Canon’s Speedlite 580EX II & Metz’s Mecablitz 58 AF-1C Digital; Page 2

Should I Upgrade From The 580EX To The 580EX II?
Before you put your 580EX on the auction block in favor of the 580EX II, there are a few things you should know. For starters, the two flash units are largely identical in terms of basic functionality in areas that matter most. Both offer identical Guide Numbers (GN) and flash coverage, but the new flash does recycle 20 percent faster, adds auto-thyristor control ("external metering" in Canon parlance), and gives users of EOS-1D Mark III (and presumably later models) enhanced flash control. The differences may be labeled esoteric by some, a sheer necessity by others--you be the judge. Other key differences and similarities are outlined in the table below.
Feature/Model
580EX II
580EX
E-TTL II, E-TTL, TTL, Flash Exposure Compensation/Bracketing, High-Speed Sync Yes Yes
Auto Zoom Matches Image Sensor Size; Bounce Panel; Backlit Digital LCD Full Swivel & Tilt (incl. Macro Tilt); Stroboscopic Flash; Modeling Flash Yes Yes
Wireless Control Yes (selected via function buttons) Yes (selected via mechanical switch)
Hot Shoe Metal (for durability) Plastic (not as strong, but I never had a problem with it)
Shoe Locking Mechanism Positive-locking lever (press Release button to unlock) Traditional thumbwheel
PC Socket (for conventional sync cord connection) Yes No
Water- & Dust-Resistant/Shock dampening Yes (gasketed for dust and moisture resistance) + selected areas rubberized for modest shock protection No/no
On/Off Switch Two-position lever (à la EOS 5D and kin)--more difficult to accidentally activate Two-position switch
Battery Compartment Adds locking latch Conventional
Size 3x5.4x4.6" 3x5.3x4.5"
Weight 14.3 oz 13.2 oz

While the Canon 580EX II brings a new and improved mounting foot and locking mechanism to the table, it's not something I've felt a dire need for, so, for me, the conventional foot on the Metz unit proved more than satisfactory (although it did require more turns than conventional Canon thumbwheels). That said, the Canon is better sealed against the elements and becomes a better match with weather-resistant EOS-1 D-SLRs and L-series Canon EF lenses. Considering that a flash unit's capacitor stores serious voltage that can prove hazardous when wet, knowing I have less to worry about when tramping about in the rain or snow or shooting inside a wet and dripping limestone cave is reason enough for me to buy the new Canon flash, even if it will only be used with an EOS 5D.

I photographed these "pinwheels" and meat patties using the flash bounced off the ceiling, with the camera handheld. While I made similar exposures with both flash units with equally good results, this one was made with the Metz 58 AF-1C--note the rich color.
All Photos © 2007, Jack Neubart, All Rights Reserved
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