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  Reviews by: geesbert  

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Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL

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
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