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Video Training Review: Canon Speedlite 580 EX II/ 430 EX II Crash Course with Michael Andrew

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The Canon Speedlite system is one of the most powerful flash systems on the market. With the 580 EX II model being the most powerful and the 430 EX II one of the most popular, these two share a common trait. With power comes complexity. Most people can use one to a limited degree, but to make the most of what it has to offer can take a long time — perhaps years — to learn.

In Canon Speedlite 580 EX II/ 430 EX II Crash Course, Michael Andrew will reduce that time drastically and have you doing more with your Speedlite than you ever thought possible. And as an added bonus, you will also receive a solid foundation in lighting in general. Even I was surprised with how much is packed on to this DVD.

Canon Speedlite 580 EX II/ 430 EX II Crash CourseCanon Speedlite 580 EX II/ 430 EX II Crash Course is around three and a half hours long and is contained on one disc. There are three main sections and a bonus section. I will break this DVD down by section.

Basic Lighting begins with foundation work on lighting. The idea here is that most training on the use of a Speedlite or other similar flash system usually starts you off with learning how to use the flash. The question becomes, how can you use a flash if you don't understand the fundamentals of lighting?

In this set of lessons, you will learn how to control exposure, what the two types of light are, and what it takes to improve the quality of your images through lighting. You will then learn about some natural lighting tips, creating long exposures with the use of a tripod, working with artificial light, and changing your flash power.

You will then examine working with fill flash, bounce flash, and see how f-stops affect your exposure. You will experiment with the inverse law of light, flash exposure bracketing, four-way lighting, and take a look behind the scenes of the four way light setup. You will finish up this lighting section with learning about the Speedlite modes, the types of metering systems it has, and you will see exactly how your camera's shuttering system works and how the first and second curtains in your camera affect your exposure and lighting.

580 Speedlite now gets you started in earnest with your flash. Although you have been learning certain things about your flash in the lighting course, you now focus on the flash itself. You begin with a review of what the symbols and icons on the LCD of your flash mean. You will then see what the differences are between the 580 and 430 flashes, and then move on to what the buttons do.

Next you will look at accessories that you can get for your speed light as well as how to make your own diffuser. Next you will learn how to set High Speed Sync for faster shutter speeds as well as setting your second curtain sync.

The rest of this section covers a wide range of topics like manual flash, flare effect, stroboscopic settings (580 only), custom function for each model of flash, ISO Exposure compensation, off camera flash, wireless (basic and advanced) setups, and ST-E2 setups.

Exercises are important because if you are to become proficient with your Speedlite. You must practice in such a way that you can truly understand what is going on when you make an adjustment. This section begins with a quiz over what you have learned during the course.

You will then have exercises to work on with super soft fill light, slow sync, changing variables with your flash, sunlight shooting, and sunset shooting. These exercises give you a series of steps to follow and then change some variables. In the video Michael Andrew then starts changing things and shows you the result. The idea is that you are to try some of these same experiments so that when you are in a live situation, under the gun, you will have a knowledge base to work from.

Bonus begins with a lesson in macro photography in which the instructor examines the problems and solutions when working with shooting up close. Then he looks at the use of flash with macro photography. This is what he calls "Pop-A-Flash Macro." This is a technique that he discovered just a couple of weeks before the filming of this DVD. The rest of the bonus features are some previews of his Paintballer Pro set of actions, Photoshop DVD, and Canon 50 D DVD.

I was really amazed with the content, the quality, and the quantity of information contained in Canon Speedlite 580 EX II/ 430 EX II Crash Course. One of the statements that Michal Andrew makes early on in this video is that he believes that 90% of Speedlite owners understand around 10% of what this flash system can do. The second thing he says is that it took him around three years to really understand all that it could do.

I can’t disagree with his first statement and I find from personal experience that I wholeheartedly agree with the second. Without some mentoring, it's difficult to get the full use of these very complex flash units. With Canon Speedlite 580 EX II/ 430 EX II Crash Course I believe that with a little effort on your part that you could pare down that three years to three to six months.

Canon Speedlite 580 EX II/ 430 EX II Crash Course is currently going for $39.97. This is until the first 580 are sold then the price jumps to $49.97. You can purchase the DVD from the Michael Andrew's store. Below are some samples of what comes on the video. You can also check in more detail the complete set of lessons on the DVD.

What I really found was how engaging and entertaining this video was. Keep in mind that you are getting a lot of detail here and you will most likely need to watch portions of these lessons a number of times as well as work the exercises to get the most benefit from this course.

Because of the way the video is produced, it will work on a computer as well as on a standard DVD player. If I had any criticisms about the Canon Speedlite 580 EX II/ 430 EX II Crash Course it would be that there are a couple of segments where the wind blowing is a distraction as it can be heard interfering with the microphone that being used.

If you want to learn how to use your Canon Speedlite 580 EX II or 430 EX II then you owe it to yourself to check out this DVD. You have probably spent somewhere around $250 to $500 for your Speedlite, spending less than $50 to learn how to use it to me is a no-brainer. I very highly recommend Canon Speedlite 580 EX II/ 430 EX II Crash Course.

Sample Videos

Fill Light with Back Light

Slow Shutter Speeds Using a Tripod

TTL vs ETTL

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • JSonMaui

    All of Michael’s photography DVDs are amazing.

    This was a great review.

  • Prodigitous

    This is the second (and by far the best) dvd I have bought to learn how to take full advantage of my 580 EXII. Some of the audio in the outdoor scenes has some distracting wind noise, but that is a minor complaint. As far as this one goes, it is the total package. I have everything I need now to advance my photography skills to the next level using the flash. Michael is an excellent mentor, and I love his laid back style. Watching his DVDs is like hanging hanging out with a good friend and talking about camera stuff.

  • Dan R

    Great review- I have to chime in here because Ive been following Michael for some time now- and have 3 of his DVDs, including this one (I pre-ordered)- Also have the 50D and Photoshop Crash Course. Every time I watch one, I feel like I owe him more money- great instruction and worth every penny. Makes shooting so much more enjoyable. I will buy ANY instructional DVD he makes, he is THAT good. Its nice to see him getting some recognition for his hard work.