Which Canon Flash?


TPF Noob!
Aug 22, 2007
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I am almost convincing my wife to buy me the Canon flash for this X-mas. Now I am not sure what is really the benefit of Canon SpeedLight 580EX over Canon 430EX. The price difference is about $120 dollars and if the 580EX has great advantage, I am not even going to tell he about the existence of 430EX.

Since my ultimate goal is event photography, I would like to have a flash that can be used in different light situation. Also, I am about to take flash crash course in mid-January; therefore, I need to have it as soon as possible.

Thank you for invaluable advice as usual.
The first difference is price...the 580 is significantly more expensive than the 430.

The 580 is more powerful than the 430, but the 430 is pretty powerful itself. More power is always nice to have on hand.

The 580 can act as a master unit, in a multi-flash wireless set up. The 430 can only be a slave. So if you plan on setting up a scenario with off camera flash(s) and want to keep E-TTL metering...then it would be better to have the 580 (although you would still need a 2nd unit to be master or slave...so you could get a 430 now and a 580 later).

One difference is the controls of the flash. The 580 has a great little wheel on the back, which makes it easy to change the settings. The 430 has these stupid crescent shaped buttons that are rather thin and hard to press....especially if you have big fingers and short fingernails.

I think that the 580 can rotate 180 degrees in both directions...and the 430 is more limited...but I'd have to check.
I also think there may be a difference in the way you release the lock to turn/tilt the head...but I can't remember for sure.

Long story short...the 580EX is clearly better...but if you don't actually need the extra power and features...then I would say that the extra cost is not worth it. That was my reasoning for buying the 430EX. Although, I have found some situations where I could have used more power...
Everything Mike said is right BUT Just playing devils advocate..

If your ultimate goal is event photography, there are better options out there than even the Canon 580EX. This is one case that the branded equipment is most likely not the best option. Flashes with more power (guide number), faster cycling, and more battery capacity are available via third party (in fact I see most event photographers NOT using a Canon flash). Look towards Metz, Sunpak, and Quantum. The difficult thing is that things get a little complex and your selection of equipment suddenly grow... it will take time to research and make a decision.

At the very least, you can go ahead with the 580EX flash but plan on getting a waist battery pack (Quantum?) to provide more juice.

My personal opinion is that Canon's line of flashes kinda suck in regards to selection. I think it was a dumb decision for canon not to continue the 480EG line with something similar with ETTL.

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