Other flash equipment

Canon offers three specific flash accessories beyond its Speedlite flashes; however, a wide variety of flash accessories exists for Canon flashes beyond those offered specifically by Canon, including different products that help you bounce and diffuse flashes, and that bracket-mount the flash (a separate mechanical device on which you mount your flash and that lets you swivel it for optimal positioning for vertical and horizontal camera shots), and that provide external power sources.

Another handy device for flash photography is the Off Shoe Camera Cord OC-E3. It is a coiled cable that connects at one end to your camera’s hot shoe, and at the other end to your flash. This lets you mount or hold your flash separately from your camera, giving you a lot of flexibility for firing the flash from a variety of positions.

Canon also offers minor accessories, such as cable extensions, macro light adapters, and other utility products that are commonly available from multiple vendors.


The terms master and slave in flash photography refer to a single light (master) that, when it fires, causes other flashes (slaves) to fire instantaneously with it; this is how studios use multiple lights for lighting a subject. External Canon flashes can be used in this way as well, using and setting the 580EX II as a master. You can then use other 580EX II flashes or the 430EX set as slaves to fire when the master flashes (the 430EX only operates in slave mode). You can also use previous versions of these flashes, such as the 550EX (which can also act as a master or a slave). In this way, you can have a very portable, near-studio lighting environment set up. For example, if you’re shooting formal wedding images at a church or reception hall, using a 580EX II master with one or two slaves provides excellent lighting.


Another option is to use a wireless flash-triggering device, the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2, attached to your camera’s hot shoe (see 8-9). When you take a photograph, a wireless infrared pulse signal is emitted that fires any flashes in range that have been set to slave mode; this is an alternative to having a master flash mounted on the camera that would also flash. Any other non-Canon studio flashes that have the capability to be fired by a flash with an infrared flash receiver may also be set off (assuming they are also in slave mode). Note, however, that Canon flashes set in slave mode will not fire with a third-party infrared transmitter; you must use the Speedlite Transmitter. This is actually a very good feature, because it means that the flashes will not be triggered by other flash sources (such as a family member taking a point-and-shoot flash snapshot over your shoulder at a wedding).

The Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2

The Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2

Also, note that flashes need to be within your line of sight to fire using infrared technology (as opposed to large studio flashes, which are often triggered using radio signals).

The Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 will work with all recent Canon flashes that support slave mode, including the 550EX, 430EX, 580EX, and 580EX II.

The ST-E2 transmitter is ETTL-compatible, and includes a built-in AF-assist beam that works with your camera to evaluate distance and light for optimal flash strength. It also supports highspeed sync, also known as FP flash, which allows flashes to synchronize with your camera’s shutter speed. This is especially useful for using Aperture-priority (Av) mode for fill-flash portrait images.

The transmitter’s maximum range varies between indoors (about 40 to 50 feet) and outdoors (about 26 to 33 feet).


While reasonably reliable, infrared transmitters in general can be a little persnickety to use and occasionally do not fire when you need and expect them to do so. For more absolute reliability, I recommend using a radio type of transmitter with studio lights or a dedicated cable (the 580EX II can accept a direct cable)

Category: Flashes

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