May 22, 2012

Canon Speedlite 580EX Reference Page

Canon Speedlite 580EX overview

This is a reference page for the Canon Speedlite 580EX which has been a valuable assistant in filling-in and background lighting my setups for quite many years now.

The flash was released in August 2004 replacing the 550EX in order to complement the top then EOS cameras, the EOS 1D MkII and EOS 20D covering fully the 45 AF points of the former and auto conversion of flash coverage between FF, HPS-C and APS-C sensors.

The Flash Specs

Manufacturer Specification
Compatible CamerasE-TTL operation with all EOS digital SLRs; PowerShot G2, G3, G5, G6, and Pro1; and the following EOS film cameras -- EOS-1v, EOS-3, Elan 7N series, Elan 7 series, Elan II series, Rebel T2, Ti, K2, GII, G.
TTL operation with all other 35mm EOS SLRs, and Canon T90
Guide Number190 (at ISO 100, feet) / 58 (meters); flash head at 105mm zoom setting
Flash CoverageFlash head zooms automatically to cover 24mm to 105mm lenses (with a full-frame 35mm camera);Automatic adjustment for lens conversion factor with EOS-1D Mark II and EOS 20D (camera requires firmware upgrade)Wide-angle pull-down panel allows coverage with lenses as wide as 14mm (on a full-frame camera) -- full coverage not possible on EF15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens.
Number of FlashesApprox. 100 to 700, with fresh AA-size alkaline batteries.
Recycling TimeApprox. 0.1 to 6 seconds, with fresh AA-size alkaline batteries
Flash Range(At ISO 100, with 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.4) -- Approx. 1.6 to 98 feet / 0.5 to 30m
AF Assist BeamBuilt-in; covers all focus points in EOS cameras with 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, or 45 AF points;Distance range -- 2 to 32.8 feet (0.6 to 10m) at center; 2 to 16.4 feet (0.6 to 5m) at periphery
Custom FunctionsFourteen speedlite Custom Functions built-in; set on speedlite's LCD panel
Power SourceFour AA-size batteries -- alkaline, lithium, or rechargeable Ni-MH usable
External Power SourceExternal power supply -- compatible with Canon battery pack CP-E3, CP-E2, and Transistor Pack E
Dimensions3.0 x 5.3 x 4.5inches /76 x 134 x 114mm
Weight13.2 oz / 375g, without batteries (4 AA alkaline batteries add 3.5 oz. / 100g)

  • Approx. 25% faster recycling time compared to previous 550EX.
  • Superior evenness of exposure, center to corner of frame.
  • Slightly higher maximum guide number at 105mm setting (GN 190, feet).
  • Auto conversion of flash coverage FF, HPS-C, APS-C with compatible digital SLRs.
  • White Balance info communicated instantly to compatible digital SLRs.
  • First TTL flash with Full Swivel, 180° in either direction.
  • AF-assist beam compatible with all AF points on every EOS SLR.
  • New Select Dial for easy inputs and user control.

Canon Speedlite 580EX flash, stand and case

The Carrying case

The first Speedlite 580EX models came with a synthetic fabric case slightly padded with foam, with an internal small pocket for the flash stand.

Canon Speedlite 580EX standard nylon case

The Flash Mini Stand

Canon Speedlite 580EX standard foot stand

Canon Speedlite 580EX on mini stand

The Battery Compartment

Canon Speedlite 580EX battery compartment loading

The Flash Head

Is equipped with a rubber gip on both sides, where on one side exists the safety rubber knob which when only pushed allows the head either to tilt or swivel.

Canon Speedlite 580EX flash head - Left

Canon Speedlite 580EX flash head - Right
Canon Speedlite 580EX flash head release button

Canon Speedlite 580EX flash head vertical tilt options

Canon Speedlite 580EX flash head horizontal positioning

Canon Speedlite 580EX flash head facing back tilted upwards

The Flash Mounting Foot

Is of the old type of hard plastic with a 5 connectors for full E-TTL function plus a small pin that extends when the flash is locked on the camera hot shoe.

Canon Speedlite 580EX mounting foot

Classic tightening of the flash on the camera hot shoe via a wide thumb wheel.

Canon Speedlite 580EX mounted on camera hot shoe

External Connectors

The 580EX has two connectors hidden under a rubber cover on the left side. One port with 3 pins for an external battery pack plus a connector for flash PC sync cable.

Canon Speedlite 580EX battery connector and mounting socket

Caution is needed when the rubber cover is removed, since there is no string attached or other method to prevent it from been misplaced and lost.

Canon Speedlite 580EX battery connector and mounting socket closeup

Example with YongNuo SF-18 External Battery Pack shows external battery pack connection.

Canon Speedlite 580EX with external battery pack
After removing the external connectors rubber cover an external battery pack like the Canon CP-E4 or the YongNuo SF-18 Compact Battery Pack can be plugged in the side port.
Canon Speedlite 580EX with external battery pack closeup
Although the battery pack is equipped with a rubber gasket the Speedlite 580EX does not promise any weather sealing though.

Flash Controls

Canon Speedlite 580EX rear view

Canon Speedlite 580EX LC Display and controls

Flash Control via Camera Menus

Canon Speedlite 580EX with camera flash menu

Canon Speedlite 580EX on camera flash menu options

Canon Speedlite 580EX on camera flash C.Fn, Settings

Comparison With 580EX II and 530EX II

Canon Speedlite 580EX II - 580EX - 430EX II in row

Using the Flash
Mounted on a Camera

Canon Speedlite 580EX on Canon EOS 7D

Mounted on a Flash Bracket

Canon Speedlite 580EX II on SCV Transportable Macro Rig w/ Hejnar MS-3 macros stage - O-Shaped macro flash bracket & Sunwayfoto DRH-77 focusing handle
Canon Speedlite 580EX as part of an almost complete view of my Transportable super Macro Rig which is based on the Hejnar PHOTO MS-3 Macro Stage. The solution incorporates the Sunwayfoto DRH-77 Focusing Handle as a means of focus ring extension and my custom O-Shape Macro Flash Bracket.

Using Diffusers

Canon Speedlite 580EX built-in white catchlight  and wide panels

Canon Speedlite 580EX with white and color stofen type diffusers

Canon quality construction.
Convenient Canon infrared Master and Slave modes at the flip of a switch.
Very attractive second hand price.

Plastic hot shoe.
Not compatible with the latest on camera Flash Control menus.

For sure the age of Speedlite 580EX is starting to show compared to contemporary Canon speedlite models, but still, if you find it used in good condition, it can be a far better choice against cheap imitations. First newcomers to flash photography can have a very strong and versatile on camera flash with E-TTL-II and High Speed Sync support and second for avid strobists experimenting with multiple off camera and bounced flash units while 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:
In the US the flash is still available used starting from US$ 80.00; in the UK it may be found starting from GBP 119.00 for a used copy, while in Germany prices start from EUR 195.00.
All from Amazon.
Nevertheless the flash can also be found used in good condition and at fairly low prices from eBay.

Referenced Articles:

Create an Economy Telephoto Flash Bracket

Desmond DAFB-01 Arca Compatible Flash Bracket Review

Create a Versatile O-Shape Macro Flash Bracket

Meike OC-E3 Off-Camera Shoe Cord for Canon

YongNuo SF-18 External Battery Pack for Canon Speedlites

Relevant Articles:

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 Reference

Canon Speedlite 420EX Reference

Canon Speedlite 430EX II Reference

Canon Speedlite 580EX II Reference

Relevant Readings:

Canon U.S.A. Speedlite 580EX Overview

Speedliter's Handbook at

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