30 June 2008

Canon Speedlite 580EX II

Canon Speedlite 580EX II

Thursday 26 June 2008, i decided to buy an external flash for my DSLR camera. I bought (so far) the best (and the most expensive) Canon external flash, Canon Speedlite 580EX II. Using an external flash is considered to be a big step up in photography level. With this external flash you can do more than you can before.

Speedlite parts.

Before we talk about photography essentials, let's talk about this thing first. Canon Speedlite 580EX II came with 1 external flash (of course, you're BUYING flash), 1 bag, 1 shoestand. Diffuser sold separately. Sometimes you'll need a diffuser in order to soften the light that came out from this flash. I bought this Speedlite with IDR 3850000 (USD 400).

Buying external flash means that you have to be prepared to buy another things that support external flash. I ended up buying diffuser (IDR 150000 around USD 18), 4 AA Powerex batteries with the charger (IDR 370000 around USD 40), and another 4 AA Powerex batteries without charger just for spare batteries (IDR 120000). I have to pay IDR 4440000 (USD 460) for all thos things including the flash itself. It takes a lot of money, but it's very worth to buy, especially for you DSLR user.

Comparison photo between internal flash and external flash usage.

Let's get back into photography essentials. Lighting is one of the important factor in photography. Great photos come from great lighting. I used to participate in a photography competition and the person who win this competition have very nice lighting (using wireless flash). Source of the light and where it come from must be calculated carefully in order to make a great photos.

First time you held an SLR you should realize something and come up with this question:
"I can see well in my well-lit room, but why my SLR responded with "very" slow shutter speed?"
Don't be decieved by your eyes.... Our eyes has bigger aperture, bigger than any lenses that has been made. With bigger aperture opening, more light comes in, so less shutter time needed.

Note 1 : Big aperture means big opening in the lens diaphragm (correct me if i'm wrong), but in camera system big aperture means smaller number in F value.

Note 2 : "very" Slow shutter speed means that your camera gives you a slow speed that normal human unable to hold it firmly, causing blur (shake) in the photo result.

Note 3 : Sorry for this technical talks. It must be difficult for non-photographer to follow, if you can't follow, just skip it and enjoy the photos :P.

Firing external flash directly to the object.

What will happen if the aperture already maxed and you still have a slow shutter speed? Pocket automatic camera will fire a flash to get the photos brighter and you can see the result. But the problem come from that internal flash. Usually, this kind of action will give you horrible result. The objects will get all flat and the 3D impression, my friend, will gone with the wind...

Firing diffused external flash directly to the object.

It might be the easiest way to prevent blur, but the result won't be good to see and enjoy. So you have to find another way to get good lighting. External flash is the best way to get good lighting. Look at the comparison photo above. You can see the the difference between internal flash (left) and external flash (right).

Firing undiffused external flash to the roof (bounce lighting).

External flash has more option so you can set it manually to get the best lighting you need. You can also vertically turn the flash 0-90° and horizontally turn it 360°. With this feature, you can shoot the light to walls or roof and bounce it back to the object. This way, you can give the photos a different lighting effect.

The best photo using speedlite so far.

I'm still experimenting to get the best lighting for me. So far, i haven't tried master slave system (2 speedlite, 1 mounted on camera, the other triggered using wireless). I planned on buying hotshoe slave to make a wireless flash trigger system. A wireless flash system is great for figure (mini-studio) photography.

Different flash position can create a different lighting effect. A minimum of 2 flashes are needed to create beautiful lighting effect. The first flash is used for hair lamp. The other flash can be used for lighting from side direction. Well, making good lighting could also be a killer for your wallet because of the things you need to purchase, so plan it wisely.

Well, that's it for now...


  1. I bought a 580EX II last year some time, and although having an external flash is great and all, the 580EX II does fail in many areas. Mainly in things as not sitting very secure on the mount, the flash not firing off at times, and how it automatically switches itself off after too many shots.

    Personally I try not to use the flash for any figure photography as using external lighting is the way to go. And even though I've had my flash for a while, I still can't get it right with a lot of things.

  2. I also recently gotten my 580Ex II still trying to get the hang of it...

  3. @Adun
    I never heard tabout that before. As far as i use it, i never had that problem. And for the auto power off things, you can disable that setting in C.Fn no. 1, set the value to 1.

    I'm still learning to use it too. If you feel too hard to use this, then use ETTL mode (automatic) and fire it to the roof / wall. That way, you can still get a natural (3D) effects in the photos.

    I usually use ETTL mode. But in some cases i used M(anual) mode to set the flash power myself.

    For me, using flash just help me to get good lighting and shading. Brightness, contrast, level, and RGB can be edited in photoshop.

  4. WOW!!!!!!!!
    I want a good camera. Sadly, I use a Cybershot...
    Why must people have more crazy cameras!!!!!!! I want!!!!!!!!!
    Your a lucky guy!!!!!!!!

  5. @Rin
    You know, every photographer started their photography experience and hobby from a pocket camera.

    DSLR camera body is considered to be cheap for now. But buying the asseccories is the real deal, and it took a lot of money.

  6. nice loot :D

    best part of flash like this is that you can bounce the flash :)

    i have the nikon equivalent of this one, SB600, great stuff :)

  7. Yeah, having a flash is great. I'm glad that i get this first before getting macro lens.

    My next loot will be Canon EF 100mm macro.