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Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL

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Reviews Views Date of last review
34 145507 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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Joe A.
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Registered: Jun 26, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 120
Review Date: Oct 15, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $330.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Works well
Cons:
Plastic foot is weak.

The only problem I've had with this flash is that the plastic foot broke. Canon dealers can order the part for you. The part is cheap and I replaced it myself.

If I use bad technique I get a bad "flash-like" image, if I use good technique in either a fill flash or primary light source situation the flash delivers good results.

It's powerful too and I do use the "catch-light" tab for events.



Oct 15, 2010
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Matt Kerby
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Registered: Jun 9, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 511
Review Date: Apr 28, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Powerful, inexpensive, lots of features
Cons:
None so far

I use it as a slave and when shooting with 2 bodies at events...So far it's been very consistant, actually have no issues with it not being ETTL II....If you get a good price and need a slave, a second flash or you just want a good reliable flash that's not $400...This is the one.

Apr 28, 2010
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Phil UKNet
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Registered: Oct 20, 2007
Location: Thailand
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 28, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Flexible, powerful, portable, reliable. Can be used alone, or as a Master or Slave in a wireless system. If you can pick up a good used 550EX for a low price it should prove to be something of a bargain.
Cons:
Doesn't have the features of the 580EX II but this fact won't necessarily affect your photos.

The 550EX (now discontinued) was Canon's top-of-the-range flash unit before the 580EX and 580EX II. You are unlikely to be able to buy a new one now, but picking one up second-hand will probably be a lot cheaper than a new 580EX II.

Is it worth it, or should you just buy a 580EX II?

The 580EX II is smaller, lighter, more powerful, has more features, adjusts to the sensor size in your digital camera, and looks better. It also features E-TTL II compared to E-TTL in the 550EX.

This all sounds good, but in reality nothing about the 580EX II guarantees you better photos compared to using a 550EX.

As I read on one review, understanding the way your camera and flash system works will make far more difference to your photos than whether you use a 580EX II or 550EX.

The 550EX is very flexible and can be used as part of a wireless Speedlite system - either as a 'Master' or 'Slave'.

If money is no object, just get the latest and greatest model. However, if you are on a budget and can get hold of a used 550EX in good condition I don't think you will be disappointed.

For more thoughts and some sample photos, see:

http://phil.uk.net/photography/canon_550EX_speedlite_flash.html


Feb 28, 2010
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Catchlight
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Registered: May 24, 2003
Location: Canada
Posts: 513
Review Date: Dec 25, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Reliable, well-featured, and versatile.
Cons:
Battery life is better on the newer 580EX, but I just carry spares.

I bought two 550s off sellers on this board about 7 years ago, and after hundreds of shoots and tens of thousands of activations both are trouble-free and still going strong. I've thought of replacing them, but if it ain't broke . . . .

Dec 25, 2009
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michi098
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Registered: Jan 20, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 6
Review Date: Mar 23, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Lovely lighting. Great value.
Cons:
Not built as sturdy as the newer 5 series.

I bought this flash used for $110 on Craigslist. Awesome investment. I also have a 420EX and 580EXII flash. I use this as my strong beater flash to carry everywhere with me, and as a slave with the others.
When not using any diffusors or reflectors, I actually like the direct lighting of this flash when doing portraits better than the 580EXII and 420EX.

If you can find this used somewhere, I would highly recommend getting one!


Mar 23, 2009
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wrwhite76
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Registered: May 29, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 51
Review Date: Oct 17, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: The second most powerful flash Canon has in the EX range. Now relatively cheaper than 580EX. I bought this a few days ago and its working great expecially what I paid for it.
Cons:
sucks more power than the 580EX



Oct 17, 2008
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JanPhoto
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Registered: Feb 27, 2006
Location: Ethiopia
Posts: 32
Review Date: Nov 30, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Reliable, Light weight, Sophisticated.
Cons:
nada, zero, zip ....

I Have two of these units and I use them believe me or not, in Chimera Light Boxes on location shutting for fill light. When I did set up this lighting addition I took it with me with out (!!!) testing which may sound crazy on my shutting assignment to Europe. basically I do trust that much to Canon. Anyhow. It come as pleasant surprise, that it was working on remote set up as charm .... Since that I have purchased other two of these but latest additions for same purpose.

Nov 30, 2007
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Sender Mender
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Registered: Oct 23, 2007
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 16, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: POWER! Battery life with NiMH rechargeable batteries. Cheaper than 580 with enough output
Cons:
High tone (not really bad) Insonsistent TTL measuring with optical triggered slave.

Using this flash is great. You have enough power to bounce off walls or the ceiling.

Works as a charm with my 17-40L and 300d. I found that the 18-55 kit lens does not deliver great results with this flash.

I love it!


Nov 16, 2007
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Kristian ra
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Registered: Feb 1, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 53
Review Date: Aug 26, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Full manual control, master capability, powerful, cheap
Cons:
Battery consumption, itīs bulky, E-TTL not the best

In the good old days, I used a 540EZ when I still used film. Then I switched to digital and used the 420EX for a while. Thatīs an ok flash, but has no manual settings.

Then I found this 550EX, second hand, for 150 dollars, really a no-brainer, and Iīm very happy with this flash: I get the exposures as I wantīt them every time, and for the price for which you can pick up one of these, itīs great. Having said that, I ALWAYS use the flash in manual mode, Iīve tried the E-TTL, and thatīs not always spot on. In addition, itīs greedy on the batteries.

Again, considering the price, itīs a great unit.


Aug 26, 2007
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john Paul
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Registered: Jul 22, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 150
Review Date: Nov 21, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: Built very solidly, Fairly powerful, 1/2 stop increments to 1/128th power.. the back light was helpful in the dark..If you wanted to completely drain your batteries, you could leave the power switch in the middle "on" position overnight..
Cons:
Small tricky to use buttons, in the dark, the backlight doesn't illuminate the buttons at all.. accuracy..? well,...ETTL was a joke..



In Manual mode, it worked pretty well.....of course,...

In ETTL mode,.....what a disaster!

I could be photographing a subject wearing a black suit, over a black shirt, with a black tie,..and standing against a black drape background, and the only thing white would be his paper name tag, and in ETTL mode, I'd shoot for normal exposure, and it would underexpose by as much as 2 stops!!

There were times where I nearly wanted to pull the thing off, and spike the thing on the ground as hard as I could!! I can't always shoot in manual mode...action happens too fast for me to fiddle around with those dinky little buttons in time to capture something in motion....like a bride & groom walking away from the alter together.. I may try to compensate for it's predicted underexposure,..and I learned how to work with it over the years from making many many poor exposures with it.. Even when it "should" underexpose,...at times, it would over expose when I would be shooting a white wedding cake, on a white table cloth, against a white wall!! It's a good thing I shoot digital these days, because I can make adjustments right on the spot to compensate for it's awful performance.. & shoot in manual mode..

The wireless feature is at best, hit or miss. I ended up never using it after testing it out a few times, but my friends who are also pros, use the 550EX's in wireless setups and they all complain about just how unreliable they are..

I now own the 580's,...they are noticeably more consistent,..but not a whole lot better... However, because the 550's are so awful,...ANY improvement is worth it to me!!

Canon,...next time you want to test a flash unit out, give it to me! Let me have at it; not one of your fanboys!!

JP


Nov 21, 2006
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svx94
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Registered: Mar 25, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 657
Review Date: Jul 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Almost as powerful and functional as the much more expensive 580EX.
Cons:
Don't like the seperate buttons for tilte and turn. Very hard to operate, especially turning. Big and heavy.

I am not a pro and only use this unit as hobby.

I bought it second hand, mainly to try out the wireless flash setup. It does exactly what I expected for, and does very well! Although I heard many complaints about Canon's flash exporsue, I personally never have any problem using the 550 and 420 on my 20D. I don't even use the FEC much. The result of the 550/420 pair is very satisfying:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=18969413

Compare with Nikon flashes, the used 550EX is still not cheap. The controls of this flash can be improved, and the 580EX does enhance it, but the price of 580EX is higher too.

I highly recommend the 550EX to non-Pros, who want to try out the multiple flash setting, and don't want to pay the extra for 580EX. Function wise, it is almost as good as the 580.


Jul 16, 2006
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RichieHatch
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Registered: Nov 24, 2004
Location: Ireland
Posts: 131
Review Date: Feb 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Many functions and lots of power... good build too...!
Cons:
Control can be finicky

Bought this second hand from a local pro who upgraded to the 580. I had been using a Sigma EF500 DG ST which was good but extremely basic and had a very creaky build. This is much better... exposures are a a liitle better even in full auto mode and once you start messing with the manual settings it easy to nail a shot. Much better build than the Sigma except for that akward silly battery door hinge...! Great control and loads of functions... still learning...!

Richie


Feb 12, 2006
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chinks
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Registered: Jun 18, 2004
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 266
Review Date: Feb 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: The second most powerful flash Canon has in the EX range. Now relatively cheaper than 580EX.
Cons:
Big. Clunky. Controls cluttered. Sucks more juice than 580EX.



Feb 9, 2006
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incdigital
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Registered: Aug 2, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 226
Review Date: Dec 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $299.99 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: HS Sync, Stong, Full Manual, Good Balance on 1 series camera
Cons:
Battery Door Build, Price vs. 3ed Party

good for all users...can be set up for amateurs all the way to pro users. I own 3 550EX units and use them along w/ 3 gary fong lightshere IIs as my portable studio. I'll be buying a 4th very soon. Highly Recommend!

Dec 3, 2005
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DynaSport
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Registered: Aug 11, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1660
Review Date: Nov 10, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Strong flash, manual controls
Cons:
Price compared to third party units

I bought this flash used off of ebay and it was one of my best purchases ever. This flash is fantastic. When I bought it I did not know much about flash other than turning it on and letting it go. It works ok that way, but on my DRebel, it consistently underexposed the flash leaving the edges dark. I learned that you can change the flash exposure compensation on the 550EX, which you cannot do on the 420EX. By increasing the FEC 1/3 to 2/3 the pictures are in another league. Unfortunately, the DTebel does not allow you to set the FEC on camera, as some bodies do, so if I had purchased the 420EX I would have been stuck. Setting the FEC is also very easy on the 550EX. At the advice of some others on this forum I spent about 1/2 an hour with the flash manual and my camera and the 550EX and the results are that my flash photography is 100 times better. Making the settings is stupidly easy and just a small bit of experimentation with the immediate feedback that digital provides was a great teacher. The bottom line is that on the DRebel I could not have made these changes with the 420 as it does not provide the manual controls the 550 does. If you can find a 550 buy it. If you can't find a new one, look around for a used one. Mine has been completely trouble free. It is the second Canon flash I have bought used off of ebay and both units have performed flawlessly.

If your camera allows FEC to be set in camera, as many do, maybe the 420 would be fine. All I really know is that the manual controls of the 550 have become invaluable to me. Also, some complain about the size of the flash. I would never have thought to complain about that. It does not bother me at all. I also do not have an issue with the refresh time as long as my batteries are fresh. For me, I have been more satisfied with the 550 than with any of my other camera related purchases.

Dan


Nov 10, 2005
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abam
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Registered: Apr 25, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 4201
Review Date: Sep 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $294.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: strong for a flash. still a better value than a 580ex for non-pros.
Cons:
all canon hotshoe flashes are exorbitantly priced for the performance rendered. you can buy alien bees and a softbox for the same price as a single speedlight.

if you're looking to use canon speedlights for a studio setup, this is a powerful unit, and a better value than the 580ex, if you don't need the faster recycle times (and most hobbyists and enthusiasts don't). the manual settings will prove very useful as your knowledge of flash and wireless setups grows.

as far as build quality goes; i accidentally kicked mine down a brick street during a photo marathon last weekend, and the unit sustained no damage outside of some small scratches. i still don't recommend trying this yourself, as these things are only plastic, mind you.

if you're looking for a 420ex or a 580ex, i would strongly suggest that you get a 550ex instead. the 420ex lacks manual controls and that additional kick of power, and the 580ex is just astronomically priced for the small perks it offers over the 550ex.

happy shooting...
abam


Sep 26, 2005
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Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
34 145507 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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