We Review The Canon Speedlite EL-1: Flash for Demanding Photography

We Review The Canon Speedlite EL-1: Flash for Demanding Photography

The Canon Speedlite EL-1 is a high-performance, professional-grade, weather-resistant flash, designed to meet the demands of the most demanding photographers. It features a powerful guide number of 60m (197 ft) at ISO 100, an insanely fast recycle time of 0.1-0.9 seconds, and up to 335 full-power flashes on a single charge. It also has a built-in LED modeling light for precise lighting control and a heavy-duty construction that will withstand the rigors of professional everyday use.

My Canon 600 EX-RT has been my workhorse for the past 10 years. It has worked in all weather and is one of the most reliable pieces of kit in my arsenal as a professional photographer. So, I was so pleased when Canon announced the new Speedlite EL-1, as it meant that we were obviously going to have something that was built on the existing rock-solid technology already produced while embracing new technologies to produce a speedlight for at least the next 10 years. This uses new LED technology, meaning faster recycle times and a more reliable and longer-lasting flashgun. 

Image Quality

The Canon Speedlite EL-1 produces consistent and balanced light and high-quality images with excellent color balance and exposure. Its powerful guide number allows it to light up even large scenes and subjects at a distance. The built-in bi-color LED modeling light is very helpful for setting up shots, ensuring that the lighting is even, and helping to judge where the light will fall and where the shadows will appear.

Included Accessories

  • Battery Pack LP-EL
  • Battery Charger LC-E6E
  • Case
  • Mini Stand
  • Bounce Adapter SBA-EL
  • Color Filter SCF-ELOR1
  • Color Filter SCF-ELOR2

The case is great, as it allows you to store the color adapters and mini stand with the flash (something I'm always hunting for with my Canon 600 EX-RT).


The Canon Speedlite EL-1 is a very fast flash, with a recycle time of 0.1-0.9 seconds. This means that you can capture multiple shots in quick succession without having to wait for the flash to be recycled. You can shoot up to 170 full-power flashes in a burst. The Canon Speedlite EL-1 uses just one large-capacity lithium-ion battery. The LP-EL (1920mAh, 7.2 volts) is capable of approximately 335 flashes on a full charge, more than three times that which is possible with the Speedlite 600EX II-RT using four standard AA batteries, and while the LP-EL looks like the LP-E6 battery used in many advanced EOS cameras, it cannot be used in cameras. However, it can be charged using the same charger as the one used for R6/5 cameras.


The Speedlite EL-1 has a ton of features that make it an incredibly versatile tool for photographers. It has a built-in bi-color LED modeling light, weather-resistant construction, and a huge range of power settings. It also supports Canon's E-TTL II metering system for automatic exposure control. Optical and radio transmission are included, although you do need the Canon Speedlite ST-E3-RT for optical and radio transmission of up to 30 meters. 

The photo above was shot with two Canon EL-1 speedlites. The key light is behind a MagMod 24 Octabox and the fill light on the right is at 1/512 power, giving a lift to the shadows.

Ease of Use

The Speedlite EL-1 is easy to use and control. Its controls and menus have been redesigned to be quick and easy to use and are well labeled and easy to reach. It also has a large, clear LCD screen that displays all of the important settings.

Image of Clive Booth, Canon Ambassador, UK.  Shot with three EL-1 speedlites using MagMod Stripbox pro modifiers.  


Okay, so this is an expensive piece of kit for enthusiasts, coming in at $1,099 from B&H here in the States and at £1451 through Amazon in the UK, but make no mistake, this is a premium piece of technology, and that's what you're paying for. The 600EX-RT lasted me over 10 years, and it's still going strong. The Speedlite EL-1 is a high-quality flash that is worth the investment for photographers who need a powerful and versatile tool. It is a great choice for professionals and advanced amateurs alike.

Build Quality

In addition to its high performance, the Speedlite EL-1 is also very durable. It is built to withstand the rigors of professional use, and it is weather-resistant so that you can use it in a variety of conditions. Rubberized grips and easy-to-open and close battery panels mean that this should not need any regular maintenance. It even comes with a little rubber hot shoe cover!

What I Love About the Canon Speedlite EL-1

  • Powerful guide number of 60 m (197 ft) at ISO 100
  • Insanely fast recycle time of 0.1-0.9 seconds
  • Up to 170 full power flashes on a single charge 
  • Built-in LED modeling light, which is so handy for seeing where my light is going and showing me the shadows that will appear
  • Weather-resistant construction means no more Ikea plastic bags covering my flashguns
  • Easy to use and control menus and system
  • Pairs with my ST-E3-RT with a firmware upgrade available from Canon

Image of the bride and groom shot with Canon EL-1 Speedlite with a MagMod Magsphere 2

What I Dislike About the Canon Speedlite EL-1

  • Expensive if you're an enthusiast or are replacing more than one flashgun 
  • In-camera flash settings are not compatible with all Canon cameras, as some cameras don't have this ability
  • Slightly larger than the 600 EX-RT II, meaning I can't fit two side by side in my MagMod Mag Ring


The Canon Speedlite EL-1 is an excellent, high-performance flash that is perfect for professional and advanced amateur photographers who need a powerful and versatile tool. It is a bit expensive, but it is worth the investment for photographers who need the best. I love mine and will slowly be replacing the Canon 600 EX-RTs when they either fail or need service. The thing I love is that they just feel so good. It's a quality piece of kit you're buying, and Canon has obviously put a lot of thought and effort into creating the most useful flash I've seen since the 600 EX-RT II.  

Peter Morgan's picture

Peter Morgan is a professional photographer, drone pilot, writer and tech enthusiast. He has worked in the tech sector since the age of 16 and has over 30 years experience of working with technology. He also runs his own photographic company and shoots weddings, headshots and commercial projects.

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$1100 for a speedlite. What a time to be alive.

Give Godox a couple months. Their knock off will be less than a grand.

Insanely high price and still just GN60.

Given the size, they should at least pushed it to 200ws or higher.

B&H is saying they are expecting delivery of the EL-1 in May, 2024. I wouldn't be surprised if Canon updates it to include the new fancy shoe and all of the connectivity benefits that go along with it. My person at Adorama tells me that there has been very little interest in the EL-1 but I think the EL-5 is selling okay. The EL-5 is priced higher than Godox but still only about fifty percent more and it has the added benefits of all of the new connectivity. Cheers everyone and happy photographing!

I imagine Canon and the newlyweds are cringing at the yellow ceremony photo. Could the included gel option, and an appropriate kelvin setting better demonstrate the capabilities of the product ?

It's a museum. The walls are yellow, the lights are yellow. The floor has yellow in it. I balanced the dress (which I knew was a toned white. Why make it something it's not? And we're talking about the flash capabilities here, not gels or kelvin settings on the camera. But thanks for your contribution.

While a GN60 flash, on their spec page, it seems it can go down to 1/8192 power. While going down to a very low output. It does not seem to offer anything else to separate itself apart from other similar GN60 flashes such as the Godox V1, and the V860III. Outside of that, while many other flashes will have a more restricted manual range, often the limits seem to be arbitrary firmware limits. For exampl, if you take a cheaper flash (tt685, v860, V1, etc.) and compare the minimum manual output power to the minimum power under TTL while pointed at the camera with the flash exposure comp set as low as possible, it will often show a light output far lower.

I had this flash ever since it was released, yes it is expensive but the speed and ease of use is great.

Phenomenal tech in that flash. It is one of a kind.

I'm supprised no one mentioned the "Link" issues. It's a constant problem and makes the flash useless.

Hi didnt get any of that Matt. However this may be to do with the ST-E3 needing an upgrade firmware from Canon to work with these - if you have an older version then it may not perform as expected - here's the link to the upgrade service. https://www.canon-europe.com/pro/services/upgrades/speedlite-transmitter/

My EL-1 has become my go to flash. The ability to have less than one second recycle even when the battery is half depleted is unreal. I switched from Godox/Flashpoint AD360's but their recycle starts to get too long after a couple of hundred shots. But these flashes are too heavy to put on a hot shoe and I mount mine on a boomerang L bracket but it's a handful. I wish for the old days with a Metz 202/402 potato masher with the capacitor and battery in a belt pack. The flash head was so light and easy to maneuver unlike today's flashes. Plus the one thing no one talks about is flashes before overheating. A lot of flashes lock up at 20 flashes and you have to wait for it to cool down. The Godox are 80 flashes to overheat and the EL-1 is never. The EL-1 never slows you down.