904 of 930 people found the following review helpful
I had been holding off on purchasing an external flash for my XTI for months, making up all sorts of excuses as to why I shouldn't own one. It's too big, I'll never use it, $200+ for a flash of light is obscene and on and on the excuses went. My wife surprised me by getting me one for my birthday and after using it for 6 months I couldn't be happier. How did I ever live without this thing?
I take a lot of pictures indoors of my son. He's a 9 month old boy that's not quite ready to be outside all the time. I've got the 50mm 1.8 but it just isn't fast enough in the dim lighting of our home and the on camera flash is worthless. Ever since I got this flash I'd say that 80% of the pictures I take indoors and outdoors are taken with this flash. Below is a list of all of the pro's and cons I could come up with.
- Fast recycle time. I can take several burst shots in 1 second and the flash fires each time. You won't miss many pictures because the flash isn't ready (like with the built in flash).
- TTL is awesome. This flash is much smarter than I'll ever be. Shots are almost always perfectly exposed.
- Lots of manual controls, easy to override TTL.
- Very powerful.
- On rechargeable double A's I get 400-500 shots easy without recharging.
- High speed sync lets you take pics at any shutter speed with a flash (although the distance the flash travels is greatly reduced).
- Tilt 90 degrees /Turn 180 degrees lets you bounce of ceilings or off a wall behind you.
- AF assist is much less invasive than the horrible on camera flash assist and it really helps you focus in low light. Just a red light is send out instead of the crazy electricity storm the XTI sends out for AF assist.
- Well built. Sturdy metal foot, nice locking mechanism.
- Rear sync lets me get sharp pictures indoors with any lens I own at 1/30 of a second or even less at times.
- The buttons are hard to push if you have big fingers.
- It's big and adds weight to the camera.
- It can't control any other flashes you may own. This flash can only act as a slave.
- Flashes are addictive, I wish I had a second or a third...
If you're thinking about the 580exII:
- The 580ex II can act as a master flash over other canon flashes without losing TTL.
- It's more powerful(58m vs 43m at ISO 100).
- The batteries last from 100-700 pics.
- It can swivel 180 degrees both ways instead of just one way and it can tilt downwards slightly.
- It's dust and water resistant
- Included bounce tab (you can just use an index card).
- I'm sure there's other things I'm missing...
- It's a lot more expensive.
- It's a little bigger and heavier.
Since getting this flash and taking around 10,000 pictures with it I can honestly say it's been the single best investment I've made towards improving my photography to date. The uses for a flash are endless. Even outdoors you'll start seeing shadows you never noticed before that you'd like to lighten up with a flash. Oh and I'm not kidding about wanting to own more than 1. After getting an umbrella and a radio trigger you quickly realize how nice it would be to have a second or even third flash to make things just perfect. Stop procrastinating and just get it. You'll be happy you did.
596 of 613 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2009
I use this external flash unit with my Canon Rebel xTi. The flash does a great job calculating the amount of light it needs to release to expose the photo, making grossly over exposed or underexposed photos a thing of the past. The ability to bounce the flash off of medium height white ceilings gives you great looking photos to the point where I now prefer using my flash instead of relying on high ISOs, fast lenses and low aperature numbers. Although flash photography is a tricky subject, the casual shooter can leave this flash in automatic mode and get wonderfully exposed photos. However, in my opinion, the BEST PART of this external flash is that it enables you to focus MUCH faster than the built in flash and this is reason alone to pick up the Speedlite 430EX II. Previously, when shooting in low light settings, the camera/lens would struggle to focus and the flash would emit several highly annoying test flashes. The Speedlite has no problem finding and focusing on your subject in low lit catering halls and dark rooms and it does so without the annoying test flashes. Great product!
344 of 355 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2010
I own this flash as well as it's bigger brother, the Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash for Canon EOS Digital SLR Cameras. The two models are targeted at slightly different audiences and the biggest advantage of the 430 is the price. The 430 doesn't do everything the 580 can do, but unless you're a pro photographer or a very serious amateur, you probably wont miss those features.
First, why would you want an external dedicated flash when your camera may already have a built-in pop-up flash? If you've got a Canon "Rebel" series body, you'll notice you already have a flash. But check Canon's higher-end bodies and you'll notice that they do NOT have a pop-up flash. There's a good reason for that. Pop-up flashes are awful. They're low-budget, under-powered, and inflexible. Serious photographers wont use them (which is why they aren't included on Canon's higher-end bodies.) I've had non-photographer friends tell me that I'm being too fussy and casual camera users wouldn't be able to tell the difference -- so I give them a quick demo. Shoot a picture with the pop-up flash. Then connect the 430, point the head straight up to the (white) ceiling and re-shoot the same picture. Now compare the two photos and ask them if they can tell the difference. EVERYONE can tell the difference. The demo is so effective I usually get a jaw-dropping reaction from the friends who were completely unaware that flash photography could look so good. A powerful flash capable of bouncing the light off the ceiling will create a gorgeous and soft glow to on the subjects without harsh shadows. The straight-on pop-up flash will look like garbage in comparison. Also, the pop-up flash has a very poor effective range of about 10 feet (no kidding). You might get a few extra feet if you're really lucky but don't even think about shooting with a built-in flash from 20' away. Do this comparison yourself and you'll never use a built-in flash again unless you're absolutely desperate.
This flash is fairly powerful -- with a guide number of 43 (effective distance in meters at ISO 100 -- hence the model number is "430") which works out to 141 feet (the 580 has a guide number of 58 (meters at ISO 100) and the 270 has a guide number of ... you guessed it.) Cycle times are decent on the 430. In E-TTL modes it typically wont need full power and you can burst off a few rapid fire shots when necessary, but if you do need a full-power fire then the recycle time is about 6 seconds (not as fast as the 580, but then the 430 does cost quite a bit less.) Usually the recycling time is under 2 seconds. Battery life is very good (better than the 580) -- Canon claims 200-1400 shots (depending on power level). That's about double the battery life of the 580. Let's just say I've _never_ had the batteries run down down in a day of shooting -- even shooting weddings where I'm taking 300+ shots in an afternoon & evening. The flash does auto power-off when not used for a while to save on battery life. The same half-tap on the shutter button that wakes up the camera will also wake up the flash.
The head rotates 180 degrees left & right and also flips up 90 (the same as the 580). It has the same quick-release hot shoe as the 580. It has the same TTL, E-TTL, E-TTL II, & manual modes as the 580, offers high-speed flash sync mode, 2nd curtain firing mode (normally a flash fires as soon as the shutter opens, but in 2nd curtain mode it fires just before the shutter CLOSES -- which can create cool effects on long duration exposures), and flash exposure compensation +/- 3 stops -- just like the 580. But the 580 can also do flash exposure bracketing (which means it fire 3 shots each at different power levels) -- the 430 doesn't support that mode. It can also act as a wireless slave-flash in a multi-flash configuration (they communicate via infrared) BUT... it CANNOT act as the master unit in a multi-flash configuration (the 580 can). I do use this flash as a side-light "slave" with my 580 as the "master". When bouncing is impractical and you have to shoot straight-on, the 2nd flash helps fill and soften the harsh shadows that you'd have if you only use one flash (I mount the 2nd flash to a monopod and have an assistant hold it.)
The flash unit zooms from 24mm - 105mm in either manual or automatic modes (in automatic mode it matches the zoom on an attached EF or EF-S zoom lens (within the limits of travel -- it'll never go wider than 24mm or narrower than 105mm). It includes a wide-angle diffuser in the head which slides out and flips down. The 580 has the same wide-diffuser but ALSO has a flip-out bounce card... there is no bounce card on the 430 (lots of after-market bounce-card & diffuser devices are available -- as well as home-made methods (a rubber band holding on a 3x5 index card -- cheap, but effective.))
There are two red windows on the front. One is for IR communication with other flashes & flash controllers. The 2nd is the AF-assist beam. The 430 has a 9-point AF-assist beam (the 580 has 45). This allows the flash to auto-focus the camera in the dark (you'll see it fire the red focus beam) without using a modeling light or rapid-firing the flash.
The 430 also comes with a mini-stand and a case. The mini-stand has a standard tripod-thread socket on the base so it can be used to mount the flash to a light pole, mono-pod or tripod for remote use. Canon makes an optional off-camera hot-shoe cord which allows you to hold the flash higher, or off to a side, or mount to a flash bracket.
You'll probably want to buy a 3rd party diffuser / soft-box and bounce-card for best results.
The bottom line is that it enjoys most (but not all) of the benefits of the more expensive 580 but it costs about $170 less (based on list price.) It lacks flash exposure bracketing, cannot be used as a "master" unit in a multi-flash configuration (but can be used as a "slave" unit), it's not quite as powerful (how often do you need to shoot a subject that's more than 141' away?) and doesn't recycle quite as fast, and there is no option for an external battery pack. But these are features that probably only professionals or hard-core enthusiasts will miss. Unless you are a professional (or at least a very serious / advanced amateur) then you should probably very strongly consider the 430 as your primary flash.
My only "con" about this flash (and it's pretty minor) is that a few of the buttons on the back are a bit hard to press. I'd still buy this flash again in a heartbeat.
458 of 483 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2008
The Speedlite 430EX II flash is a solid unit. It contains most of the upgrades that its big brother received. A metal foot finally, with a twist-lock that holds it totally securely to the top of the camera, yet removes in less than a second when you want to take it off, are true values and make a excellent flash unit even better. Canon quality is demonstrated in every aspect.
I actually purchased this unit as a slave to my 580EX II, but don't under estimate this unit. It is somewhat smaller than its bigger brother but is still a powerful flash to have in your bag. It can be used as a standalone flash or a slave to its bigger brother. The guide number for the 430ex is 43 and 58 for the 580EX units. That being said, in most shots, you will not know the difference. The unit can be rotated both vertically and horizontal, and can be operated fully ETTL automatically or manually. It supports High-Speed sync which allows you to shoot using all shutter camera speeds and has built in wide panel.
I also purchased the DVD "Understanding the Canon Speedlite 580EX/430EX" by Blue Crane Digital. This is a great companion that I highly recommend.
This is a great unit that is built for reliability and will be a work horse in anyone's bag. You will not go wrong with it purchase. It's a great investment. Later, if you decide to move up, you can add the 580EX as a master and use your 430EX as a slave.
85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2009
I had high hopes when I decided to buy this flash unit. I read detailed reviews about this on the web (especially at The Digital Picture). I had already tried an old, non-rotating, single-power flash unit. It produced great results in combination with a flash cable so that I could point the light in any direction. It proved to me that bounced flash was an incredibly useful and aesthetically pleasing technique, unlike direct flash.
What advantages does the 430EX II have over my (free) old dumb flash and the camera's built-in flash?
0) E-TTL. No more manually tweaking aperture and ISO to get the right exposure! The camera evaluates scene with a pre-flash and computes the correct exposure. You get the right exposure the first time, every time.
1) Focus assist. Oh my god, this feature is absolutely incredible. Because the focus assist lamp produces a pattern, YOU CAN FOCUS ON FEATURELESS SOLID-COLORED WALLS. Besides that, the focusing is always very fast. If you're doing indoor photography, you can disable the flashing and just use the flash unit as a focus assist device (go into your camera menu).
2) More power. With a guide number of 43 metres, this unit is much more powerful than the camera's built-in flash (GN ~15 m) and more powerful than my dumb flash. More power is never a bad thing. It allows headroom to play with diffusers, bouncers, walls/ceilings, and such. And the unit can always choose to fire at less than maximum power, e.g. 1/8, 1/64.
3) Swivel head. Direct "front" flashing is almost always the wrong thing to do, from an aesthetic point of view. The swivel head allows the flash to be pointed upward, sideways, rearwards toward a suitable wall.
Incidentally, these external flashes are designed to also work with Canon G and Pro compact/prosumer cameras that have hotshoes, and they enjoy the benefits of a powerful light and bounce flash just as well as a DSLR can.
A powerful swiveling flash unit like the 430EX II is one of the essential accessories for beginning photographers, giving an incredible amount of bang for the buck. Other top-priority items for cheap photographers include:
* Camera bag (or use/modify any bag that fits)
* Hoya Super HMC UV filter for each lens
* Air blower (keep those glass surfaces clean)
* Circular polarizer filter (especially for outdoor/city/landscape photographers)
* Big memory card (16 GB for ~$40, you have no excuse)
* Tripod. Be careful, DSLRs can be heavy and may require sturdier tripods than the absolute minimum.
* Sharp zoom lenses (e.g. L series; e.g. 17-55mm & 70-200mm)
* Telephoto lens (in the 100mm to 300mm range)
* Fast portrait lens with bokeh (e.g. 50mm f/1.4)
* Macro lens (e.g. 100mm)
* Lens hood (good for protecting against rain)
* Lens pen, lens brush
* Extra batteries
* Vertical grip
* Shutter switch (good for bulbing)
* Flash cable
* Flash diffuser (e.g. Sto-fen)
* Neutral density filter
* Compact camera (if carrying a DSLR everywhere gets tiring)
94 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2009
Wow. The 430 EX II exceeded my expectations! What a great flash. I use it with an XSI and it is absolutely awesome. I keep it aimed up at the ceiling and it produces great results. It is so bright! When you use it in conjunction with the zoom, it performs awesome too. It really lights up a long way. I use it with rechargeable battteries and it cycles almost instantly. I can pretty much snap 5 shots in a row and it keeps up, then needs about 2 seconds to give me another 5 shots. Use good rechargeable batteries, like 2650 milliamps. They work best.
Hats off to the folks at Canon, they did it again!
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2010
Just do it. The 430EXII flash is the second best thing I ever attached to my Canon DSLR. I'm a bit sorry I waited all this time to get one.
I have never been a fan of flash photography, and I peg that squarely on the shoulder of on-camera flash units. Sure, they are great when there is no other light, and one just HAS to have that picture..... but it will be poorly exposed, and flat as a pancake. I always prided myself on having a steady hand, and shooting sans-flash until lack of light made it ludicrous.
Well.... after watching a pro work a wedding with a shoe mounted flash, I was ready to give it a shot. Enter the 430EXII.
In the last week I have been bouncing flash off everything I can, experimenting. Several hundred photos later, I'll say this... the flash unit will go with me everyplace the camera does now.
The quality on this unit is good. The metal shoe is solid, the battery door is not mickey mouse, and overall heft gives a feel of confidence in durability.
The controls are as complicated as they need to be for the features offered. While there is a learning curve to use everything there, there is also the easy option of sliding it into the camera shoe and simply turning it on. For 90% of the casual photographers out there nothing else needs to be done. The flash, coupled with an EOS camera, is almost idiot proof. Turn on the flash, turn on the camera, and shoot.
The flash head swivels in two planes, making bounce flash a treat. Suddenly flash photos are coming to life for me, with depth, color, and eye pleasing qualities. Exactly opposite of what the built in flash usually offers.
As for rapidness of recharge, it easily keeps up with the camera's top shooting speed. In fact, I can manually trigger full power blasts as fast as I can push the test button, appearing like a strobe light to anyone watching.
The pre-focus light works well, although only at shorter ranges. Across a room, no problem. Across the street in the dark? Forget it. At that point, switch to manual focus and shoot. The flash will keep up with your best effort.
For the $260 I paid, with two day shipping..... I call this the best purchase I have made since I got the camera itself. Along with the L lenses I have, this flash will one day move to a more advanced camera body, and I won't consider myself under equipped at all.
49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2009
I was fairly hesitant on getting the 430EXII mainly because I wanted to get the 580EXII but after seeing the actual size of the 580EXII I realized that its going to dwarf my XSi and also not fit in my Slingshot 200AW bag, so I opted for the 430EXII. Since Ive got it Ive taken about 150shots (still on same set of energizer 2500mah rechargeables) and really getting the hang of this flash.
Initially I wasnt getting the best shots, sort of like the built in camera flash where I was getting alot of harsh flash shots. Later after learning more about the preflash and how the flash/camera reads that info to determine the exact amount, the pictures were coming out much better, almost more natural.
If you bounce flash alot (like I do as I dont like the straight on flash) when taking pics of my son (2yr old) I definetely recommend using the FEL (preflash) button, because without the the flash output is not properly calculated, yes you can manually adjust it but how many shots that going to take before your 2yr son is gone from the shot (since he cant sit still for more than 2secs).
Only gripe I got on this is that the lock button that keeps the camera say at straight on flash, lets say you want to raise it, you have to press and hold this release button to raise the head to say bounce flash. That button is only on the right side and alot of times in quick changes I cant remember to press it firmly and cant get the damn head to move positions. It also locks in the 90 position on swivel as well.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I've had my Canon Speedlite 430EXII flash for about two years, and I love it. It is an amazing flash, and it has a lot of features that will make it easier for most photographers to take better photos. Most of the reviews here on the site will tell you that, and tell you a lot about the features that help it make your photos better.
One huge reason this flash will help you take better photos with your Canon camera is ETTL. Many reviews note the system, but they don't tell you what it is or why it helps. ETTL stands for Evaluative-Through The Lens, and it is an electronic system that lets the camera and the flash communicate with each other. The camera sees what you're focusing on through the lens, and the sensors look at how much ambient light is in the frame. It then computes how much light you need for an ideal exposure, sends that information to the flash to set how intense the flash is, how long it lasts, and can even focus the flash on the subject. Additionally, the camera can automatically adjust exposure, ISO, aperture and/or other settings (depending on the camera and how you've set it up). By working together, the flash and the camera can ensure you have the ideal photo.
There are a lot of great flashes out there, and a lot of great cameras. In the hands of a skilled photographer, there are better choices than the Canon Speedlite 430 EX II. However, for Canon camera owners with a moderate amount of experience or less, there are no better flashes than a Canon Speedlite because the camera and flash communicate well to adjust in ways most non-professional photographers can't match. Even for a professional, the Speedlight makes taking quick photos without a lot of set up much easier. This flash is highly recommended for those owning a Canon camera.
64 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2008
I wish I could tell you all of the neat features this flash has but the truth is, I don't understand them yet. What I can tell you is that I bought this flash to go along with my first SLR (the Rebel XSI) and it works really great. From a beginners perspective, it saves my camera battery and I definately get better coverage than the built-in flash. The reason I choose this particular model over the existing 430EX model is because there are some minor improvements such as recycle time and a metal foot but also because I read that some of the settings for this flash are [additionally] accessible via the camera's menu system. This probably isn't important to some of the pros out there but for me it's nice to know that I have the bases covered for when I grow in to the camera.