The Digital Photo Guy

More Canon 7D Features

by on Sep.01, 2010, under gear, Workshops

Keeping Up With the Joneses (aka Nikon)

I’ve never been one to fret over features in other cameras but there was one Nikon dSLR feature that caused me a “Jimmy Carter moment” (I’ve looked on other cameras with lust). Commander Mode, available as far down the Nikon product line as the D70, is an integrated wireless flash controller. This feature allows the dSLR to wirelessly control a compatible, off-camera flash. Canon, on the other hand, has never previously implemented this feature. Canon shooters needed a Canon ST-E2, a $230 gizmo, an extra Canon 580EX II flash for $445 or 3rd party wireless remotes.

Well, citizens, I’m here to tell you that Canon has finally seen the light (Get it? “seen the light” har-har) and added an integrated wireless flash controller to the 7D. So, what’s the big deal you ask? Well, step right up and read today’s article to learn all the cool stuff that this one feature brings to the table.

The illustration above (courtesy Canon) shows one cool application for this feature. In this scenario, the pop-up flash on the 7D can be enabled or disabled depending on what you’re trying to do. If disabled, only the three external flashes are fired by the wireless flash controller. If you want a little extra front fill on the subject, the pop-up flash can be enabled.

This menu shows 4 flash modes can be selected. Disable, obviously, turns off the wireless flash function. This is a good idea when shooting with others. If they’re using wireless flash control, you won’t accidently fire their flashes.

I don’t use the 2nd and 4th options (from top) because I don’t use the pop-up flash but this video shows how it can be useful. The 3rd option is my preferred mode. Here, the pop-up flash is disabled and only the external flashes are fired.

The biggest plus to this system is the ability to use E-TTL. In E-TTL, the camera is constantly monitoring the amount of light striking the subject and shuts down the flash when it measures enough light. This is essentially, Automatic Flash. It’s a no-brainer and works pretty well. It’s especially useful when using multiple flash units.

On the downside, all the flashes have to be Canon for E-TTL to work. As those who own Canon flashes can attest, this can get pretty expensive. Also, a minor nit, the wireless system is IR (infrared) so the system doesn’t work as well outdoors. The maximum range spec of 66 ft is probably pretty optimistic.

You’re Kidding Me, Right!?!

A reader sent me an e-mail asking how I had time to read the manual and figure out this stuff. I about fell over laughing. If you think I sit around, poring over manuals, I’m gonna burst your bubble. I scour the Internet and WWW for this info. My value add is the ability to quickly understand something and reduce it down to the bare essentials for you, the reader. Think of me as your personal Reader’s Digest of digital photography.

For example, much of what I’ve written about Canon 7D features was learned at the Canon Digital Learning Center as well as DP Review and Fred Miranda. My value add for you, the readers, is the ability to cut through the baloney and report just the important facts.

That’s not to say I don’t produce original material. Most of my original material is in the Photoshop Elements videos where I take information and techniques from other sites and meld them into new techniques that are easier to apply and understand.

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