Exploring canon speedlite flash capabilities

While Canon Speedlite flashes can be used in master/slave configurations where multiple units are set up in a studio-lighting manner, by far the most common way photographers use these hot-shoe mounted flashes is as a single unit atop their cameras. You may have recently upgraded to an external flash after having decided that the built-in flash just wasn’t powerful enough for the types of photos you shoot, or perhaps your camera doesn’t have a built-in flash at all. Whichever your situation, you need to know about some of the Speedlite’s capabilities to make the most of everything you can do with them.

That said, Canon has added so many features to the sophisticated devices that it would take a complete book to cover all of them; this section is simply intended to give you an introduction to the various features and functionality and lay a path for you to explore, flash, and shoot to your heart’s content.

Your Speedlite 430EX and 580EX II have a number of features that can be accessed from the flash’s LCD screen (if you are using a 1D Mark III, they can also be set from the camera with the 580EX II). Using the LCD screen, you can cycle through ETTL and manual modes.

With a Speedlite attached to your camera’s hot shoe, your camera will be significantly heavier and more awkward than without one. In particular, it’s especially difficult to shoot vertically with your flash attached, even if you have a camera with dual controls that are normally quite accessible in a vertical configuration (which is standard on the 1D Mark III and included on the extra battery grip accessory for other dSLRs) — you’ll find that it’s really tough to access those controls. Most photographers who frequently shoot vertically with a flash opt to add an external flash-mounting bracket that permits them to easily shift between horizontal and vertical modes. This also mitigates the problem of flash-shadow that you get from tilting the flash sideways, as shown earlier in this chapter.

The following sections look at some flash features as well as single-flash techniques to offer you a good overview of what a single Speedlite on your camera can do.


For more specifics on using and setting up all the possible configurations of your Speedlites, pick up a copy of the Canon Speedlite System Digital Field Guide, also from Wiley.

Category: Flashes

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