acmesnaps.com 10:05pm, 15 February 2011
LPA has just posted an interesting document on the company website: Preliminary Research Report on Canon 580EX II Flash Failures

Before you think about doing a hack of your own, remember that there is enough energy in a flash to KILL YOU!

The document has the smoking gun that I've been waiting for: there is enough evidence in the 430EXII design to suggest that Canon was aware of design flaw(s) in the 580EXII that cause them to fail. Wish I had the LPA document when I wrote my letter to the Canon Consumer Imaging Group last year.

Hummmm. Has there ever been a product recall by the Canon Consumer Imaging Group? Maybe time for a first. Just sayin'
admin
Jerry P. H. Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Jerry P. H. (admin) 8 years ago
Holy cow, a near 8mb, 19 page document on this? Wow!

'Scuse me, I have this cool document to read! :-)


Edit: Ok, just went through that... very impressive and really well explained. Though I don't want to sound like a smart a$$, it does look as if what I was saying earlier was actually more right than wrong.

I wonder if Canon has seen this, and if they have any plans on doing anything?

PW sure knows how to drop "da bomb"... lol
Rui M Leal 8 years ago
Thanks for sharing the document as it will be a good material to show at Canon Service Center if any of my flashes meanwhile fry.
BillyBuffBill 8 years ago
Glad to know that my donated 580EX IIs helped with this research. :-)
PW said they 'bought' many of damaged 580EX II's.. from users (pg 2).
gfdv 8 years ago
sounds like the making of a class action suit in the near future.
dsmPhotoCompany-Brian 8 years ago
I just got off the phone with CPS and sending my 580EXII in. I sent them the link to the article and it's being linked to my repair. I'll let everyone know how it goes.
bawdy bushes [deleted] 8 years ago
thats so annoying, I had the exact problem. Brought it into Canon and they quoted me $380 aud to fix and pointed to a fault to my cameras. I just bought a replacement 580exII just to find out it will fail again... :(
koteflow 8 years ago
Seriously? The very day I buy my first 580EX II????
I guess I am skipping these TTL flashes
chinesechef 8 years ago
Over at canonrumors some well made points have been made:
www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php/topic,615.0.html

Just something to think about before jumping to conclusion.
BillyBuffBill 8 years ago
@ Commercial Photographer Of course they had to buy some since my donated units were the ones that are already fried. They wanted to examine my units firsthand on what went wrong.

I have been in contact with PW for over a year now. Plus I was the first of many that this had happened to. :-)
genotypewriter 8 years ago
I came here from Canon Rumors myself and I have to say the idiot at CR probably didn't even read the article before he came up with the title "580 EX II Faulty by Design".

I read the entire PDF report and here are the conclusions given in it:
Conclusions: (The Perfect Storm)

It appears that some combination of elements comes together to create the risk and increased
probability of an IGBT failure within the 580EX II.

a) Sealed flash tube assembly (internal zoom carriage assembly)

b) Misalignment of the flash tube within the reflector such that arcing is more probable

c) Reduced optical feedback via the fiber optic sense cable in the flash head

d) Dryer air where ozone can be generated more easily

e) Electrical discharge through the reflector at a moment when the IGBT is turned off


Apart from (a) and (e), the others are not really related to design at all. The cause of (b) could be a QC issue or a problem that can come after a repair but it's still not design. If he can call (b) a design issue then most of the Sigma lenses are also "faulty by design".

Even the guys who did the report themselves say it's a "Perfect Storm" situation... now I'm starting to wonder whether there should be journalist jokes as much there are lawyer jokes.

GTW
Commercial Photographer Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 8 years ago
@ William Eng Photography (aka eggrollboy)

No, They actually bought busted 580EX II's from users. Read page 2 of the report. How they decided who's to buy - who knows? Did you ask for payment or compensation?

'We purchased many failed flashes from end users so we could take them apart and study the other common elements between the units that failed'.

.
bradcurfman 8 years ago
They made the decision to buy (actually replace is a better term) damaged flashes from users on a per case basis. After explaining the circumstances that caused all 3 of my 580EX-IIs to fail within a few minutes of each other, the customer support rep offered to buy me new flashes if I sent in the damaged ones. He said they don't do it for all users, only the ones whose situation provided a "unique research interest."

I didn't even ask them to replace the speedlites, they offered to do so after I explained what happened. I was merely hoping that they would cover the repair costs, but I was happily surprised at how they handled my case.

Although some people have been irritated about them not publicizing this issue, it is obvious that they couldn't until they had researched this enough to show that it is a 580EX-II design flaw.
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Jerry P. H. Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Jerry P. H. (admin) 8 years ago
I wonder if something so simple as an alignment check on the flash tube and a small hole drilled somewhere underneath would be a possible cure? Of course you lose warranty and weather sealing, but still, it could be worth a shot at least for testing purposes.

BTW, I'm not suggesting anyone here do that., just sayin;.. lol
Mike Fiechtner 8 years ago
I've been considering buying the PW Plus II's.....does this issue deal with those? Or is this just an issue with the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 systems?

I have a 580EXII and don't want to risk frying it with the Plus IIs.
What PW are saying is that it's got nothing to do with them, and the frying is just coincidence. By their account you stand just as much chance of frying your 580EXII just by using it.

Except, they didn't actually say it like that.

GENOTYPEWRITER quoted the conclusions drawn in the document in his post above.
Mike Fiechtner 8 years ago
I understand that they are saying it has nothing to do with them. What I want to know is, does the issue happen with the PW Plus IIs? I never see this product mentioned in any of the discussion here, the Canon Rumors discussion or the LPA Design report. All I've read refers to just the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5.
Commercial Photographer Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 8 years ago
Apparently the 'coincidence' has never been observed and pointed out with PW Plus IIs, or Cybersyncs, or Yongnuo's, or Phottix, or microsyncs, or Quantums, or Cactus, or ... whatevers.. Users did see the occurance with the TT1 and TT5's so I think you really need to draw your own conclusions. I guess there's no cast iron guarantee with any radio trigger, and only Canon will know what the real % failure rates are and whether the introduction of the TT1/TT5 has made a change in these.

Realistically, we're not likely to find out. It's unfortunate if you end up being one of the unlucky 1% that PW know about , and Canon won't be wanting to tell you about any change they've seen unless LPA start pointing the finger at their manufacturing. For every unit which fails there's a repair required, and that could be serious $$.

My bet is that Canon will see the LPA report, consider the conclusions and improve the model, users will be none the wiser.
vt_snapshot 8 years ago
In reading the report it is clear it is focused mostly on HSS operation. So only products that can support HSS are likely to be counted into this debate.
That leaves only 3 options-
PW Mini/Flex
Canon optical system (no 3rd party products)
RadioPopper PX

My guess- Since Canon's remotes don't work well in sunlight with IR, they are not used nearly as much in HSS as people using PW Mini/Flex to control them.
A quick look at the RadioPopper user group in Flickr seems to show only a very small fraction of the number of members as the PW group.
So I would guess there are far more PW Mini/Flex users than RP PX users.
I would not be surprised if the number of online reports for PW users experiencing the issue is higher given the larger users base.
RadioPoppers don't increase the output of the units when used in HSS unlike the PW TT1/TT5's do. This is where the question is raised as to the reliability in PW doing this, since whatever the amount of PW or RadioPopper users, there's probably X100 more simple flash on camera HSS users popping away without problems.

Canon 40D, 50D and 7D models should be fairly safe though as the level of output isn't changed for these models from that level set by Canon. It is this level used by PW and extended in duration. Don't see much more benefit in HSS with Canon 40D, 50D and 7D cameras? That's why.

Is there any Canon 40D, 50D or 7D (exclusive) camera users ever had a problem?
vt_snapshot 8 years ago
@Commercial Photo: the interesting part to me was the graph showing that PWs brighter HSS capability was actually generating less ozone than canons normal operation without PW. Canons normal HSS light output is very inefficient. We just need to see what come from any post preliminary reports.
bradcurfman 8 years ago
>>> In reading the report it is clear it is focused mostly on HSS operation.

That is not true. The first page in their report states that the failures are more common using HSS, but they occur above and below the X-sync speed.

All three of mine failed while shooting in my family room at a shutter speed between 1/60 and 1/100.

The chance of failure is high enough with the FlexTT5 for it to be a concern. The failure can happen with any trigger, or just on the Canon flash, but you can reasonably assume that it is more frequent with a FlexTT5 than any other scenario based on the LPA report. I haven't seen any other threads online with people reporting these failures related to any other trigger.

All three of my 580s were over a year old and had fired several thousand times. They all failed while using the FlexTT5 before reaching 1000 flash pops.
vt_snapshot 8 years ago
I think the RadioPopper PX is the only other one which supports TTL pre flash. Pre flash is stated to be a type of HSS.
So the question really boils down to how many RadioPopper users have the issue vs PW as a ratio based on sales. I don't imagine either company will release their total sales volume data for each model.

So only time will tell.
I don't think a comparison between RP's and PW's is really necessary. There's 10's of 1,000's of users popping away with HSS at full power thinking it makes a difference in 'overpowering the sun' so the 580EXII is probably pretty well established in it's capabilities here.

Put two units together and pop them till they die at full power Canon HSS and full power PW HSS. I'll take bets with odds in favour of Canon. :)

As a consumer, if you were given the choice of either 'more output' or 'longer life' - which would you choose? - You can only have one.

.
L. Garrett 8 years ago
Regarding comment: "Canon 40D, 50D and 7D models should be fairly safe though as the level of output isn't changed for these models from that level set by Canon. It is this level used by PW and extended in duration. Don't see much more benefit in HSS with Canon 40D, 50D and 7D cameras? That's why.

Is there any Canon 40D, 50D or 7D (exclusive) camera users ever had a problem? "

------
With 7D and flexTT5, I estimate light output in HSS mode at ~1.5 stops higher output than stock canon configuration when off camera (the report indicated no power difference when on camera). I did an A/B comparison a while back of flextt5 vs STE2.

I did have an off camera failure with 7D/flex/580EXii. This part is a bit interesting to me though -- I have used 2-3 flashes with flexes for many months without issues, followed by a 580exII failure the very first time I used the AC7. I was testing AC7 into an umbrella shooting many very low power flashes in rapid succession when it failed...which makes me wonder if the flash being horizontal and on it's edge caused a build up of ozone near the alleged offending spark location at end of bulb (ozone is heavier than air). Failure also happened in the middle of winter with low humidity.

Who knows, but their theory at least seems akin to my failure.
Commercial Photographer Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 8 years ago
@L.Garrett
I did have an off camera failure with 7D/flex/580EXii. This part is a bit interesting to me though -- I have used 2-3 flashes with flexes for many months without issues,

Interesting on two counts, but contradictory to the report as well.

In PW HSS mode with the Canon 40D, 50D and 7D models there should be no increase in off camera HSS flash duration as this is what LPA have designated as their 'highest output' level, (according to the report) so with these cameras you shouldn't experience any higher output as with this 'highest' output already prevalent any increase in output would be physically impossible. It might be likely that the remote output level was increased BUT that's NOT what LPA Design said in their report.

When you trigger off lots of low powered flashes in short succession - isn't that just like HSS ?

Playing devil's advocate here... Might a possible weak point on a Canon flash be overly stressed by using that flash on its side (in an AC7) and then intentionally driving it to its highest output point (or higher?) for longer durations than normally intended and in an orientation it just is'nt designed for.. and be likely to result in failure ? :)
L. Garrett 8 years ago
The report indicates7D already has highest output "when flash is on top of camera". Reading between the lines, this indicates off camera is anyone's guess unless I'm missing some info.

In any event, I was using HSS. I was playing around with AC3 / AC7 and running up / down different shutter speeds looking for flash consistency during HSS. I was running ETTL and extremely close to subject so I was running at the low end of output power...I'm certain failure happened after a long series of low power bursts without any high power flashes (that is up until the failure presented itself).

Preflash burst disabled btw
The part in the report referring to the output level was this:

Our ControlTL firmware controls the brightness in for a 580EX II in HSS mode to no more than what is permitted by the Canon 40D, 50D, 7D series cameras which have the shortest HSS pulse durations (when flash is on top of the camera) and therefore have the highest native permitted power request levels. These cameras have the shortest blade travel times for their shutters.

I read that as saying the HSS level for remote HSS is used at this 'permitted' level but applied to other cameras for their extended duration requirement. I get the impression that PW don't want to say that they exceed this 'permitted' level with other cameras, and perhaps don't. However, the 40D. 50D and 7D HSS output level is used and applied to other remote HSS implementations which is also extended in duration.

On camera native HSS stays the same for all models, off camera HSS matches the native 40D. 50D and 7D HSS output level, but with an extended duration.
L. Garrett 8 years ago
It's clear that the paragraph isn't clear ;)

Regardless of confusing paragraph, there is a gain for off camera flashes with 7D (I haven't tried on camera gain) and their manual shows typical gains for 40D and 50D are up to 1 stop. Manual does show different gains for remote vs. local (not too different actually...).
dsmPhotoCompany-Brian 8 years ago
Even more interesting in this story is of my (4) 580 EX II's I had only one failed while on the PW flex where my others have failed while not in the flex system. Additionally my 580 EX original or newer 430s don't have the problem. The one that failed on the flex did with the boost turned on within 1 minute of use where the other 580 EXII worked that way for 90 minutes with no issues.

The 580 EX II's had lots of ETTL issues before the PW. First it was the hotshoe where the screws could come loose and then you would lose ETTL and in some cases the flash seemed to fry (easy fix if you didn't have the fried version was to loctite the screws). Second several people found out that using the head backwards frequently could put stress on the fiber optic cable in the head and break causing ETTL loss. Others found that a lot of HSS use could just fry the flash even just using the off shoe extension cable (happened more during usage in the sun... related to temp). I've had all these happen yet my older 580 EX mark 1 has run beside all of them with no issues. It's been in the sock and on a pre-boost and hasn't even hinted at dying.

My opinion is design flaws in the 580 EX II's and the harder you push your gear the more they become evident. PW's help push the gear so you'll see it more but you can definitely see it without PWs. I now run all newer 430's and my older 580 EX... my final 580 EX II is in the shop and once repaired it will see the fate that my others have seen over the past couple years (being sold off to buy more 430s).
Commercial Photographer Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 8 years ago
@ L. Garrett
(not too different actually...).

I don't think the paragraph is confusing, I think that the results obtained from off camera flash, or the claims made, don't tally with what PW are saying in this report.

In order to obtain 'more' light that light needs to be increased, specifically in the case of HSS. If results are being obtained from off camera flash using HSS illustrating up to 1 stop increase with a 7D, 40D and 50D then they simply must be doubling the output, and not staying within the 'permitted' level. Adjusting shutter timing in this scenario of HSS would have no effect. It might have an effect with manual flash if the shutter is better timed.

This doubling of output beyond the 'permitted' level is obviously the basis of speculation why 580EXII's are getting fried and is an important aspect of this discussion.

Either the claims for greater remote HSS output is wrong in the marketing information, or the claim that levels are not increased, as in this report is wrong. There may be some other explaination, but I can't reason any other.

Rather than quoting claims by PW, has anybody actually made a comparison? Frankly, this has cropped up before, and I have yet to see any substantial evidence or independant illustration that this increase exists, or if it does to what extent exactly and what camera?

.
L. Garrett 8 years ago
@Commerical Photographer
"Rather than quoting claims by PW, has anybody actually made a comparison? Frankly, this has cropped up before, and I have yet to see any substantial evidence or independant illustration that this increase exists, or if it does to what extent exactly and what camera?"
"

????

Yeah, lots of doubting Thomases...many think we did not make it to the moon in light of all the evidence. Same deal here?

Search the web and sort through the data. As I said earlier, I see about 1.5 stops gain AND my failure happened at low power with 7D. Furthermore, I do not think their report is in conflict with their marketing claims as that is how I interpret their report & marketing.

Maybe I'm being bamboozled, but I'm leaning to the ozone theory / weak flash + different but reasonable use cases with PW.
useful cap [deleted] 8 years ago
I have just published some testing in strobist group.
There is clearly some serious issues with Canon 580EXII and not just with pocket wizzard:
www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157626245904756/
Commercial Photographer Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 8 years ago
@L.Garrett

As I said earlier, I see about 1.5 stops gain AND my failure happened at low power with 7D. Furthermore, I do not think their report is in conflict with their marketing claims as that is how I interpret their report & marketing.

Maybe I'm being bamboozled, but I'm leaning to the ozone theory / weak flash + different but reasonable use cases with PW.


...and still no evidence - rather than refer to imformation unspecified and elsewhere.

Tell me, If PW say they are NOT increasing HSS output to any amount greater than that ALREADY present with the 7D, 40D and 50D - How come these models (even by your own admittance) are obtaining more output?

For on camera flash use, I can see there shouldn't be an increase, (yet there is), perhaps the off camera Remote use with these cameras IS boosted to that on camera level of the 40D, 50D etc. (and more, as the Local on camera level already is). Your 1.5 stops more is now a physical boost to a 300% output level AND in the same (faster) shutter time. That is really significant. Not only for these models with the smaller sensor and faster shutters - but even moreso for the slower shutters and their longer durations.

Without this boost, what you are seeing is a physical impossibility as HSS can not be improved by shutterspeed timing and can only be improved by increasing the output level.

Therefore - when PW say they DON'T increase HSS output - yet by all accounts ALL THE DATA on the internet points to this INCLUDING their statement in their own report being discussed AS WELL AS in their own tables here: HSS Gain Charts then, you need to believe that the boost provided by the ControlTL HSS mode is increased and can be considered a considerable and contributing factor.

Even by your own estimation - 300% is not merely a 'boosted to the level used by the Canon 40D, 50D and 7D models'. In fact - that statement must be false as referring back to those tables provided by PW even the 40D and 50D output levels at a Local level illustrate a greater HSS output than even PW would wish to be made known, at least in the light of their claims in their report. They may have taken all the energy used during the unoptimised Canon HSS mode and concentrated it to a more taylored shutter duration.. but that's increasing the HSS output level in any book - and I don't think it can be justly described as anything else.

Obviously PW are saying they don't do this, but factually, they must be. There is no other explaination.

Bamboozled...? Exactly.
admin
Jerry P. H. Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Jerry P. H. (admin) 8 years ago
I am glad you have taken the time, made the measurements yourself and are glad and willing to share your test results, CP.

...oh wait, you're not even a Canon user?

Perhaps not bamboozled, but you sure do love the attention of the witch hunt!
Commercial Photographer Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 8 years ago
@ Jerry P.H.

I already quoted this 6 posts previous - however your smokesceening for PW must be clouding your judgement, so I'll post it again:

PW wrote:
Our ControlTL firmware controls the brightness in for a 580EX II in HSS mode to no more than what is permitted by the Canon 40D, 50D, 7D series cameras which have the shortest HSS pulse durations (when flash is on top of the camera) and therefore have the highest native permitted power request levels. These cameras have the shortest blade travel times for their shutters.

So - PW manage to magic some light from somewhere to increase the on camera HSS results - How ?
And they manage to increase the off camera HSS results - Possibly by increasing the previously lower native HSS level to either the '40D, 50D, 7D series permitted level' or even some higher level perhaps ?

The point being - that everybody is happy to quote higher output levels - but not actually wanting to admit to actually needing more light to achieve this! LOL.

Of course - neither of those additions can possibly be by increasing the flash output over a given time, so it must be some other physical difference nobody knows about - obviously !

I'm not a Canon user of PW - and not even a Nikon user now since those versions were sent back. So, I'm not bamboozled - you're correct in that, but your fanboy mentality sure looks to have you bamboozled, otherwise - why not suggest how these increases occur?

All the information provided is purely from PW's own publications, their failure research (the subject of this post) and not at all from any tests I've done.
admin
Jerry P. H. Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Jerry P. H. (admin) 8 years ago
I am not smoke screening, but before you post anymore conjecture, at least state it as such, because you're darn right you did no tests... you have ZERO facts. Truth is that you have no more better an idea of what is happening than anyone else and nailing anyone to the cross and stating that they are bamboozling them is just wrong.

You are not a Canon user, never were, and if you did what you said you would do, you are not even a ControlTL user anymore, because you said you would return the units.

I've tried to be patient but your, bashing and continued innuendo just won't stop. I was kinda happy for a while after you said you would return the ControlTL units, that your stupid posts would stop, but I suppose not. You now have appointed yourself protector of the world against the terrible LPA company.

Unless you have FACTS, stop with the BS witch hunt attitude. I know you may have had some bad experiences... fine, we all know how badly you suffered at the hands of the evil lords of the PW... but at this point, the only one at this point that you are making look bad... is yourself.

No matter how you try to twist things, that is always going to be the bottom line.

Me and my "fan boy" mentality are going to be mature enough to wait for answers from the people that know.. and not make things up or name call. Speculation is a waste of time... name calling is just a reflection of your own character. Childish.
PW plainly post the FACTS I posted. THEIR WORDS not mine.

Just answering the question would be far more productive, which I realise must be very difficult when you don't have a non-public firmware to hide behind.
bradcurfman 8 years ago
www.pocketwizard.com/inspirations/technology/fp_sync_hss/

My take on getting more light output from the flash with a FlexTT5...

Simply going from 1/200 to 1/250 on a 580EX-II will knock 2 stops of light off the requested output due to the pulsing nature of HSS. This loss of light output is due to Canon's timings for the HSS pulse.

Through Canon's research, they found that a camera can send commands to the flash to give a pulse with a certain duration and output. So, at 1/250, the camera tells the flash to pulse at 1/16 in HSS, even though you have the flash set to 1/4.

Pocketwizard has stated that they adjust the timing of the flash pulse to give a pulse of shorter duration. This allows the pulse to have higher output.

So, the Flex is telling the flash to pulse at something higher than 1/16 but at or lower than 1/4. It can pulse a higher output because the pulse has a shorter duration.

The question is why didn't Canon use the more aggressive timings with their cameras? Maybe they decided that the 2 stop reduction was necessary so that the HSS pulse always filled the frame without failure. Anyone who has used the Flex can tell you that there are occasional banding issues, and this can differ between cameras of the same model at certain shutter speeds. Obviously Canon did not want to put a product out in the field that would exhibit the banding issues, so they went with relaxed pulse settings.
PW's figures illustrate a greater than +1 output advantage for the Canon range, with a greater increased output for remote flash units. They even over charge the capacitors to provide a greater reservoir of energy for the flashtube to use as (unlike Nikon) Canon haven't placed a restriction on the charge level.

At settings of 1/16 and 1/4, I doubt that any more energy is used or greater output imposed than would be used in the native Canon HSS, but using HSS when you're battling to gain range or increase output levels and your flash is invariably pumping out greater amounts of energy over shorter durations than it's designed for, then there's a risk that either somethings got to pop, or you just might be lucky and avoid the burn.

You shouldn't need to be lucky, it should just reliably work, the same as it did without the PW's.

Setting the output levels, or restricting them as Canon did, must have been done for some reason, increasing them can only be exceeding this.

A simple fix would be to let the user decide as I said earlier.. either have more power (and risk burning out your 580) or keep the output native. I expect everybody would opt for more power and take the risk.. but when yours is the 580 being burned - thats a bummer.

Part of the attraction of these new PW's is the additional output, but there's obviously a risk attached.
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rwongab Posted 8 years ago. Edited by rwongab (member) 8 years ago
Please I am trying to be neutral (between members) and not taking sides. First you cannot over charge a capacitor without getting into the flash unit and making some design changes to the "charging/discharging circuits. The amount of energy stored in a capacitor is dependant on the capacitor size and also the voltage applied across the capacitor (Q = CV). How fast the capacitor is charged to full and discharged is dependant the the equivalent RC time constant of the charging circuit (the electronics and the capacitor) and the discharging circuit (capacitor and flash tube).

If the facts are correct above (previous posts - Canon HSS vs PW HSS where the pulsing is shorter with the PW HSS - What this means is that the "average energy aka flash light power" coming out from the flash unit is higher with the PW than with Canon and this effectively means that the total amount of light (average) from the flash is higher with the PW HSS than with Canon HSS therefore your photo willl look like its brighter.

What this means is your flash will get hotter faster with PW HSS. Acording to PW, the failures of the Canon flash units is caused by the ionization (BAD) of the air and therefore frying the units electronics. By having smaller clearances between the flash contacts and the shield compounded with no ventilation (plasma-ozone) is causing the air to flash over (ionization). Heat will also cause air to ionize easiler. PWs HSS will raise the average output of the flash - more heat generated.

I'm sure that the engineers at Canon are aware of the factors that ionize the air and have designed their flash units to minimize flash over, overheating etc. Any vendor who changes the original design of the flash units is probably at their own risk as Canon most liklely not endose these design changes to their flashes. I'm not saying that Canon is a good design - perhaps it wasn't?

In other words, if General Motors builds a car to travel at 150 mile/hour max and ABC company (after market) designs a new fuel injection system to make the car go 200 miles/hour and all of the sudden the transmission and rears ends startd to fail - Blame General Motors? Warranty for General Motor?
Nikon flashes are restricted to a maximum output they provide. Canon flashes are not restricted and PW exploit this to increase the brightness of the Canon flashes.

What did you say about increased output and increased heat ?

Here's a quote from Rob Galbraiths site:

A related quirk of Nikon's Speedlights is that a full power TTL or manual burst in Auto FP Sync mode does not use the flash capacitor's full charge. In other words, full power isn't actually full power, or even close to it actually. This isn't a problem being caused by the PocketWizards but rather a trait that's native to Nikon's flash system.

We first observed this in the SB-900, and Clark indicates it's true of the SB-600 and SB-800 too. Nikon has put a cap on the flash's maximum Auto FP Sync brightness for some reason, and it's almost certainly a sound one. But there isn't a similar cap in Canon's Speedlites. Combine that with the fact that the Canon versions of the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 are able to run Canon's flashes at a much brighter maximum when the camera is set to a high shutter speed, and you have a substantial brightness gap between Nikon's Speedlights and Canon's Speedlites when hooked up to MiniTT1s and FlexTT5s and the shutter speed is well above x-sync. Put simply, Canon's flashes are much brighter.


Here's the page it's from:
www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-10057-1105...

I don't make any of this up..
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Jerry P. H. 8 years ago
What Ron says is technically correct... one cannot get more charge out of a capacitor than it's capacity. No one can change the rules of physics.

Just because Nikon does not permit a full dump of the cap under FP flash conditions, but Canon's can, the issue of what causes the flash to become damaged is not clearly defined by this one factor alone.

I have confidence in the sincerity of the people at PW because I have personally met and spoken to the people at PW in Burlington VT face to face. Being far removed and seeing words on a page is a HUGE difference compared to meeting someone face to face, shaking their hand and spending a day listening to them show you their most inner workings. No, it's not a guarantee that they did not make a mistake, but it is a guarantee that if they did make one, they are the kind of people that 'fess up, deal with it and move on.

Facts are, PW found something else that they feel is contributory to the failures and they shared what they found to the public. They are also continuing further research into it.

To use your own quote from Rob Galbraith "... it's ALMOST certainly..." to me almost certainly and certainly are about as close as "being pregnant" and "being almost pregnant".

It means what it means... that he himself doesn't know for sure and is taking an educated guess. Educated or not, a guess is always just a guess and is in no way proof or guarantee of this being the issue, one way or another.
Commercial Photographer Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 8 years ago
Ron is correct. What 'Clark' of PW was saying was that Nikon don't run the capacitor at full charge anyway, and they restrict the charge to that reduced level. Canon don't, so PW turn up the charge, resulting in greater output.

PW are certainly increasing the brightness by exploiting the unrestricted maximum output set by Canon. That is a major departure from how these flashes are supposed to work and certainly a significant contributing factor.

If I use a 3Amp cable with a 60w bulb - all's fine. If I stick a 1000w bulb on it, either the fuse will blow(depending on the fuse), the cable will melt, there'll be a fire or a combination of all three. 'Almost certainly' (there's that quote again) something detrimental will happen. But, there's always a chance I might be lucky and get away with it too.

The design of the Canon 580 obviously doesn't have the inbuilt tolerance to cope with being over run by the PW system. Whereas the 480 does.

Design flaws are something which prevents the design doing what it's supposed to do, not a result of using the design for a purpose it wasn't designed, nor intended. Imposing extraneous factors to a product it wasn't designed to cope with which results in failure is not the fault of the product.

The key points here are that a flashunit is both being adjusted to increase it's brightness as well as sustaining that brightness for a longer peiod. Both greater than even the manufacturer uses. The combined effects, like overrunning the cable (above) are as detrimental to 580 flash units as the consequencies of doing the same to the cable.

'Fessing up' would be a lot more comfortable to deal with than being hung by their own noose, which their report clearly indicates taking into account their other supporting evidence.

The only saving grace there might be is if there was as many 580 failures before PW got involved as there were after, which I really doubt, however, you don't need to look very far for direct involvement, and I do think that this is pretty amazing coincidential evidence relating to the circumstances, you must admit:
www.flickr.com/groups/pocketwizards/discuss/7215762612073...
R O B E R T B A K E R 8 years ago
Hey just curious, is there a way to mod the 580EX to help mitigate the risk? For example, it seems like it might be possible to increase the amount of ozone venting.

Would this help? Is the presence of of ozone a big enough contributing factor that eliminating it would prevent the problem?

Other ideas? And yes, I know this would void the warranty.
bradcurfman 8 years ago
Robert,
the 580 could be modded to vent better, but I haven't heard of anyone doing it yet.

Commercial Photographer,
"PW are certainly increasing the brightness by exploiting the unrestricted maximum output set by Canon. That is a major departure from how these flashes are supposed to work and certainly a significant contributing factor."

That is not a problem. Canon is allowing the flash to use 100% of the capacitor charge. Nikon is capping it at something below 100%. That is a design decision based on some data that both companies obtained while testing their flashes. It doesn't factor in to this problem, because the 580EX-II will become damaged at pretty much any output setting, with or without HSS.

All three of my 580EX-IIs were fried within a few minutes of each other while taking Christmas pictures indoors. All flashes were on a FlexTT5 with manual power at 1/4 to 1/16 (using the AC3 zone controller) and the camera shutter speed was between 1/60 and 1/125, so HSS wasn't being used. This means that the flashes were firing at Canon spec'd levels since the Flex uses the normal power output level at shutter speeds below X-sync. Low humidity in my house could have been a contributing factor as that would create an ideal condition for the arcing that occurs.

The Flex is not telling the flash to fire at a power that is higher than what a Canon camera can tell the flash. In HSS, the Flex is pulsing the flash at a higher power than what Canon's cameras do while in HSS. If they pulsed at a higher power but used the same pulse duration as Canon, then you would get intermittent banding throughout the frame because the pulsing would not be timed correctly with the travel of the shutter opening. So, the Flex uses a shorter pulsing duration with a higher pulse output. This allows the capacitor to supply enough power so all of the pulses are timed perfectly throughout the frame.

As I said before, Canon knocks at least 2 stops of light off of a flash pulse when going into HSS. They do this to be conservative with the timings/power in order to have a great user experience. My 580EX-IIs never misfired in Master/Slave mode over the course of a year and a half - which was Canon's goal with the relaxed timings.

LPA figured out that you can push those timings and make up some of that lost 2 stops of light. They aren't making the flash fire at a higher power than is allowed by the flash circuit. They are trying to get back those 2 stops of light that Canon's HSS mode takes away.
The downside to this is that you might have to play with your timings in the PocketWizard utility to get the timings right for your camera.

Since the 580EX-II is the only flash that this is a problem with, this is an indication that there might be a design flaw in the 580EX-II.

This isn't Canon's fault or LPA's fault. Canon engineered the HSS timings on the 580EX-II so that it works within a defined spec. LPA pushed the timings, and a weakness in Canon's design was exposed.

Canon will fix any flash still under warranty if it fails while being used with a Flex. That alone tells me that the Flex isn't using an unapproved power setting in the flash.
Brad,

Shorter pulses of a higher output demand more pulses over any comparable given time. Time is a deciding factor, to obtain any increase within the same time frame demands this higher light level. This does not form any part of the Canon native HSS system, more output over any given time is only provided by PW.

Having 3 flashes fail in Manual mode at 1/4 to 1/16 power with an AC3 and TT1/TT5 is indeed a strange phenomenum, that doesn't reflect a great user experience I would agree, although I doubt that it would ever have happened with just Canon products. I don't know for fact, but I would be extremely surprised if anybody ever reported anything similar happening like that purely using any of Canon's products, or triggered with any other radio triggers. If there are any situations where this has happened without using PW's - please show.

HSS has no timing adjustments.. there is only a time adjustment for Hypersync which works only with full single pulse flashes. The flash timing for HSS is factory set in the Mini/Flex and can't be adjusted. It's set to the point where the shutter starts to open. Canon starts it's HSS flash pulsing early and ends it late over a longer duration, PW doesn't start as early and doesn't end as late. Even if exactly the same amount of capacitor charge is being used, PW are discharging that over shorter durations at higher output.

Read back to where PW say that:

Our ControlTL firmware controls the brightness in for a 580EX II in HSS mode to no more than what is permitted by the Canon 40D, 50D, 7D series cameras which have the shortest HSS pulse durations (when flash is on top of the camera) and therefore have the highest native permitted power request levels. These cameras have the shortest blade travel times for their shutters.

...YET L.Garret (above) is seeing +1.5 stops more output with his 7D, so where is the extra light coming from ??
bradcurfman 8 years ago
CP,

The shorter pulses with higher power over the same amount of time does allow a "higher total" of light output, but again, this only causes a problem with the 580EX-II. In theory, that should not be an issue.

You can overheat your 580EX-II by using the test button in stroboscopic mode repeatedly. The 580EX-II manual
states, "To avoid overheating and deteriorating the flash head, do not use stroboscopic flash more than 10 times in succession. "

This shows that Canon allows you to use their API to pulse the flash in a way that could damage the flash head. That isn't smart. They should have a mechanism that prevents deterioration of the flash head instead of warning you not do it. Of course, it might be that they experienced less than 1% of flash head failures by doing too many stroboscopic pulses, but had to put that blurb in for legal reasons.

My flash failures were likely related to the Flex because I had used them in ETTL mode a couple times before they failed. There could have been arcing that didn't fully damage the flash, but caused some damage. And then they were just finished off in that session over Christmas.

The Flex does adjust the timings of HSS pulses. Read the first page here
www.pocketwizard.com/upload/photos/786Mini_Flex_Canon_Man...

I'm not sure how to interpret that paragraph you quoted from the 580EX-II report. The version 4.250 pdf I linked to indicates that the 40D and 50D do gain over a stop of light at some shutter speeds. It might just be a poorly written paragraph in their 580EX-II report. But since we know that there is an increase in power output, it would have to be because they shortened the timing of the pulse to get more power. They can't possibly make the flash output at a higher level than what Canon designed. As someone mentioned before, they would need to physically alter the flash circuit to go beyond the max output because the capacitor can only output the amount of voltage it is rated at. (A side note on capacitors, if you have a 400V cap, it can only discharge up to 400V. If you put a 600V supply on it, it still can only discharge 400V.)

I talked to a customer service rep for LPA when my flashes failed, and he assured me that the Flex communicates with a speedlite using the same API that Canon cameras use. They just use different values to achieve different results.

If LPA was doing something that Canon didn't approve of, Canon would recommend people not use the Flex. They also would probably not honor warranty claims for flashes that failed while using the Flex.
rwongab 8 years ago
A capacitor is basically two metal " folil paper" separated by a material that acts like a insulator (dialectric). This insulator is rated for a specific voltage and therefore the capacitor is rated occordingly. If you apply a voltage across the capacitor higher than the rated voltage, you will get one of two things happening: 1: The capacitor will be charged up greater than the design capacity or 2. The capcitor will blow up (bang) due to the diaelectric break down (short between the metal foil). The capacitor will not limit the voltage unless there is a clamp applied acorss the terminals. This clamp may be a zenor diode and without having access to the schematics, I cannot comment on the exact inner workings of the flash. I can only comment based on my technical background.

.
rwongab 8 years ago
There may be some truth that the Canon flashes can be instructed to output more energy and than the Nikon flashes are limited due to the design.

The way you can get more output out of a flash is 1. increase the charging voltage across the capacitor or 2 decrease pulse duration
or 3 insert more capacitors in parallel. 3 is most likely not the case for speed lights due to the real estate required and the cost.

As stated previously, without the schmatics, I am only speculating
@bradcurfman

It's those gains which don't add up.

The pdf you linked to states this:
Because the MiniTT1 Transmitter and FlexTT5 Transceiver communicate through-the-shoe with the camera system in use, they can control the HSS burst duration to match the shutter speed more precisely. This results in large gains in efficiency, as much as 60% in many cases, for both remote and on-camera flashes.

This gain in efficiency is immediately translated into shorter recycle time (allowing faster HSS shooting for longer bursts), more shots per battery set, and from 0.5 to 1.8 stops brighter output which enables greater working distance. When using a 580EX II as MASTER for wireless manual, you can expect gains up to 2.3 stops brighter, depending on shutter speed. If you are shooting exclusively at HSS shutter speeds, you will get more than a doubling of battery life from your Speedlite, possibly eliminating the need for an external battery pack.


60% gains in efficiency can be by converting all the light unseen by the sensor into useable output matched by the shutter duration.. and this is what PW say on their website about HSS gains in efficency (although they omit the 'increase in brightness bit - because this can only be derived from increasing output), this by still pulsing the flash which neccesitates output at a higher level resulting in the increases seen. Along with this is an energy saving.. this provided by not using ALL the energy used by Canon in their native HSS, but still utilising the increased output level.

However it's worded the fact is that PW are subjecting the Canon flashes to higher output levels than Canon themselves use. This is the only way to obtain greater brightness,

You can overheat your 580EX-II by using the test button in stroboscopic mode repeatedly. The 580EX-II manual
states, "To avoid overheating and deteriorating the flash head, do not use stroboscopic flash more than 10 times in succession. "


Well that's sensible.. why didn't PW read that ? Particularly the point '"To avoid overheating and deteriorating the flash head" ?

It's a very simple equation. A 2 stop increase is a light outputting at 400%. A 1 stop increase is a light outputting at 200%. Those graphs would need to be seen to be believed, and they sure won't be found at the PW website. 0.5 and 1.8 are much more cosy numbers to comrehend. (2.3 is not entirely related to output I think).

I would be corrected to learn that these figures don't apply to HSS, but instead to Hypersync, but this doesn't appear to be the case reading PW info or even refering to user reports claiming similar increases, and even applicable to cameras which PW state are not changed. Those increases can only be substantiated by output increases, especially in HSS.
Commercial Photographer Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 8 years ago
@rwongab

The way you can get more output out of a flash is ...
2 decrease pulse duration


I'm sure you must know this, but I''ll put it anyway..

With HSS the duration always needs to be at least your X sync speed. If that's 1/200s then that's how long your HSS duration needs to be. Not much wiggle room there in reducing duration. (Generally speaking 1/8000s shutter speed takes 1/200s + 1/8000s duration) During that time, the only way to increase brightness is by increasing output, and with HSS there are multiple flash pulses. The energy for this can be provided for from the efficiency savings or, maybe, increasing the capacitor charge.
bradcurfman 8 years ago
CP,

60% gains in efficiency can be by converting all the light unseen by the sensor into useable output matched by the shutter duration.. and this is what PW say on their website about HSS gains in efficency (although they omit the 'increase in brightness bit - because this can only be derived from increasing output)

Yes, efficiency is gained by capturing that unseen light with better timings, which yields better battery life and faster recycles. But the PW website does mention the 'increase in brightness' bit.
www.pocketwizard.com/inspirations/technology/fp_sync_hss/
"In manual mode, this gain in efficiency is translated into a brighter burst at the various power settings, as much as two stops brighter. It can do this because there is more power to use since it is not being used for a longer duration pulse. This will allow you to either use a lower power setting or a smaller aperture, depending on your need."

So, in combination with better timing for each pulse to get better battery life, they are also reducing the duration of each pulse, which allows them to make the pulse brighter. So, yes, they are increasing output. Look at graph 3 on that page. You can see the difference in the power level and duration of a Canon signal vs the Flex signal. The Flex pulse has 33.5mV higher output at a duration that is 12ms shorter than the Canon pulse.

Your point is that this increased output is beyond the max output that Canon allows their cameras to tell the flash to do, right?

The 2 stop (400% brighter) output increase isn't going beyond the max output of the flash, or beyond the max output that a Canon camera will tell the flash to do. However, it is going beyond the "Canon restricted" output that a camera will tell the flash to use during HSS. I'll go back to my previous example...

Camera at 1/250, Flash at 1/4 power
Canon camera will pulse the flash at around 1/16 power several times during the capture. Why tell the flash to use 1/16 when I dialed the flash to 1/4 power? Canon's engineers found that 1/16 would always deliver multiple pulses correctly to yield a proper exposure at that shutter speed. It always works. Period.

Camera at 1/250, Flash at 1/4 power and sitting on a Flex
Canon camera will try to pulse the flash at around 1/16 power several times during the capture, but the Flex unit intercepts the commands and instead tells the flash to pulse at 1/4 power.
How can they do this? Tighter timings and a shorter duration that allows them to increase the output.

I would be corrected to learn that these figures don't apply to HSS, but instead to Hypersync...

You are correct that this only applies to HSS. In Hypersync, the Flex is merely telling the flash to fire a split second earlier than what Canon cameras tell the remote flash. This prevents the black band at the bottom due to the communication delay with a remote flash. The success of this varies between cameras due to the speed of their shutters and other factors.
There is a second Hypersync mode that flashes the pulse with a lower power level, but that isn't relevant.
Brad,


Camera at 1/250, Flash at 1/4 power and sitting on a Flex
Canon camera will try to pulse the flash at around 1/16 power several times during the capture, but the Flex unit intercepts the commands and instead tells the flash to pulse at 1/4 power.
How can they do this? Tighter timings and a shorter duration that allows them to increase the output.


Thats well and good for low power. What level does PW pulse the flash when the Canon flash is set to full power in order to acheive a higher output? Might that be in the same ratio i.e up to 400% higher?

Where do you get your information from regarding what Canon Engineers found, is there a resource for this?

Also, this is odd. In HSS PW indicate NO increase in output despite there obviously being some and various increased amounts being claimed. In their comparison charts here, no such increase is indicated. Where is the brightness increase being discussed? According to these there is none :

bradcurfman 8 years ago
CP,

Thats well and good for low power. What level does PW pulse the flash when the Canon flash is set to full power in order to acheive a higher output? Might that be in the same ratio i.e up to 400% higher?

Yes, in HSS with the flash dialed into 1/1 power, Canon is restricting the flash output by around 2 stops. The Flex is able to get back up to 2 stops of light. While using the Flex, the flash still pulses at a value lower than 1/1, but it is pulsing at a higher level than it it would without the Flex.
One thing to note... if you look at the graphs they released for different cameras, I didn't see any getting back 2 stops. Most are getting back just over a stop at different shutter speeds.

My information about Canon engineers is based on my experience with technology over the years. Manufacturers rarely release a product that pushes the bounds of its hardware. That is an engineering and marketing decision. Canon didn't want to push the speedlites to the edge and then put out documentation that says you get different power levels depending on what camera you use. It would also vary from unit to unit of the same model. Can you imagine trying to make a decision on what camera to buy with another piece of info like that to weigh on?

In regard to graphs 1 and 2 that you embedded from the PW website, the first graph is Canon's HSS implementation at different shutter speeds. The second graph is showing the Flex's implementation of ControlTL using the tighter timings to get better battery life and faster recylces.
The third graph that I mentioned in my post shows the combination of tighter timings, a shorter duration, and higher output.
So your ideas about the way in which Canon implement their HSS cannot be verified?

'Restricting Flash output by 2 stops' is not reflected anywhere in any results. As I've been saying all along - the only way you get increased output in HSS is by increasing the output or brightness of the light you're using. 'Canon restricting output' has no bearing here, as they're working within parameters - as you put it - 'to provide a great user experience'. That seems to have hit the dust.

That graph 3 you refer to is the ammended Manual power output imposed by PW. That Manual power output is greater than the Canon output by 1.68 stops, and like the reduced durations illustrated by the graph I posted has exactly the same reduction in flash duration. The +1.68 increase is plainly evident there. That is beyond the Canon implementation and not a single flash, but pulsed. +1.68 stops increase is between a 300% and 400% increase in output.

I would speculate that despite being shown as seperate traces, PW transfer the +1.68 benefit to their regular HSS making that extra output available. Numerous people state that they see increased output in HSS using PW ControlTL and are happy to quote it as often as possible - this is where it comes from. My post above questioned this - yet nobody offerers any evidence either way:
www.flickr.com/groups/pocketwizards/discuss/7215762606136...

This increased output over the shorter duration is what leads to problems. IMO the 'engineering and marketing' at PW have got it wrong when increasing the 580 output to a point evidently, which it can't handle.

If my flashunit breaks when I hit it with a hammer, the flashunit is obviously not designed to be hit by that hammer. The solution is simply not to hit it with a hammer. If you really must hit it with a hammer - design one which won't damage the flashunit.
bradcurfman 8 years ago
CP,

My comments about Canon restricting flash output in HSS is well known by photographers. I imagine Nikon does this as well.

To test it out, I put a 580EX-II on my camera at 1/4 power and took pictures at 1/200, 1/250, and 1/8000. I had to open up the aperture about 2 stops so the picture at 1/250 would match the exposure of the 1/200 picture. At 1/8000, I had to open the aperture about about 7 stops.

In HSS, the camera will pulse the flash at a power below what is dialed in. Canon decided what power they wanted to use at different shutter speeds.
PW came along and said, let's see if we can get more out of the flash by tweaking the parameters. They did just that. They are still using a power level allowed by Canon, but it is a little higher than what Canon determined they wanted to use.

The hammer analogy isn't valid. Nobody would want to hit a flash with a hammer, but many people would want to make their flash perform at a higher level.
Of course HSS needs to use a lower level pulse whatever the make of flash, because when this is applied the instantaneous flash changes to a pulsing and that pulsing needs to be maintained by the reservoir of energy stored in the capacitors. If PW was using the same level of pulsing which Canon use, great.. but they're not. Your involvement of Canon Engineers has no bearing on this whatsoever - and you have as little idea about what Canon Engineers found as any other speculator.

It's been pointed out that compared to the level of output that Canon use for HSS, PW's interpretation amplifies this output over exactly the same shutter speed duration by 300-400%. This is not a single flash burst anymore, Canon do not use this, it is a higher level prolonged pulsing which Canon DO NOT use and something - as you point out - Canon warn against using.

PW's implementation of HSS involves over running the flashtube in this way beyond levels which Canon condone using and don't use themselves. Saving energy and optimising the timing is a great feature, pumping up the output to the point that it causes failure is not such a good idea.

Is it really so difficult for people to grasp that as an after market vendor PW need to make their products work with OEM's flash equipment - and not the other way around?

You would think that reverse engineering a programme in order to intercept and use signals from a camera would be pretty straight forward and logical.. but just look at the hash that's been made of that with the PW Canon system over the last two years. You would think too that the calculations of flash output and duration converted to a shorter duration and higher output would be a simple thing to do.. techically, it might be, but in reality other things need to be taken account of which haven't and history is proving that like trying to reverse engineer the Canon programming this is wrong too. Pointing a finger at other unrelated design elements is a pointless smokescreen, as those design elements are there, were there, they exist and they simply need to be accomodated.

Rather than prolong the agony, your choice is clear. If you want to use the PW's ControlTL then don't use them with the 580EXII's as you are more likely to fry your flashes this way, rather than if you didn't use them with the PW's.

As wrote months ago, you still have same choice.
As a consumer, if you were given the choice of either 'more output' or 'longer life' - which would you choose? - You can only have one.

About the hammer.. nobody wants broken flashunits. If making them perform at higher levels breaks them - then it's farcical to make them do so.
bradcurfman 8 years ago
CP,

It's been pointed out that compared to the level of output that Canon use for HSS, PW's interpretation amplifies this output over exactly the same shutter speed duration by 300-400%. This is not a single flash burst anymore, Canon do not use this, it is a higher level prolonged pulsing which Canon DO NOT use and something - as you point out - Canon warn against using.

Canon doesn't warn against using the higher flash pulse that the Flex introduces. They warn against using stroboscopic flash repeatedly, as it can cause the flash to overheat. Stroboscopic mode and HSS pulsing might sound like the same thing, but they aren't. They have different flash output/duration. Stroboscopic mode can't be used in HSS so the timings/output are obviously different.

Overheating a flash is a completely different problem than arcing which shorts out electrical components. The flash has thermal protection built in to prevent damage from overheating. If you constantly force a thermal protection mode, that could deteriorate the flash over time.

You obviously understand the concept that given a certain amount of charge in a capacitor, you will only get X number of flashes at a certain flash power level and flash duration. If you want higher flash output, then you need to reduce the flash duration. You can play around with those numbers to get the desired outcome, and that is what PW is doing.
In theory, there is nothing wrong with that. They can't keep reducing the duration to get more power, as eventually banding will occur in the exposure. They can't keep increasing the power output because the capacitor will drain too much which will cause missed pulses as the capacitor can't keep up.
In practice however, some 580EX-II units have an arcing problem when pushed to the limit. No other flash has demonstrated this problem.

The point I'm making is that PW is not using an unapproved flash output. They are using a flash output in HSS that is higher than Canon does. This is an output level that the flash can use when not in HSS. So, it is an approved level because the flash allows it through it's API. If they were using a power level beyond what Canon allows, there would be a lot more failures, and other flash models would also be failing.


Is it really so difficult for people to grasp that as an after market vendor PW need to make their products work with OEM's flash equipment - and not the other way around?

I don't think anyone is saying that Canon needs to make their flash work with the Flex. PW is doing what they can to make the Flex work with all Nikon/Canon flashes.
bradcurfman 8 years ago
CP,

Your involvement of Canon Engineers has no bearing on this whatsoever - and you have as little idea about what Canon Engineers found as any other speculator.

My involvement of Canon engineers does have bearing. Engineers for any company help decide the parameters in which electronics operate.

Intel engineers set clock speeds of their processors to a level that they found yields a good balance of speed and temperature. If the processor speed is cranked too high, it heats up and will fail if it doesn't have adequate cooling. I've overclocked processors before, but made sure that I had a better cooling solution than the stock fan and heat sink that came with the computer.

Canon engineers made similar decisions in setting the duration and power level of HSS pulses. They didn't start off the design of the 580EX-II by saying we will make a flash that pulses at 2 stops below the requested power while in HSS mode. They started the design by defining some general guidelines for how they wanted the flash to perform. Once they reached a certain point in the design and development cycle, they tuned the parameters of the flash operation to maintain a balance that they were comfortable with. That is how electronic products are designed and produced.

PW engineers came along and decided they wanted to push the bounds of what Canon engineers had decided. But they had a limit as to what they could do. Their limit was the API and flash circuitry that Canon had provided.
Brad,

PW are using an output that it not a Canon native. When you take numerous multiple flashes and trigger them consecutively to provide a continuous output, that's the same as a stroboscopic output without any delay between pulses.

'The point I'm making is that PW is not using an unapproved flash output. They are using a flash output in HSS that is higher than Canon does. This is an output level that the flash can use when not in HSS. So, it is an approved level because the flash allows it through it's API. If they were using a power level beyond what Canon allows, there would be a lot more failures, and other flash models would also be failing.

A single pulse of light at 'x' output compared to multiple pulses of light AKA HSS at 'x' output cannot be compared... 'the flash allows it' in just the same way Canon allow stroboscopic mode but warn against using it.

I don't think anyone is saying that Canon needs to make their flash work with the Flex. PW is doing what they can to make the Flex work with all Nikon/Canon flashes

That's what they need to do. If their system burns out 580EXII's they need to amend their system to take account of the tolerances of the 580EXII rather than complain the very product they want their system to work with is at fault..


.
dsmPhotoCompany-Brian 8 years ago
Just FYI... 40D burns out a 580EX II just fine even at below HSS speeds. One of ours burned through two. One in the PW system and 1 using an OC3 extension cable (No PW). My 580EX II's (had 4 of them now) only caused me trouble over their life (my last one just got repaired and is going out the door for good) and I had them longer than I had the Flexes with problems before the flexes. Now my 580EX (none mark II) still works great and has no issues (besides needing the RF Sock) in any situation that the 580EX II was failing in (normally threw out the failed one on a shoot and hooked up the older model to continue). Now my 430EX II's have no issues what so ever.

So having said that, if my older flashes work fine, my new 430's (all 5-6 of them) work fine and only my 580EX II's have issues over 4 different camera models and with/without PW flexes then perhaps there may be a design issue with that 580EX II. Doesn't mean they would all have a design flaw (see the 1D Mark III) but several could. It has just been my experience that this specific model can't hold up to much stress at all both in and out of spec where it's newer little brother and predecessor still work great.
rodphoto7 7 years ago
I just burned 2 580's in less then 2 weeks. Warrenty on both have expired. Both have been used lately with Pw's mini and flex. They are $1200 paper weights now! I'll be on the phone with Canon today.
In the LPA Design report about this problem here: LPA Design state;

'Our ControlTL firmware controls the brightness in for a 580EX II in HSS mode to no more than what is permitted by the Canon 40D, 50D, 7D series cameras which have the shortest HSS pulse durations (when flash is on top of the camera) and therefore have the highest native permitted power request levels. These cameras have the shortest blade travel times for their shutters.'

Please note:
- no more than what is permitted by the Canon 40D, 50D, 7D
- which have the shortest HSS pulse durations
- therefore have the highest native permitted power request levels
- These cameras have the shortest blade travel times for their shutters.

This diagram is LPA's claim for the increase in output in HSS for a 40D and 50D:

It can be downloaded here:
www.pocketwizard.com/upload/photos/563489FP_Sync_Efficien...


That diagram clearly shows an INCREASE of between +0.5 stop and greater than +1stop. What part of that increase falls into the realms of 'no more than what is permitted by the Canon 40D, 50D, 7D' ? Obviously the report which LPA published to mitigate any blame for the failing flashunits is fundamentally flawed even by their own account, and where a 580EX II flash used on a 40D burns out as in (dsmPC) Brian's case - I really can't see that this isn't a fundamental part of the reason.

Other cameras which have LONGER HSS durations and also have associated exposure increases which neccesarilly match their LONGER shutter durations are also imposed higher brightness levels.

If it was true that the PW's ONLY use the maximum output provided by the native Canon HSS system, then resulting failures could fairly be atributed to a Canon quality issues or design errors. Clearly, from PW's own evidence this is not the case, and bringing Canon to task over this when their flashunits have been subject to unauthorised fundamental change is ridiculous.

Claims that there is no increases in output, and then there are clear illustrations that this output is increased in the very specific situations cited only points to a contradiction used when it best suits PW's purposes.

@roddy169 Get your flashes fixed by LPA Design. Since they were broke whilst being used on PW's make it their responsibility as the increased output was certainly contributing to the failure whatever camera they were used on. This post gives more details of the repair:
www.flickr.com/groups/pocketwizards/discuss/7215762780137...

Although, just why you should need to pay for the repair beats me!
Jumbo Giant.com 7 years ago
If you do try and fix your speedlight youself. I made a short video on how to properly discharge the capacitor in hopes that I might have saved a few lives from electricution.

youtu.be/0mgpbD0IFvw
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