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I have a Canon 5D Mark II and I'd like to see if its hot-shoe works before buying a flash.

For a bit of context: several years ago I put a primitive flash from my old times doing film photography on this camera and tried to take a picture. Flash didn't fire, I tried again, didn't fire I gave up. Later, a friend informed me that I'm an idiot and I might have damaged the circuitry by using an old style flash on an E-TTL II hot-shoe.

I almost never use a flash so I shrugged it off. Now, flash forward (no pun intended) to today and I actually need a flash and I'm wondering have I damaged my hot-shoe and can I test it without buying a flash. I.e., using a multi-meter or some other ways. I am worried, however, that multi-meter won't be fast enough to register anything. Any suggestion is welcomed.

For the record: my camera is working perfectly fine, and I can have access to an oscilloscope.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your camera should be fine. It can handle any flash up to 250v trigger voltage. There is almost no chance any flash could damage your camera. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 14, 2023 at 3:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MikeSowsun, agree it's highly unlikely and most warnings are alarmist about this, but it's not zero chance. IIRC, some of the really old Vivitar 283/285 models have been measured as high as 600V. Probably from the '60s/'70s. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Jul 14, 2023 at 22:04

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Assuming your 5D is like my 70D:

  • You can check the hot-shoe for "primitive" flash: you can measure the resistance between the side of the hot-shoe and the big central spot. Set the camera to manual with an exposure time around a second. Shoot. You should see the resistance go from several meg-ohms to very little when the shutter opens, and back to meg-ohms when the shutter closes. You can also use the audible beep test (beeps during the exposure) if your multi-meter has this kind of functionality.

enter image description here

  • This doesn't let you check if all the contacts used for E-TTL still work, for this you need an E-TTL flash.
  • AFAIK you can't damage the circuitry for E-TTL because it is a separate circuit. In fact Canon has disappointed some folks by removing the big central contact in some recent cameras, leaving only the 4 Canon-proprietary contacts to make people use its proprietary flashes. And my Canon E-TTL flash still works after I performed this test...
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