Better looking pictures with Easy Wireless flash

Make more of the camera you have

EOS 600D and EOS 650D both have Easy Wireless flash, simply put this sets the camera’s pop-up flash to act as a controller for a Canon Speedlite used in slave mode. Many photographers think of flash as a scary topic, but with a little logical thinking it’s a highly practical and useful skill to master regardless of the kinds of pictures you take. Think of it as having an extra brush to paint with, after all photography is “drawing with light”.

Consider these three pictures below, the first is using available light, the second has the pop-up or built-in flash active to light the model from the front, the third uses the camera to control an off-camera Speedlite to the right of the camera.

L-R - no flash, on-camera flash, off-camera flash

This is why you should be using flash and why getting your flash off the hotshoe is not difficult. Remember both of the flash pictures are taken using automatic flash. The key is that with the light coming from the side, you can see extra texture in the model’s jumper and in the tree. What’s more the camera has also selected a slightly faster shutter speed for a better balance to the background, it knows the model is lit, so is not working so hard to balance the model in the shade and the brighter background and failing on both counts.

Accessing Easy Wireless flash

To use the Easy Wireless flash you have to venture in to the Creative Zone of the camera’s mode dial, yes it’s time for letters instead of icons. P – program, Av – aperture priority (or aperture value), Tv – shutter priority (or time value) and M – manual. Choose one of these modes and then your camera will show you the full range of menu options granting access to all it’s capabilities.

EOS 650D Easy Wireless flash setup EOS 650D Easy Wireless flash setup

For the EOS 650D you will find Flash Control at the bottom of the first tab in the red menus, select it then choose the Built-in flash settings option. By default the built-in flash is set to Normal Firing, but you need to set it to Easy Wireless, then there is one other setting you can choose; the channel. Leave it set to 1 if you like, but remember everyone else who starts off is probably using channel 1. Be creative don’t follow the masses and use a different channel, just remember which one you chose.

EOS 650D Easy Wireless flash setup complete

EOS 650D Easy Wireless flash setup complete

That’s the camera all set…

Now for the flash, your Speedlite flash will have to be set to work as a slave, it can be as simple as a switch or as complicated as a look in the Speedlite instruction book. Make sure that the flash is using the same channel as the camera or it won’t work. If you use the Speedlite 270EX II as your slave, you don’t even need to set a channel as it will fire regardless of the channel you choose in the camera.

Take aim

The key now is to get the remotely controlled flash to the right place, typically this means one side or the other, and for people often just above the eyeliner. Starting with the flash at 45 degrees to the subject is a good idea. It’s also important to turn the off-camera flash body so that it faces toward the camera, the light receiver is the shiny black plastic part on the front of the flash. Indoors it works almost anywhere, outside you need to turn it towards the camera. I used a “voice activated light-stand”, called Allan, to hold my off-camera flash. With a quick bit of training he was pretty good at not covering the receiver panel with his fingers.

Choose the aperture and ISO

Since you are in the Creative Zone section of the mode dial you need to make some more input to the picture taking process, choose the aperture you like the the required depth of field and check your shutter speed is less than your camera sync speed 1/200s or less is fine for most cameras. If the shutter speed it too slow, then increase the ISO to get less camera shake with a faster shutter speed. Now take your picture, with the light coming from a different direction you will be creating “interesting shadows”. These shadows reveal texture and depth – so important in a two-dimensional flat photo.

That’s all there is to it, better pictures with one extra step, and so much better results than leaving the flash on top of the camera. Also you don’t get even a hint of red-eye using off-camera flash.

Canon slave flashes

All of these Speedlites below can be used as a slave flash controlled using Easy Wireless on the EOS 600D and EOS 650D.

Current models

  • Speedlite 600EX-RT
  • Speedlite 430EX II
  • Speedlite 320EX
  • Speedlite 270EX II

Older models

  • Speedlite 420EX
  • Speedlite 430EX
  • Speedlite 550EX
  • Speedlite 580EX
  • Speedlite 580EX II

If you have an EOS 60D or EOS 7D then you can also do the same off-camera flash lighting, but you don’t have the Easy Wireless mode. You’ll need to make a few more settings but then it’s straightforward too.