A Great Upgrade for an Already Great Flash
No dead or dying battery notification, short batter life. It’s not cheap.
E-TTL is excellent, and sturdy build
The Bottom Line:
Canon’s top of the line flash, is top of the line for a reason.
I broke by old 580EX, which was not a cheap flash to break, and decided to upgrade to the new one when replacing it. The first thing I noticed out of the box was the build. This flash is made to stay attached to the camera, and hold together. This flash was obviously made with the digital photographer in mind and has worked well in every situation I have used it. In regard to usability and quality, I wouldn’t say this is much of an upgrade from the previous version. It seems that they really focused on durability with this version.
The fast recycle time is handy when shooting any type of action shots in need of a quick flash.
E-TTL II (Evaluative Through The Lens) auto exposure technology:
The flash will automatically adjust according to the camera reading. I’ve found a few times it tends to overexpose the shot. When I’m in a hurry and don’t have the time to adjust the manual settings this has been useful. Overall I have been impresses with how accurate and well the E-TTL functionality works.
This is a nice little option that I rarely use. In the front of the flash you can pull down a small reflector tucked up top. Generally I’ve found bouncing the light of walls or reflectors to be more useful. In a pinch and with no other options this is handy to have.
FE Lock Flash exposure lock:
Allows you to pre-focus the shot with flash and adjust your position, another nice feature.
According to Canon this has improved over previous models, personally it seems to actually go through batteries quicker than the previous model. I go through batteries like crazy with this flash. The flash takes 4 AA batteries. I’ve used both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries. The rechargeable ones wear down quick. Although using the manual options over the E-TTL does seem to help a bit.
Wireless TTL flash when combined with ST-E2 Transmitter & multiple 550 EX's:
Allows you to get rid of that annoying cable when using your flash off camera. This is a change from the previous version. They are still compatible, but the 580 EX I found much easier to set up than the 580 EX II. The previous version allowed the master slave to be set via a switch. The new version, requires going into the mode menu.
FEB Flash Exposure Bracketing:
Provides 3 of the same shots with 3 levels of flash output. Excellent when you are in a hurry but want to make sure you get the shot. You can later delete the worst two. Keep in mind my battery complaint; this will seriously drain if using it often.
not a lot of changes to the controls, other than the master/slave mentioned. I’ve found the menu and controls on the back of the flash relatively easy to use, requiring minimal need to refer back to the manual. Although I do prefer the previous set up, it could just be that’s what I was used to.
You can adjust the flash head up, down, left, right, or even 180 degrees. Bounce it off walls or use the light reflector.
14 Custom Functions that provide maximum control over various flash functions:
I think this is a nice feature but personally haven’t had much use for it. Most of my lighting situations vary enough that they require me to continually adjust the flash in accordance, or I just rely on the excellent auto adjustment provided by the E-TTL functionality.
This is the big change in this version. The batter cover locks into place now. Prevent accidently sliding down the cover that happened on the previous version. The covers for external batteries and other plugs are now covered with rubber plugs. And the flash locks into place now via a switch rather than the dial on the previous version. This allows for quick attachment and removal if needed, and hold tightly.
Overall, I love this flash. Besides going with my Canon equipment, it was a no-brainer in choosing to purchase the latest version when replacing my old one.