I'm trying to follow along with Bryan Peterson's book on flash photography using my Canon 580EX II. In the book, all of the examples are with Nikon flashes and there are some differences in the way way the flashes function. The manual mode of the Nikon flash allows the photographer to set the aperture, power and ISO and then returns a specific flash distance. On my Canon flash, if I set the custom function 5-3, I can enter the ISO and aperture on the flash unit but not the power (changing modes to the the other mode labeled 'Manual' seems to operate entirely independently) and then, instead of a specific distance, it displays a range of distances. Does anyone here have any tips on using the Canon flash in conjunction with this book and how to adjust for the differences?

  • Yes, That is a good question that I need to know the answer to. Seems the sb-900 is just more user friendly?
    – user19409
    Apr 17, 2013 at 1:48

1 Answer 1


Custom Function 05 stands for "flash metering mode" and setting its value to 3 means "external manual metering". This setting, however, is meant for automatic flash exposure using the light sensor on 580EX II where only input values (aperture and ISO) are entered manually (instead of getting them electronically from body, as in the automatic setting 2).

To manually select flash power, use "Mode" button on your flash to select Manual mode. To select power level, press the "Select/Set" button (in the middle of select dial), power setting will blink on display; turn dial to desired setting and press "Select/Set" again to set your choice.

  • Thank you. I played around with it some more. One of my problems was that I wasn't holding the shutter button down long enough to get the distance value to display on the scale. So now I can follow along with the examples when the flash is on camera, is there a good way to get the distance function to work off camera? Oct 11, 2011 at 12:12
  • @unclerojelio I don't have any Canon flashes around to try that, perhaps you'll get an answer faster by asking it in a new question.
    – Imre
    Oct 11, 2011 at 14:45

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