|New system accessories developed concurrently with the EOS-1D Mark III|
|Speedlite 580EX II System|
|This month, we examine the Speedlite 580EX II flash system, which was developed with the EOS-1D Mark III, and explore some of its remarkable advances and innovations.|
|Photo 1: 580EX II with the EOS-1D Mark III
(mounted on the Speedlite SB-E2 bracket)
Based on the 580EX, the new Speedlite 580EX II was designed to be our flagship professional-grade flash system, featuring higher dependability, and weather-proofing on par with that of the EOS-1D Mark III system. Our objectives in developing this system are spelled out below.
• Improved reliability and functionality to meet the demands of pros
· Same standard of dust and water resistance as the EOS-1D Mark III body
· Even shorter recycling times
· No charging noise
· External flash exposure function
· Safer operation with external third-party power supplies
• New design and better operability
· New design to complement the EOS-1D Mark III
· New thumb-operated foot-locking mechanism
· Easier-opening battery compartment door
· Flash functions settable from the EOS-1D Mark III's menu
• Retains the superb basic functionality of the 580EX
Improved reliability and functionality that satisfy demanding professionals.
The 580EX II continues to implement all the basic functionality of the renowned 580EX (Table 1) including the maximum guide number of 58 (ISO 100, meters), the built-in diffuser panel that extends flash coverage to focal lengths as wide as 14mm, and the 24 - 105mm auto zoom. At the same time, a host of improvements have been engineered to meet the expectations and demands of profesional photographers.
(1) Same dust and water protection as the EOS-1D Mark III
The 580EX II has been furnished with the same grade of dust and water resistance as the EOS-1D Mark III body thanks to the following new additions.
|Figure 1: Weather sealing on the 580EX II body|
|Figure 2: Weather sealing around the camera contact|
(2) Better reliability from the direct contact connection
(3) 20% faster recycling
The 580EX II recycles about 20 percent faster than the 580EX (about 3.7 seconds versus about 4.6 seconds). Faster recycling times were achieved with a new microprocessor-frequency-controlled oscillator circuit.
(4) Recharging noise eliminated
We silenced the familiar but irritating charging whine of most flash units by raising the frequency of the oscillator circuit with a microprocessor frequency control above the human audible frequency range (to 70 kHz).
(5) External metering function
In response to the long-standing requests of some professional photographers, we added an external metering function as a custom flash function (C. Fn-05/Table 3). This orthodox metering works by having the 580EX II's external flash exposure sensor (which has a reception angle of about 20°) measure the amount of reflected flash illumination from the subject. Based on the ISO and aperture settings of the camera, the flash unit calculates the proper exposure and automatically turns off the flash when the real-time metering indicates the proper amount of light has been reached. When connected to an EOS-1D Mark III camera, the flash in this mode is automatically controlled based on the ISO speed and aperture number set on the camera (auto external metering/flash exposure compensation, FEB possible); but when connected to other EOS cameras, the ISO speed and aperture number must be manually set on the 580EX II (manual external metering/flash exposure compensation, FEB not possible).
(6) PC Sync connector
The sync connector added to the 580EX II addresses the vociferous cries from press photographers, in particular, who in a pinch - when the camera-flash communications aren't working or when the unit's foot is broken - want to be able to continue shooting in manual flash or in manual external metering by connecting the flash unit directly to the camera's sync output with a common (commercially available) sync cord.
(7) Safety mechanism prevents flash-head overheating
With the move to digital, there are many more opportunities to fire the flash repeatedly in a short time since the number of shots one can take is virtually unlimited, unlike in the old film days.
Repeatedly firing the flash, however, runs the risk of damaging the flash head and surrounding components because the flash head heats up quite quickly. For this reason, the instruction manual warns that the flash unit must rest for at least 10 minutes after firing 20 or more flashes in a row. Nevertheless, we have had reports that in practice photographers often use their flash units beyond these limits.
Thus, we were obliged to equip the 580EX II with a safety mechanism to prevent flash-head overheating. The mechanism engages when the benchmarks below are exceeded and, once in effect, forces the unit to wait eight to 20 seconds between flashes.
· 60 consecutive full flashes while running on the internal power supply
· 40 consecutive full flashes while running on the CP-E4 external battery pack
Once the safety mechanism is engaged, it remains in effect until the flash is not fired for about 15 minutes. The unit then returns to its normal flash ready state.
(8) Safety protector when using external third-party power supplies
To protect the safety of the user and the 580EX II, the external power supply plug is automatically disconnected and the pilot lamp flashes a warning when the terminal is connected to an external supply delivering over 360 V. This safety measure has been taken in response to over-voltage accidents that have happened primarily overseas. In the interest of safety and functionality, we recommend that only the Canon CP-E4 compact battery pack be used as the 580EX II's external power source.
New design and better operability
(1) Newly designed to complement the EOS-1D Mark III
The 580EX II has been totally redesigned to highlight its advances over the 580EX and to showcase its improved refinement, material selection, and reliability. To this end, we strived to optimize the shape and placement of control buttons and dials and to maximize the unit's visual integration when mounted on the renewed EOS-1D Mark III.
(2) Camera mount lever lock
We moved from our traditional round foot locking screw to a newly designed lever lock (Figure 3, top and center) that can be operated with just the thumb. The new mechanism achieves a great boost in operability since now mounting and dismounting is simple yet dependable. And there is no need to worry about unintentionally releasing the lever; it will not unlock until the lock release button (Figure 3, bottom) is operated.
|Figure 3: Mounting and dismounting the flash unit|
(3) Battery door opens and closes more easily
The new unit scores a major operability gain over the 580EX with a new metal hinge and a vertical access construction for the battery compartment door. For improved peace of mind, a sliding lock has been added to the battery door to prevent it from opening by accident.
(4) Set flash functions from the EOS-1D Mark III camera menu
When the 580EX II is mounted on a EOS-1D Mark III camera, the flash settings given below can be made from the camera menu on the camera's LCD panel. Start here
• Flash function settings
All the parameters shown in Table 2 can be set after selecting External Speedlite control → Flash function settings (Figures 4 and 5) under the EOS-1D Mark III's Setup Menu 2 tab.
These settings can also be made directly on the 580EX II, but they can be accessed much more quickly from the camera menu. Function settings made at both the camera and the flash unit are valid, and, except for flash exposure compensation,* the most recent setting takes precedence.
* The flash unit setting for flash exposure compensation takes precedence; if flash exposure compensation is set at the flash unit side, it cannot be set on the camera side.
• Flash C.Fn settings
All the custom functions shown in Table 3 can be set after selecting Flash C.Fn settings (Figure 6) from the EOS-1D Mark III's Setup Menu 2.
|Figure 6: Flash C.Fn settings menu|
• Clear all Speedlite C.Fn's
Selecting this menu option and choosing Clear will clear all custom function settings on the flash unit and return them to their default settings.
Redesigned system accessories offer protection from dust and water
We also upgraded the 580EX II system accessories to provide reliable and consistent weather resistance across the full flash system.
• CP-E4 compact battery pack
Based on the CP-E3 compact battery pack, this external power supply (Photo 2) comes with a sealed battery compartment door and a sealed external power supply plug to protect it against dust and water. The CP-E4 and the CP-E3 have the same basic power supply specifications.
|Photo 2: 580EX II and the EOS-1D Mark III operating off an external power supply|
• OC-E3 off-camera shoe cord
This is a weather-sealed off-camera shoe cord (Photo 3). The cord mounts to the camera with the same lever lock mechanism as on the 580EX II.
|Photo 3: OC-E3 off-camera shoe cord|
• Speedlite SB-E2 bracket
The metal fixtures on this bracket are the same as those on the previous SB-E1 bracket, but the SB-E2 provides weather proofing since the OC-E3 off-camera shoe cord is now included with the bracket.
Apart from dust and water protection, 580EX and 580EX II accessories are interchangeable and the 580EX II can be used without any difficulties on older EOS cameras.Figure 7 provides the names of all the 580EX II components, and Figure 8 shows a diagram of the full 580EX II system.
|Figure 7: 580EX II component names|
|Figure 8: Complete 580EX II system|