Speedliter’s Handbook Review

Have you ever looked at those buttons on the back of your flash and wondered what exactly that they do?  What about understanding flash exposure compensation?  Or, high speed sync?  Want to dim the sun?

The Speedliter’s Handbook is a killer resource from Syl Arena that is primarily for Canon DSLR shooters who want to integrate Canon Speedlites into their repertoire.  That said, photographers using any other brand of gear will get their money’s worth out of this book.

This isn’t a quick hit book that you pick up, read a few things about Speedlites and go on your merry way.  The Speedliter’s Handbook is a massive photographic resource.  Even the diligent novice can pick up this book and make their way to advanced topics after Syl breaks down the nuts and bolts of how exposure works.  Only after he spends ample time on the basics does he notch things up to deal with flash and off-camera lighting.

If you are a more advanced user, the book’s design makes it easy to jump to a topic relevant to your specific interest.  And there are plenty of topics throughout the nearly 400-pages within.  To give you a little taste of what you’ll find within, check out the chapter list below.

  1. Learn to See Light
  2. Exposure Exposed
  3. Mechanics of Light
  4. Light of the World
  5. Think Globally, Light Locally
  6. Meet the Speedlites
  7. Control Your Speedlites
  8. Flashing Manually
  9. E is for Evaluative
  10. Move Your Speedlite Off-Camera
  11. Wireless Speedliting, the Canon Way
  12. Mixing Canon Speedlites with Other Lights
  13. Go Ahead, Mod Your Speedlite
  14. Those Big Modifiers Always Get in the Way
  15. Get a Grip
  16. Keeping the Energy Up
  17. Lighting Portraits Classically
  18. Portraits with One Speedlite
  19. Portraits with Two and Three Speedlites
  20. Gelling for Effect
  21. Slicing Time with High-Speed Sync
  22. Dimming the Sun
  23. Smashing Pumpkins with Gang Light
  24. Speedliting Events
  25. Strobo, Strobo, Strobo

As you can see, you get your money’s worth out of this book.

I have a feeling that you are seeing the first of many editions of this book.  Syl put such a strong foundation in Speedliter’s Handbook that it is likely to become THE resource for Canon Speedlite users for years to come.

Another little thing that helps the book’s massive content is a thorough index.  Just about anything you will find in the book has been indexed – including Joe McNally (you know he’s the man when a Nikon shooter gets indexed in a book about Canon Speedlites).

If you have a Canon Speedlite in your camera bag, you owe it to yourself to buy and read this book.  If you own a Canon DSLR and want to make better photos using a flash, you won’t find a better resource to help you learn.

Make no mistake though, this is not a book for the casual photographer.  Speedliter’s Handbook is a serious lighting resource for serious photographers.  It’s not necessarily a difficult topic; however, if you are not dedicated to the craft of photography (or at least have a serious desire to learn), then this book may not be for you.

For the serious shooter who is ready to step up his or her game though, this book is a gold mine of information.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I highly recommend Speedliter’s Handbook for all photographers who want to get more out of their Speedlites.  And I suggest that non-Canon shooters take a serious look at picking it up to sharpen their overall understanding of lighting and exposure.

You can find Speedliter’s Handbook on Amazon.com.

For those looking for a good book that’s geared toward Nikon’s Creative Lighting System, check out The Hot Shoe Diaries from Joe McNally.