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Owning a cheap Canon 20D, I now want to buy an entry level speedlight/external flash but I'm confused with

  • should i go for used or new the one while considering my low budget(150$ max).
  • What things i should take into considerations
  • Also is it good to spend money on "Aurora Mini/Max 6 x 8" BHB Soft Box"
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3  
What currency is that? –  Rowland Shaw Aug 23 '10 at 18:51
    
@Rowland: Good question, I assumed USD... Options get a little better if it's Pounds or Euros. –  John Cavan Aug 23 '10 at 18:56
    
in us dollars (150$) –  Ifi Aug 23 '10 at 18:56
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are not a lot of new options for flash that is sub-$150, though the Metz Mecablitz 20 C2 is one of them and Metz makes a good flash, though I haven't used this one personally.

In terms of flash shopping, considerations would include:

  1. Recycle time (how fast is the flash at being usable again once fired).

  2. Guide number (at full power, what's the range of the flash at ISO 100, the higher the better).

  3. Power supply (e.g. what type of batteries, most are AA).

  4. Ability to control the flash power. Sometimes you want to be able to dial down the power and decrease the duration of the light burst.

  5. TTL support for the camera.

  6. Wireless support and/or sync cable support.

  7. Trigger voltage. Some older flashes can have higher voltage and that could cause damage to your camera.

However, some of these considerations are less an issue for basic flash use for taking candid shots of friends and families at parties, etc. Also, given your budget, in some ways you're going to really just look at getting the best you can buy. I'm a fan of hitting Craigslist for stuff, but you may want to look at going new. You can, of course, get a more powerful used flash, but there are risks (see item 7 above) and it's really much better to go in and get some expert advice at the counter if you're not sure.

I can't say on the Aurora soft box, I'm afraid.

Edit By the way, if you do go used, take a look at this page on voltage by flash as it applies to the EOS line.

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If that is sterling, the only Speedlite that would be in your price bracket (new) would be the Canon Speedlite 270EX, which retails at about £100 (a direct conversion would be about $150, but I suspect it may be cheaper in the US market). If I were in your situation, I'd probably consider saving for a more powerful model that has a few more features that come in handy, such as AF-assist.

Generally, you need to consider the Guide Number of a flash - as a general rule, the Canon Speedlites have model numbers that are ten times their (metric) guide number (so the 580 EX has a GN of 58, the 270 has 27).

Depending on what you want to use the flash for, you may want to consider recycle times (although this does vary on batteries in use)

Flashes often have over (optional) features such as an auto-focus assist beam, which can be handy in low light situations; or the ability to "zoom" to focus the light and use less power; both can also be useful.

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Would love to know why this was downvoted? –  Rowland Shaw Aug 24 '10 at 7:53
1  
I didn't downvote this, but I'd hate a flash that cannot be turned to the side. It takes away half of the fun. –  che Nov 29 '10 at 22:54
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I have used both:

  • the Nissin Di466 (supports TTL - but I have only used it in manual)
  • the Vivitar 285 (only supports manual mode).

Both have given me very satisfactory results. I believe that both should be within your budget.

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