Product Type: Canon flashlights
Newest Review: ... really bother you. The truth is that the light from this isn't any better than any flash gun, but there are some neat features that ... more
Canon Speedlite 580EX II
Member Name: KKSlider1337
Canon Speedlite 580EX II
Advantages: Huge list of functions, powerful, well designed, reliable, fast
Disadvantages: The price!
There are times when a photographer just doesn't have enough available light, and either can't ramp their ISO setting up any higher, or doesn't want to do so and have grainy images as a result. Canon DSLRs all have an inbuilt flash which is handy, but the power is very limited, and the light unflattering for portrait use.
This is where an external flash comes in, and if you're a Canon user then you don't get much better than the Speedlite 580 EX II. The flash comes with a case, small stand (perhaps of limited use) a pop-up wide angle filter and bounce card, and a ridiculous amount of modes.
First of all: attaching the flash to your camera. I was genuinely extremely impressed with the design of the flash attachment. It clips to the hot shoe on your camera, and when placed on simply needs a switch to be moved to the side to securely attach it. It is hard to explain it fully and needs to be seen in person to understand how easy this is.
As for its actual function, the flash can also be as easy to use as this if you so desire. Simply switch it to E-TTL mode and it will intelligently communicate with your camera, determining the correct exposure and power settings on the flash. To be honest, this is the only mode I have used. To use the 580 EX II to its full potential, you have to be a very advanced user. The list of different modes is extensive and although I have read through the manual twice, I am still confident in the fact I don't know everything there is to know yet, let alone know how to use everything.
The performance of the flash is fantastic. The majority of the time I either use the built in bounce card, or bounce the light off a ceiling or wall, using the fully adjustable head that can be swivelled 180 degrees side to side, and angled straight upwards if you so wish. This creates much more flattering light than straight on, and doesn't risk blinding your poor subject - the beam is very powerful when directed into your eyes. This shows in the fact that it is still amazingly effective even when bounced off the little pop-up card, to the extent that when I have shot events at night in a village hall, the resulting exposure may have led you to believe that it was in fact daytime - it would light up the entire room, not just the subject.
Other useful bonuses to the 580 EX II include a very fast recycling time which means you barely have to wait at all in between shots, a very effective autofocus assist beam, and the ability to use it in master mode and control slave lights.
Overall, this is an incredible bit of kit, but you have to pay for the priviledge of using it, and this is where it drops a star. This flash will set you back around £350 which is a lot of money for something that may only get occassional use. I was lucky and found one in absolute mint condition secondhand for £200, and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to pay any more. If you want the best though and are prepared to pay for it, you can't go wrong with the 580 EX II.
Summary: Brilliant accessory, just pricey.
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