If you’re in the market for a DSLR and have been considering getting an entry-level Canon one to save some dough, here’s something you should know: it seems that Canon is hamstringing its latest low-end cameras to be incompatible with affordable 3rd-party flashes.
Michael Andrew (AKA Michael the Maven) made the 3-minute video above to warn photographers after he discovered that Canon has removed the important central pin on the hot shoes of the $600 Canon SL3 (announced in April 2019) and the $450 Canon T7/2000D/KissX90/1500D (announced in February 2018).
The center metal contact point in hot shoes is a standard pin used for brand-independent flash synchronization. When the camera completes the circuit between the hot shoe metal and the central pin, the flash mounted to the hot shoe fires. (The other metal contacts within hot shoes are proprietary and are used for communicating specific details between the mounted accessory and the camera.)
What this means is that flashes from any brand are compatible in manual mode with cameras of any brand as long as they use the same standard central pin firing system.
The removal of the central pin means that pretty much all non-Canon flash accessories will not be compatible with the cameras since the camera can no longer trigger them through that standardized circuit system, and this forces Canon users to buy Canon flashes and accessories rather than cheaper options on the market.
Manual third-party flashes such as those made by Yongnuo are popular lighting options for beginner and/or price-sensitive photographers, and Michael points out that you can buy several 3rd-party flashes for the price of a single Canon flagship flash.
“I feel like Canon is playing games with their customers,” Andrew says. “[Canon] is engineering future frustrations into their cameras. […] Buyer beware. […] Locking customers out from using hundreds of accessories […] I think that’s pretty messed up.”