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580EX II Faulty by Design?
« on: February 16, 2011, 09:34:39 PM »

Why do you blow up so much 580EX II?

There has been a lot of people writing in over the years about their 580EX II’s constantly failing. People became more vocal around the time the PocketWizard FlexTT5 and MiniTT1 launched.  Below is preliminary research done by PocketWizard on the 580EX II and the problems it has.



Background

Since the launch of its PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 models in early 2009, LPA Design (A.K.A.PocketWizard) has been receiving periodic calls and reports from customers who are using their Canon 580EX II flashes with the PocketWizard ControlTL radios and expressing concern that perhaps their flash may have been damaged by using a PocketWizard radio trigger with it. As of the time of this report (Jan, 2011), there are about 120‐140 PocketWizard customers who have reported having one or more 580EX II flashes damaged with common symptoms over the past 18+ months.


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« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 09:40:38 PM by Canon Rumors »
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580EX II Faulty by Design?
« on: February 16, 2011, 09:34:39 PM »

contrastny

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2011, 10:23:00 PM »
This gives me a lot to think about as I'm trying to decide which flash unit to get. Thanks for the info.


Grummbeerbauer

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 01:56:53 AM »
The paper is an interesting read -- a very thorough examination of the cause of the problem, and their conclusions seem plausible.
They mention that the more recent 430EX II does not have the flaws that together contribute to the problem -- now it would be interesting to find out if Canon did the same design changes to later models of the 580 EX II as well (that is if Canon became aware of the possible issues with the 580 EX II and if that was actually the reason for designing the 430 EX II differently...). But since there is no mentioning of the aspect of manufacturing dates of the affected units, we have to assume that no such design change took place.

Kim

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2011, 02:35:25 AM »
It is most likely the 580EX II is flawed but how come Radio Poppers haven't been reporting these issues? Doesn't they support same functions just different ways of delivering the signal electrical vs. optical

Grummbeerbauer

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2011, 02:48:22 AM »
It is most likely the 580EX II is flawed but how come Radio Poppers haven't been reporting these issues? Doesn't they support same functions just different ways of delivering the signal electrical vs. optical

According to the analysis paper, Pocket Wizards are not mere remote triggers seem to influence the way the flash emits light, which might increase the likelihood of the problem appearing:
Quote
So while PocketWizard products do not appear to cause the failure, through aggressive marketing of remote HSS features of Canon’s flashes we may be accidentally contributing to the rate in which failures happen.

In brief: the many short light bursts produced in HSS mode increase the amount of ozone produced by the flash bulb, which can't escape the flash head because it is weather-sealed. The ozone increases the likelihood of arcing within the flash head, which increases the likelihood of frying an IGBT (a part of the flash's power control electronics). Pocket wizards enable the use of HSS in remote flash use (which is not possible with Canon's optical remote flash system), so people using Pocket Wizards are more likely to use HSS and are therefore more likely to experience the problem.

Flake

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2011, 05:11:38 AM »
Firstly it should be bourne in mind that this report is issued by a company accused by some of it's products damaging their equipment - it is not an unbiased & independant report.

It appears to have fooled some into concluding that the fault lies within the flash head - that is in fact far from the case.  What the report does is to report the symptoms of the failure, the components which fail and the way in which they fail.  If I connected a television to 30000 volts I could do the same thing - look at the components which failed, and how they failed - some would conclude the failure was as a result of poor design of the television. 

The report fails to address several important issues.
There is no discussion about the potential differences in the E-TTL control of the PW when compared to Canons original (and undisclosed) software.
There is no specific mention of why these failures do no occur with other triggers such as the ST-E2 or even the hotshoe.
There is no attempt to ascertain the time of the arcing in the flash head - for all we know it could well be caused post failure of the IGBT when it dumps a full power load, and have nothing to do with the actual fail state, just another symptom.
If ozone is a real problem (and I'm not convinced it is at these concentrations) then why is it not a problem when the flash is used with other triggers?

The report unfortunately doesn't reach a firm conclusion - just a note that further tests will be carried out.

I have to say that I'm not impressed with Canons flash system, I own the 580 EXII and an ST-E2 I also have a Metz MZ54 5 (latest E-TTL firmware) & a sunpak PZ5000 slave unit.  The Metz is probably the best built of all, but lacks the wireless trigger capability.

In the UK canon charge £49 for the OC-E3 a remote cable with probably costs around £4 to make I would imagine that the 580 EXII is costing them less than £40 to make which isn't much.  A little more quality in some of the accessory products rather than design to cheapest manufacture is perhaps needed.

nmount

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2011, 08:59:53 AM »
I would like to point out that neither the 580 EX or the 430 EX II is supposed to be water resistant while the 580 EX II is.  I would attribute some if not all of the design differences between the flashes to this water resistance, for example a sealed end cap on the 580 EX II where there isn't one on the others.  Therefore suggesting that the design between the two was changed due to a faulty design isn't proved by this point.

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2011, 08:59:53 AM »

Gothmoth

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2011, 09:23:55 AM »
Quote
Although LPA Design has been able to identify the symptom of the problem, LPA Design has not been
able to trace the cause of the problem to our PocketWizard products and we have no knowledge of the
incidence rates of this problem arising independently without PocketWizard, i.e. some number of 580EX
II flashes likely fail without PocketWizard ControlTL radios interacting with them.

well i think that would be important to know.

if people without PW reporting this issue too, i would think the 580 EX II is the problem.

if only 0.01% of the 580 EX II that are used without Pocket Wizards have theses problems i think PW will have a problem.

that Pocket Wizards encurage more people to use HSS.... mhm.... i think that a greater percentage of units will be used with HSS and without an PW.
i know 15-20 people with an 580 EX II unit but only three of them have an Pocket Wizard.

anyway i hope to read a statement from canon....
« Last Edit: February 17, 2011, 09:39:06 AM by Gothmoth »

7enderbender

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2011, 12:33:31 PM »
Hello all,

This subject caused me to finally register and say something about this. I recently invested in a brand new system and started from scratch after finally going digital and retire my FD system. I understand that Canon probably looks at their top shelf camera systems more as a marketing tool and reputation builder than as a cash cow. They make their money with little P&S cameras and office supplies. I get that. Even more so should they be interested in working with the people (pros and non pros) who buy their expensive equipment and haul it around town for every one to see who is going to buy a Rebel at Costco.

Their stuff is great and we all have to be grateful that Canon and companies like that (i.e. Nikon) put in the research to maintain this minority market at a pretty high level. That being said I feel they should then try to live up to correcting obvious issues. I am in the market right now for the 580EXII and a 50mm lens. I understand that Canon could really care less and that they won't make much money of these items. But still, both these items have obvious design flaws that I'd like to see corrected. Charge me more but make something available that lives up to the reputation that Canon wants to portrait and maintain in this market segment. Or drop it if it's not worth the effort. But it's not OK to charge us a lot of money (relatively speaking), make us walking advertising and then tell us we're out of luck if some of the stuff fails due to half-baked designs.
5DII - 50L - 135L - 200 2.8L - 24-105 - 580EXII - 430EXII - FD 500/8 - AE1-p - bag full of FD lenses

fotoray

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2011, 12:56:08 PM »
Amen!  I just sent off a note to Canon (see link at top of this page) conveying these same points.  If others could also express their views directly to Canon we might as least get their explanation of this 580EX II problem.  Their failure to respond would certainly not be a very good marketing strategy, and have the appearance of a cover-up.  I have not had problems with my other Canon equipment, and I wouldn't want to pay good money for equipment that has known design flaws - if that the case!
5D Mk III | 7D | 20D | EF-S 10-22 | EF-S 17-85 | EF 17-40 f/4L | EF 24-105 f/4L | EF 70-300 DO | EF-S 60 macro | EF 100L macro | 580EX II | RRS Series 2 tripod | plus many gadgets |

Gothmoth

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2011, 02:45:07 PM »
I understand that Canon could really care less and that they won't make much money of these items. But still, both these items have obvious design flaws that I'd like to see corrected. Charge me more but make something available that lives up to the reputation that Canon wants to portrait and maintain in this market segment. Or drop it if it's not worth the effort. But it's not OK to charge us a lot of money (relatively speaking), make us walking advertising and then tell us we're out of luck if some of the stuff fails due to half-baked designs.

well i wonder what makes you think this is a canon problem and not a PW problem.
as mentioned PW paid for this report and they came to no clear solution.
PW is pointing in canons direction.. but that´s only too normal.

i can only tell you that i have sold over 40 EX 580 II the last two years and i got none back.
so i guess they are still working fine. i use a 580 EX II myself without a problem.

i hope that canon will give a statement.

7enderbender

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2011, 03:15:11 PM »
I understand that Canon could really care less and that they won't make much money of these items. But still, both these items have obvious design flaws that I'd like to see corrected. Charge me more but make something available that lives up to the reputation that Canon wants to portrait and maintain in this market segment. Or drop it if it's not worth the effort. But it's not OK to charge us a lot of money (relatively speaking), make us walking advertising and then tell us we're out of luck if some of the stuff fails due to half-baked designs.

well i wonder what makes you think this is a canon problem and not a PW problem.
as mentioned PW paid for this report and they came to no clear solution.
PW is pointing in canons direction.. but that´s only too normal.

i can only tell you that i have sold over 40 EX 580 II the last two years and i got none back.
so i guess they are still working fine. i use a 580 EX II myself without a problem.

i hope that canon will give a statement.


Well, that's a valid point and we don't know anything for sure yet. But in applying a bit of common sense here I am inclined to see this as a Canon problem. I'm not a technician but I found the paper pretty convincing as to the actual location of the problem. And I've also seen quite a bit of anecdotal evidence online that points in that direction. I know, people write all sort of stuff and it may only affect a relatively small number of units. But I've seen quite a few discussions where people complained about "underexposure" and missing "pre flashes" that I guess fit in pretty well with the analysis done by PW.

The most convincing piece of evidence appears to be the fact that a) the design of the 430EXII was different and b) that those units don't fail - with or without PW use. I'm sure there are various kinds of confounding factors here at play that skew the numbers.

But in the end I can't really think of anything that would cause the speedlights to fail based on the triggering device. But again, I'm no technician. And would something like this stand in a court room? I don't know. But it would for sure leave a funny aftertaste if Canon went that route instead of just accepting the -somewhat- obvious. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out. I'll wait before I make a purchase now.
5DII - 50L - 135L - 200 2.8L - 24-105 - 580EXII - 430EXII - FD 500/8 - AE1-p - bag full of FD lenses

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2011, 03:43:41 PM »
I've been using three 580 EX II's without a PW for years with no issues.  The PW's though have had plenty of problems, and require a circuit change in the 580 EX II to reduce RF and increase the range slightly, or a wierd wrap around device.

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2011, 03:43:41 PM »

kubelik

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2011, 05:18:53 PM »
The most convincing piece of evidence appears to be the fact that a) the design of the 430EXII was different and b) that those units don't fail - with or without PW use. I'm sure there are various kinds of confounding factors here at play that skew the numbers.

someone above (credit goes to nmount) has already noted that the design of the 430 EX II is bound to be different than the 580 EX II because of their weathersealing requirements.

so ... the most convincing piece of evidence here isn't very compelling at all, actually.  I think this is going to need a lot more analysis before anyone jumps to conclusions.  I haven't had to slap PW's on my 580 EX II but I notice none of the arcing discussed in the document despite heavy use

jonmarkphoto

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2011, 05:22:16 PM »
I would like to point out my personal experience in this issue.

I have been using Radiopoppers for over a year now without issue ( both JRx and PX systems ) , they have never damaged my flashes and my flashes had never had any functionality issues... until recently.

A friend bought into the new Pocketwizard flex system. We tried using it while he was assisting me at a wedding. For the first hour it was fine... and then, my 580EX II started going haywire and doing full power dumps everywhere I went. I eventually had to give up and resort to borrowing a flash from another friend and finishing the day with my Radiopoppers. My flash was pooched, had to send it in to CPS to get it repaired. $130 with my discount.

A week later, my friend was playing around with them more, and had been in conversation with pocketwizard to work out the interference issues and get the PW "socks" sent to him. He got the socks, and after 2 days of use, his 580 EX I flash blew up and started doing the same thing. He bought a new 580 EXII, and within 2 weeks of purchase, it also "blew up" and would only do full power dumps, even when not connected to the pocketwizards. Canon replaced this flash as a manufacturers defect under the warranty.

When my friend contacted Pocketwizard about his concerns about breaking the flashes, who up to this point had been very responsive to his emails regarding interference and the "socks", they suddenly stopped responding. He has not heard a response since.

We subsequently stopped using the pocketwizards, and I have gone 100% radiopopper JRx. They have given me ZERO flash issues and 100% firing reliability. My Radiopopper PX system, which like the pocketwizards gives E-TTL wireless capability, was bulletproof, and also did not damage the flashes, but I found I was shooting on manual all the time anyways and didn't need the more expensive system, so I sold it.

I am 100% convinced based on my own personal experience with THREE 580EX flashes ( 1 580 EX I, 2 580 EXII ) that the pocketwizards are the issue and that they are not taking responsibility for this situation. I will never deal with them again. Radiopopper has not only been completely reliable, but very communicative and helpful, I would encourage all of you to look in their direction when it comes to Radio based flash triggers.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2011, 06:43:51 PM by jonmarkphoto »

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Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2011, 05:22:16 PM »