New Canon OC-E4A flash cable powers accessories directly from the camera

May 25, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

New Canon OC-E4A flash cable powers accessories directly from the camera

May 25, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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When Canon released the EOS R3 (buy here) in 2021, they also increased the functionality on top of the camera with a new multi-function hot shoe. As well as providing communication between the camera and various accessories, it also supplies them with power. Accessories like the Canon DM-E1D (buy here) on-camera microphone and Canon ST-E10 (buy here) flash trigger.

So far, those seem to be the only accessories available that take power from Canon’s multi-function hot shoe, but Canon is perhaps prepping for the future with their new OC-E4A cable (buy here). But power isn’t all the cable can forward to accessories. It also extends complete communication from the hotshoe, allowing you to get your speedlights off-camera – to a distance of 80cm.

Canon OC-E4A – Why so short?

That might not seem like a very long distance, but it’s long enough to let you get your flash more off-axis from the lens. Raise it a little higher, or off to the side to reduce or eliminate red eye. Or you can put your camera into portrait orientation while still being able to keep the flash overhead instead of the site with an appropriate bracket.

It also lets you get your multi-function hot shoe microphone closer to your subject for talking-head pieces and vlogs. This would be a great solution to get your microphone closer to subjects in conjunction with something like the new Zacuto Micro Boom (buy here).

But what about the power?

The Canon OC-E4A is the successor to the Canon OC-E3, which is incompatible with the multi-function hot shoe. With the multi-function hot shoe now becoming standard on all new Canon cameras, a new cable was inevitable. But there aren’t a lot of devices that utilise the multi-function hot shoe yet.

Sure, there are a handful of devices that utilise the Canon multi-function shoe, but there are only two that actually draws power from the camera. Those are the aforementioned Canon DM-E1D microphone and ST-E10 wireless flash trigger. Both of these take power from the camera as well as provide communication, with the microphone sending audio back to the camera directly through the shoe

The product refresh obviously brings older functionality to the new cameras and accessories, but hopefully, there will be a few more multi-function devices on the way. I think it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a speedlight that’s powered directly through the hotshoe, though, due to current output limits. But, we may see more camera-powered devices, too.

Price and availability

The Canon OC-E4A multi-function extension cable is available to pre-order now for $169.95 and begins shipping in June.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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