Chapter 1. Exploring the 580EX II and 430EX II Speedlites

The 580EX II and 430EX II are the flagships of the Canon Speedlite System, and in conjunction with E-TTL II and some simple lighting modifiers, they can create some extraordinary light in challenging situations. A revolution of small-flash lighting techniques has captured photographers who were used to carrying around all sorts of heavy studio lighting gear, and who now have the ability to carry a small studio arsenal in one bag. Set aside for a moment what you've previously thought about flash photography because it's a whole new world out there.

This chapter gets you acquainted with the main features and functions of the two major flash units of the Canon Speedlite System: the 580EX II and the 430EX II. I also cover all the features and functions of the other parts of the Canon Speedlite System, including the ST-E2 wireless transmitter, along with an overview of a smaller entry-level Speedlite and the two macro Speedlite options.

Exploring the 580EX II and 430EX II Speedlites

Speedlites can be used to create studio-quality lighting, as in this portrait of high school lacrosse player Greg Stearns. Three Speedlites were used in this photo: one with a purple gel for the background, one undiffused for the edge light at camera-right, and one for the main, fired through a white translucent umbrella, at camera-left. Exposure: ISO 100, f/5, 1/200 second with an EF 70–200mm f/2.8L ...

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