How to replace a Canon 550EX hotshoe

By jason, January 11, 2008 on 6:23 pm | In photography | 23 Comments

As Alissa gets taller, she is able to reach more and more stuff she isn’t supposed to reach. A couple weeks ago, she reached up and grabbed my camera strap and pulled it off the shelf. Camera is fine, lens is fine, but the flash was a casualty. The flimsy plastic hotshoe connection snapped in a few places. So, I ended up buying a new Canon 580EXII which is very nice but soon thereafter, realized that maybe the broken one was repairable. A few minutes in front of google and then ebay revealed a $12 replacement part. Yay!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find instructions on how to actually execute the replacement so I thought I’d put up a few pictures and explain the process briefly.

Here’s my broken flash. Notice the four holes in the corners. This is what you should see after removing the screws that live in those holes. The long ones go on the bottom and the shorter ones go on top.
IMG_0087

After you remove the screws, you should be able to lift the back end up and then pull out to clear the tab on the front side. Then you should see this:
IMG_0089
On the right side, there are two screws that secure the external power plug. Remove those two screws. On the top, there are two smaller screws that secure the switch that determines the “off/master/slave” setting. Remove these two screws as well.

Now you should be able to access the four screws that hold the hotshoe assembly in place.
IMG_0088
IMG_0090
You can really only see the bottom right one in these pictures, but they’re arranged in a square pattern. They’re kinda tight with the wires that lead to the hotshoe connectors so be careful you don’t accidentally break the solder connections. Also, it’s worth noting that these four screws have a larger head on them so you’ll want to use a larger screw driver vs. the little jeweler screw driver you’ll need for all the other screws.

Anyway, after you unscrew the four screws (don’t back them out of the housing… just let them hang out there so it will be easier to reassemble later on) you’ll be able to pull the hot shoe assembly out. Be careful as there is a spring and locking pin that will be loose once you remove the assembly. The rest is easy. Just unscrew the broken piece out of the assembly and replace it with the new one being careful to replace the spring and locking pin in the correct orientation. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of this part.) Then just put everything back together and voila! The only thing to be careful of is to make sure you gradually screw in the last four screws on the outside of the housing. If you tighten one side too much, you won’t be able to get the other screws started at all.

If I was to do it again, I might apply a tiny about of grease to the locking pin and the threaded part since mine doesn’t seem to work as smoothly as it used to. Hope that helps!

23 Comments »

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  1. Do you know the correct orientation for the locking pin? I cannot find that diagram anywhere on the web.

    Comment by Sean — March 8, 2008 #

  2. Sean – When I took it apart, I was careful not to misorient anything. So I actually don’t know the answer to your question for sure. But I think I remember the pin being plain on one end and having some sort of feature on the other end that interacted with the spring/rotating assembly. The plain end goes through the hole towards the outside and the other end remains hidden in the assembly. Does that make sense?

    Comment by jason — March 8, 2008 #

  3. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for posting the tutorial.
    The exact same thing happened to me (well.. my 20yr old brother did it for me ….),
    Where did you buy the hotshoe replacement?

    Tino

    Comment by Tino P — April 23, 2008 #

  4. Tino – I got it on ebay. Take a look around and you should be able to find one.

    Comment by jason — April 23, 2008 #

  5. I was able to remove the 4 screws for the hotshoe by just removing the large bulb assembly, and the master/slave switch. You can get to the 4 screws underneath quite easily then. Make sure the 4 hotshoe screws go in tightly, and all the way otherwise the hotshoe will be loose.

    Comment by Geoff — January 8, 2009 #

  6. Also, the part from Canon was $8.88 shipped. Part # of the bag is CB4-0746-000. Took about 5 days to get it

    Comment by Geoff — January 8, 2009 #

  7. This was brilliant. I managed to replace mine and it works. I did have problems removing the 4 screws holding the hotshoe.

    I made it slightly easier by unplugging the two connectors which connected the base to the main body, although they were a bit fiddly to put back. This meant I could put the main body to one side.

    Anyone else trying this….remember the spring and locating pin…orientate them before you remove them. And remember which way around they were.

    Jason…..Thanks very much….You saved me a small fortune.

    Comment by Sonic63 — March 28, 2009 #

  8. Yay, Thanks for the photos! They were a Great Help! 550ex is ready for action again!!!

    Comment by Anna — July 9, 2009 #

  9. Can you direct me to instructions on how to change a broken bulb in my Canon 550ex speedlight? Thanks! Tony

    Comment by Tony Palmieri — July 16, 2009 #

  10. Another Thank You from someone you’ve helped.

    Comment by Pete — July 23, 2009 #

  11. I’ll add these points from my experience doing this repair:

    I’m glad I first purchased an appropriate screwdriver set — in my case, a “Husky 8-in-1 slotted/phillips”from Home Depot. This work would not have been possible without something like it. Be aware there are three different tips required, first the 5/64, then the 1/16, and finally I used the 1/8 (largest) for the round-headed screws that held the hot shoe.

    To reduce the chance of losing these small screws and the tiny spring, I spread a fuzzy towel on my desktop (so they wouldn’t bounce onto the carpet) and had a small container ready to store them.

    I have an illuminated magnifying glass mounted on my desk and this proved very useful.

    My source for the replacement part was “Mickey” at San Diego Camera Solution, sdcamerasolution.com. Her price was $10.50 each. I bought two and will carry the second in my bag along with the screwdriver set.

    Like Sonic63, I unplugged the two connectors. Before doing so, I marked them with a Sharpie to be sure how to reconnect them.

    Jason’s instructions say, “On the right side, there are two screws that secure the external power plug. Remove those two screws.” I did so, but in retrospect — apparently like Geoff above — I’m not convinced this step is necessary.

    My biggest problem was on reassembly, when the “slave” switch didn’t want to go back into place. I finally got it, so it’s possible, but I feared the worst for a painfully long while. BTW, before you take it apart note which way the red marking should go. In fact, carefully memorize the orientation of EVERYTHING as you proceed.

    Comment by Pete — July 23, 2009 #

  12. this is so helful and wonderful yet….i cannot remove the 4 screws that hold the hot shoe on. i have an entire set of small screwdrivers so i am using the proper size. they are just so tight i cant get them to budge!! any suggestions??

    Comment by inga — November 20, 2009 #

  13. maybe try having someone else hold the flash while you push down and turn the screw driver? or you can try a drop of penetrating oil to loosen them up?

    Comment by jason — November 23, 2009 #

  14. I had to do this, but I read how to do it for a 580 speedlite which actually turned out to be quite different.

    Anyway, the locking pin can only go one way, there is a plastic lug half way down the pin which sits in a resses of the new hotshoe.

    The only thing i would add is get a really good set of jewellers screwdrivers as you will need the really small ones and use a tea tray underneath because these parts are tiny and very easy to use if your not carefull.

    Paul.

    Comment by Paul — November 26, 2009 #

  15. I highly recommend having the RIGHT set of screwdrivers.

    I didn’t and ended up having to cut the shoe completely off, removing the lock ring, and putting the new hotshoe back on. ended up soldering a few pulled wires as a result.

    but yes, jewellers or one of those 100-bit screwdrivers kits so you don’t damage the screws like I did. also a really small set of pliers helps to pick things up if you drop them in the hotshoe or in general.

    Comment by winter wish photography — April 20, 2011 #

  16. Thanks for posting this. I was about to send mine to Canon for the repair and then realized I could find the replacement online and I did at http://www.sdcamerasolution.com for $10.50 and bought an extra just in case!

    Comment by Ernesto — June 30, 2011 #

  17. I wanted to thank you for posting this! The “surgery” of this isnt for the novice or people with shaky hands. It took almost an hour to get every screw back into place and to delicately avoid tearing the sodering wires, but your directions were magnificent! I can’t thank you enough! Your photos were a huge help!

    Comment by bret — July 7, 2011 #

  18. THANKS FOR YOUR POST it helped me repair my flash
    Thanks Tim

    Comment by Big Chef Tim — February 10, 2012 #

  19. Thankyou, this has helped me twice now. Although every time I do it I loose more screws, they are darn small.

    Comment by Adam — March 19, 2013 #

  20. Unfortunaly my hands do not work as they once did and I don’t want to take the chance of screwing the repair up. Can you suggest a repair site I can use?
    Much thanks.
    Harv

    Comment by Harvey — May 11, 2013 #

  21. Unfortunately, I have no experience with repair shops. Maybe try a local yelp search?

    Comment by jason — May 19, 2013 #

  22. Jason, your good work lives on. I just referenced this flash shoe discussion in answer to someone’s plea for help on the DP Review forum; see http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3597497#forum-post-52786495
    Thanks once again!
    — Pete aka Speed Blurred

    Comment by Pete Lyons — December 27, 2013 #

  23. Hey I followed your tutorial, but wanted to respond to another persons comments:

    “My biggest problem was on reassembly, when the “slave” switch didn’t want to go back into place. I finally got it, so it’s possible, but I feared the worst for a painfully long while. BTW, before you take it apart note which way the red marking should go.”

    I had this problem, so i posted some pics of how it SHOULD go back together. hope someone finds it useful:

    http://heavymod.com/battle-canon-550ex-flash-hot-shoe/

    Also you dont HAVE to take off the screws for the power plug on the side. you just need to be careful when putting screws back in place not to catch any of the wires and tear them loose.

    Comment by heavymod — September 11, 2014 #

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