The Airs

Venturing further into Flash: Wireless with the ST-E2

Richard Charpentier Digital Cameras, Gear Review, Notes from Rich, Photography, Tech Reviews 3 Comments

Finally, we get the posting up here. Unfortunately I left my portable drive at home this morning, so I had to take a couple of photos here in the gallery in order to show you my little wireless demonstration…..

Someday I’ll remember that portable drive again, I just know it……

In my last posting regarding my foray into flash photography I noted that the flash choices I made were a 580 EX II and a 430 EX II.  My hope was to use the 580 as the wireless controller, and while it worked, I didn’t necessarily like having the flash on camera.  The solution.  I dedicated wireless device.

The ST-E2 was my first pick for wireless firing.  Why?  Simple, made by Canon for Canon devices.  The integration was the part that was of interest to me, just like the 580EX’s integration as well.

After my initial learning curve with both flashes, my reading the “Digital Field Guide” on Canon flash, dealing with the ST-E2 wasn’t a huge exercise in learning.  It’s got a very basic interface, and I can still control some things from the camera’s menu as well.  Granted, some menu screens aren’t available for flash control like using the 580EX II as the wireless controller, but enough is there to get by with.

Looking at the image of the device you can see, not much to it.  A high speed sync button, an ETTL as well, the ability to select channels, a pilot test…..And some type of ratio thing.

The ratio section of the controller was the only thing that took me a few minutes to figure out.  But once figured out you’ll find it’s extremely cool!

The ST-E2 can only control 2 groups of flashes.  There are now options on other devices to control up to 3 groups, but here we’ve got two, and that’s what we’ll deal with.  Group A & Group B.

I separated my flashes into group a and b.  The fun here?  You can keep the flashes equal with output, or you can select either group to over power the other.  What’s that buy you?  Well, possibly dramatic lighting if you set things up right.

The shots I did in the Airstream were super cool and really made the point.  Sorry I forgot the drive again today!  🙂

So, you can control flash output through the on screen camera interface.  But from there you can also alter each group’s output further with the ST-E2.  Want one flash 8 times the output of the other?  Yeah, you can do that.

Check the shadowing on the ceiling. The flash to your left was set to higher power.

Now check the shadowing on the wall. Want to guess which flash had the higher power set?

So, what’s all of this buy me?  Control.  Control of the flash output, and the ability to wirelessly control my flash units.  Very cool.  The one drawback.  You really do need line of site to the flash units.  We’re talking 30 feet give or take.  From my experiments in the Airstream I can say, the moment the flash is out of the controller’s line, the flash won’t fire.

That’s what led me to get one set of Radio Popper Jr’s, and I’ll be blogging about that soon.

Down the road we’ll get to the crux of all of my fun experimentation, I promise.  🙂

Comments 3

  1. Question number one: How do I get the raw images to upload on my computer. Question number two: yeah, i know read the directions which would probably answer number one if I could find the handy dandy directions that came with my camera. Doing and image overlay does what exactly? Is is kind of like the HDR method?

  2. Rich, Glad to see you are playing with wireless flash. I am too and I would like to suggest to your readers Joe McNally’s The Hot Shoe Diaries book. I learned lots from that and now I’m using my Canon 7D with a 580EX II. The 7D in camera flash also controls the remotes wireless which is very cool.
    .-= Jaime´s last blog ..Panamanian Kids =-.

  3. I had the same experience with the ST-E2 – quickly sold it and even teh Gadget Infinity transceivers with their sensitive PC sync cords were better in terms of distance and usability than the ST-E2. I thought about the Radiopoppers as they are the next price rachet up, but much like my tripod and lens experiences, I am trying to be good and wait until I can afford the Pocket Wizards…go all the way or stay home mentality! 🙂

    WIll be interested in hearing about the PocketWizard experiences…
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..Against my better judgement… =-.

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