February 12, 2011

book review: Speedliter’s Handbook, by Syl Arena

Speedliter's Handbook

Syl Arena has steadily made a name for himself amongst photographers with his blog, Pixsylated. Followers of his blog would’ve noticed that Syl was on hiatus for several months in 2010, while busy writing a book on Canon speedlites. Having spent the most part of a year on writing, you’d expect something great. And it is. In short, I think Syl might just have written the definitive work on flash photography with speedlites.

If you’re a Canon shooter, this book is essential. If you’re a Nikon or Sony or Pentax shooter, you’d still do very well with this book. Within its 376 pages, 812 photos and 26 chapters, all the essential stuff is covered, and more.

While the dry details like page count, and the number of images will tell you that it is a thick book, those details don’t reveal much about the style and presentation of the material. It doesn’t tell you whether you’d actually like reading the book.

Syl has a writing style that is easy to follow. It is conversational and friendly, without being distracting. The information is presented in smaller chunks. As Syl mentions in the foreword, the book isn’t intended to be read cover-to-cover, but as a book to be dipped into as needed.

Starting with the essentials, such as how to see light and exposure metering, the book expands its scope and covers the topic – flash photography with Canon speedlites – with a dedicated thoroughness. But the material remains accessible, and I am convinced every photographer will find this book valuable.

A typical spread inside the book:

Click here for a detailed listing of the book’s content.

There’s not much more to be said in this review about the Speedliter’s Handbook (Amazon link), other than it comes highly recommended, regardless of your chosen system.


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{ 10 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Dave February 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm

i’m in the middle of reading this book…it is has some great info in it regarding canon flash. Stuff the manual leaves out. It covers all levels of photo experience…i’d recommend it..


2 Allen February 13, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Neil, thanks for the head-up on this book. I just read the (all positive) reviews on Amazon.co.uk (currently £18.50) and placed my order. It looks like the perfect partner to another flash photography book I received for Christmas:)


3 Kevin February 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Looks good. Just wondering… is it mainly on off-camera flash tho? How much of on-camera flash is in the book?



4 Neil vN February 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Kevin …there’s very little which deals with on-camera flash. Click here for a detailed listing of the book’s content.

Neil vN


5 Gordon Cahill February 14, 2011 at 7:03 am

Any chance of this becoming a kindle version. I’m not buying paper books anymore.



6 Neil vN February 14, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Gordon .. I imagine so, since PeachPit is the publisher, and they have released Hot Shoe Diaries and other boois as Kindle versions.

Neil vN


7 Allen February 15, 2011 at 5:54 am

Gordon, if you click on the main image or the Amazon link at the top of this page, the Kindle offer is right there…$26.63


8 Gordon Cahill February 18, 2011 at 4:50 am

Thanks guys. Found and purchased the kindle version. It’s cheaper too.


9 Shig T February 20, 2011 at 3:08 am

The book is very informative and useful for Canon Speed Lite users. With the book, I do not need Canon’s Speedlite manual any more. The detail description of ratio control and that of wireless flash lighting control are what I have looked for years. I am glad that you have introduced the book to us.

Shig T


10 Stephen March 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I went to Syl’s website that was linked from here. He wrote there that about 65% of the book does not deal with camera brands. I have Nikon speedlights, so I have to think hard about getting this book.


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