Canon wishlist intro

January 3, 2011 — Comments are now closed for this post. Thanks to the 100s of shooters who shared their opinions. The dialogue about Canon Speedlites and small flash continues in the many articles you’ll find in the ‘Speedlighting & Small Flash’ category. If you’re interested in learning my Speedlite techniques, check out my Speedliter’s Handbook — nearly 400 pages of how-to and why-to on Canon flash.

Original post starts here > As a lifelong Canon shooter, I’ve been witness again and again to the power of Nikon’s CLS Speedlight system. In fact, most of the inspiration I found to explore the potential of Canon’s Speedlites came to me while assisting on a variety of shoots for Nikon’s leading CLS demo-man, Joe McNally. [If you're thinking "Joe Who?", let me be the first to welcome you to the planet and suggest that you check out his books on small-flash here and his blog here.]

What types of small-flash inspiration? Let’s see. There was the elephant-with-the-slinky-model in the dry lake bed followed by the silk acrobat hanging from the crane at sunset. There was the ballerina hoisted above the field of sunflowers and the bride in the desert gale. There was the girl holding the pool cue in the smokey bar. There was the leathery guy with the full-sleeve tats. And, of course, the Shining-esque model in the bay windows. Most recently, I spent the better part of two weeks in McNallyland a guest instructor at Joe’s One-Day Lighting Workshops in NY (read my review here and check out Joe’s workshop pix here, here and here.) It’s impossible to be witness to the making of so many great photographs and not be inspired.

Now, don’t get me wrong. For the most-part, I’m a happy Canonista. My first Canon, an A-1 purchased nearly 30 years ago, sits in a place of prominence atop the bookcase next to my bed – meaning it’s one of the first and last things I see every day. I think that the 5D Mark II is an amazing value in the DSLR market and praise the brilliance of adding 1080P video to it. There are a lot of lenses for the Canon system that Nikon has yet to make or only recently introduced. So, as I said, I’m a relatively happy Canonista.

But, there is no doubt, after working on location and in the studio with Joe over several years, that Nikon’s CLS Speedlight system is much more intuitive to use. Why does this matter to me? Well, as a creative, I rely upon my intuition a lot. The more intuitive a process is, the more creative I become. The more creative I am, the more interesting my pictures become.

So here’s my wishlist of features that I hope Canon will incorporate into a new generation of Speedlites.

Syl Arena’s Wishlist For Canon Speedlites

Canon switch_8085 1. Put the wireless switch back on the outside. 90% of my Speedlite photography is multi-unit wireless. I still use a 580EX (which was discontinued in 2007) as my master because it takes too long to switch in and out of wireless mode on Canon’s flagship model – the 580EXII. Virtually all of my event photography uses a Speedlite carried aloft on a stand or boom. This remote unit is controlled by the master parked on top of my camera. Of course, because I want to create interesting light, I program the master so that it talks to the remote but doesn’t actually flash during the exposure. When something interesting happens right in front of me that the remote can’t cover, I want to flick a switch and get the shot with the camera-mounted Speedlite before the opportunity disappears. With the 580EXII, to go from master to solo mode, I have to hold down a button, turn a dial and then press another button – meaning that I miss the spontaneous shot in front of me every time.

2. Design the external wireless switch with four options. Canon, when you re-engineer the wireless switch and put it back on the outside, give me four options – solo, master with flash, master without flash and slave. I’m fine with having to hunt for functions through menus as long as I don’t want to change them very often – like the disabling the sleep/power saving options in Custom Functions. But, I want options that I change frequently to be right at my fingertips. So, I want to choose whether the master contributes to the exposure or not via an external switch rather than an a menu item. Also, “Off” means off — as in the unit is powered down completely. Use “solo” or some other descriptive term to describe a unit that’s working by itself.

3. Come to understand that not everyone lights from the front. Canon’s E-TTL II assumes that Speedlite remote groups A and B are lighting the subject from the front. It’s built upon the classic (think “outdated”) notion that a portrait must be lit with a key and fill at 45º in front of the subject. What if I want to use window light as the key, the A-flash as fill at 90º and the B-flash on the background? I’m not following Canon’s rules when I shoot like this. Don’t worry, the system can actually handle my errant behavior. For the future of creative photography, it would be helpful if Canon would abandon the “must light from the front” attitude.

Canon wireless icon_8151 4. Adopt a better icon for wireless mode. Virtually every Canon shooter to whom I’ve taught wireless flash has had the same reaction I did when I figured out that Canon’s icon for the wireless menu is a lightening bolt / sync arrow tipped on its side (yes, the one to the right of “Zoom”). The reaction to this little insight is always amusement mixed equally with confusion. So, please Canon, find a better icon for wireless. How about an old-fashioned radio tower with those circle lines around the top?

5. Ditch the “Master / Slave” language. Maybe “Master” and “Slave” don’t have the same connotation in Canon’s native tongue as they do in English. But here in the U.S., it’s time to ditch “Master/Slave” for more acceptable terms. Blame it on the era of PC if you must. Nikon already uses “Commander/Remote” – which I think is great. If not that, how about calling it “Tx-mode” and “Rx-mode”?

6. Call groups what they are – “groups”. Canon uses the term “Slave ID” for groups. Yet the LCD on a 580 says just “Slave”. It also says “Slave” to mean a unit set in remote mode. Since we’re going to ditch the word “Slave” for “Remote” or “Rx-mode” anyway, let’s get a label on the screen that matches what we actually say anyway – “Group”.

7. Get rid of the ratios. You have to be really old-school to be comfortable with ratios (which I am, actually). Ratios are an archaic way of controlling light levels among different groups of Speedlites. Who wants to remember that 8:1 really means that there’s 3-stops more light on the A-side than the B-side?  Dump this approach and jump into the 21st-century. There’s a huge market of Canon shooters who want to be able to control multiple Speedlites without having to do the math of how the light level from one relates to another. Nikon shooters have the ability to control the EV level of each group independently. I want this same ease-of-use. Dumping the ratios in favor of an EV approach will also enable Canon shooters to turn individual groups on and off – which is a huge feature when checking the quality and quantity of light coming from a specific group.

Canon ratios _8144

8. Create a true 3- or (better yet) 4-group control system. Those of us who have taken the time to get our heads around ratios (which only work for two groups), still struggle with the logic of using flash-exposure-compensation to control a C-group. There is so much to remember these days, having to remember that C-group works differently just adds to my burden. Canon, if you offer a 4-group system, then you’ll sell more Speedlites because shooters like me will come up with crazy shots that absolutely need Speedlites in four different groups. Heaven forbid that the Canon engineers think of a Speedlite system that could handle five groups…

9. Offer a digital control unit. Our ST-E2 wireless controller is an anachronism when compared to the functionality of Nikon’s SU-800 commander unit. If all you want to do is control a key light and a fill light, then the ratio slider on the ST-E2 gets the job done. But, I want to have digital (not slider) control the output of all my groups and to handle each group independently and to be able to switch a single group or multiple groups from E-TTL to Manual and to turn specific groups on/off and to do all these things without having to dig down deep into a menu hierarchy on the back of my camera.

10. Add a built-in optical trigger. It won’t take up much room. It won’t require a lot of circuity. Heck, it would probably fit right in where the relatively-useless thyristor photo-eye sits right now. An optical trigger solves a load of problems when mixing Speedlites with studio strobes. Studio shooters often want to a just a splash of light on set or to conceal a light within the frame. (Canon, consider this to be a perfect opportunity to sell more Speedlites to guys who are used to using lots of lights.) An optical trigger would also make a Speedlite more friendly in the midst of lights from other companies. Again, ease-of-use will drive users to the Canon system. Making the whole system proprietary means that few outsiders will want to change jerseys.

11. License the RadioPopper technology. The gateway to selling more Speedlites is not to find more people to buy their first unit. Rather it’s to add functionality that makes it really easy for existing owners to want to add more lights to their shoots. Wireless E-TTL is good. Radio-controlled E-TTL is great. Free me of the need for line-of-sight communication and I’ll likely put 3 Speedlites in a softbox or stuff them in small spaces on a set where a studio heads won’t fit. Wedding and event shooters totally understand the limitations of line-of-sight. I want to be able to stop worrying abut the position of the remotes relative to my master unit. Over half the size of a RadioPopper is dedicated to the battery and getting the TTL code out of or into a Speedlite. There’s got to be a bit of space inside a Speedlite for the actual circuits that make a RadioPopper work. I’m convinced that the first company to add radio-transmitted TTL to their flash units will leave their competitor in the dust for a long while.

12. Add a couple more stops of Flash Exposure Compensation. There are many instances where I want just a breath of light from my Speedlite and bump up against the minus-3-stop FEC limit on the 580EXs. If a Speedlite has a 7-stop power range, how about giving me 7-stops of FEC so that I don’t have to jump over to manual in challenging situations? Jumping over to manual means that I have to keep more factoids in my head while I’m trying to concentrate of the light and subject in front of me.

13. Stretch out the Zoom. I’m hard-pressed to think of a situation where I was shooting long lens and wanted to zoom a single Speedlite to illuminate a distant subject. Yet, I routinely use the Zoom button to restrict the cone of light so that I can place a tighter pool of light right where I want it. Detach yourself from thinking that the Speedlite zoom was made to match the focal length of the shot and you’ll see the greater logic of using the zoom as a built-in light modifier. For me, “Snoot” would be more descriptive than “Zoom”. So, you could say that I want a longer snoot on the next generation of Speedlites.

Canon dome diffusers_8162

14. Include a dome diffuser. I’m sure the guys at Stofen are really happy with the status quo. I’m not. In my world, a dome diffuser is a must-have for every Speedlite. Just as I use the Zoom button as a snoot, I use a dome diffuser to enhance the effectiveness of Speedlites when shooting through umbrellas or panel diffusers. So, every time I buy a Speedlite, I also buy another StoFen. It would cost just a few nickles if a dome diffuser were packaged with every Speedlite. If Canon did this, the quality of light for the average shooter would go way up (and they’d like their photos more and tell their friends about their great camera and…).

15. Include a gel holder. The use of gels for color-correction and color effects has become commonplace. I’m not asking for a computer-chip solution – largely because I’ll continue to cut my own gels from larger stock to save money. What I’d really like though, is a way to hold a gel in place without the use of gaffer’s tape or a LiveStrong braclet. As with the dome diffuser, if every Speedlite came with one, then they’d cost just a few pennies each.

16. Ditch the penguin. There has to be a better way to diagram the use of wireless flash in the manual. Seriously.

17. Give me a breath of hope that Canon actually cares about their Speedlite system. As I said at the top, I’ve been a Canon-shooter for nearly 30 years. I’ve also been pulled into the orbit of Joe McNally’s amazing lighting style – a style that pushes his Speedlights into situations never dreamed of by the guys who write the manuals. One only need to read Strobist for a while to understand that there’s a revolution underway in the world of small-flash. Canon dominated the DSLR market for so many years, I truly worry that they just don’t care about their Speedlites.

Speedlite Features That I Don’t Want To Lose

1. Keep the High-Speed Sync Button on the outside. I use high-speed sync frequently (which I wrote about here, here and here). Being able to jump in and out of HSS at the push of a button is very helpful.

2. Continue to have incremental control between full and half-power. Canon gives us 1/3-stop control all the way from full-power to 1/128. Nikon lacks this ability to fine tune until you’re under half-power.

3. Keep the wireless sensor on the front. It’s easy for me to figure out where the sensor is if it’s on the front. If it’s on the side (like a Nikon), then I have to remember which side.

4. Keep the new battery door. Heaven help us if the guy who designed the door on the 580EX gets his job back. I’m perfectly happy with the design of the door on the 580EXII.

5. Keep the lever-lock as it is on the 580EXII. Give me a round disk (as on the 580EX) and I’ll over-tighten it again and again. The lever-lock on the 580EXII was made for simpletons like me. It gets the job done and stops me from over-doing it.

Why I’m Sticking With Canon – For Now

Honest. I didn’t plan on this article growing to manifesto proportions. But it did. So, it’s fair to ask why I don’t just jump over to Nikon and get what I want right now. After all, most of the items listed above are already standard issue with Nikon Speedlights.

1. Nikon is no more perfect than Canon. It just happens that, when it comes to flash, Nikon has been the innovator. On the other hand, it’s only since the introduction of the D3 less than two years ago, that Nikon has had truly competitive DLSR technology. I’m quite happy that Nikon’s back in the pro-camera game again. Regardless of our brand-preference, all photographers benefit from vigorous competition among the manufacturers.

2. It’s not all about the flash. Bodies and flashes may come. Bodies and flashes may go. Good glass can hang around for a long time. I’ve a good selection of Canon lenses. I’m very happy with the quality. Every photograph I make requires a lens. Not every photograph I make requires a Speedlite. To jump over to Nikon for their Speedlight technology would mean a complete liquidation of my Canon lens inventory – at a hefty price to reacquire comparable Nikon glass.

3. Canon is likely to remain the leader in DSLR-based video. There’s no doubt that the convergence of still and motion is upon us. I’m convinced that still shooters will have to morph into the world of motion or watch their skills become technologically obsolete. Given that Canon has been in the business of making broadcast television equipment for some time, I’m willing to bet that it will remain on the leading edge of dual-purpose (still-motion) cameras.

Tell Canon What You Think – Add A Comment, Then Tweet!

Hobby... so, so funny

I can’t guarantee that Canon will even read what I’ve written. Eyes at Canon are watching the comments. Nevertheless, So, if you are a Canon shooter, I encourage you to lend your thoughts, wishes and gripes about the Speedlite system via the comment section below. Hopefully, if enough of us share our experiences, Canon will hear about this and take a look incorporate our ideas into a new generation of Speedlites (someday). [ NOTE: Keep your comments constructive. All blatant Canon and Nikon bashing will be discarded by the grumpy moderator.]

543 Responses to My Canon Speedlite Wishlist

  1. Gary says:

    –One small thing that I simply can't believe isn't there.. A BATTERY METER!! I have flashlights with battery meters on them how did that ever slip through!

    –Oh yeah and everything else Syl listed!!

    –I don't mind custom functions for the once-in-a-while stuff… but with LCD technology today can we have at least a BASIC name for the functions — "once-in-a-while" stuff means I dont remember what Cfn-01-3 is anymore– even a little hint as to what it is so I dont have to fish for my manual again.

    –While we are on the Snoot/Zooom topic why not lose the mm designation and move to degrees.. 10Degree, 45Degree etc…

    –Loser the pc connector – worst connection ever invented how this became a standard and passed engineering 101 scrutiny will always amaze me…(not blaming canon for that)

    –Oh yeah and everything else Syl listed!! (I'm vote loading now).. :)

  2. Ian Lozada says:

    another vote for the 1/8 jack and the battery meter, and of course, Syl's master plan is spot on.

    Also, I'd like a menu system that says what the custom functions are on the screen, so I don't have to google the manual on a job again.

    • Syl Arena says:

      Ian – You can read the custom functions for an EX II Speedlite on the back of a 40D or later camera (models introduced since late 2007). Given that the Speedlite LCD is monochrome, I'm happy to do this on my camera's color LCD.

  3. Draknet says:

    Voting with your money usually works best.

    Why not just _not_ buy Canon Speedlites until Canon gets their act together and offers something valuable (like 21st century flash)?

    There are other brands of flashes out there. The Nissin Di866 seems to be comparable to a 580 EX II for half the price.

  4. [...] So here’s the wishlist by Syl Arena. [...]

  5. Michael says:

    Lets put it this way. I have a Canon 7sz, G3, G10, XSi, several lenses, and 430 EXII. Suffice to say I am a long term Canon shooter. I am really sorry that I bought the 430 EXII. I should have gone with a less expensive flash like Nissin, Promaster, or Yongnuo. I am in the process of buying more flashes for off camera lighting.I won't be buying any more Canon speed lights. There is a good possibility I will switch to Nikon cameras because of their superior lighting system.

  6. Steve says:

    Wireless trigger
    Optical trigger
    sync port

    come on Canon, you can do it! Or at least I hope you can before I buy all Nikon stuff.

  7. BorisM says:

    I agree on every point of your list
    but the most crucial is radio ettl technology ala radiopper
    I think that will be a game changer.
    The second is the real group implementation( like Nikon)
    please canon if you are listening remember that the one that huts first, hits twice.
    Thanks for wrting this and your blog

  8. Stark-Arts says:

    For the past two years of so i’ve shot almost exclusively with my Canon Speedlites – and while they do give me some great shots the list that Syl has produced would greatly increase my ability to use them like the pro tools they aspire to be.

    1. More power – we are all shooting through softoxes, umbrellas, etc – more power is a plus
    2. the longer “snoot/zoom” agreed
    3. I have pocketwizard ettl so I don’t particularly care about the radio built in expecially if it’s going to raise the cost that much but i remember reading somewhere that radio is a no go in the products due to different rules world wide when it comes to rf. they would need to build continent/country specific flashes in other words…

    The list is so dead on that it’s hard to improve…

    how bout making the flashes use the current canon batteries such as teh LPE6 – more power and longer life than AA’s… also smaller than 4 AA’s meaning more room to put the rest of the features in….the cost of the batteries is 60 ish which would be about the same as i pay for rechargeable’s each year trying to find somethign that makes me happy….

  9. Ivan Boden says:

    Terrific article Syl!
    I hope Canon is reading this.

  10. Brian Carey says:

    So so much support for Canon!!! I’m a Canon user but I don’t use some of the features like groups (yeah I know Canon calls it ratios??) but I no doubt will in the future and I appreciate all this advice here, hope Canon does too!!??

  11. wow. you nailed it. I mean, you really nailed it. When my 580Ex popped for the last time last weekend I had to bite the bullet and buy a third 580EX II. I was hoping to hold out for the next iteration, and your wish list mirrors mine exactly, but with a bit more. I can almost see the logic of having a second line of speedlites for creative uses and leave the 580EX for the photojournalists. If they don’t want to make a 580 series with all of those things, make a 600 series with all of the bells and whistles listed above. I, for one, would pay more for something I can actually use.

  12. Canon – Please hear our plea. After just reading McNally’s “The Hot Show Diaries”, I realized how inadequate my Canon strobes are. This blog post only reaffirmed my thinking. I agree with the likes and dislikes. Thanks. I’ll be back.

  13. Daithí says:

    Excellent article!

    The only changes I really really want from my Canon Speedlites are:

    1) Include a dome diffuser WITH gels
    2) Build radiopopper/pocketwizard technology into the speedlites and cameras

  14. Syl, couldn’t agree with you more! My first Canon was an AE1-program in 1984 (I no longer have it but do still have a T90 from 1989!).

    I find myself agreeing with everything you say about the Canon Speedlites. I currently have one 580EX and three 580EXII plus the ST-E2.

    As a follower of McNally, and about to spend two days with him in Houston, I find myself rather envious of the Nikon system but my investment in Canon glass is just too much for me to think about trading out. I do fervently hope that Canon will deliver some Speedlite innovation soon and what you ask for in this post would be simply awesome!

    Come on Canon – reach for the lead once more!

  15. Paul Cory says:

    Everything Syl said plus:

    1) Dear gods, give us rear curtain sync in the Wireless modes.

    2) I’d be happy if Canon, as a bridge measure, gave us a radio based wireless commander that can do everything requested (command 4-5 groups, rcs, and so on), and receiver units that attached to the hotshoe of all EX-series flashes, so that we get to working with enhanced joy sooner. Just make sure the system is reasonably priced. I don’t expect to eBay trigger prices, but I’d like to be able to make use of my 3 550exs for under $500.

  16. I wish I had see this blog before I went to Joe’s seminar. Ha! Great seminar, but definitely Nikon oriented. And yes, I learned that my 580 ex and 580 ex 11 suck, just like I had thought they did before I went. Though the workshop definitely gave me some fresh ideas on how to use small flashes, using these “new” modern Canon flashes is still like digging into the dusty dark ages compared to the Nikon flashes. I hope your words are heard over at Canon, otherwise, I’d say there’s going to be plenty of converts….

    Thanks for this blog and sharing your info.

    Thaddeus

    • Syl Arena says:

      T – Just curious, what about the 580EX & EX II dissatisfies you the most? What about the Nikon CLS impresses you the most?

  17. Bill Wisser says:

    Great points, all. Thanks for this thread!

    As a Pocket Wizard user, I’d love it if Canon would simply license and build in the PW technology, as some studio flash manufacturers have done.

    Why reinvent the wheel? Disadvantage would be the cost and not everyone needs all the PW capabilities, and can get by with simpler triggers. Nonetheless, on a top-of-the-line unit, built-in PW would be awesome

    Leaving that aside, easy improvements would be: an optical slave that ignores the prefash; a 1/8″ miniplug input (no sync cords, please); and a built-in gel holder.
    These are must-haves.

    Increasing the power by a full stop while still keeping the unit about the same size would be great, if it’s possible.

    Ditching the AA batteries and using the same kind of battery as the camera is an excellent idea, but does a camera type battery put out the right amperage or wattage, or whatever the correct term is, to charge a powerful speedlight quickly?

    I use Quantum 2×2 Turbos on two of my five flashes, but they are expensive. Their weight is actually good, though, for helping stabilize lightstands, though I also use inexpensive, velcro-closing, ankle weights for that — kind of like mini-sandbags.

    In any case, the high voltage port should be retained on the 580′s replacement and also should be included on the smaller 430′s replacement.

    I heartily agree that the master-slave terminology ought to be abandoned in favor of commander, remote, and groups.

    And most importantly, the entire user interface needs to be made much clearer, faster and more intuitive!

  18. Daniel Yap says:

    I agree with all the wishlist mentioned here. I almost move to the other brand after realizing how difficult to control Canon Speedlite. It’s very frustrating to get into the menu and using the ratio selection.

  19. Jonathan Thompson says:

    Oh thank goodness, I thought I was alone, far from it apparently. Syl, I was at the Calumet seminar in Manchester, UK, the one you couldn’t make it to, although Rick did a great job. Hope you’re doing well. Anyway, I’m just starting out in the pro world and I’m very new to flash and speedlites and the Canon system gives me a headache, I’ve got my 1dsmkiii and I’m holding off on my long shopping list of fast glass to see what Canon does with it’s lighting system. If it’s more of the same, I’m off to Nikon. I can’t afford to wait around for them to come out of the dark ages. I’m with you on all points, I would add I like the recycle beep on the Nikon flash but for those who don’t, make it an option. Some of us want to concentrate on the creativity not the technical. I have £20,000 to spend on the right new gear, I love the idea of small flash, I can dream up endless shoots that I want to put together and I’d have 8 or 10 of them and go nuts. Make it easy to use and intuitive.
    I too have been with Joe McNally on his seminars and I’ve read his books and watched numerous online seminars, I know the Nikon system from that alone, I could buy Nikon tomorrow and have a really good idea of how it works because it makes sense, not so with Canon. I’ve always shot Canon but for the pro world I’m investing in new, really good glass and a whole bunch of toys but if Canon doesn’t listen then they don’t deserve to be the best, I’ll be off to Nikon. It seems that a lot of Canon shooters won’t switch to Nikon because of their investment in Canon and I don’t blame them, but they deserve to have fun too not to mention with McNally’s profile the next generation will be going to the dark side because it makes sense. Come on Canon, step up to the plate and quick, for many, the train’s about to leave the station and you don’t have your ticket yet…..

  20. Phil Tuften says:

    Thanks, this is what I have wanted to say to Canon for a long time. I am a happy canon shooter. But having used Nikon flash in the past and I long for it. Be great if canon realised that more and more people actually want to do off camera stuff with their flashes and had features like you put forward above to make that happen easily. I use Canon because, to me it is the best system, only let down by their falashes. Canon please take note of the above.

  21. Thomas says:

    Great List! Thanks for that. It pretty much sums it up.

    Also please keep the size the way it is, i read that SB900s seem to be too large on the foot for some light shaping tools to fit properly.

    The plug on the side for the external battery pack is a bit flimsy, if you push in the connector from the pack a little too hard it will just break out the port. Maybe make that a little more sturdy (read: metal).

    Also it would be great to just dial in the power directly from a central unit, not ratio wise. And bi-directionality would be awsome too, so you could check (and change) any setting on the speedlite from a central commander.

    It would be great to have a way to illuminate “round” like a studio flash bulb, not only straight, which would make it great for softboxes etc. Maybe the front inch of the housing could be (re)movable to have the flash bulb show and illuminate in all directions.

    Something small: The ready-beep on the SBs is really nice, please include that too.

    While I think some kind of radio tech might be on the way (I read something about Wifi somewhere) I would certainly prefer pocketwizzard as the way to go, since they certainly are more widely used than radiopoppers.

    Maybe something Pocketwizard could do:
    Since the obviously use Nikon Flash Language and Canon Flash Language, a mode that would translate the two would be AWSOME, so you could use a SB900 in a Nikon FlexTT5 and a Canon FlexTT5 on your hotshoe, and it would just use it as a Canon Flashgun and translate the commands. Mix and match!

    I have several 580s (I and II) and I did pay 200€ for the ST-E2, so, yes, I am willing to invest a lot of money if the tools are right and make my life easier.

  22. [...] against Canon speedlites, but I first heard of Syl when he wrote his manifesto-like  ”My Canon Speedlite Wishlist“ which rings so true. Nikon just released its SB-700. If Canon is going to release a new flash, I [...]

  23. Ian Taylor says:

    I am in full support of Syl’s comments and realise why I do not use the Speedlites as much as I would like. I have learnt so much from visiting this web site. I do hope Canon take notice. I purchased the Canon flash bracket last year and what a waste of money that was. Please Canon, take on board the comments to make using the Spoeedlites both fun and intuitive. I bought an independent flash gun in 1980 and all the extra attachments mentioned above and more were available as a system then. Yet none of the useful simple attachments we all often need are not availble, many of my colleagues also cannot understand why not.

  24. Steve says:

    Having both Nikon and Canon systems no axe to grind but… I do love the BL (balanced light) but on my Nikon speedlights. Makes balancing ambient light so much easier especially when shooting indoors in large rooms.
    Still having trouble with canon speedlites and getting a decent non-flash look when using it on-camera.

  25. Nicke says:

    Fantastic.
    It´s like somone wrote my hotshoe manifesto!
    I agree in every single word including the reasons for not making the switch.

  26. Brian says:

    Well said Sly! As a new photographer in the “strobist” generation, I’m constantly realizing the limitations of my Canon flash system when compared to Nikon. I’ve been so close to converting to Nikon so many times simply because of the flash system.

    I firmly agree “the first company to add radio-transmitted TTL to their flash units will leave their competitor in the dust”… I’m looking to Radio Popper for this, especially to control my old 540ez flashes and studio strobes. I just want to wirelessly move up or down the power on my remote flashes from my camera.

  27. Adrian Hudson says:

    EXACTLY!!!! I agree with every comment 100% !!

    Penguins???!!! Sheesh!!!

  28. Carl R says:

    Don’t the engineers of each company obtain their competitors equipment and then tear it apart to see how each works? Obviously, the Canon flash engineers aren’t as creative as the camera engineers. I agree with your entire blog 100%. Now I know what the penguin is.

  29. Juergen Gulbins says:

    Syl mentioned almost all the points to be said on the Speedlites. My wish to Canon Wood be: do it as soon as possible!!!

  30. I’m glad Canon is reading this article/post and comments. Because I’m pretty sure Nikon is as well. They want to know what makes their products better and more competitive, and the longer Canon holds out on giving customers what they want – the longer Nikon can make money off such simple (yet essential) features in their flashes.

    For me, #7 is a biggie. I bought my second flash (now I have a 580ex and a 580exii) and I was surprised that it’s a pain in the butt to manually control a second flash with ettl. I had been shooting with my Nikon friends and their system is SOOO EASY that I fealt like an idiot trying to figure it out. But I’m glad to realize it’s not just me. I want to manually control the E+/- wirelessly and independently of each other flash.

    And unfortunately I cannot switch to Nikon because I’ve invested in camera bodies and lenses… So hurry up Canon!

    (I don’t need the filter holder’s though… and the diffuser is nice but I already have/buy the Stofen’s so it’s not a deal breaker.)

  31. Caleb Raney says:

    Dear Canon,

    Give me E-TTL via radio signal and Rear Curtain sync when working wirelessly and I will spend a(nother) boatload of money.

    Your friend,
    Caleb.

  32. Bob.s says:

    Only rare glass converted, with pain, to EOS mount keeps me on Canon’s very dim wagon. Light up our lives (!) or do we have to convert other bulbs to EOS hot shoe?

  33. Rob Smith says:

    I AM A NIKON GUY. Thanks Canon for making the choice between Canon and Nikon easy for me back in 2008. I was having a hard time deciding on what system to get started with as I made the leap to a Dslr from my Panasonic brand bridge camera. I knew I wanted a Nikon or a Canon… I had friends in both camps. In the end the popularity of the Nikon CLS system won me over. With no prior investment in lenses or other system specific components… I was free to spend my money where I wanted. I dropped $2000.00 on my first Dslr purchase. My wife just surprised me with two new SB900s as well as gels, stands and some modifiers for Christmas.

    All of that cash could have gone to Canon… but with CLS to pull me away… I am a nikon guy for life.

    Congrats to you Syl. Your new book may be just was Canon needs to pull in some new blood and force Canon to wake up and improve their Speedlite system. I love good old fashioned competition. Canon forces Nikon to make improvements to glass, bodies and accessories. I would like to see Canon force Nikon to keep working on CLS and Speedlites.

    My fingers are crossed for positive things in the Canon future. Happy New year everyone.

  34. Ivan says:

    This excellent post came out almost a year-and-half ago.

    Still, no word from Canon on a new flash system.

    You would think there would be some urgency to develop a superior flash system. The longer it takes, the more Canon will lose new, lifelong customers.

    What is taking them so long?

  35. Art says:

    PERFECT description and article!

    I have now TWICE priced replacing my gear with Nikon because of all the issues you cite except one (I’m okay with the penguins.)

    The ONLY thing that got me to buy the 5DII was the video. If Nikon comes up to speed in that area, I’ll be selling a nice set of Canon glass and older bodies (20D through 5DII).

    Good design takes time – so figuring Canon woke up sometime in 2009, by 2012 we should be seeing good strobes. Or it’s time to give up and change lines.

    One other thought: Perhaps the winner will be the firm that updates their lens designs to take advantage of 40 megapixel and larger sensors. Because that’s where we’re going to be in a couple years, and then EVERYONE is buying new glass, just as (almost) everyone eventually bought new glass for autofocus. And then? Then you pick the line that gives the most benefits and value overall.

  36. jkob says:

    I totally agree! Im very close to switch from Canon to Nikon only because of Canon's poor flashsystem. Im pretty sure things will change, hopefully.

    Gr8 Article, nice blog!