Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Wireless Remote Flash Transmitter
neil posted in Travel on July 15th, 2008
This will be my most mixed review to date. Basically the ST-E2 does some things well and drops the ball on others. Whether this is the tool for you depends entirely on what you want to use it for.
For you twitchy, run and gun, wedding, PJ, event shooters who need to capture “that moment” in changing conditions and near darkness, rejoice! This is your weapon! Combined with a Canon flashgun it auto-exposes well, coping admirably with a wide range of flash positions and scenarios. This is’nt to say you won’t see it under-expose a frame by one stop now and again but you’re shooting RAW anyway, are’nt you? The range is acceptable, better indoors or with your target close by (signals bounce off your target to the gun) so it works fine to activate a handheld remote but if you’re gun is’nt within its forward cone, the range drops away quickly. I have used it with the flashgun inside a softbox at close quarters and with a shoot-thru umbrella and it does just fine. High speed synch also works but reduces the power of the flashgun. I have literally tossed the flash below the frame to deal with “hat shadow” issues.
Should you forget your flashgun or you’re working in available light when there simply is’nt any, it has your back with its focus-assist system. This system really helps my 16-35mm lens, locking it on in dim, dark situations. I often find myself bolting it to the top of my camera when shooting ambient twilight “just in case”.
For you creative, slow paced strobist types, this is’nt a substitute for a good set of radio triggers. It also takes the entire exposure process out of your hands. All you can do is set your flash exposure compensation and the power ratio of two flash channels. Unlike Nikon’s wireless flash system you can’t set the power manually and this is going to stop you learning to use flash properly and limit your creative input. Equally frustrating is the fact it is a line of sight system so barring bouncing you can only put your flashes in set positions and they cannot be too far from the camera. I have successfully used it across a swimming pool, but it was’nt perfect and outdoors it seems to lose the plot much quicker. It can be frustrating not getting the picture you are after because of these limitations. The particular instance that gets me is when you accidentally put the flash or part thereof in the frame and the exposure system shuts it right down and you lose all your illumination instead of getting the nice “star” effect and a well exposed frame. It works pretty well when controlling two flashes, I have’nt tried more, one umbrella and a snooted rimlight worked well. For roughly 95%+ of everything its a great tool. Unfortunately I found that the other 5% is pretty important to the control freak in me.
There are MORE limitations that affect all users such as the monumentally short-sighted lack of rear curtain synch. Apart from the red filter on the front, they at least built the thing pretty well, it has a sensible, fast and secure method of locking onto your camera and I have used it in torrential rain to no ill effect. The aforementioned filter however will fall off if you look at it too hard but you get used to catching it and snapping it back in. The transmitter is bigger than you’d think too but this does mean the buttons on the back are relatively easy to press. The battery is unfortunately not a rechargable type but does seem to last for a few months. If you have an important shoot, its pretty important to have a spare in your bag.
So all in all, its really good when you don’t have time to drive and need the picture and sucks when you’re trying to be creative.