PetaPixel have posted an article about a fake Canon 580EX II recently purchased new from a Chinese seller.
This is the first time I had heard of this, but it turns out almost identical “special China edition” copies of the 580EX II have been available for a while now from a number of Chinese sellers.
The only real obvious tell tale sign of the fake 580EX II is that they currently do not have a High Speed Sync (HSS) function. Of course you can’t see that function is missing just by looking at the flash. Otherwise physically its very difficult to tell the copy apart from the originals. Even Canon have to study them closely to pick the slight difference in quality of the Canon Logo printing on the front.
The other possible giveaway is that the 580EX II has been discontinued from production by Canon for a while now. So finding a seller with a lot of new stock still available for sale should be a bit of a red light to start with. Though it is possible retailers do still have some genuine new old stock.
Thankfully Ebay are quite good at cutting off the sale of fake goods like this once they have been reported, so I wouldn’t expect too many new fakes to be available there. The big concern is that its only a matter of time until second hand fake units start appearing. Many people don’t have any understanding of a HSS function, and genuinely wouldn’t even realize they have a fake unit they now want to sell on.
So at this point be sure to check with any potential sellers that the HSS function is definitely working, and you should be pretty safe then that its not a fake.
Unfortunately it is only a matter of time though until these fakes will undoubtedly have HSS function as well though. So that will make it very hard to differentiate from the real versions then.
The reason there are so many cheap TTL flashes available now is that there are a number of Chinese companies selling generic TTL software cheaply now. That software doesn’t appear to be available with HSS yet, but indications are that is not far off.
There is nothing wrong with using the generic software in itself, but you have to expect they are likely cheaping out on the physical build quality then as well. Companies like YongNuo and Phottix etc are doing their own development, so they are constantly being updated and refined.
Of course direct Canon fakes are a much bigger issue. The only person that can possibly help you if there are any issues is the seller you purchased from. You can’t go to “fake Canon” for warranty or service, and real Canon won’t help if its not really their product either. So buyer beware!
(I don’t know what “Fake Chuck Westfall” will make of all this ^_^ (warning not safe for work ))