12.22.2010

pop-up flash vs. Speedlite (with pictures)

Alrighty friends, I've received several emails lately about flash. What type do I use, what do I mean by "bouncing" the flash, etc...so I thought I'd do a quick post.

I shoot with the Canon 5D Mark II, and it doesn't come with a pop-up flash built in. When I refer to my Speedlite, it's the seperate piece you see on the right. I use the Canon 580 EX II. (Sorry I didn't grab the link - I have a sick kiddo upstairs). You can find it if you Google B&H Photo.
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Now I have it on my camera. See how it can swivel all around? You can bounce the flash off the ceiling, off a wall, a window, a glass door...anything. It makes the lighting much less harsh, and helps prevent that washed-out person/dark icky background look.
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Now for some examples. For this first picture, the flash didn't fire. Yes, I could have changed my settings to let in more light, but in doing so I would have compromised picture quality. (I would have had to bump up my ISO). I could also probably fix this photo in Photoshop, but let's see what it looks like with flash. (This was taken with the Mark II).
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This one was taken with my Canon Rebel, using the pop-up flash. YIKES!!! Look how flat Livia's face looks, and she has tiny pin-lights in her eyes. Gross! And she's not happy about being flashed right in the face.
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Now back to the Mark II with the Speedlite. I bounced the flash at a 45 degree angle behind me. See how her face looks more like a sphere; more 3-dimensional? Compare to the picture above where her face looks flat and 2-dimensional. Now look at just her eyes; do you see how with the pop-up flash they almost look sunk back into her head? With the bounced flash, they appear more 3-dimensional as well. Pretty incredible, huh?
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Here is the pop-up flash on the Rebel vs. the Speedlite on the Mark II, side by side to compare.
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Really no comparison, right?

I'm sorry this is so quick; I'm exhausted! Someone feel free to jump in with a comment: there's also another very good Canon Speedlite...the 430 something? It's a bit less pricey, but I've heard it's a very good flash as well. Feel free to leave that info in a comment - thanks! :-)

Hope this information helps! :-)

31 comments:

Mandy said...

Great tutorial/advise! I have to be honest, I have a external flash but I NEVER use it. Ever. Well, the other day I took it out and... it's broken. It just won't communicate with my camera anymore! Boo! All your photos are making me want to use it, and I can't! Ha ha.

Tiffany said...

Wow I didnt know they had cameras without a built in flash but its great because it makes you actually learn your camera without relying on the built in flash and I know using flash like that is yucky. I'm lucky with speedlight and your photos with yours is wonderful. Love the tuturial. Now Im really wanting to upgrade my camera soon to a d700 or d300s since looking at your awesome camera ;-)!

Tiffany said...

btw- the blog looks amazing too since you redid it :-)!

Ashley said...

Ahh your header is gorgeous! I'm getting the speedlight 430 for Christmas and am soooooooooo excited after seeing this post!

Angela said...

Great info! The bounced flash photo is less shadowy than the pop up flash one. The lighting just looks more even.

I have the canon speedlite 430EX II and it works well. It swivels around like yours and my camera "communicates" with it. The rebel XTi didn't (couldn't control flash with camera) but the T2i does.

I love the new header! I miss seeing your smiling children, but this one is very pretty for the holidays!

kitten said...

OMG, you have my dream camera! My friends have the same Mark II camera and it is AWESOME!!!

cooperl788 said...

It's crazy what a difference it makes! Your speedlite almost makes it look like lots of natural daylight by comparison. Hmmm... seems like I have more to put on my Christmas list. Oh well, at least my birthday is coming up!

Mom to 9 Blessings! said...

I love love love my 580EX too. I'm still learning how to use it since only having it for a month. There is much to learn with every gadget. I have an awesome light meter but the instructions that came with it - might as well be talking another language!

Sorry your babes are still sick. I think I now have a lovely sinus infection. UGH!

You know I'm dreaming of the 5D too and might invest in it by the spring time. Until then still falling madly in love with my 7D and my new 24-70mm - YUMMY lens!

Love you and BIG HUGS today! Another great tutorial!
Jill
http://fnaphotography.blogspot.com

Mom to 9 Blessings! said...

For those of you who can NOT invest in an external flash and have a built in one - order one of these and you will LOVE IT!!!!!

http://fnaphotography.blogspot.com/2010/10/wowa-cool-new-tool.html

Merry Christmas!
Jill

urban muser said...

nice tutorial!

Mom of M&Ms said...

REmember that "I am a teacher and found out I don;t like kids". You found your classroom baby...

photosto40 said...

Great post, very good information. I have an old (oooold) speedlite from my film days (Canon EOS 620), but it doesn't work with my Canon XTi. I'm hoping to pick up the 430EX II for Christmas so I can get back to flash photography. As it is I rarely use the pop up for anything other than very low power fill flash.

Sarah Halstead said...

Great post. Yes I LOVE my speedlight. So much better then the pop up flash. I love your new header.

Ashley Sisk said...

I don't know when you have time to put together posts like this. You know we've talked a lot about flash and this was a really clean and simple tutorial. Well done my friend. What's next on your list. Want to write my tutorial on going manual? That's on my to do list! Oh, and I love your new banner. Merry Christmas!

Caseybumpinalong said...

Really, really helpful tutorial!! Thanks for sharing!

Jeska said...

Great tutorial! I need a new lens first then a speedlight will be next on this list.. it makes such a difference!

happy me said...

N000000oooooooo......No sick kiddos for Christmas! :(

Great tutorial. I've got a SunPak 383 and a Gary Fong Diffuser but am too skert to use them on my D40. (bought them for a Fuji I had before).

Merry Christmas Karli!

Joanne Fowler said...

External flash is your friend! When you bounce it off a wall or ceiling, you are basically creating a bigger light source out of said wall or ceiling. Kind of like you added a big softbox to that wall. You can bounce it to a wall on your side and get a whole different lighting system going. While chasing my kids around the house, I usually aim it behind me where the wall meets the ceiling and that brightens up the whole room and gives a nice catchlight. Have you tried dragging your shutter? When you figure that out, you will love your flash even more! Here is a link to his blog if you haven't been before: http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/3-dragging-the-shutter/

Klove said...

Thank goodness for your blog. I'm learning so much. And won't my husband be happy when I break out the flash he bought me last Christmas, this christmas? Very cool! XOXO

Skye said...

OOh something to make a note of for when I buy my SLR .... maybe Santa will deliver?? If not, no worries... maybe early spring... and I will be doing some external flash shopping. The one I have now for my hybrid is ... well, dated to say the least!

SarahinSC said...

Amazing how different the same room looks with a better flash!
Merry Christmas!

Sarah said...

Your blog and your photography are (to use my favourite word) AMAZEBALLS! I am a new follower and I can see I have a lot to learn. Your photos are simply beautiful. And while I'm here, Happy Christmas to you and yours!

Jill said...

Your pictures with your speedlite look so much better than mine. I really need to learn how to use mine better. Maybe my new year's resolution??? Love the Christmas blog header. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

Jill

Kristy said...

Wow, I had no idea! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle said...

Wow! What a difference! I bet there's probably lots of shots out there that used flash that I never knew - and always wondered how come they always seemed to have great light! :)

Such a simple and easy tutorial! A speedlite flash is next on my wish list!

Deb said...

Really great post! I have the mark ii also and I haven't purchased a flash yet. I'm still trying to decide if it's something I want to learn right now. Maybe I'll put it on my very long photography to do list for 2011!

Adeena said...

Wow!! The difference is incredible.

Wow. Now I've got another item on my wishlist! ;)

Negative Nelly said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I have a Nikon and hubs just got me a speedlight for X-mas and I HAVE NO CLUE how to use it! This will help tons :)

Camera said...

Very nice and interesting post....coooool pictures...;)
Rex
canon speedlite 430ex ii

Todd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd said...

Hi, thanks, this was a great help - I do kinda wish all 3 photos had been taken with the same camera, so that the differences between the pop-up flash pic and Speedlite flash pic were due to flash only, and not due to a higher quality camera body too : )