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Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL

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Reviews Views Date of last review
34 145948 Oct 15, 2010
Recommended By Average Price
94% of reviewers $329.83
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.45
8.11
8.4
CA550EXU_1_

Specifications:
High-output shoe-mount flash for EOS System (Maximum GN 55/180, ISO 100 m/ ft.).
Autozoom coverage from 24-105mm with 17mm wide panel built-in.
Compatible with all EOS cameras, but has special features when used with EOS-3.
Supports Wireless Flash with EOS-3 and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2.
Supports E-TTL, FEL and FP flash (High-Speed Sync) with selected EOS cameras. Other useful features include flash exposure compensation, flash exposure confirmation, flash exposure bracketing, second-curtain sync, variable-power manual flash, stroboscopic flash and more.


 


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mauriceramirez
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Registered: Jul 16, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2912
Review Date: Jun 17, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: it works, I guess. It's also a nice color, black. After a little getting used to, and downgrading of my expectations, it's a decent flash. Hey, it's better than the 420 at least.
Cons:
It's not very fast recycling-wise. Button layout is barely usable. Menu functionality seems very unintuitive. Screw-type hotshoe is old-school, delicate, and unreliable. It takes 2 buttons (2 hands), to reposition the head, so it's fairly slow there, too. No studio flash sync. I repeat, NO STUDIO FLASH SYNC. Hello, Canon? Do you think that all photographers care nothing about reliable on-location, off-camera, manual lighting? I come from Nikon, so I guess I'm spoiled a bit in this regard. Try an SB-80 sometime and you'll know what I mean.

Too much for too little. Canon flashes are the weakest link in their system. It's as if the engineers work down in the basement, never get out to test the competition, and are the guys who couldn't make the lens design team. Or even the 2nd rate camera body design team.

Pick up a 550 ex and think of one word: clunky. It will fit every aspect.

I have to have 4 units in my kit so I know how to use them, but still don't have to enjoy it, do I?


Jun 17, 2005
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DEvianT
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Registered: Jan 2, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2
Review Date: Feb 2, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Nice powerful flash Easy to use Usually accurate in it's exposure Good build quality
Cons:
Sometimes overexposes with digital Battery cover not the greatest Very big Recycle time could be better

Wouldn't really fault this flash it does exactly what is says on the box. Just wish it was slightly faster on the recycle times. (580EX is...)

Feb 2, 2005
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jcrawford
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Registered: Dec 15, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 167
Review Date: Jan 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $270.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Good power, works with the D20 in ettl-2 mode. I really like the remote features.
Cons:
still not intuitive to use, battery door is taped on my unit to prevent accidental removal of batteries.

This is one of the only flashes i could get to work with my D20 in TTL mode. it works pretty well although I do find my self using a manual setting now and then. this is a great flash for outdoor shooting because of all of the power.

Jan 19, 2005
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whiskey
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Registered: Aug 1, 2003
Location: Canada
Posts: 358
Review Date: Jan 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Many features and very powerful
Cons:
filmsy battary compartment

I'll admit, the first few months with the flash, I was confused, frustrated, and upset that I couldnt get more consistent exposures. But after sitting down, reading the manual, and experiment more, I learned how to use the flash, and now, I think its just great!

Even though I love this flash, if you are going to get a new flash, you might as well get the 580ex as it works with ett-l 2, if you are in the used market for a flash, and dont plan to upgrade for awhile, then this should be the flash you consider.

Take the time and learn the flash, and you will be grateful you have it.


Jan 18, 2005
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Koontsa
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Registered: Aug 24, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 142
Review Date: Jan 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $319.99 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Plenty of power, rotating/swiveling, LCD Brightness
Cons:
High pitched whine(no biggie), Small buttons for my fingers

Great flash. I just find that the buttons are really small for my hands and I find it difficult to press two at a time to get the Second curtain sync feature. Other than that this is a great flash.

Jan 1, 2005
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Vettesight
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Registered: Apr 8, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 93
Review Date: Oct 28, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $330.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Powerful, easy to set different EV values for fill flash
Cons:
Weak design of shoe, I had it break, but I did drop it.

After reading the manual I find this flash does all it is supposed to. I use it on ETTL mode and fid fill flas is a snap. However, studyig the user manual is mandatory. The flash fell off a table and the shoe broke. It was rather expensive to repair, but still worth it..

Oct 28, 2004
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rdonson
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Registered: Feb 22, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 1056
Review Date: Oct 14, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $329.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Powerful, versatile, lots of features, works very well with ST-E2 (indoors).
Cons:
IR trigger with ST-E2 is very problematic outdoors. No PC connector. To put it into high speed sync you have a simultaneously press to small buttons that are very close together. You'll need small fingers or a tool.

It's a workhorse but Canon didn't hit a home run with the ergonomics.

I've been using these for a few years and it's been very reliable except for IR outdoors with the ST-E2. IR seems like a dumb choice for outdoors.

There's no PC connector so you're on your own to figure out how to fire it with a PocketWizard.

I do like the the channels and A/B groups for setting up lighting ratios and such with the ST-E2. It very much works like a studio light in that regard.

If you're a sports photog pay attention to the duty cycle. I learned the hard way that you can blow one of these up.

With a Quantum pack or the Canon CP-E2 with 2200 maH NiMH batteries you can get some decent life and reasonable recycle times.


Oct 14, 2004
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go4it
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Registered: Sep 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 746
Review Date: Sep 4, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $349.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Excellent, high-powered EOS-dedicated E-TTL flash. Unit performs as good or better than advertized.
Cons:
Typical top-heavy, plastic shoe-mounted flash head. BE CAREFUL clunking it into anything!

Ditto MarioPro's comments: READ THE INSTRUCTIONS almost to memory! Triple-memorize them if using this flash in a combo flash set-up with the ST-E2 wireless transmitter! Like anything else ... know your equipment blindfolded. In the dark!

Sep 4, 2004
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TwoBoy
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Registered: Jan 10, 2004
Location: South Africa
Posts: 25
Review Date: Aug 22, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $380.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Powerful, easy to use, decently presented, understandable manual - needs a lot of reading.
Cons:
Some buttons too small for large hands and fingers. Price.

So far so good - I don't need a flash that often but I need one that works well when I do. So far, this unit meets more than my expectations in every respect. The features offered suit my uses and more so I am more than happy with it. I am using it most often with the 28~300L IS USM lens and the height of the flash is great for use with this lens throughout the zoom range. I have noticed negative comment regarding build, size and the battery door - to me the build is good, the size necessary for the lenses I use, and as regards the battery door, let's wait and see.

Being used with a 10D and a 20D when it arrives.


Aug 22, 2004
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vince
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Registered: Mar 18, 2002
Location: China
Posts: 306
Review Date: Feb 2, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Powerful, great for bounce flash.
Cons:
Size, no auto flash, no PC socket, all plastic.

I upgraded to the 550EX from my ancient 380EX when I bought the EOS-3. It has worked well for me since I bought it. I use NiMH rechargeables, and the flash charge time is very short. I've been using the 550EX now for the past several years and it has lived up to my expectations. Surprisingly, flash exposure with the Elan-7e is a bit better than the EOS-3 specially when there are hot spots in the frame, e.g., a light bulb.

Dislikes: It is big and fat. Just look at the Nikon SB-28 which is an excellent and compact unit. The two button tilt/swivel is cumbersome. There's no auto flash or PC socket. Bummer.

Still, I have no regrets - I only use this flash on my EOS system. My OM system has its own TTL flash and I don't miss the lack of auto-flash much. This is an excellent flash unit and delivers the goods time and again.


Feb 2, 2004
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russdawg
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Registered: Sep 18, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 23
Review Date: Jan 25, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $325.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: I wanted to use a 550, I wanted to keep it in the family... Metz 54MZ-3. Kiss
Cons:
None...Auto and fire away...

Thanks to everyone who said Metz

Jan 25, 2004
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Pavel
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Registered: Jun 10, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 4973
Review Date: Jan 2, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $399.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Features. Works.
Cons:
little buttons, mediocre construction of battery door, wish it was not as tall.

Overall I like the flash but I don't have a lot of with using flash in manual mode so I use it with e-ttl 85 percent of the time. I works quite well but I am not getting consistent results when I use it as fill flash by underexposing by 1.5 to 2.5 stops. Sometimes it is spot on, other times it can be underexposed or look like full power. I am still learning though so it may be that I am missing some key concept. I hate the tiny buttons. I love the power output. I am slightly dissapointed by the size and weight ( it does not ballance as well as I would like on my 10D) and while pretty good, I was hopping for an even better low light focus assist boost.

Jan 2, 2004
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Lars Johnsson
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Registered: Jun 29, 2003
Location: Thailand
Posts: 33650
Review Date: Dec 25, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Good power, Many features & options, AF assist
Cons:
Build quality, Expensive

Easy to learn and use. And it has a lot of power.

Dec 25, 2003
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geesbert
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Registered: Jul 24, 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 170
Review Date: Jul 30, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: very even results, good power management, tons of features, high output, wide zoom coverage, excellent 'eye-sparkler' feature, nice model light feature, superb with st-e2 in wireless mode
Cons:
stupid two-button tilt/swing concept, no auto mode, no sync plug, very noisy (also noisy zoom) not most intuitive to navigate, no optical slave, quite expensive, CHEAP CONSTRUCTION.

this is a brilliant flash, but probably only with the latest canon bodies. as there is neiter a auto-mode nor a synch-plug nor an optical slave. it takes quite a while to get used to it, as both the mechanical and the button controls are not really very logical. the first time i switched it on i was shocked how awful the sound was, but once the capacitor is charged it is quite alright, though the nose of the auto-zoom still annoyes me. straight on camera the exposure is very even and consistent, but off camera the flash really starts to shine. i just ordered my second unit and combined with a st-e2 i hope to be able to leave my big strobes at home more often.

altogether it is quite expensive, but i am very happy with it

follow up november 2003:

after using two of the flashes with ste2 a few more months i feel i need to add a few mostly negative comments:

- the battery compartment sucks. just too often does it slide open when you handle the flash, which means all settings are lost. and it makes a strange crunch when you open it. (on both my flashes!)

- the the swivel and tilt button layout just doesn't get easy to use. why not one button?

- the foot of the whole thing is just too cheaply made. as it doesn't have a pc-plug, i have to use a hotshoe adaptor to get it connected to a pc-cord. the contacts in the foot are too stiff and sharp, that makes sliding in quite a problem.

- in manual mode one has to press a button before being able to adjust the power. why that?

- ettl is just not foolproof. if you preflash or set the focuspoints manually without recomposing it's alright, but in any fast action the results can be quite off. why is there no traditional auto mode


for two flashes with transmitter i paid nearly as much as i could have paid for a small studio flash set-up. this is too expensive. the built quality is worth half of that. unfortunately the alternatives aren't too exciting. it's metz or sigma. both have their problems too, so i am going to stick with my 550's. i hoped they would replace my studio flashes more often, but they don't


Jul 30, 2003
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Brendan Getchel
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Registered: Jun 14, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1990
Review Date: Jul 15, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $330.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Powerful, ETTL works, AF assist is heaven-sent on dSLRs with weak low-light AF systems like my 10D.
Cons:
Feels cheaply made, boxy and kinda ugly, controls unintuitive, needs a strong understanding of ETTL integration with much user input to get acceptable results. Not for those who want good results with little work.

Alas, I would probably have a higher level of satisfaction if this were my first dSLR flash. Unfortunately, having switched from Nikon a few months ago and having used the SB-80DX I have to say that Canon is clearly outclassed in the flash department. While I switched for the lenses, the Canon flash system is a let-down. Results with my 10D/550EX require a LOT more understanding and "massaging" to get quality results than my old Nikon D100/SB-80DX combination. Forget about "auto" anything with this flash as it will produce that unmistakeable "flash look." You really need to educate yourself and THINK (deeply) before just slapping it on and firing away in complex lighting situations -- where the Nikon was as close to "Point and Shoot" as you could get with stunning, non-flash-looking results.

Also, construction on the 550EX is not so good as it feels cheaply made by comparison. Controls are poorly designed and not easily adjusted. It is boxy and looks like your average Vivitar flash. The plastic mounting foot and screw lock seem like a Stone Age hold-over.

But it works...

It's very powerful and, when properly used, can certainly give you excellent results, albeit not with rock-solid consistency. I'd like to see Canon make an outright COPY of Nikon's SB-80DX, which, IMHO, is the best flash ever made -- bar none. As the saying goes, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Now that Nikon is implementing AF-S and VR, why can't Canon return the favor and capitalize on one of Nikon's strong points?

If you're a Canon shooter, there is likely no alternative to the 550EX, so in that vein I recommend it.


Jul 15, 2003
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oldsouth
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Registered: Jan 5, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 174
Review Date: Apr 3, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Excellent
Cons:

Excellent flash. Has not let me down yet. I bought the 550 to replace a Sunpac and there is no comparison.

Apr 3, 2003
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Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
34 145948 Oct 15, 2010
Recommended By Average Price
94% of reviewers $329.83
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.45
8.11
8.4
CA550EXU_1_


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