Canon 500D Flash Problem
July 26, 2010
I had a bit of a panic yesterday when I started looking at a problem I had using the flash at the RCRG vs SVRG game on Saturday when I found my Canon 580EX II would only fire intermittently…
Initially I suspected it was simply the batteries in my flash. I can’t remember the last time I changed them; but I’m sure it was before Australia in March/April! (for those wanting a battery recommendation for a flash – can’t go wrong with these Energizer Lithiums). Unfortunately I bought some spares which I lost on the camping trip in July, so I was without any to test my theory and I was in need of using a flash. So, I was left with the unfortunate need to use the built-in flash…
… which errored – “Err 05” to be precise, which thought the flash hadn’t popped up (though it had) and was accompanied by a couple of clicks as it tried to release the already-free flash. It demanded I switch the camera off and on again. Which I did, same problem. I repeated this a few times and the problem went away, only to return again later when I wanted to see if I could replicate the problem.
I re-attached the 580EX II and found the camera wasn’t communicating with it – basically reporting the flash was either off or not compatible. Again, this issue came and went – with it mostly failing.
I did me some Googling and was unable to find anything that matched what I was experiencing, but there were plenty of mentions of issues with just the built-in flash not popping up. They attributed the problem with a microswitch on the hot-shoe which sometimes doesn’t pop up – and is a common issue on a number of different Canon models. I checked mine though, and it was up:
It’s the tiny black thing a finger-nail away from the white cable tie, underneath the metal track the cable tie is holding up. When an external flash is attached that will go down preventing the built-in flash from popping up. As can be seen though, no problem with it. Other Canon models have this switch in the same location, others on the opposite side (I think the 40D and 50D are on the opposite side, while the 350D is supposed to be the same as the 500D and I can confirm from my own 400D it is the same as the 500D).
I gave up looking last night as my attention was on Top Gear, Sherlock then ‘Coast’ in HD – which had a bit on the Isle of Man. Sleep then beckoned.
Today I picked up from where I left off and decided to take a look at the other side of the hot-shoe. There’s no switch there, but there is something – what, I’m not sure – but it looks metallic. Perhaps it’s literally nothing – a place holder for using the same hot-shoe construction on cameras with the switch on the opposite side? Alternatively is it some kind of contact which is used to recognise an external flash?
However, I got my cable tie and brushed it over it (plastic removed, so it’s basically a piece of wire) and since then I’ve not been able to recreate the issue which – previously – occurred after just a couple of attempt of popping the built-in flash, and occurred after just a couple of uses of the external 580EX II. I’ve taken around 50-ish photos, or more, since using built-in flash or external, no problems.
Maybe this is just random chance, or it’s genuinely fixed. All I know is it’s working, and nothing changed until my trusty cable-tie got involved. It’s now found a home in my camera bag, just-in-case. If anybody, who knows these cameras and how they’re built better than me, can explain what could have happened I’d welcome their input so I can figure out if this is going to occur again, or if there’s a more “robust” fix.