Flash Above the Rest: Canon Speedlite 430ex

By: Rhommel Bernardino

Canon has been at this for a long, long time and they realize what it is their customers want, need and expect from them as one of the most well known camera purveyors in existence today.

With the inception of their vast EOS system that is already loaded with more options for photographers of every level comes yet another add-on as Canon releases the Speedlite 420EX Flash.

Whether you're sporting the EOS-1Ds Mark II Digital SLR or the EOS Rebel T2 35MM camera (my personal favorite), photographers inhabiting all parts and corners of the known world have long known the benefits of using the EOS system.

The Canon Speedlite 430EX flash unit replaces the Speedlite 420EX flash model as the one of the most functional and powerful flashes in its class. The maximum guide number has been increased to 43/141 (ISO 100, in meters/feet), and the 430EX flash becomes even more versatile with the addition of a built-in wide panel, which increases the minimum focal length coverage from the previous 24mm limit to 14mm.

What impresses me the most is how the Speedlite 430EX flash works equally well with film or digital cameras as I use both in my work. If you work primarily with digital cameras you'll find some features especially useful. It's compatible with the E-TTL II's auto exposure technology which analyzes important information like distance of a subject, even when snapping pictures of subjects of varying sizes, to modify the power of the flash. This results in more accurate flash exposure.

The new Speedlite 430EX flash unit includes other useful upgrades including a full-power recycle time that is approximately 40 percent shorter than its predecessor at just two seconds with NiMH rechargeable AA batteries. A rear LCD and rotary dial make other new features more accessible, such as adjusting manual flash exposure from full power to 1/64 in whole stop increments, and enabling the second curtain sync function.

There are an astounding six custom functions that are now available including a flash head that is more maneuverable and capable of more angles for bouncing flash illumination than its predecessor. The Speedlite 430EX flash also incorporates the high end features that make it an essential accessory, such as a 24-105mm auto zoom, locking hot shoe bracket, and the ability to be used as a slave flash in an E-TTL or E-TTL II wireless flash configuration. High speed sync and FE lock are also available, as well as a save energy function, a versatile feature set that delivers outstanding value. With all of these features and versatility, Speedlite 430EX flash is the accessory for serious photographers who wish to expand upon the already rich evolution of the EOS system.

I can only tell you so much. I love this flash like it was my own child. It uses very little power, feature-rich, easy to install and maintain, inexpensive and makes my photos pop with style and an even tone rarely seen outside of the naked eye.

The white sheet on the unit explains SpeedLite in great detail. I hope they're as helpful for you as they were for me!

A Few Blurbs

The SpeedLite 430EX flash unit was released to replace the very popular SpeedLite 420EX which includes new features built to maximize image quality, especially for digital users, when using a flash. This includes auto selection of the camera's white balance and the auto-adjustment of the zoom flash position to match the sensor size of the camera it's attached to. The guide number has been increased to 43 and has approximately 40% faster recycling time.

Optimum flash coverage

The flash head zoom covers the range 24mm to 105mm and an integrated diffusion panel allows extended wide-angle coverage to 14mm. When attached to digital EOS cameras with smaller than full-frame sensors (such as the EOS-1D Mark II N, EOS 20D and EOS 350D) the SpeedLite 430EX gives a more accurate flash coverage by detecting the model to which it is attached and automatically narrowing the angle of coverage. This has the effect of eliminating light loss in peripheral areas and extending the effective flash range.

Ideal white balance

The SpeedLite 430EX automatically transfers color temperature information to recent models of digital SLR cameras . The camera then sets the white balance optimally for the flash shot. This feature works when the camera's white balance mode is set to Auto White Balance (AWB) or Flash white balance mode.

E-TTL II

The Speedlite 430EX is fully compatible with the distance linked E-TTL II system found on recent EOS cameras, and supports other EOS cameras that do not support E-TTL II, when required. For a complete multiple flash system, the Speedlite 430EX serves as a wireless slave when either the Speedlite 580EX, Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX, Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX or Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 is used as a master.

Upgrade for control

An intuitive and ergonomic interface includes an LCD panel for clear indication of modes and settings. A single bounce lock release button provides immediate control over the bounce head angle for flexible positioning of the flash head. The flash head can be moved up from 0 - 90degrees (5 settings), left from 0 - 180degrees (7 settings) and right from 0 - 90degrees (4 settings). 6 custom functions allow customization of the flash operations. Despite high power and short recycling times, the unit is small and lightweight.

Fully Synchronized

Features include 1st and 2nd curtain flash synchronization, and manual adjustment of flash output from full to 1/64 power (7 levels).

Accessories

An optional Speedlite Bracket SB-E1 allows the flash unit to be mounted to one side of the camera. Designed specifically for press and wedding photographers, it eliminates the red-eye that can occur when mounting a flash on the axis of the lens, such as on the camera hot shoe. Flash batteries are replaceable without removing the unit from the bracket.

The flash retails for around $299.99 and is priced affordably against its competition and I can't help to carry it in m y gear bag whenever I travel and I hope you won't either!

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