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Products >> All Products

Speedlite EL-5: 6+ Things to Know About Canon’s New Professional Flash

2022-11-02
6
480

On 2 November 2022, Canon announced the Speedlite EL-5. The new professional clip-on flash provides power and performance similar to the flagship Speedlite EL-1, and inherits a selection of the latter’s most frequently used features. The result is high-end performance in a smaller, lighter, and more affordable package.

In this article:

1. Flagship performance in a smaller, lighter, more affordable body

1. It provides near-flagship performance in a smaller, lighter, more affordable body

EOS R series cameras from the EOS R3 onwards are equipped with a new Multi-Function Shoe, which has a digital terminal capable of high-speed communications, allowing advanced communication and control between the camera and attached accessories. The Speedlite EL-5 is Canon’s first Speedlite designed take advantage of this.

Like the flagship Speedlite EL-1, the Speedlite EL-5 has a high-capacity lithium-ion battery, and boasts powerful output, fast recharging, and high continuous flash capabilities. All these are provided in a smaller, lighter body, made possible by streamlining to remove older features like optical transmission for wireless flash,retaining only widely used features and those poised to become mainstream in the future, such as radio transmission. With this, the Speedlite EL-5 achieves performance above that of the Speedlite 600EX II-RT, the most advanced model in the Speedlite EX series, but at a price point below the latter.

*1 At ISO 100, with a 200 mm illumination coverage angle.
*2 Based on Canon’s measurement standards, when using a new, fully charged LP-EL battery.
*3 35mm illumination coverage angle. Number of consecutive full flashes up to level 2 flash intensity, when using a new, fully charged LP-EL battery. Based on Canon’s testing standards. using manual flash
*4 When using a brand new, fully charged LP-EL battery. Based on Canon’s testing standards.

2. Approx. 1.2 seconds recycling time at full output; 1/1024 microflash

2. It’s fast and gives excellent output control

At full output, the Speedlite EL-5 has a guide number of 60, the same as the Speedlite EL-1 and Speedlite 600EX II-RT. However, its micro flash and continuous flash capabilities are slightly different.


The same high-speed charging circuits as the Speedlite EL-1

As the Speedlite EL-5 adopts high-speed charging circuitry equivalent to the Speedlite EL-1, it also achieves quick, effective flash recycling. The recycling time is approximately 1.2 seconds at full output, and 0.1 seconds during 1/1024 microflash. At full output, this allows the user to fire up to 30 consecutive flashes with an interval of around 2 seconds in between.

When the internal temperature increases, the flash interval increases to around 8 seconds (at Level 1 flash intensity) and 20 seconds (Level 2 flash intensity). However, the Speedlite EL-5 can fire at least 95 consecutive flashes at full output until level 2 flash intensity.

 
Speedlite EL-5
Speedlite
EL-1
Speedlite
600EX II-RT
Max. guide number
GN.60
GN.60
GN.60
Micro flash
1/1024
1/8192
1/128
Recycle time (1/1)
1.2 sec.
0.9 sec.
3.5 sec.
Continuous flash emissions
95 times
160 times
60 times

Unlike the Speedlite EL-1, which is equipped with an Active Cooling System that enables sustained continuous flash emissions, the Speedlite EL-5 has no cooling mechanism. Even so, the Speedlite EL-5 provides continuous flash performance that far exceeds the Speedlite 600EX II-RT, allowing a smoother, quicker workflow when shooting portraits, moving subjects, or other scenes that require continuous flash firing.


Microflash down to 1/1024: Nuanced lighting even in low-light situations

In manual flash mode, the Speedlite EL-5 is capable of as low as 1/1024 of the full output, 3 stops’ lower than the minimum 1/128 on the Speedlite 600EX II-RT. This makes it well-equipped to provide nuanced lighting to bring out the atmosphere of low-light scenes, whether as a key light or fill light.

At 1/1024 of the full output, the flash duration is approximately 1/46,290 seconds. This means you can use it to shoot at the equivalent of a 1/46,290-second high-speed shutter in dark scenes with no other light sources!

Learn more about flash duration in:
Beyond Shutter Speed: Using Flash Duration to Freeze Motion

3. High-capacity lithium-ion battery; at least 350 flashes

3. It runs on 1 high-capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery

Many hot shoe flashes are powered by AA batteries, which have limited capacity. With them, it is necessary to keep a supply of spare batteries on standby especially for long shoots. However, with the Speedlite EL-5, that is history: like the Speedlite EL-1, it runs on the small, high-capacity Battery Pack LP-EL (1920mAh/7.2V).  In fact, it lasts longer than all previous Speedlites—around 350 flashes at full output on a single charge. That’s even more than the Speedlite 600EX II-RT powered by 8 additional AA batteries through the Compact Battery Pack CP-E4N!

Model
Power supply
Total flashes
(1/1 full output)
Speedlite EL-5 Lithium-ion battery 350 times
Speedlite EL-1 Lithium-ion battery 335 times
Speedlite 600EX II-RT + CP-E4N Lithium-ion battery
+ AA battery x8
680 times
Speedlite 600EX II-RT AA battery x4 100 times
Speedlite 600EX II-RT + CP-E4N AA battery x4
+ AA battery x8
300 times

The display panel shows the remaining battery level so you know when it’s time to charge, avoiding unwelcome disruptions to your workflow. No charger is included. However, if you use a camera powered by an LP-E6 series battery—which describes most enthusiast and advanced EOS cameras—there shouldn’t be a problem: you can use the same charger to charge your Speedlite EL-5 battery.

4. Designed for Canon’s new Multi-Function Shoe

4. It supports Canon’s new Multi-Function Shoe

The Speedlite EL-5 is designed for the EOS R system’s new Multi-Function Shoe, which features a new digital terminal that enables faster, more stable communications between the camera and the attached accessory, providing more advanced control.

For example, the Speedlite EL-5 constantly detects its connection status with the camera. This prevents situations where the Speedlite automatically powers off unintentionally, and also speeds up reactivation when the camera is turned on again after it auto powers off.


Cameras compatible with Speedlite EL-5

EOS R6 Mark II
EOS R3
EOS R7
EOS R10
Compatible Compatible after firmware update

* As of November 2022

5. Different flash modes to aid creativity

5. Its high functionality, with many modes that aid your flash photography expression

Besides the E-TTL II/ E-TTL autoflash and manual flash modes, Speedlite EL-5 is equipped with other modes to cater to different intents and situations. This includes multi-flash and high-speed sync modes, and even custom modes to store and recall your own preset settings. 


High-speed sync

This allows you to use a flash even with a shutter speed setting faster than the camera’s X-sync speed*. The flash emits multiple high-speed pulses of light within the short exposure time, so that the full image is lit even when the shutter curtain is not fully open.

*X-sync speed: The fastest shutter speed that allows the camera to capture light on the whole image sensor. At faster shutter speeds than this, the camera shutter is not fully open/exposed.

High-speed sync flash is especially useful for fill lighting when shooting portraits in strong backlight. With a faster shutter speed, you can use a wider aperture setting to create images with beautiful bokeh.

Also see:
[2-Light Technique] Achieving Edgy Outdoor Images in Broad Daylight


Second-curtain sync

Normally, the flash fires when the shutter curtain opens (“first-curtain”). In second-curtain sync mode, the flash fires just before the shutter curtain closes. This changes the appearance of any motion blur trails during slow shutter shooting, providing an option for creative expression.

Also see:
Built-in Flash Techniques #5: Fast, Furious Light Trails with Second-Curtain Sync


Multi-flash mode

In this mode, the flash fires multiple times during a long exposure. It can be used to capture multiple images of a moving subject in one frame, which creates an effect resembling a composite action sequence.


Custom flash modes that integrate seamlessly with your camera

For the first time on a Canon Speedlite, the Speedlite EL-5 is equipped with a custom flash mode. This lets you store a specific combination of settings of your choice for easy recall.

Settings that can be stored include:
- The flash mode: E-TTL/ M/ Multi, etc.
- Output settings: Sync settings, zoom settings, etc.
- Wireless settings
- Other custom functions

There are three custom flash mode slots available: C1, C2, and C3. These can be linked to the C1, C2, and C3 custom shooting modes on your camera, so that when you use the C1 mode on your camera, for example, the Speedlite automatically recalls and uses C1 custom flash mode. With less to adjust, your shooting workflow will be smoother and easier.

6. Excellent wireless flash functionality

6. Its excellent wireless flash functionality

The Speedlite EL-5 offers wireless flash via radio transmission, and can act as both a sender (transmitter) and receiver. Radio transmission enables stabler communications even when there are obstacles around: as the sender/receiver can communicate even when they are not in each other’s line of sight, you have more freedom on where you choose to position them, within a 30m transmission radius*.

Up to 16 flash units can be linked wirelessly at any one time: with 1 sender unit, you can control up to 15 receiver units. You can also split the receiver units into up to 5 firing groups (A to E) for more advanced control.

*When there are no obstacles between the sender and receiver, and no electronic signal interference from other equipment. The transmission radius may be reduced depending on positioning, surrounding environment, and weather conditions.


Compatibility with existing Speedlites

*Compatible only during linked shooting

The Speedlite EL-5 is compatible with all existing Canon Speedlites that support radio transmission. If your camera does not support the new Multi-Function Shoe, you still can use the Speedlite EL-5 as a receiver, with a Speedlite or transmitter that supports the old hot shoe as the sender.


Know this: Extra functionality with the EOS R6 Mark II

The EOS R6 Mark II is equipped with the new Quick Flash Group Control menu feature that allows you to configure output settings for flash groups on a Live View display overlay. With this, making adjustments during wireless flash photography is quicker and more intuitive: simply use the camera’s dials and buttons to make adjustments, while keeping the Live View preview always in sight.


Configure Speedlite settings from a smartphone

When the Speedlite EL-5 is attached to a camera, you can also use the Camera Connect smartphone app to configure wireless flash settings remotely, fire the flash, and check the outcome. This makes the process of checking and adjusting the flash position, flash angle, and flash output more convenient. Great for when you are working alone, taking self-portraits, or lighting shots with Speedlites placed in hard-to-reach locations!

7. Other notable features

7. Other notable features

Wide bounce angle

The flash head of the Speedlite EL-5 can be rotated 120° upwards, 7° downwards, and 180° to the left and right—same as the Speedlite EL-1. This is 30° more in the upward direction than the 90° possible on the Speedlite 600EX II-RT.

Twin LED modelling lamps

The bottom of the flash head features two LED lights that do double duty as AF assist lights and modelling lights. The AF assist lights have adjustable output: when the Speedlite EL-5 is used with a compatible camera, their brightness will change according to the ambient brightness so that human subjects will not find them too bright.

Intuitive operations with the joystick controller

Almost all features can be accessed using the joystick controller, which is located in the middle of the selection dial. The display panel uses a reflective memory LCD panel, which provides excellent visibility. With them, operating the flash is intuitive: simply use the joystick to move the cursor to the desired item. You can even customise the joystick to create your own shortcuts for faster access to frequently used functions.

Dust- and drip-proof design

The Speedlite EL-5 has dust- and drip-proof performance equivalent to the EOS R5. It is also designed for compatibility with the Multi-Function Shoe, with a rubber adapter in the locking mechanism that provides even greater protection from dust and moisture when locked onto the camera.

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