Not totally photo related, not just a journal. A bit of both.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dead Flash New Flash

Canon 430 EX II Flash. Via

So my much used Canon 420EX (yeah its old school but it suited me fine for my purposes) decided that this was the week it was going to cease to be reliable. At first I thought it was just cycle time lagging when shooting Corey down on the beach on Wednesday, and then on Friday I shot a model for the first time and i was having second thoughts on that analysis. With fresh batteries, it decided to flash once and then nothing for longer and longer periods of time. Hitting the pilot button wouldn't even work regularly despite the head being powered up. I assumed that the second set of batteries might have not been charged despite my being pretty fastidious about doing that. So... I charged the batteries when back home.

It was at an event on Friday evening was when it decided it was really done. I stepped out, and called Henry's where I purchased it (keep your fav photography store in your cell phone. It is handy at times...) and the rep I spoke to thought given the age (about 4+ years) and the amount of recent usage (200-500 flashes every shoot in 1-3hour chunks every couple of days for two weeks) that it wasn't a power issue, or contacts needing cleaning: more the flash was just worn out. A flash works, he said, with one flash tube setting off the other tubes inside. Like a detonator in a stick of dynamite. When that overheats and stops working then it is done. And would cost long round trip repair time and at least $200 if I sent it to Canon.

Expletive Deleted...

So a new one, when I can ill afford one, was needed. Like that night. Unfortunately I was out of town and it would have to wait till the next morning - about 4 hours before shooting an event - to purchase one. Back up camera bodies are one thing. Always a good idea - especially given my luck in the past year or so... But a back up flash? While it should have, it never occurred to me. The 420 EX was tried and true, and there for me. All the time.

The entry level flash these days for Canon is the 430 EX II. And not cheap. Like all in it was over $400 sort of not cheap...

Another more colourful string of Expletive Deleteds...

But when you need one, you need one. I was really in a bind and had to purchase it and had to use it essentially on full auto without adjusting anything on the back of it as I was concerned I would set something incorrectly out of inexperience and ruin images later in the day despite best intentions...

It's a slick little flash for sure. And with the Light Sphere II it can take some cool shots. I wish I had time to play with it and put it through it's paces before shooting with it though. Controlling output and other options would have improved the interior event images I took by a whole order of magnitude.

One thing I did find was that it eats batteries like a shark on a surfer. I think I went through 5 sets of batteries (Energizer rechargeable 2500 mAh NiMH) in about 900- 1000 pics. All batteries fully charged, each set the same vintage, and relatively new. Never had that happen before. And power would drop off between cycles quite quickly and usually at the most inopportune times. Will have to keep that in mind. Not that I plan on shooting that much ever again in one event.

I look forward to my first model photoshoot with the 430 EX II.

Going to read the manual now and have a coffee.


Mike Wood Photography

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