After 14 months on the project, I have finally crossed the finish line. The new Speedliter’s Handbook is heading to press and will start shipping in early August.

We’ve made five laps around the sun since I wrote the original Speedliter’s Handbook. In those five years, much has changed about the way I use Speedlites. Of course, Canon’s introduction of the 600EX-RT system—with its built-in, two-way communication—was reason enough to update the book. Yet, this new edition is so much more.

Virtually every word, photo, and diagram in the first edition has been evaluated and either polished or cut. Additions/expansions in the second edition include:

  • Coverage of every current Canon Speedlite from the 600EX-RT down to the 90EX along with tips on using older Canon Speedlites and models from other manufacturers
  • A new chapter about maximizing the benefits of on-camera flash
  • An expanded portfolio of portraits made with a single Speedlite
  • A complete update to my survey of light modifiers and gels
  • A greater emphasis on step-by-step workflows
  • A greatly expanded discussion of Canon’s camera-based menu system for Speedlite control
  • And, of course, complete coverage of how to use the radio-enabled 600EX-RT system by itself and with earlier generations of Canon Speedlites.f

The new Handbook is suited for Speedliters at all levels. If you don’t have the 600EX-RT system, rest assured that I’ve completely updated my coverage of earlier generations of Speedlites to incorporate my latest workflows for flash photography. If you don’t shoot Canon, as before, about 60% of the Handbook is non-demonimational (meaning that the concepts apply to all brands of lighting gear).

Pre-order the Speedliter’s Handbook on Amazon

Learn small flash with Syl at Santa Fe Workshops (July 19-24, hurray-just a few spaces still open)

Learn Canon Speedliting with Syl at Maine Media Workshops (August 2-8)


A Detailed Peek At The New Speedliter’s Handbook

There are 24 chapters and 400+ pages in the new Handbook. Here’s how it is organized:

[Note: Click through on the spreads below to read an actual PDF.]


Chapter 0: Quick Start Guide To Speedliting

Chapter 0: Quick Start Guide To Speedliting—A crash course in the basic ideas of creating photos with flash, including how to control your Speedlite from the LCD of your camera (which makes flash photography so much easier!).

Part 1: Before Speedlites, There Was Light

Chapter 1: Learn To See Light

Chapter 1: Learn To See Light

  • Chapter 1: Learn T0 See Light—How to see light, how to describe light (example above)
  • Chapter 2: Exposure Exposed—The fundamentals of camera exposure broken out in ways that relate to flash photography
  • Chapter 3: Mechanics Of Light—Why light behaves in certain ways
  • Chapter 4: Manage The Ambient Light—How to wrangle the ambient (background) light in flash photos
  • Chapter 5: Position Is Relative—Where to position your flash for specific purposes

Part 2: Speedlites Fundamentally


Chapter 6: Meet The Speedlites

  •  Chapter 6: Meet The Speedlites—A detailed buttons-and-dials tour of each of the Speedlites in Canon’s current lineup, from the 600EX-RT down to the 90EX. New to this edition is a discussion of non-Canon E-TTL Speedlites and economy-oriented Manual-only Speedlites (example above).
  • Chapter 7: Control Your Speedlite—A detailed look at the settings found on a Speedlite (mode, sync, etc.).
  • Chapter 8: Flashing Manually—When to shoot and how to maximize the benefit of your Speedlite in Manual mode
  • Chapter 9: E Is For Evaluative—When to shoot and how to maximize the benefit of your Speedlite in E-TTL mode
  • Chapter 10: Specialty Flash Modes—How to use the other Speedlite modes, such as: Multi, External Auto, External Manual, and Group

Part 3: Off-Camera Speedliting


Chapter 13: Radio Speedliting, Canon’s New Frontier

  • Chapter 11: Triggers For Off-Camera Flash—A survey of the many ways to fire an off-camera Speedlite in Manual and E-TTL mode
  • Chapter 12: Optical Wireless, The Canon Way—The details about how to set up master and slave Speedlites in optical wireless, including detailed button-and-dials diagrams for all the current Speedlites and how to do the same on the LCD of your camera
  • Chapter 13: Radio Speedliting: Canon’s New Frontier—The details about how to set up master and slave Speedlites in Canon’s new radio wireless, including detailed button-and-dials diagrams for the 600EX-RT Speedlite and ST-E3-RT transmitter and how to do the same on the LCD of your camera (example above).

Part 4: Gear For Speedliting


Chapter 14: Go Ahead, Mod Your Speedlite

  •  Chapter 14: Go Ahead, Mod Your Speedlite—My updated survey of my favorite small modifiers that can be attached to Speedlites (example above)
  • Chapter 15: Those Big Modifiers Always Get In The Way—My updated survey of my favorite large modifiers to which you mount Speedlites
  • Chapter 16: Get A Grip—How to attach your Speedlite to stands and other devices in a wide range of situations
  • Chapter 17: Keeping The Energy Up—My updated survey of batteries and external power packs

Part 5: Speedliting In Action


Chapter 19: Portraits With One Speedlite

  •  Chapter 18: Getting The Most From On-Camera Flash—the new chapter provides a wide range of strategies for on-camera flash, both pop-up and Speedlite
  • Chapter 19: Portraits With One Speedlite—an expanded chapter on a wide range of portraits that can be made with one Speedlite (example above)
  • Chapter 20: Portraits With Multiple Speedlites—an updated chapter on how two or more Speedlites can be used to create great portraits
  • Chapter 21: Gelling For Effect—an updated chapter on how I use gels for color correction and creative effects
  • Chapter 22: Slicing Time With High-Speed Sync—an updated chapter on how I use High-Speed Sync in a variety of situations
  • Chapter 23: Gang Lighting—an updated chapter on how I create synergy by using several Speedlites together as a unified light source

Pre-order the Speedliter’s Handbook on Amazon

Learn small flash with Syl at Santa Fe Workshops (July 19-24, hurray-just a few spaces still open)

Learn Canon Speedliting with Syl at Maine Media Workshops (August 2-8)



30 Responses to Finally Finished! Meet The New ‘Speedliter’s Handbook’

  1. Clair Martin says:

    Congratulations Syl, I can imagine how much work it took!

  2. CharlestonDave says:

    ’bout time! I can’t get these dang 600s to do anything! LOL Will be pre-ordering ASAP.

  3. Brian Worley says:

    Congratulations on getting the new book “out the door” Syl. I can’t wait to see what great stuff you’ve managed to pack in this one.

  4. YES! Been looking for something like this. When will it be available?

  5. Dave Riddell says:

    Can’t wait pre-ordered from Amazon in December. Any chance you’ll come to Oz sometime Syl?

  6. Steve says:

    Congratulations on the new book – it will definitely be on my bookshelf soon!

    One comment, should the bottom “NEW EDITION” description include the word “the” in between the words “interesting” and “600EX-RT”?

  7. Mike says:

    Will you be covering canon’s new 430 flash?

    • Syl Arena says:

      @Mike –

      The 430EX III-RT was announced just as the book was heading to the printing press. I have recently used and photographed the 430EX III-RT for an electronic supplement that will be available for download. The instructions on how to do it are printed in the book on the last page of the Table of Contents.

  8. Russ Hansen says:

    So, I bought the book but early on I am frustrated by the fact Syl refers the reader to his blog to download a copy of his Exposure Settings Chart which I was not able to find in the blog having searched every conceivable reference. Hopefully, this unpleasant encounter is the exception, not the rule. And 1/15, 1/30, and 1/60 are the exceptions to every stop being a perfect doubling of the preceding fraction?

  9. William Griffin says:

    So far it looks like a great and informative book. I haven’t seen another book like it. In thumbing through it, you stated that one could download your “Exposure Settings Chart”. I have not been able to find the chart on your website. Could you direct me to where I could download it?

  10. Graham Hobbs says:

    Syl, I have had your book on order for months. Waiting patiently to receive my copy. My hope is that your Publisher will have used a better binding method for your book. I don’t want another loose leaf edition! I would recommend you look at Rocky Nook, for future publications. Congratulations on getting your update ahead of NK Guy.
    Graham Hobbs

    • Syl Arena says:

      Graham — my long-time (and long-suffering) editor at Peachpit is now the Associate Publisher at Rocky Nook…so we’ll see what the future holds.

  11. Jim Tavernese says:

    So where is the Exposure Settings Chart that you mention in your book?

  12. Russ Hansen says:

    I bought your new book wherein you encourage readers to head to this blog to download your Exposure Settings Chart. Trouble is I can’t find the chart, I’ve searched, used the search tool… all to no avail.

  13. Shane says:

    Syl, congratulations on the new edition; I have just obtained it and am checking its new features. I have two questions, though: You say in a Speedliter’s Tip in chapter 2 that you have a exposure settings chart available for download. While I don’t need it, I was curious, but I don’t find it here on your site. An oversight? Second, you show a Smart Eye ™ optical slave trigger by OCF Gear, but I don’t find it there. Not yet released? (BTW I have to get one of those 32′ cords! Ship to Germany?)

  14. […] PixSylated | Syl Arena's Photography Blog on Light & Imagemaking > Books On Photography > Free Download: My ‘Exposure Quick Guide’ Finally Finished! Meet The New ‘Speedliter’s Handbook’ […]

  15. edgarbriones says:

    Congrats. for this new book
    speedliters book is always handy. i will order soon.

  16. KeithB says:

    I really enjoyed the last book, but could not find the answer to this question:
    Is there a way to use Wireless HSS with a built in flash and a 430EX? I can’t seem to get my shutter speed above the sync speed.

    • Syl Arena says:

      @KeithB – Unfortunately not. A pop-up (built-in) flash cannot do high-speed sync because it requires more power than can be fit in this small space.

  17. Nadia Kriger says:

    Hello! I shoot Nikon and other than 1 YN speedlite do not yet own much lighting primarily because I don’t understand it all enough for such costly investment. Your book sounds like something that’d definitely shed some light on this topic for me, but I am concerned that since it seems to be all Cannon that it might leave me even more confused. Do you feel this book can be helpful to a Nikon OCF user shooting Nikon? In advance, thank you for your time!

  18. Roman gandor says:

    I have Canon EOS 7D.Which speedlite flash should i buy.


    Roman Gandor

  19. Syl, I am Looking forward to placing my order for this very important handbook. I downloaded the Exposure Quick Guide. Your handbook was recommend on FB / The Light Side. Always looking for the very best info on lighting and improving my work.

  20. James Moore says:

    Sadly, this book is now out of print, and there are only used ones available at ‘scalper’ prices. Will there be a 2nd printing, and if so, when???

    • Syl Arena says:

      Rather than reprint the second edition, I am now working on a third edition. I hope that it will be available in the fall.

  21. Lisa Cowen says:

    Hi there,
    I hope you’re well. I feel like I’m totally shooting this enquiry into cyberspace with no actual expectation of any kind of response, but still……it’s surely worth a try??
    I’m desperately trying to get my hands on a copy of the 2nd edition of the Speedlighter’s Handbook. I own the 1st edition, but I bought it 5 years ago when I just flipped through the book and I thought that “SAAF” was the greatest tip ever (and I still use that today). I’ve literally picked this book up from under my coffee table (many years later) & I’m absolutely overwhelmed by how clear, concise, sensible, and actually downright funny this book is!! It’s actual golddust!! Of course I/ we/ one will always want more so I have the pleasure of rediscovering the 1st edition but really hope that I can get my hands on a 2nd edition somehow? So many thanks for making me see the light (cheesy but true) Lisa Cowen

    • Syl Arena says:

      Thanks for your kind words. The 2nd edition of the Handbook was not reprinted by the original publisher. Fortunately, they saw fit to return the rights to me (which took nearly a year). So now I’m hoping to get a third edition prepared for publication in fall 2018.

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