I just bought a yn-622c for my t3i and I want to also pickup the lastolite ezybox 24" softbox.

My main concearn is that the 430ex ii will be too weak to shoot in a softbox from several meters.

Does anyone here use a setup like this and can spill some light for me?

also, should I get a used 580ex ii for almost the same price as a new 430?

or maybe even buy the 600ex? problem is I don't have enough funds for the 600 + softbox, stand etc'.

Should I get the best of the best, or start with the basics?

  • 1
    possible duplicate of Canon 430EX vs 580EX vs 600EX-RT – Michael C Aug 5 '13 at 14:38
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    While I think this is a rehash of this user's previous question (though seeking more detail), I'd challenge it is not a duplicate of the other 430 vs 580 vs 600 question since it asks more specific questions about which is more important, the power or the light modifiers and what approach is recommended with a limited budget. It is much more targeted than the previous 430 vs 580 vs 600 question and the current answers for the other question don't apply. I would however suggest that the title of this question could be improved to indicate that it is dealing with power and modifiers. – AJ Henderson Aug 5 '13 at 14:50
  • What the above question doesn't answer, the other one suggested as a duplicate does. – Michael C Aug 5 '13 at 14:59
  • @MichaelClark - yeah, not advocating that the question shouldn't necessarily be closed (I kicked off the vote to close with the poster's previous version.) Just commenting that I didn't think that the 430/580/600 one really covered it, but it is a worth while suggestion for the asker to look at. – AJ Henderson Aug 5 '13 at 15:39
  • I'm sorry but I don't understand what you mean by shooting with direct sunlight. I didn't mean that I will be shooting at 2pm on summer with no cloud, what I meant was using the sun as a rim light for the back of the subject o background, and sometimes without the sun at all. – user13074 Aug 6 '13 at 16:12

The 430EX has a Guide Number of 43, the 580ex is GN=58, and the 600 GN=60.

The Guide Number gives you appropriate distance × f-number for each flash. So, the 430EX, with a GN=43, will illuminate a subject that is 43m/at 100ISO. If your aperture is f/8, and subject is 5 meters away, that is 5x8 or 40m, within the power range of a 430EX. If your subject is 20m away, at f/8, then you need 20x8 or 160 GN, well above even the 580.

If your subject is 10m away, and your aperture is f/4, then you need GN=10x4, which is well within the range of the 430EX, and likely typical of the shooting conditions most find themselves in.

Now, the trouble comes when you use modifiers, or are trying to illuminate a large scene, where you need more power to overcome the impact of the modifier or situation. This is where the more powerful flashes really help.

In my experience, umbrellas tend to preserve as much light as is possible, especially if you have a silver lined one. Softboxes are shoot-thru, and tend to reduce the light significantly, often forcing the softbox to be very close to your subject. If you had to choose, reflecting umbrellas will provide much more light with flashes than will softboxes.

But, that being said, I have 2x 430EX, and find them more than powerful enough. Two personal examples:

Scene 1: outdoors, dusk. Two 430EX, triggered by ST-E2, both using reflectors. ISO400, f/2.8. Distance to subject was about 2 m.

enter image description here

Scene 2: Indoors, dimly lit church (as in dark), had to light a crowd of 40 people. Used two 430EX, 3 meters away, umbrellas, f4, ISO 200. Plenty of flash, in fact, the lighting is harsh due to the contrast. (yeah, lighting is harsh, but I had limited time, and conditions. Even had to shoot at 17mm)

enter image description here

So the 430EX have plenty of power. In my opinion, the only reason to get a 580 or 600 is if you want the off camera control.

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  • The only reason I emphasized the 600 was he was talking about shade shots with direct sun lit backgrounds in broad daylight in his previous question. The 430 is plenty of power for dusk shots, but I'd think that it would get drowned out in direct daylight shots, but I don't have any direct experience with the 430, just trying to guess between what is half way between the 600 and the 320. Great answer overall though. – AJ Henderson Aug 5 '13 at 15:37
  • Any flash is typically fill in direct sunlight, and yes, the 430EX is fantastic in these conditions. If you want to eliminate the sun, however, I don't think even the 600 will do for that. You probably need a monolight to cancel out the sun in direct sunlight. – cmason Aug 5 '13 at 17:42
  • If you can get the exposure fast enough, the 600EX will compete with the sun for brief periods in reasonably close, atleast sufficiently for lighting a subject in shade to be balanced with a direct sunlit background. Keep in mind it doesn't have to beat the sun entirely, just boost the light in the shade enough to compete with the sun, but it's still going to be more demanding than fill for a dusk shot, might still be in the range of what you can pull off with a 430 thought. I hope they come out with a 430EX-RT because I'd love to have a radio slave 430. – AJ Henderson Aug 5 '13 at 17:52

A 24" softbox from several meters away is no longer a soft light source. Hard vs soft is a function of the relative size of the light source and the object in the frame. The Sun is massively larger than the earth, so it would be a soft light source by the OP's view, but its not, because its a small object in the sky, it creates hard light.

A 24" softbox should be no more than 24" away from the person's head when you are taking a portrait.

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I'd personally probably stay away from used flashes unless you trust the flash count provided (no way to verify it on most units). Flash bulbs don't have a particularly high duty count. They start losing power after only one to a couple thousand full power flashes. They take a while to lose significant power, but they do start dropping off very fast.

Personally, when I was looking at this, my solution was to go with a 600EX-RT and then worry about picking up stand, softboxes, etc later. I started out with a small on-camera lumiquest softbox that was cheap and gave me some diffusion. Eventually I plan to get another 600EX-RT and an umbrella or large softbox. I've already picked up a stand to use with my 320EX, but that's only been powerful enough for indoor use. with a relatively small (8 inch or so) reflector.

The thing to remember is that the flash is the expensive part. Under buying on that will likely result in wishing you had more power in the future, particularly if you do a lot outside. Light modifiers are add ons that will work with whatever flash you have. The flip side of that argument though is that if you get a lower power flash (like a 430) then you can always make it a secondary when you get a 580 or 600 in the future.

It's really a question of power early or modifier early. You can go cheap with the modifier to start which is stronger shadow, but more light for when you need it, or you can go cheap on the light and get the modifiers early, which softens shadows, but also means you might not have enough power for some shots.

I know I plan on pulling my 320 out of circulation once I'm able to get another 600EX-RT. The main reason I got the 320 first was actually the video light. I wouldn't have picked it up had it just been a normal flash and I was disappointed with it compared to my 600EX-RT. Not sure if half way between that and the 600 (where the 430 is) would still have been as much of a disappointment, but doing it again, I'd have started at the 600, particularly for outdoor fill.

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In terms of power, the respective guide numbers at ISO 100 in feet for the 600 EX-RT, 580 EX II, 430 EX II, and 320 EX are 197, 190, 141, and 107.

Beyond that, how you plan on using your first flash both now and in the future will determine which is a best fit. If you eventually want to use radio E-TTL, the 600 EX-RT is the only solution. It can be triggered as a slave by another 600 EX-RT or by the ST-E3-RT. If you are willing to use optical E-TTL (works better in dim light but can be problematic outdoors in bright ambient conditions), the 580 EX II will both transmit as a master or receive as a slave. The 430 EX II (and 320 EX) will work as slaves but not as masters. Some third party triggers such as Pocket Wizard will allow wireless E-TTL with any of the above flashes, but a set costs about the same as a 580 EX II or a 600 EX-RT.

I've read a few online columns that usually recommend buying the cheapest lights you can get by with and spending the extra on the modifiers. This is usually in the context of studio strobes, but in some cases has also been applied to speedlights used off-camera.

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