The Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash is a midrange compact shoe-mount flash, although to be honest, the term midrange doesn’t do it any justice. This flash has some great features and it would serve most photographers well, (amateurs and professionals) primarily due to its versatility. Where the 270 EX stumbles, the 430EX II provides users with increased power and functionality.
The Canon 430EX II is compatible with all of the Canon EOS SLR cameras, analogue and digital, giving you the added option of controlling and adapting the flash via the camera’s menu system.
Legend has it, the 430EX II is even compatible with analogue models dating back to the 80’s. Although the shoe lock and the high speed sync were yet to be inducted into Canons repertoire, the manual exposure and the rear sync functions do work on these vintage bodies.
Why You Need the 430EX II Shoe-mount Flash
Moving on from Canons previous model; the 430EX, the 430EX II is 20% faster with silent recycle time. The f-stop can also be adjusted in 1/3 stop increments when in manual mode, there are 9 custom functions to choose from all together.
The 430EX II functions effectively as a slave in the wireless mode, but this requires either a master flash or a wireless transmitter (some EOS models have built in wireless transmitters precisely for this reason). The wireless transmitter does however need to be within range of the infrared beam.
The zoom function on the 430EX II adjusts the coverage and charge of the flash from 105mm right to 24mm even wide open depending on the distance from your subject, to project the light of the flash further when needed. This function does however require the flash to be mounted to a Canon EOS camera.
The 430EX II is compatible with Canons E-TLL II technology. Right up there on Canon’s proverbial mantelpiece is the E-TTL II flash exposure metering system. It may be old news to some, but this technology combines the pre-flash and distance from the subject to ensure the correct amount of light is produced by the flash.
In addition to the afore mentioned automatic exposure control, the E-TTL II technology offers improved white balance by transmitting colour information from the flash to the camera and compensating for any variations in the flash.
…and the screen on the flash lights up at night.
Points Deducted for:
• When bouncing or diffusing the light, the 430EX II flash may lack range.
• The 430EX II flash is unfortunately not weatherproof or sealed to protect the unit against moisture and dust.
In all honesty, if you need additional range and a weather sealed unit, you do need to consider the 600EX-RT flash as an alternative. The 600EX-RT is more suited to professional photographers, and it will cost quite a bit more, but it will fill the gaps in the unlikely event that you are not entirely satisfied with the 430EX II. Its radio trigger system allows for incredible wireless radio control, this is likely to be the 600EX-RT’s defining feature.
For a cheaper alternative to the 430EX II, check out the 320 EX. While it only has 4 custom functions and a smaller flash range, it is still E-TTL II compatible.
Design and Build Quality
The Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash has a solid build; it weighs 330g without batteries, with dimensions of 72 x 122 x 101mm.
The 430EX II has great battery life, you can expect to get about 200-1400 flashes on one set of AA batteries.
The metal locking mounting foot has been redesigned to provide extra stability and ensure a stable connection between the flash and the camera. The mounting also has a quick release mechanism.
Another nifty feature is that of the built-in wide angle diffuser. It tucks into a small gap above the flash, which allows it to slide out and flip down over the actual flash bulb. The filter diffuses the light and allows it to spread to cover the space captured in wide angle shots of up to 14mm. Should you choose not to use the wide angle filter, the flash can also rotate and be angled in almost every direction, allowing you to bounce light off the ceiling.
Some users found the buttons rather stiff, requiring firmer operation, but as far as the build goes, that’s the only downfall of this flash.
Included in the box
• The Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash
• A padded nylon pouch
• A small table stand
• Instruction booklet
• International warranty card
Who is the intended user?
The 430EX II only really falls a little short where range is concerned, for this reason specifically, it is suited primarily for indoor photography such as wedding and press photography.
If you are on a budget, but you need professional quality gear, Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash will give you impressive versatility, range and functionality. This flash will form the backbone of your collection, whether you decide to grow your flash stash or not.
This flash offers professional functionality with a midrange price tag. While popup flashes incur hard shadows, the Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash offers the ability to bounce, diffuse and cover wide angles with just the right intensity of light. For many photographers anything more would be either wasteful or too complicated to use.