality of your flash; brides are famously intolerant of equipment failure as an excuse for not getting the shot. And you should plan to have a spare of everything, including the camera body.

 

I'd probably give the same advice to any aspiring event photographer, but it goes triple for wedding photography.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
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Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Best flash for a 6D

[ Edited ]

If you're going to be a wedding photographer (and get paid for it), buy nothing less than the 600EX-RT II. You do not want to scrimp on the quality of your flash; brides are famously intolerant of equipment failure as an excuse for not getting the shot. And you should plan to have a spare of everything, including the camera body.

 

I'd probably give the same advice to any aspiring event photographer, but it goes triple for wedding photography.


 

 

I strongly agree with the above... I recognize that everyone has their financial/budgetary limits.  But photography (as a profession) is a bit of a cheat since photographers don't require any special licensing or exams (it's not like becoming a doctor, etc. where you have to pass a test). 

 

I strongly feel that weddings are not for beginners... 

 

In photography, there's 

 

1)  Having the appropriate gear

 

2)  Technical proficiency / skill to understand how to use the gear effectively

 

3)  Artistic proficiency to understand how to shoot the subject-matter.

 

All too often I read about photographers trying to dive into "wedding" photography (one of the few types of photography for which there are no do-overs ... no possibility of a re-shoot) and they have none of three things.

 

The other aspect of being a "professional" is that you need backup gear.  Assume any camera or lens will fail ... how are you going to finish the wedding?  

 

 

This gets expensive.  If you are struggling to think of how you can afford to have the appropriate gear AND backup gear... you're probably not in a position where you should be doing weddings.

 

You can rent gear... so that might be an option.

 

 

 

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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Registered: ‎06-17-2018

Re: Best flash for a 6D

Thanks for your advice Tim. 

I am not just 'starting out', but I have recently moved to Canon from Nikon, hence wanting advice from those who know and use the gear!

 

Best, Donna

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Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Best flash for a 6D

BTW, one not-so-obvious (but important) detail about Canon flashes and full-frame bodies.  

 

Most Canon flashes can be put into "slave" mode and controlled by a "master" flash.  Canon's APS-C cameras let you use the built-in pop-up flash as a "master" to trigger the off-camera "slaves".

 

But full-frame bodies don't have a built-in flash.  This means you can't use an off-camera flash without a trigger ... either an on-camera shoe-mounted flash, or a shoe-mounted trigger (that may not be a flash).  e.g. the Canon ST-E2 is an optical trigger.  The ST-E3-RT is a Radio Trigger.  You can also use any "RT" flash in "master" mode to serve as a trigger.   

 

In other words... if you only buy one flash and nothing else, you'll be limited to using in on-camera only until you get either a second flash or a trigger.

 

I think the most helpful source of information on the Canon flash system is Syl Arena's "Speedliter's Handbook".  The first edition didn't cover the Canon "RT" system (it didn't exist when the first edition was written).  The 2nd edition does because Canon had introduced the 600EX-RT.   Both are out of print, and I think there may be a 3rd edition released sometime this year which should be updated with latest models. 

 

 

The "print" version of this book became very expensive when it went out of print.  But it is available in electronic editions (Apple iBooks platform and it looks like it may be back on Kindle (it disappeared for a while)) and those e-editions are sold for reasonable prices.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Best flash for a 6D

"I'll use it for portraits and occasional weddings."

 

I have not used a flash for a wedding for as long as I can remember.  I have a wedding this Saturday and no flash will be going with me.  Although I have a half dozen 580's.  About the only thing flashes are good for any more is fill light.  If I were you before you buy go to some expected venues for an expected wedding and try the 6D as is.  You just may be surprised.  There is more to using a flash then mounting it on your camera.  They can cause a lot of problems you don't want.

If you do not have this lens, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens, you would be far better off spending the flash budget on it.

 

About portraits, and of course all shots can not be done out doors but a cloudy bright day is the best light.  In studio type situations something like the Smith-Victor Professional Studio Softbox kit is the way to go.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Re: Best flash for a 6D

A word about lenses as I mentioned spend the flash money on this trio of lenses.

EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens, and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens.

That is probably all the glass you will ever need.  You'll never miss that flash.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Re: Best flash for a 6D

" If you are struggling to think of how you can afford to have the appropriate gear AND backup gear... you're probably not in a position where you should be doing weddings."

 

This is an excellent point.  If you don't have top drawer gear, some talent, why would somebody pay you to do what uncle John down the street can do with his Rebel for free or at least very cheaply?

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Re: Best flash for a 6D

[ Edited ]

You will want a powerful flash, llike the 600EX III RT.

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