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I hope you don't mind my confessing that I'm a Nikon user, which has something called the Creative Lighting System. This allows the pop-up flash to trigger hot shoe flashes. On behalf of a friend who is a Canon user, does Canon have a similar system?



More recent cameras that are not entry-level have this feature. For example, my T6S does. It works great.

@kvbarkley wrote:

More recent cameras that are not entry-level have this feature. For example, my T6S does. It works great.

How, on any Canon DSLR, is it possible to use the pop-up flash and a hot-shoe flash at the same time?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

I think by "Hot Shoe Flash" he means an external speedilite, but only the OP knows for sure.


Canon does have a similar system (it's part of the Canon E-TTL system), however not _all_ models support off-camera wireless flash control (most do).


We could give you an accurate answer if we knew which camera model your friend uses.


Canon cameras that have built-in pop-up flashes usually include the ability to use the pop-up flash as a wireless commander to trigger off-camera flashes. 


Canon's "Rebel" series today are mostly models that have the letter "T", some number, and maybe a suffix (usually "i" but there's also "s").  E.g. "Canon EOS Rebel T7i".


To my knowledge, all models that have a suffix support wireless flash control.  


But there are some entry bodies such as the T3, T5, T6, and T7 (no suffix after the number) and I think those cameras do not support wireless flash control.


You can check the manual (if it supports wireless flash control then there will be a section in the manual that explains how to use it.)




That aside... there are 3rd party off-camera flashes that can be triggered just based on the flash of light from the on-camera flash... but there's a bit of a trick to this.  The pop-up flash, when using E-TTL, actually fires twice for each shot.   It happens so fast you'd swear it only flash once.  What actually happens is the camera meters the scene with no flash (when it starts to take the shot), then it fires the flash at a very low power level (so as to not drain the capacitors) WHILE metering the scene again.  It compares the metering in each zone of the frame in the non-flash vs. pre-flash and uses this to calculate how much power should be needed for the shot.  It then opens the shutter and fires the flash at that calculated power level.  


But again... this happens so fast you'd swear it just fired once.


The trouble is, if an off-camera (3rd party flash) sees this pre-flash, it'll fire while the camera shutter is still closed.  SOME of them can be configured to ignore the first flash and fire on the 2nd flash.  You can also disable E-TTL mode so there is no pre-flash (but now you're using straight manual flash... which isn't necessarily a bad way to go.  For ages there was no automatic flash.


Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Thanks for the very thorough answer, Tim. I'll find out what model she has.


Boston Bob, I might have phrased my question awkwardly. I meant to ask about the Commander mode that someone else referenced: using the pop-up flash to fire a separate strobe flash (hot shoe-MOUNTED) flash.



The camera in question is a Rebel T3i.

Yep - she's good.


Here's a link to the manual:


See chapter 8 "Wireless Flash Photography"


There's a book called "Speedliter's Handbook" by Syl Arena.  It's finished it's second printing and I thought I read he was coming out with a 3rd edition (which I expect will include more of Canon's new radio flashes).  Anyway, when it went out of print, the price on places like Amazon skyrocketed (nearly $200 for a print copy).  It also disappeared from the Kindle store.  I suspect the reason it skyrocketed is that Syl had a stroke after the 2nd edition and I suspect people feared that he might never write another edition.  Rumor is he's got a new edition in the works that may be out sometime this year.  The 2nd edition is now back in the Kindle store (last I checked anyway).  The price for a print copy has come down (still high ... just not near $200 anymore ... so an e-edition is still probably the best price.)


Anyway, it's a great book.  He does a really nice job of simplifying the system.  He also has lots of YouTube videos.  He's probably the most well-known Canon photographer who uses speedlites. 


Happy shooting!


Best Regards,



Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

@TCampbell wrote:


Canon's "Rebel" series today are mostly models that have the letter "T", some number, and maybe a suffix (usually "i" but there's also "s").  E.g. "Canon EOS Rebel T7i".



This really only applies in North America, in other countries they are not known as Rebels, they have a numerical model number and don't usually have a suffix.

This is a US based board. In fact, the Rebel section of the board is called "EOS Rebel".