Built-in digital SLR flash can be very helpful in low light or back light condition, but it has a lot of limitation. It does not swivel so you can’t direct or bounce the light, it has significantly lower power and reach. Perhaps one of the most important disadvantages is you can’t separate it off camera to performs creative off camera lighting techniques.
If you want to take your photography to the next level or just want to get a better picture in low light condition, then you will need a dedicated flash. In this post, I will list several flashes in various price point and features for your any of your Canon DSLR, from Canon XS / 1000D, Canon 500D to more advanced Canon 50D and all the full frame cameras including Canon 5D, 1d mark IV, etc.
Flash for beginner and photographers on budget:
Nissin Di622 Price: $170
Di622 is a great basic flash and ideal for people who using flash for the first time. It has basic user interface, inexpensive, and have small reflector/bounce card built-in. This flash is very easy to use. Because it has automatic mode, you can just plug in the flash, turn it on and fire away.
Sigma EF-530 DG Super Price: $220
EF-530 is a basic flash too, but it is unique because it has wireless master feature, so you can set up a group of flash off cameras to get a creative result. The problem with this flash is it lack compatibility with Canon flashes in wireless feature, so it is best if you use several of this flashes. I recommend this flash for people who want to experiment with wireless flash but doesn’t want to spend excessively.
As a stand alone flash, it has its own pluses and minuses as well. It has many dedicated buttons in its easy to use interface, but it only swivel up to 180 degrees (90 left and 90 right) while most of other flashes can swivel at least up to 270 degree.
Canon Speedlite 430 EX II Price: $290
Canon’s own Speedlite 430 EX II is all around flash designed for beginner and enthusiasts. It has all-around features except wireless master controller. It can act as a slave to wireless master flash. The only gripe with this flash is relatively hard to press button and no setting indication for advanced setting, which could be frustating because the only way to know what is what is to consult your manual.
Flash for advanced/pro quality flashes (indicated with high power, fast recycle rate and wireless master):
Canon Speedlite 580 EX II Price: $440
This is the most advanced Canon Speedlite, it has wireless master feature so you can control remote flashes. It also have high max power and good recycle time. It can swivel up to 360 degree, has built-in diffuser and bounce card, and has a quick firing mode. Additionally, it has socket for external battery pack which is great for full day of shooting. The only downside will be the price. But considering its feature and performance, it is worth the price.
Nissin Di866 Price $300
Arguable the best value advanced flash for Canon DSLR is Nissin Di866. It has most of the features like Canon 580 EX II such as high power output and wireless master feature. In addition, it has secondary flash tube for fill flash. However, the operation is a bit sluggish and noisy and it only swivel up to 270 degree. Recommended for advanced photographers in budget.
Metz Mecablitz 58 AF-1 Price: $400
This is another alternative flash for advanced photographers. It has plenty of power and ability to adjust the power as tiny as 1/256 (most flashes only can manage 1/64 to 1/128) and swivel up to 290 degree. Like Nissin Di866, it has secondary flash tube for fill in flash. The downside of this flash is the user interface. It has only a few buttons to control this complex flash.Related Post: