Shedding Light on Canon Flashes

screen_shot_2011_01_18_at_85822_pm.pngFinally, there’s a speed light at the end of the tunnel for Canon users trying to make heads or tails of their flash gear. Now, I’m not looking to start a flame war; I’ve always thought that the Nikon/Canon debate is pretty much a wash and certainly a waste of time.

But it is true that each system has its strong and weak points, and let’s just say that flash is, um, not one of Canon’s stronger points. At workshops and seminars, I am constantly asked by Canon users about how to do the same things I can do simply and straightforwardly with Nikon speedlites and I’ve been unable to answer coherently.

Not for a lack of trying, mind you, but more due to the fact that when I canvas my Canon-using colleagues, I never get the same answer twice on the specific workings of their lights and how they are used them in various situations (let’s just say that when it comes to flash, Canon is a faith-based community….Kidding!  Okay, I’m just kidding.)

But, then, thank the lord, along comes California-based pro Syl Arena and his book Speedliter’s Handbook. Finally, Canonites have a comprehensive look at small strobe lighting, specifically Canon small strobe, that demystifies the process.

Syl’s book goes over in detail the workings of the Canon flash, but that’s only about 35% of the book. The other 65% is good basic, lighting knowledge and lots of great tips about modifiers, lightstands, clamps, etc. Syl is up to date on all the latest grip gear for speedlights and you’re sure to pick up a lot great info.

Now I won’t kid you: this is not exactly “Hot Shoe Diaries“—Joe has covered far more interesting subject matter. But Syl shows you, in detail, shots that anybody can make using real world people as his subjects. In fact, I’d say that the approachability of the sample photos is one of this book’s strong points. 

At last, the prayers of Canon flash-users have been answered by this book–one that can help lead them out of the darkness. And I say with all my heart to my Canon brethren across the aisle: hallelujah brothers and sisters…and welcome to the world of goodness and speedlight!

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Good post. I’ve got both Syl’s book and Joe’s book. Syl never shot the mast at the Empire State building. And he’s not nearly as good a story teller as Joe. But if you are a Canonista who wants to shoot small flash, it’s a must have. He covers everything in minute detail He even has several pages (not paragraphs) on Stroboscopic flash and how to do it. And so on.

    I hate to be a spelling nitpick, but you did make one glaring mistake. Your last sentence should be “…and welcome to the world of goodness and speedlite!”

    1. Mike: Yes, it was a Nikonian slip on the spelling! B

  2. This book has been needed for a while. Wishlisted for me. I wish Canon would fix a few things though – make second curtain sync off camera a bit easier would be nice.

  3. Heey!! As a Canon user, I resemble that remark.

    I agree with you Bob, flash has long been one of the weaknesses, some might say the biggest weakness, on the Canon side of the Canon vs. Nikon debate. I will have to check out his book.

    thanks for posting.


    1. Jack: You’ll find it very useful, I think. Syl’s got all the latest on modifiers, clamps, and such too, which I found helpful.

  4. comment withdrawn

  5. Hey Bob,

    I lost you for a while when you moved mate but happy to say I’ve found you again!

    I pre-ordered this book and it arrived just the other day. I think Syl has done a fantastic job of explaining not only how the Canon flashes work, but a lot of really great work-arounds to overcome the things they don’t do too well.

    His recommendations on getting an extra long TTL cord to put your master on has saved my bacon already. That and his advice on using the same cord to do second curtain sync and then trigger other optical slaved flashes is pure genius. Granted it would be easier if this stuff was automatic or even easier to do with the Canon flashes but his alternative methods really help overcome the limitations.

    Not ready to jump ship yet!


    1. Hi Paul: Yes, the more you dig into the book, the more useful tips you find. I had an extra long cord made in the pre-wireless days but carry it with me all the time to fire flashes set up behind me, for instance, or in a place where they can’t see the wireless signal.

      Glad you found us again!

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