Canon Flash: EC vs FEC

category: Cameras • 2 min read

What is EC? What is FEC? It’s alphabet soup that stands for Exposure Compensation and Flash Exposure Compensation. This is used to differentiate what photographers do on the camera vs what photographers do on the flash. The Nikon world is completely different from the Canon world.

In the Nikon world, the formula is: EC + FEC = Total Exposure Compensation. An Exposure compensation of -2 on the camera and a Flash Exposure Compensation of +2 = -2 + 2 = 0, no exposure compensation.

In the Canon world, it’s much more interesting. There is no connection between the Exposure Compensation and the Flash Exposure Compensation. They are completely different beasts.

My personal experience is with the Canon world. Some people have huge investment in speedlites/flashes with boat load of flashes, they know, they understand every intricate interaction of the E-TTL II with the Av or Tv mode. I’m not. I’m a simple guy that does simple things to deliver to my clients images that they can use while still keeping myself in business.

My basic setup is:


I have a Custom setting for the flash:

  • Manual mode
  • Speed: 1/80s
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • ISO 400
  • Evaluative metering
  • Single shooting drive mode
  • White Balance Flash

The camera setting is basically the setting for the room/interior -2EV or -3EV.


  • E-TTL mode
  • Often, I bounce the flash
  • Often, I use a first generation Gary Fong Lightsphere with the flash head up at 90°.

The E-TTL of the flash calculates the correct power for the person/subject.

Then I chimp to see if I need to compensate for the face tones, and adjust the flash power, the FEC, with the Select Dial. 95% of the time, I do not need any adjustment.

I cannot adjust use the Exposure Compensation, EC, on the camera, since I always use the Manual mode when dealing with the flash. The Exposure Compensation on Canon cameras only work in the P, the Av or the Tv mode.

It’s not that Nikon is better than Canon or Canon is better than Nikon. Both are great systems that can produce excellent photographs.