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External flash for Canon to improve your flash photos

Updated on April 5, 2013

The best external flash for Canon digital SLR cameras reviewed and compared

An external flash for Canon will improve your photographs and take your flash photography skills to the next level but do you need an external flash for Canon? Is it really worth buying an external flash for Canon? Carry on reading to find out.

Most Canon digital cameras have an in-built pop up flash for those situations where you need to add a bit of artificial light to illuminate the subject. The pop up flash on your Canon digital camera is ok to get you out of a muddle, but if you want to get the most out of your flash photography you need an external flash for Canon for your particular model of Canon digital slr camera.

An external flash for Canon is an extremely useful bit of kit and many people seem to underestimate just how useful it is as flash is needed in daylight and darkness. You heard me right. Flash light is needed during the daytime when ambient light levels are good. During the day flash light is used as a "fill in" to illuminate shadows. For example, if you were taking a portrait photograph on a bright sunny day you would backlight the subject and use flash light to fill in the shadows under the eyes and chin.

There are plenty of external flash for Canon products for sale, some of which are very good and some of which are best avoided. If you want to know what external flash for Canon is worth buying for your Canon dslr check out the external flash for Canon guns below before you part with your hard earned cash.

Canon 270 EX II external flash for Canon

If you want the smallest, and cheapest, external flash for Canon the Canon 270EX is the flash gun for you. The Canon 270 EX II external flash for Canon is the smallest external flash gun in the Canon line up. With a guide number of 27m at ISO 100 the Canon 270EX II external flash for Canon isn't as powerful as the larger external flash for Canon units but it is still far more powerful than any built in camera pop up flash.

The Canon 270EX external flash for Canon is designed for "fast and easy shooting" therefore it is perfect for those people who are knew to flash photography or those people who simply wants a small flash gun for casual use. If your digital camera has a master function you can use the 270EX II external flash for Canon as a slave flash, which means you can position it off camera for a variety of different effects.

If you want a small and light weight external flash for Canon that is good quality and affordable, and don't need anything too powerful, the Canon 270EX external flash for Canon is the flash for you.

External flash for Canon - Canon 430EX II

If you want a mid range external flash for Canon unit for your Canon digital slr camera the Canon 430EX II external flash for Canon is the flash gun for you. With a guide number of 43m at ISO 100 this flash gun has a good range and is ideal for most situations.

The Canon 430EX external flash for Canon is an exceptionally good flash that will really help you take your flash photography to the next level. This flash gun supports through the lens (TTL) metering therefore you can simply stick it on your camera and let the camera sort out the flash settings for the perfect exposure. Alternatively, you can put the Canon 430 EX external flash for Canon in full manual mode, which puts you in total control. With the power in your hand you can set the 430 EX II external flash for Canon to give you the creative effects you want.

Like all Canon branded products the 430 EX external flash for Canon is exceptionally well made and tough, durable and built to last. You need not have any concerns over the quality of this flash as it will provide many years of trouble free service.

Unless you need a very powerful external flash gun the Canon 430EX II external flash for Canon is the model to buy as it gives the biggest bang for your buck. The 430EX II external flash for Canon is well made, it offers full manual override, it has a good reach and it is affordable. Learning to get the most out of the Canon 430EX external flash for Canon is going to take some time and practice, but it is well worth it in the end.

External flash for Canon - Canon 600EX RT

Canon's top end external flash for Canon unit is the Canon 600 EX-RT external flash for Canon With a guide number of 60m at ISO 100 this is a powerful flash that will deal with any situation you encounter. With the Canon 600 EX-RT external flash for Canon you can control up to fifteen other flashguns, which is simply awesome. This flash gun is a serious bit of kit that is ideal for professional photographers and enthusiasts alike.

When it comes to build quality the Canon 600 EX-RT external flash for Canon is second to none. It is made out of the best materials and components and built to last. In fact, I can only describe the 600 EX-RT external flash for Canon as bullet proof.

The Canon 600 EX-RT external flash for Canon is jam packed full of features and functions and offers full manual control, which means you can set the exposure exactly how you want it for some really creative photographs.

As you can see the Canon 600 EX-RT external flash for Canon is a serious piece of kit aimed at professional photographers. Unless you have the need to control a large number of individual speedlites, or need such a powerful flash I would suggest leaving the Canon 600 EX-RT external flash for Canon alone and buying the Canon 430EX external flash for Canon instead.

External flash for Canon - Remote flash triggers

If you want to get really creative with your external flash for Canon units and take your flash photography to the next level you need to start using the external flash for Canon off camera, i.e. on a light stand. With the flash gun on a light stand you are free to move the flash around the subject and light it exactly how you want to light it.

The easiest way of controlling the flash off camera and ensuring it fires when you press the shutter button is to use some flash triggers, which are effectively two units that "talk" to each other and fire the flash when the shutter button is pressed. There are plenty of flash triggers on the market, some of which are very good and some of which are best left alone. The flash triggers to give a wide berth are the cheap ones available on eBay.

Cactus V5 remote flash trigger

There's no doubt about it, Pocket Wizards are the best flash triggers available but they are very expensive and there is no way I could justify spending so much money on some flash triggers to fire my external flash for Canon. After a lot of research I decided to buy the Cactus V5 flash triggers and I have to say that I am very impressed with them.

The Cactus V5 flash triggers are very well made and tough. I have given my Cactus V5 flash triggers are bit of a hard time and they are still going strong, several months on. The Cactus V5 flash triggers are also responsive and the flash fires each and every time the shutter button is pressed. There is no lag and there are no miss fires and the reliability is spot on. The Cactus V5 flash triggers are at the top end of the flash trigger market but they are very good and I have no regrets about buying them. If you want some affordable flash triggers that are top quality, reliable and will last a long time I recommend you take a look at the Cactus V5 triggers for your external flash for Canon.

Other remote flash triggers

If the Cactus V5 flash triggers aren't for you there are some alternatives that are also very good and worth buying, as below.

External flash for Canon - Essential flash acccessories

External flash guns emit harsh light which, if not properly controlled, will lead to unsightly shadows and/or hotspots on the image, neither of which are very attractive. To overcome these issues you can aim the light upwards or side ways and bounce it off a wall or some other type of reflector. In addition to bouncing the light it is possible to soften it using a variety of different products.

Shoot through umbrella

As its name suggests, a shoot through umbrella is a white, silver or gold umbrella that you put between the external flash for Canon and the subject. As umbrella diffuses the light and softens it, hence reducing the harshness. In order to use a shoot through umbrella you will need flash triggers, umbrella stands and a variety of different brackets. The shoot through umbrella is perfect for a home studio but you can't use them when you are out and about, so they can only be used in certain circumstances.

Shoot through umbrellas are a popular way to modify flash light in home studios, and the main reason for this is because they are cheap and easy to use.

Soft Box

A light box is an enclosure in which you put your flash gun and fire it "off camera", which means you are going to need flash triggers and a soft box stand. Soft boxes are available in a variety of different sizes so there is something for all subjects. Soft boxes are designed for indoor studio use and are no good outdoors. Soft boxes are very good at reducing harsh light but no better than shoot through umbrellas. Soft boxes are much more expensive than shoot through umbrellas, and it is for this reason I prefer to use shoot through umbrellas in my home studio.

Hot shoe soft box.

Hot shoe soft box

This small device is a portable soft box that you strap on to your external flash for canon in order to modify the light and reduce the harshness. The portable hot shoe soft box neatly folds away when not in use, therefore it is a great product to keep in your camera bag at all times. For what it is, the hot shoe soft box is expensive, but it is exceptionally good and worth every cent. This soft box is also perfect for outdoor use so you can use it wherever you go. A truly awesome flash accessory.

Omni bounce

If you want a cheap and cheerful light modifier the omni bounce is worth looking at. This piece of kit is simply a plastic cap you put over the flash to reduce the intensity of the emitted light. Opinion on these omni bounce systems is divided. Some photographers rave about them whereas others think they are a waste of money. I have to admit that I am in the latter camp and would recommend spending a little more on a hot shoe soft box.

How to improve your flash photography skills

Even if you have the best flash photography equipment in the world, flash photography is not at all easy. There is a lot to consider with flash photography, therefore it is going to take time and practice to capture stunning flash photographs, but the time and effort is well worth it.

If you want to improve your flash photos I highly recommend getting a book on flash photography, such as one as those detailed below.

Speedliter's Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites
Speedliter's Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites

An excellent book on flash photography aimed specifically at Canon speedlites.

 
Off-Camera Flash: Techniques for Digital Photographers
Off-Camera Flash: Techniques for Digital Photographers

Off camera flash is an advanced flash photography technique that can yield some awesome images.

 
On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography
On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography

An essential flash photography book if you are interested in wedding photography and/or portrait photography.

 
The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes
The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes

A book that lets you know how to get the most out of your Canon flash gun.

 

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