The Canon Speedlite 550Ex is one of Canon's premier flashes, built to work with SLR cameras that are equipped with a hot shoe---a connecting dock on the top of the camera---to provide better light and focus when capturing images. The Canon Speedlite 550Ex is completely compatible with area AF (autofocus) technology and has many performance features such as a maximum Guide Number of 180, an autofocus assist beam, and wireless functionality when combined with other Canon Speedlite 550Ex flashes that are used as slave units.
Preparing the Canon Speedlite 550Ex for Operation
The Canon Speedlite 550Ex accepts either 4 AA alkaline or 4 AA nickel-hydride batteries. Locate the battery compartment cover located on the left side of the flash (if you are facing the LCD). Slide the battery compartment cover in the direction of the arrows and flip it up. Insert the batteries as indicated on the inside of the battery compartment cover. Close the battery compartment cover and slide it opposite the arrow until it clicks into place.
Attach the Canon Speedlite 550Ex to the camera by turning the collar lock (the wheel located at the bottom of the flash) clockwise. Insert the Canon Speedlite 550Ex's mounting foot into the camera hot shoe until it is completely mounted. Turn the collar lock counter-clockwise until the Canon Speedlite 550Ex is completely tightened.
Set the wireless selector (located just above the collar lock on the back of the flash) to either master, slave, or OFF depending on how you will use the Canon Speedlite 550Ex with other Speedlite 550Ex flashes. For basic use, switch the setting to OFF.
The power switch is located above the wireless selector on the right rear of the flash. It has 3 settings. ON (I), OFF (O), or SE (save energy mode). In SE mode, the flash will power off if not in use for ninety seconds when the wireless selector is set for OFF or Master Modes.
Basic Shooting with the Canon Speedlite 550Ex Flash
The fastest way to get started with the Canon Speedlite 550Ex flash is to set the flash for Auto Flash Mode.
Set the camera's shooting mode to P (Portrait or Program AE) or Full Auto, as indicated by a rectangle icon, by turning the Control Dial located on the top or rear of most Canon digital SLR cameras.
Set the Canon Speedlite 550Ex's flash mode to ETTL by pressing the Mode button (located on the back of the flash) until ETTL is displayed in the top left corner of the LCD. Focus the subject by pressing down the shutter button on the camera halfway. The shutter speed and aperture will be set automatically and displayed in the LCD. Verify the subject is in flash range as displayed at the bottom of the LCD; a meter will indicate whether or not the subject is in range.
Check that the lightning bolt symbol (flash) is shown in the camera viewfinder, and press the shutter button down fully to capture your image.