Canon Speedlite Menu System Videos

Small Strobes

Canon has released two great new videos on the Canon Digital Learning Center from photographer Bruce Dorn. Each video demonstrates how to control your on-camera and off-camera Speedlites using the menu system found on the Canon 5D Mark II and 50D cameras.

Bruce Dorn Speedlite Videos, Part I: External Speedlite Controls

Bruce Dorn Speedlite Videos, Part II: External Speedlite Ratio Controls

I use Canon’s 580EX II strobes in most of my studio and on-location product shoots and really love how these units can be controlled almost completely from the menu system on the back of my 50D (and soon from my new 5DII).

However, every time I look at these two videos, one glaring problem keeps staring me right in the face. Watch how many menus Bruce has to navigate through time and again, just to change a setting on the remote strobes.

The problem is that Canon’s menu system has no way to remember where you were in the menu hierarchy once you click the shutter. You have to start over from the beginning and navigate through each layer of menus to get back to the setting you just changed, even if all you did was adjust the flash exposure compensation (a very common task).

In fact, watching Bruce go through this routine again and again is one of the best demonstrations I’ve ever seen of why manual flash control as taught by the Strobist community is a much more efficient and effective system for off camera lighting. Watching these two videos, I felt like I could have gotten up, walked over to the remote strobes and set them manually much faster than Bruce could work through the menus. I certainly hope someone at Canon (besides Fake Chuck Westfall) has seen these videos and realized how tedious this routine really is.