dazultra
Posts: 683
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:39 am

Canon Speedlite 550EX

Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:37 pm

OK guys, Im looking to buy this flashgun, cheapest ive seen it is about £250 at various outlets (not including ebay).
Anyone know of anywhere this can be found any cheaper?
(£250 is quite a lot when ur only a student  Smile/happy/getting dizzy)

Cheers,

Daz.
 
manzoori
Posts: 1459
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2002 7:08 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:47 pm

... Oh! I was just gonna say E-Bay!

Funny you should mention this Daz as I was thinking about adding this to my arsenal after the nigthmare I had on Saturday evening trying to get the D30 to Focus in low light conditions at a friends 25th anniversary do.

I read somewhere the addition of a speedlite (not necessarily the 550EX) will be a big boost to the camera's ability to focus? Do you (or anyone else for that matter) know if this is true?

I could always strap my laser pointer to the camera. This works a treat but people seem to get awfully agitated when I accidentally zap them in the eyes with it!  Wink/being sarcastic

Cheers!

Rez
 Big thumbs up
Flightlineimages DOT Com Photographer & Web Editor. RR Turbines Specialist
 
Staffan
Posts: 3879
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:21 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Mon Mar 08, 2004 7:41 pm

Yes, the speedlites have an aid light for the AF. Good reason to get one because the cameras can be total crap trying to focus with the built in flash as an aid. 99% of the time I use MF for indoor photography.

Staffan
 
ckw
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RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Mon Mar 08, 2004 10:48 pm

£250 is a good price for the 550EX - and worth every penny IF you can afford it. Using its own infrared beam (you can disable the camera's silly light), focus is fast and accurate. This is also a very powerful and versatile flash. If you like, you can set the camera on Program, and use it like a point'n'shoot - and everything will come out just fine.

Or, as I do, set the camera to manual, choose any shutter/fstop combo you like and the flash will work out the correct light strength and duration.

This is the only flash I've ever actually enjoyed using ... as simple as can be when you need simplicity, but capable of the full gamut of creative flash effects.

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
Paulianer
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RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Mon Mar 08, 2004 11:14 pm

Or, as I do, set the camera to manual, choose any shutter/fstop combo you like and the flash will work out the correct light strength and duration.

Will that also work with the 420EX??? I just bought this Canon Speedlite....

And is it possible to shot also in AV-Mode? I only had decent results in P or simply manual...

Greetings
Tobi
Tobias Rose - Hamburg (HAM/EDDH) & (XFW/EDHI) - Canon EOS D60 - ICQ: 235621277 - MSN: Tobias.Rose@gmx.de
 
ckw
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Tue Mar 09, 2004 2:24 am

Will that also work with the 420EX

I think so ... but of course as I should have said in my statement about the 550EX

Choose any combo you like within the power range of the flash. Setting f22 for a subject 50 meters away ain't gonna work, as the flash doesn't have that much power.

The 420EX is less powerful, and hence more restrictive, but you should still be able to say set f4 in manual or AV mode and the flash takes care of the rest. Actually AV mode is very much like manual mode in "normal" flash photography, as the shutter speed is fairly irrelevant. When using fill flash or long exposures, the shutter speed does matter, and manual will offer more control than AV mode.

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
dazultra
Posts: 683
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:39 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Tue Mar 09, 2004 2:49 am

Thanks for the replies guys;
looks like the 550ex is a decent piece of kit from what you're saying Colin, I reckon I'l settle for the asking price of 250  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Also what you say about the infra red beam, how does this work? Is that the red thingy under the main white reflector/bulb?

Daz.
 
wietse
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Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 12:49 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Tue Mar 09, 2004 2:58 am

Yup, that is the AF assist beam. It is also the trigger for the slave units you can control with this flash. I intend to get one with my 28-70 2.8L. it should be a great indoors combo.

Wietse
Wietse de Graaf
 
JayDavis
Posts: 1870
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2001 1:09 pm

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Tue Mar 09, 2004 8:35 am

I have the Canon Speedlite 550EX and it rocks!
I also have a much older Canon Speedlite that was
very compatible with my older Canon EOS 630's. I can
now use it with a radio slave as a secondary flash if I want
to do some fashion/glamour stuff.

The Canon flashes are so cool. You can take photos in complete
darkness insides and you'll get great results. I've done it. No one believes
that the photos will turn out well at all since all the lights are off. The red light assist beam causes the lense to focus just fine, and no worries!


Jay
 
lyzzard
Posts: 401
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RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Tue Mar 09, 2004 4:13 pm

Wow, u guys need to make a trip to Asia to pick up camera gear. The 550EX retails about US$350 brand new here.
 
dazultra
Posts: 683
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:39 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 10, 2004 1:42 am

lol did consider it lyzzard, but if u get screwed with import duties when u get back it will end up costing about the same, then theres the flight to actually get there in the first place...

Daz.
 
chris78cpr
Posts: 2733
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2004 7:44 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 10, 2004 1:48 am

Well i have a canon 550ex and i think it's great!!! So great infact that i have 2 more and an ST-E2 wireless transmitter on my shopping list!!! Great set of guns that wpork great in wireless multi flash modes!!!

Chris
5D2/7D/1D2(soon to be a 1Dx) 17-40L/24-105L/70-200F2.8L/100-400L/24F1.4LII/50F1.2L/85F1.2LII
 
wietse
Posts: 3630
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 12:49 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 17, 2004 12:47 am

Guys,

Just had this thing shipped to me, and it is worth every penny. I love the bit where it focusses on a blank wall in total darkness... Smile

Just a question: What batteries do you guys use with this thing and how long do they last? I have a kids musical coming up and I dont want to run out of power during the show...

Cheers,

Wietse
Wietse de Graaf
 
ExitRow
Posts: 1630
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 7:13 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:38 am

Wietse -
Word of warning: If you buy rechargeables, be sure to get batteries designed for heavy use. I shot a concert a while back and used the flash a bit too excessively (didn't leave enough time between firings) and the batteries heated up quit a bit. I didn't think anything of it that night, but the next morning when I pulled them to recharge, one leaked. I assume it was because they were cheap rechargeables and one was defective. Luckly for me, the acid leaked away from the electronics and everything was solved with a toothbrush and some baking soda.

Flashes tend to draw a lot of power, fast. So make sure you get batteries up to the challenge.

It's a great flash. Be sure to play with the rear-curtain sync. That's fun.

william
 
dazultra
Posts: 683
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:39 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:49 am

Just bought the 550ex yesterday, its a bit huge  Wow!
and the manual is nearly as fat as the manual for the 10D!

Took some test shots though, and first signs are that its a damn good piece of kit...

Daz.
 
ckw
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:55 am

Battery life is pretty good - though obviously variable as the flash output depends on a whole bunch of factors.

I use non-rechargeable Alkalines (have been let down too often with rechargeables). I don't have any exact measurements, but at a guess, I don't think I've ever used more than 2 sets of batteries for one camera battery charge (say 300-400 frames) - and I tend not to use batteries to the very end as charge cycles get too long as the battery dies.

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
jettrader
Posts: 580
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RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 17, 2004 2:22 am


For what it's worth I have the Sigma EF 500-DG ST Flash unit which does pretty much everything* the 500EX does at about 60% of the price (mine was £135).

A very capable flash unit and a very cost effective alternative

Regards,
Dean

* As far as I know the only thing the 500-DG does not do is rear curtain sync. Also there are some reports of variable exposure - not something I have experienced!


Life's dangerous. Get a f**king helmet!
 
ckw
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:22 am

Dean - I'm sure you're right (but 2nd curtain sync is pretty cool  Smile).

For now.

The problem these days is that anything but the most basic flash conducts a pretty sophisticated dialogue with the camera. Sigma et al effectively have to reverse engineer to get this dialogue to work. If and when Canon change something, that 3rd party kit may no longer work (as has been seen with old lenses).

The 1D Mk II has introduced a new type of ETTL exposure (does the Sigma do ETTL?), which I think we'll see incorporated into every future Canon camera (even the fairly basic film 300v has it). Not sure if the Sigma will still be able to operate correctly with the new system.

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
wietse
Posts: 3630
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 12:49 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:24 am

I heard the Sigma doesnt do ETTl, just the basic TTL version. I have been experimenting with stroboscope flashes this evening and it is way cool  Smile

Wietse
Wietse de Graaf
 
jettrader
Posts: 580
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2001 5:19 pm

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Wed Mar 17, 2004 7:20 pm


Guys,

The Sigma EF 500-DG ST does do ETTL - as I said, the only thing that I'm aware of that it doesn't do, that the 550EX does do, is 2nd curtain sync.

As Colin rightly says, Sigma (by necessity) reverse engineer their Canon compatible products so there is always a chance they won't work with later Canon products. However, the 500-DG does work just fine with the existing crop of Canon DSLRs.

Cheers,
Dean
Life's dangerous. Get a f**king helmet!
 
wietse
Posts: 3630
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RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:07 pm



Was this done with 2nd curtain sync?

W
Wietse de Graaf
 
Staffan
Posts: 3879
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:21 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:12 pm

Hard to tell..

2nd curtain while zooming one way would give the same results as 1st curtain zooming the other.

Easier to tell when the motion is not in the direction the camera is pointing.

Staffan

 
Joge
Posts: 1386
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2000 3:26 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:27 pm

Can you guys post some sample pictures here (aviation or non-aviation) taken using the 550EX? Big grin

-Joge
Bula!
 
wietse
Posts: 3630
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 12:49 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:53 pm



Taken with a bounced 550EX and a 28-70 2.8 lens. Took it the first day I had the flash  Smile

Wietse
Wietse de Graaf
 
ckw
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:09 pm

Here's a couple I took at a dance competition. Actually we're looking at 2 techniques here - first, a slow shutter speed sync - this is to help balance the harsh flash light with the limited available light in the room. From memory the shutter is around 1/15th - of course the dancers are moving, so a slight ghost image is recorded in natural light, giving (I hope) the impression of movement. (Mixing the flash & tungsten light also gives a warm, saturated look).

2nd, I used 2nd curtain sync - ie. the dancers are first recorded in artificial light and at the end of the long (and hence blurred) exposure, a blast of flash freezes the detail. By using 2nd curtain, the blur gives some indication of the direction things are moving.

Of course, its all a bit trial and error - in this situation, shutter speeds of 1/8 - 1/15th were about right - 1/4 was too blurred, 1/30th to static. I was shooting on manual with the lens set to f4 or f5.6 ... the 550EX determined the flash exposure.

http://www.btinternet.com/~ckwphoto/sudo/latin/7142_std.jpg
http://www.btinternet.com/~ckwphoto/sudo/latin/7293_std.jpg

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
Joge
Posts: 1386
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2000 3:26 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:57 pm

Nice pictures, guys.

I'm sure the flash is worth of every penny (like said here already).

BTW, colin, does the flash have an effect of doing the objects look... More round? Big grin
Bula!
 
ckw
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Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 12:22 am

Exactly what "objects" are you examining Joge?  Smile

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
dazultra
Posts: 683
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:39 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 1:59 am

Colin (or anyone else for that matter),

What are your views on using a diffuser on the flash? I bought one for my 550EX and am inclined not to take it off because of the great results with it.


Daz.
 
ExitRow
Posts: 1630
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RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 2:02 am

This was shot using the 550EX in 2nd curtain. 1/4sec @ F4.5. 20mm.



The lines emanating from the bass head are reflections of the continuous lighting in the room. In this case some incandescent track lighting. Just before the shutter closes, the flash pops. (Manual mode around 1/16th power.) I have the off-camera shoe cable which allows me to point the flash exactly where I want it. (Here on the bass head with some fall-off on the musician himself.)

It's great fun. Haven't tried it in aviation photography yet. Not really sure how I would. The Speedlite's moveable head and adjustable strength comes in handy for cockpit shots and backlight fill.

william
 
ckw
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Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 4:16 am

Yeah diffusers are cool - I use one (ok, a hanky loosely bunched over the flash head  Smile) when shooting close in - though if at all possible I prefer to bounce the flash as it means the light comes from a more "natural" direction.

But having talked about flash (and raved about the 550 EX) I must confess to still viewing them as a necessary evil - I prefer to use available light (at a high ISO if necessary), or if space and time permit, studio flash.

I must say though William, your shot is very effective and creative, and does show what the 550 can do!

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
wietse
Posts: 3630
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 12:49 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 4:41 am

It is one big mofo though...:



Wietse

PS, William, got my reply to your email?
Wietse de Graaf
 
ExitRow
Posts: 1630
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 7:13 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 4:43 am

Thanks Colin.

I too share your love of available light. But I have made a truce with my flash. Truth be told, the off-camera shoe cord is what won me over. I realized the one thing I hated about flash photography was the "car headlight" feel to it. When the flash is on the camera shoe, it's too perpendicular to the subject and creates harsh shadows and blown highlights. With the locational flexibilty of the off-camera cord, the light goes EXACTLY where I want it, at any desired angle. I feel like the results justify the use of the flash.  Smile

I went from a very inexpensive single power flash, that was not much better than the old "powder flashes" of yore, to my Speedlite. It was like going from a golf cart to a Porsche!

Digital cameras afford a lot of flexibilty with flash photography experimentation as you see your results immediately and can adjust on-the-fly.

If I could have a wish list though, it would be that I could store multiple flash setting profiles in the camera or flash head for frequent use.

william
 
ExitRow
Posts: 1630
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RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 4:49 am

It is one big mofo though...:

Power comes with a price.  Big grin

PS, William, got my reply to your email?

Yep... got it. Now I just need to save some money for air fare!
 
Bronko
Posts: 795
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2001 3:28 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 6:23 am

Someone is selling a used 540EX for about half the new price. Can someone compare this flash with the 550EX?
Jet City Aviation Photography
 
Staffan
Posts: 3879
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:21 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 6:32 am

Isn't the 540 EZ and not EX? I don't think the EZ models support ETTL and I also heard somewhere that they don't work with Canon's newer digital bodies..

Staffan
 
dazultra
Posts: 683
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:39 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 7:14 am

Yeah u got it right Staffan, the EZ models will work in manual modes i think, but if u put it in auto it wont talk to the camera like the EX models will. Again like you say, EX models are the only ones which will work with digital bodies.


Daz.
 
User avatar
JeffM
Posts: 7569
Joined: Sat May 07, 2005 3:32 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 7:34 am

Watch the spike voltage levels as well. Many after market flashes, and some older Canon lights put out at the contacts well over 200 volts. Canon digitals can only take 6. Sending more across the shutter contacts will ruin them fast.
 
wietse
Posts: 3630
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 12:49 am

RE: Canon Speedlite 550EX

Sat Mar 20, 2004 7:36 am

Jeff is right, voltages dont match up. You can buy an aftermarket transformer, which you have to stick between the shoe and the flash. Wouldnt count on those though.. rather have a compatible flash.

Wietse
Wietse de Graaf

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