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Thread: Better Beamer on Canon 550D using 100-400mm lens and 430EX

  1. #1
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    Default Better Beamer on Canon 550D using 100-400mm lens and 430EX

    Better Beamer on Canon 550D using 100-400mm lens and 430EX II Flash

    Well I got myself some new gear and have been trying to improve my results, when I got the Lens, Canon 100-400 and a Canon Flash 430EX II, I also ordered a Better Beamer from the states and I turned up when I was down Vic.

    Today I went out and had a go at this new toy and didnít get any good results and I was wondering if one of the members could give me a few clues.

    First I should say that I was amazed how far the beam went as I took a shot of a bird high up in a tree about 50 meters off and the flash has lit up the tree and the birdís eye.

    I have a Canon 550D and tried a number of settings this morning and all results are over exposed and washed out.
    Can any member set me straight?

    1 How close would you use the BB when taking a photo of a bird ?

    2 I have been using Av as my main method of shooting, around F 9 or F10 to get a good depth of field?

    3 Today at 7.30 it was a bit overcast (Lithgow Day), so I had ISO 400,Sky Cleared so I set it at ISO 100 and then Auto.?
    4 Had Camera/Flash set on ETTL.

    I have attached a few shots as examples.

    Thanks for your time and advice in advance, as I know someone will be able to set me straight
    Regards, Geoff Brown LITHGOW NSW

    Reposts welcome

    Flicker Account http://www.flickr.com/photos/geoff_brown/

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Better Beamer on Canon 550D using 100-400mm lens and 430EX

    Hi Geoff,

    #1 If you are using the better beamer I would suggest that it is not needed under a distance of 4 metres or so. Any further than that and its no problem. I have had some great results at long distances as well.

    #2 Yep, AV is a great all round setting. I think the apertures you are using are spot on when using the flash.

    #3 In regards to ISO, I think 200 is a good setting for sunny situations, 400 for overcast and 800 for miserable. I would not set auto ISO because you never know what its going to come up with and the camera has no idea of what you are trying to achieve (fast shutter speed etc).

    #4 ETTL is fine, make sure you set the flash to high speed sync as well. Otherwise you will not be able to shoot any faster than 1/250th.

    In regards to your results, you first have to know that there is two kinds of flash.

    Main light is using flash to light the whole scene, this will normally result in dark backgrounds and a fairly "over flashed" look. Works great for birds in very shaded and dark places like rainforests etc. because you can set a fast shutter speed and let the flash do all the work.

    I think the flash you are trying to use is "fill"flash and this is used to lighten shadows and shoot birds in dull or backlit conditions.
    With fill flash, you shoot at the metered exposure that your cameras metering system has come up with. Basically the shot should be well exposed even if the flash does'nt go off. All the flash is doing is adding enough light to brighten the shadows and add a little more "punch" to the image.
    To do this you have to adjust the light output of the flash. This is called flash exposure compensation (FEC) and can be controlled on your flash or on your camera. It works the same as exposure compensation ie. you can control it in 1/3's of a stop up or down, 2 stops either way.
    The thing to remember is that white/bright birds will need less flash so you might dial in -2 stops on your FEC. Dark/black birds need a bit more flash so you would dial in something like -2/3 or -1 stop.
    Try doing a search on here for "fill flash" or try a google search. It is pretty basic once you get your head around it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Better Beamer on Canon 550D using 100-400mm lens and 430EX

    Did a quick search for you and here are some values I advised on a while ago.
    Use - 1/3 or -2/3 for black or dark birds (they absorb a lot of light), -1 1/3 or -1 2/3 for mid toned birds and - 2 stops for white or yellow birds.
    I learnt these values from Art Morris's "Art of Bird Photography" but these are generally excepted rules for flash comp.
    From looking at your shots I would have to say that the images taken at under 1/100th were probably going to need "flash as main light" and not fill flash. Do some research and some reading on the net and you'll find a user friendly guide to flash.
    Whenever I try explaining it I end up confused myself Otherwise I would have written an Educational Topic on it by now.
    Rod Warnock has great flash technique and explains things quite well so he might be the one to ask. Jan Wageners website has some good info on the topic too.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Better Beamer on Canon 550D using 100-400mm lens and 430EX

    Thanks Paul
    Reread the Manuals last night and found the high speed sync so that should help. Will try the reduction of flash out put and do some more reading and snap away.
    Should have had the BB off for the Fantails as they were all under 4 meters, but tend to stay in the scrub, wished they were like the Grey and show off a bit out in the open.
    Thanks for the help
    Regards Geoff
    PS Must be getting old new things take some working out will have to get the GK,s to show me.
    Regards, Geoff Brown LITHGOW NSW

    Reposts welcome

    Flicker Account http://www.flickr.com/photos/geoff_brown/

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Better Beamer on Canon 550D using 100-400mm lens and 430EX

    I wouldn't worry about taking the BB off at close distances, I use it with my 300mm f4 at about 1m with tubes when shooting dragoflies, the flashes are well capable of reducing output. Your standard setting for general lighting will be -1 2/3 of flash compensation, set on the flash, don't know abou the 480 but it is dead easy to adjust on the 580 that I have. In real bright sunlight I'll go to about -1. For flash as main light -1/3 to -2/3.

    With ETTL I tend to think there is little need to compensate for white birds. The unit gives out a pre flash and reads that and if it reads a signal off a white bird it will reduce output accordingly to try to make the exposure right to rneder neutral grey, as long as the bird is large enough in the frame. What you do have to watch is typical bush perches of dead twigs/branches the grey ones are very prone to blowing out under flash lighting. Just dial the fill ratio down further for those situations.

    Regarding steel/red eye, the only solution apart from PS work to remove is to get the flash off camera. For that you need a flash bracket and off camera shoe cord. the bracket also makes a handy handle to hang onto the camera with. this bracket is what I use:

    http://www.naturescapes.net/store/wimbe ... combo.html

    te off camera cords they sell are also good.
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
    www.aus-natural.com
    Instagram: @ausnaturalimages

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