April 15, 2012

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 Reference

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 overview

Speedlite transmitter ST-E2 is an infra-red wireless flash controller originally dedicated to the Speedlite 550EX with master / slave functions as well as the smaller Speedlite 420EX slave only. Nevertheless, it can control all EX series speedlites hence forward up to the 580EX II.

Being small, lightweight and portable, the ST-E2 is a dedicated infra-red transmitter which can control up to two groups of remote wireless slave Speedlites relieving the photographer of the burden of an extra flash on the camera.
One could mention though, that a Speedlite with a master function can control up to three groups of remote slave Speedlites, but with a substantial difference in cost and weight if you don't really need the on camera flash beam.

Further, as the ST-E2 also functions as a focus assist lamp in low light, its 45 point area supersedes by far the weak AF assist yellowish light emitted by many EOS cameras or the annoying AF Assist sequence of pre-flashes inherent on other EOS models eqipped with an on-camera flash.

The Transmitter Specs

Manufacturer Specification
TypeE-TTL, TTL clip-on Speedlite transmitter with direct contacts.
Compatible CamerasAll Canon EOS cameras; PowerShot G series cameras
Type A EOS cameras (E- TTL, autoflash); Type B EOS cameras (Manual flash)
Sync SpeedHigh-Speed Sync (FP flash): Enabled with high-speed sync mode
Flash Exposure Confirmation1. Before flash fires during FE lock Adequate flash exposure indicated by the flash exposure level icon lit in the 2. After flash fires ST-E2's flash confirmation lamp lights in green for 3 sec.
AF Assist BeamCompatible with EOS-3's 45-point Area AF and 28mm and longer lens focal lengths
Effective Range: Approx. 0.6 to 10m/2.0 to 16.5 ft along the periphery (in total darkness).
Wireless Transmission SystemInfrared pulse
Transmition RangeIndoors: Approx. 12-15 m/39.4 - 49.2 ft; Outdoors: Approx. 8-10 m/ 26.2-32.8 ft
Flash Ratio ControlFor A:B ratio: 1:8 to 8:1, in half- step increments or 13 steps
Flash CoverageTransmission Coverage: +/-40 degrees horizontal and +/-30 degrees vertical
Slave Operation ConfirmationWith test transmission button. (Slave A fires followed by slave B at 1/64 output.)
Power Source2CR5 lithium battery x 1
Battery LifeApprox. 1,500 transmissions (At room temperature and with a new set of batteries)
Dimensions62 (W) x 51 (H) x 80 (D)mm/2.4 (W) x 3.1 (D) in
Weight100g/3.5 oz (exluding battery)

  • E-TTL II flash control
  • Ratio control over two groups of flashguns
  • High-Speed sync
  • Up to 10m range outdoors
  • AF Assist beam

The Carrying case

Original Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 came with genuine leather case.

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 with leather case

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 in leather case

The Battery Compartment

Can accommodate a Panasonic type 2CR5 6 Volt Lithium Battery that lasts for about 500 activations.

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 with Lithium battery
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 with Panasonic 2CR5 6V Lithium battery
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 battery compartment
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 battery compartment side view, showing grooves.

Using a Rechargeable Battery

If you shoot using the ST-E2 often then it's wise to purchase a couple of good quality rechargeable R2CR5 Lithium batteries with the appropriate charger. They last a little less but cost far less in the long run.

2CR5 6V rechargeable battery and AC charger

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 with rechargeable battery

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 with rechargeable battery installed

The Transmitter Head

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 front / side view

The Mounting Foot

Is of the old speedlite type made of hard plastic with 5 connectors for full E-TTL function plus a small safety pin.

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 bottom view unlocked

Which comes down to lock the transmitter on the camera hot shoe when the side switch goes into the lock position. Due to the very light weight there is not need for a full lock mechanism.

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 bottom view locked

Mounted on a Camera

ST-E2 is ideal for cameras without an integrated flash unit or older ones that the integrated flash does not have pre-flash signaling for master operation.

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 on camera

The Transmitter Controls

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 rear view OFF
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 rear view powered off
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 rear view ON
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 rear view powered on with Pilot and Channel selector LEDs on.
While the power switch is set to I or HOLD, the transmission turns off automatically after about 90 seconds of non-use. ST-E2 unit and Slave Unit SE Mode Cancellation is effected when the test transmission button on the ST-E2 or the FE lock button on the camera is pressed. This will turn on the slave unit.
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 rear view RATIO on
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 rear view with RATIO selector turned ON and 1:1 LED powered ON.
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 rear view High-speed on
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 rear view High-speed selector turned ON

Flash Control via Camera Menus

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 on camera with flash menu
When Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 is mounted on an EOS 550D ETTL compatible camera then the ETTL LED powers on. The on camera External Flash Functions Setting menu is activated.
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 on camera flash menu options
The on camera External Flash Functions Setting menu shows available options.
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 on camera C.Fn, Settings
The on camera External Flash C.Fn, Settings is validly not available as there are not such functions on the ST-E2.

Canon quality construction.
Adds Canon infrared Master mode to older EOS cameras as well as Pro EOS cameras without an on-camera flash.
Improves low light shooting with a 45 area AF Assist Beam.

Can control the Ratio between two remote flash Groups A:B only.
Requires optical contact with remote Speedlites.
Not fully compatible with the latest on camera Flash Control menus.

For sure the age of the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 has started to show compared to the plethora of functions featured on the contemporary Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3 RT model or the improved clones emerging from China at less than half the price. But still, as ST-E3 cannot control infra -red triggered EX Speedlites, if you find it used in good condition, it can be a far better choice against cheap imitations, especially if you are shooting in low light often and need it for its AF Assist Beam function.
In my opinion it is a far better solution to control even one off-camera flash, avoiding the restrictions implied by an OC-E3 Off-Camera Shoe Cord (Review).
Not to mention that for sometime it has been the only solution for avid strobists experimenting with multiple off camera and bounced EX Speedlite units, maintaining E-TTL capabilities.

I hope you found the reference useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2012-2014 S.C.Vlachos

Prices and Availability:
Despite its old age the ST-E2 is still available brand new for US$ 199.00 or as low as US$ 99.00 used; in the UK prices start from GBP 179.00 for a new or GBP 99-120 for a used copy, while in Germany prices start from EUR 235.00 new or EUR 120.00 used. All from Amazon.
Not to mention that it can still be found new and used in good condition from eBay.

If you are interested in the above product(s) or any other product please consider using the relevant link(s) to make your purchase and help support this site. Your support is needed and greatly appreciated.

Referenced Articles:
Create a Versatile O-Shape Macro Flash Bracket
Meike OC-E3 Off-Camera Shoe Cord for Canon

Relevant Articles:
Canon Speedlite 420EX Reference
Canon Speedlite 430EX II Reference
Canon Speedlite 580EX Reference
Canon Speedlite 580EX II Reference

Relevant Readings:
Canon U.S.A. Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 Overview
Canon Europe Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 Overview
Speedliter's Handbook at Amazon.com

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