Canon CP-E4, An Inital Review

The Canon CP-E4 battery pack is an essential item for any photographer who needs fast flash recharge and successive flash fires such as wedding or event photography. This battery pack is designed to plug into the Canon 550 EX/580 EX/580 EX II via a proprietary cable. What the battery pack does is decrease your flash recycle time by providing more juice.

I recently picked up one because I use flash a lot and need it ready to fire at any time and sometimes ready to fire off a burst.

So this is just an initial review of the Canon CP-E4 that I purchased from B&H Photo Video for $149.95, a bit steep for a lot of plastic, but then again, nothing of Canon is quite cheap. Also be forewarned that additional battery trays for the CP-E4 is very expensive ($46.95) considering that it is primarily made of plastic. Unless you shoot 1000 pics with flash, I don’t think you will need additional magazines, but it does dramatically reduce the load time necessary when the CP-E4 runs out of batteries. It take a bit of time to reload eight (8) double AA batteries into the tray.

CP-E2, CP-E3, CP-E4…Which One Is It?

The CP-E2 was one of the first Canon battery packs. It only takes six (6) double AA batteries. The CP-E3 replaces the CP-E2 and increases the power by two (2) more double AA batteries for a grand total of eight (8) batteries. The CP-E3 is about 25% faster in recharge rate because of the additional two (2) double AA batteries. The newest Canon battery pack, the CP-E4 is identical to the CP-E3, except it now features weather sealing on the plug to the flash to better weather seal the 580 EX II. Obviously you would hardly save any money buying the CP-E3 brand new versus the new CP-E4, unless you can find a used one for a great price.

How Do You Use It?

It’s very simple to use the battery pack. There is a single spiral cable that you plug into your flash’s external battery plug. There is no on or off switch on the battery pack, it auto detects whether the flash has been turned on or off and the unit turns itself on and off with the flash.

On thing to remember is that you do need to leave the four batteries in the flash itself as that powers the electronics, the other eight batteries from the CP-E4 power the strobe flash

Does It Work Good?

It works excellent! I often have fired five flashes in successive bursts and the ready indicator still remains red for for me. There is a warning that if you fire 20 successive bursts of flash in one sitting, you have to power the down the unit and let it rest for at least 10 minutes or risk burning out the CP-E4 and your flash.

Final Thoughts

If you have additional money to spend, I would definitely recommend getting the Quantum Slim Turbo battery pack (~$450+), it’s not cheap, but worth every penny. On the other hand, the Canon CP-E4 is a budget for what it does. One thing that might annoy some people is that the cable is a bit short. While it does stretch, there is some tension in the cable which can be annoying when you’re bringing the camera up to shoot really quickly. I’ve sometimes got the cable twisted around the lens, which can be a bit frustrating when you need to photograph quickly.

One particular thing that has changed from the CP-E3 to the CP-E4 is that rather than have a belt slide clip, it now has a belt loop. In the past, there has been complaints that the belt slide clip on the CP-E3 is not very secure. The problem with the new design is that once you mount the CP-E4 to your belt, it will take awhile to take it off. One trick I found that is very successful is to use the Velcro strap and attach that to your belt. It’s plenty secure.

I do have a complaint in the design that can be important to some, unlike the Quantum battery packs, the CP-E2/CP-E3/CP-E4 does not have a battery life indicator. If you haven’t used the CP-E4 in a while and unaware of it’s power reserves, you can be caught surprised at a crucial point, which is why it would be good to have spare magazines. Personally I would like a battery life indicator so I can be ready to change the battery.

One other thing is that the tripod mount for the CP-E4 is about utterly useless. First, with the CP-E4 mounted in the tripod, you lose the tripod mount. Also with a Canon EOS 1D series, it becomes very difficult and inconvenient to use the camera’s portrait grip because of the added size and awkwardness. Also Canon recommends that you do not mount the CP-E3/CP-E4 to any camera that does not have a battery grip or is not a 1D series because the close proximity of the battery pack to the compact flash can cause card write errors.

One thought on “Canon CP-E4, An Inital Review”

  1. sweet, I have a canon eos elan 7e, canon t50 all old school, Looking at the d40.
    I have the nikon 40d, love it but need for speed is the thing……….
    Off to England soon, now in Florida.
    Retired USAF.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *