Combining the strengths of its predecessor 550EX while providing additional functions at higher speeds, the SPEEDLITE 580EX is Canon’s new flagship flash unit featuring a higher maximum guide number, shorter recycle time, autozoom control for image sensor size, and design improvements for easier handling by digital SLR users ranging from professional to advanced amateur.
With a maximum guide number of 58 (105mm, ISO 100 in meters), SPEEDLITE 580EX improves on the 550EX maximum of 55 to optimize flash output and power. The improved design of the flash head is another reason for increased flash output.
Reducing width by 4mm and weight by 30g, the SPEEDLITE 580EX matches sophistication with handling ease. The flash head’s built-in wide panel expands flash coverage to suit wide-angle shots of 14mm angle of view. A catchlight panel generates a weakened light toward the subject for lively portraits when extended and the wide panel retracted.
The newly adopted Select dial simplifies the main operation interface from holding down the + or – button to turning the dial. Among other advantages, the new layout adds a high-speed synch button, centers the SEL/SET button, and relocates wireless functions to the zoom button.
With eight AA batteries, the new external power pack Compact Battery Pack CP-E3 not only makes replacement easier but also increases the number of flashes by *20% while shortening recycle time by 25% (in comparison with CP-E2. Based on Canon's testing standards). A battery magazine is provided for easier and quicker battery change. The L-bracket Speedlite Bracket SB-E1 is designed for canceling unnatural shadows that can appear during vertical shots. It is particularly recommended for professional press photographers.
Thanks to modifications to the battery contacts and recharging circuit, the recycle time of the SPEEDLITE 580EX has been made 25% (with new LR6 batteries x 4. Based on Canon's testing standards) shorter than available with the 550EX.
When the SPEEDLITE 580EX receives image size data from a supported EOS digital camera (EOS 20D, EOS-1D Mark II (firmware update necessary) or later camera models), the flash head automatically zooms to match the effective angle of view. The resulting flash coverage is more accurate. When color temperature data is automatically transmitted from the SPEEDLITE 580EX to a camera (EOS 20D, EOS-1D Mark II (firmware update necessary) or later camera models), the camera sets the color balance for the optimal flash shot.
Flash exposure control system, wireless flash control with multiple Speedlites, and even distribution of light over the zoom range are retained. One new function is the expanded range of the AF-assist beam, compatible with all EOS AF cameras, including the EOS 20D. Left-right 180° bounce, one-touch bounce lock release, and improved controllability for greater exposure stability are among the upgraded functions.