Today, we’re going to look at the best flashgun for Canon options. Whether you’re looking to buy your first external flash or are thinking of upgrading, there’s bound to be something here that interests you.
Flashguns, speedlights, external flashes, and strobes are generally one and the same thing. They are powerful, can freeze action, and can be used on your camera’s hot shoe or mounted on a separate stand. They can be used alone or in groups, with or without lighting modifiers, and can be used to create some really amazing lighting effects.
In this article, you’ll find flash models to suit all kinds of flash photography, and all ranges of budgets, so let’s get to finding you a new flashgun!
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The Best Flashgun for Canon
Table of contents
Best Canon-Brand Flashguns
1. Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT
This model has simplified controls which makes it good for those learning to use flash. It can also be used as a radio master flash for groupings of speedlites.
The Canon 430EX III-RT is a mid-range flash that’s very popular with Canon shooters. It misses out on being the best flashgun for Canon because it’s not weather-sealed. It is also not as powerful as the 600EX mentioned below.
Having said that, the 430EX III-RT has a respectable guide number of 43 (at ISO 100), so it still packs a lot of power for a compact flash.
The 430EX III features a simplified design, a user-friendly layout, and E-TTL too. This means if it’s your first time using flash you can get up and running in a short time with this one.
Related Post: Best Flashgun for Nikon Cameras
The 430EX III-RT is an upgrade from the older mark-II version, and it has radio frequency triggering that was lacking in the previous version. You can use the 430EX III as a wireless master or slave when you want to use it with other Canon flashes to give creative lighting setups, but it doesn’t have an infrared wireless mode like the 600EX does.
All in all, this compact flashgun is more than capable of handling most photographic scenarios. It can also be teamed with other compatible flashes to create professional lighting setups.
2. Canon 270EX II
Lightweight and easy to use, this version of the 270EX can also be used as a slave flash with a remote trigger
If you’re new to using flash and want a simple flashgun that gives good close-up fill flash, then the Canon 270EX II is the best flashgun for Canon that’s beginner-friendly. It’s not too expensive, either, and will give around 100 full-power flashes with AA batteries.
It comes with E-TTL and E-TTL II, which means you can choose your camera mode or settings and fire away. It has plenty of power for daylight fill flash. However, it is not made for long-distance flash or large group photography, so it does have its limitations. Recycling time is often over four seconds for full-power flash, so it’s not one for the impatient photographer!
3. Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT
This flashgun is weather-sealed, making it suitable for all-weather shooting. It also has a great wireless system
The Canon 600EX II-RT is probably the best of the best in terms of flash options. Part of that is because of the weather-sealing which makes it a great professional choice for those who shoot outdoors, or in tough conditions, like weddings and events.
It’s a more powerful (and more expensive) version of the Speedlite 430EX III-RT, and it has a guide number of 60 at ISO 100.
Power isn’t everything when it comes to a flashgun, though. Connectivity and versatility are key factors. The 600EX II-RT has very effective wireless control. It has wireless master facilities in infrared and RF modes, and the RF mode features a nifty 30m range that can work around corners and through obstacles so you won’t be left frustrated because you can’t get your flashgun to fire.
This flashgun also has a mechanism built-in to help stop it from overheating, which means you can keep using it for longer. It also features Quick Flash mode, which allows it to fire even when it hasn’t reached full charge, so you don’t miss any important shots.
The Canon 600EX II-RT is also great for those new to Canon flashguns, as it has E-TTLII/E-TTL/TTL, which means you can adjust your camera settings quickly, and let the flash do the maths to gain correct exposure.
It is an expensive flash, and is aimed at professionals but is also easy enough for beginners to use. If you are willing to spend the money you’ll have a flash that will last for years and you won’t have to replace it because you’ve outgrown it as you develop your photography skills.
4. Canon Speedlite EL-1
Extremely powerful and fast with a rechargeable Li-ion battery for an increased number of flashes and short recycle times
The Canon EL-1 is selling at an unprecedented price for a flashgun. But for professional photographers who want a Canon-brand flash unit with power, battery stamina, and almost instantaneous recycling times, this one will tick all the boxes.
The rechargeable Li-ion battery replaces the usual AA batteries that flashguns run on, although the EL-1 is not unique in that. The single Li-ion battery in the EL-1 packs around 335 full-power flashes in one charge. Recycling times are simply amazing (less than one second at full power).
The Canon EL-1 is weather-sealed, and the build quality is excellent (as it should be, at this price!). Overheating during hard usage is a non-issue thanks to the built-in fan. This will keep the unit cool even when running with up to 170 full-power flashes in one burst.
There are two handy built-in LED modeling lamps so you can see how your subject will be lit in the photo before you trigger the flash. You can also adjust brightness and color temperature with these too. One of the most standout features of this flashgun is that you can turn the flash down to extremely low levels. This is great for shooting in extreme close-ups and for subtle lighting.
If you can get past the price tag, then the EL-1 more than justifies its place on the list for the best flashgun for Canon. However, it’s probably going to appeal to the professional shooter who does a lot of flash photography.
Best Third-Party Flash for Canon
Photographers used to be wary of a lot of third-party gear because it just wasn’t as high-quality as branded equipment. Now you can buy some great stuff, often for a fraction of the price of the branded model. So, here’s our roundup of the best third-party flashes for Canon cameras.
1. Godox TT600 Flash Kit
You get two powerful flashguns and a host of accessories with this kit, which is a bargain for the price
Godox has come to rule the world of third-party flashes, and the Godox TT600 is no exception. It’s as powerful as the Canon 600EX II-RT with a guide number of 60, it has a built-in 2.4G Wireless X system, and it features High-Speed Sync (HSS) when it’s paired off-camera with X1T and Cells II triggers.
All that for a bargain price, and you get two flashguns, plus accessories that include colored filters and diffusers with this kit. That’s why it makes our pick of the best third-party flash for Canon cameras.
HSS, if you were wondering, is a great leap forward in flash photography, and it used to be found only on the more expensive flashguns. Basically, it means you can raise your shutter speed above the normal flash sync speed without getting that black band across your images.
Using HSS means you can shoot in bright sunlight but still use a wide aperture like f/1.4. This will give a shallow depth of field, which isn’t possible with normal flash sync speed. It’s also great if you want to shoot fast-moving subjects and your flash isn’t the main source of light. The only caveat to this is that HSS is only available on the TT600 with a compatible trigger, such as the X1T and Cells II. Unfortunately, you have to buy them separately.
You also get around 230 full-power flashes with the TT600, using AA batteries. Recycle times vary, from a fast 0.1 second to a draggy 2.6 seconds at full power. That’s one of the only downsides to this flashgun, but it being a manual-only flash may also put some people off.
Most beginners like to use TTL flash, at least until they are used to using flashguns, but with the TT600 you will have to start from scratch. While manual flash isn’t hard to learn, not everyone has the time or inclination to do so. This flash may suit intermediate photographers looking to learn manual flash. However, it’s such a bargain that even beginners might want to get it for when they outgrow their starter TTL flashes.
2. Neewer NW-670 Kit
Easy-to-use and inexpensive TTL flash.
If you want a very good value, beginner-friendly flashgun, the Neewer NW-670 Kit is definitely worth considering.
Although it’s inexpensive, it comes with enough features and has a level of performance that allows it to compete with some higher-priced flash units out there. It also offers the option of using AA batteries or an external power pack to provide the juice.
For an entry-level flash, the NW670 flash kit is impressive. For starters, you don’t just get the Canon flashgun. You get a 2.4GHz 3-in-1 wireless camera flash trigger and camera remote control function, as well as two M-Cord and B-Cord cables for a remote control. You also get a hard flash diffuser plus a soft flash diffuser and a handy lens cap holder.
Although the build quality of the NW670 is a bit plasticky, it does have the advantage of a metal hot shoe, unlike some cheap flashes. Metal hot shoes are less likely to break or warp and damage your camera’s hot shoe mount than a plastic hot shoe.
This flash unit has a guide number of 58. This is comparable to the guide number of 60 for the Canon 600EX II-RT, which is much more expensive. All in all, you get a lot of flash for your money with the NW670.
3. Powerextra Professional DF-400
This flash is a bargain and is very popular with beginner photographers. It’s also compatible with most camera brands
The Powerextra Professional DF-400 is a sound choice for those new to flashes or those who don’t want to spend a fortune on a flash unit.
Although it only has a guide number of 33 at 100 ISO, it does have eight levels of power output control from eight LED lamps. The recycle time is around three seconds, which is painfully slow. If you don’t mind waiting then this rather big and bulky flash does the job.
It only has three modes and doesn’t have the fancy features of a higher-end flash. However, it is compatible with most cameras and does give you more than your money’s worth. This is a good, inexpensive beginner’s choice, although you might outgrow it sooner than you think.
4. Godox V1-C
The round fresnel head of the V1 gives a different spread of light, and is packed with features
The pro-spec Godox V1-C features a round fresnel head, which gives softer and more even light falloff than traditional rectangular flash heads. One of the reasons for this is that many light modifiers, like umbrellas and octaboxes, etc. are round in shape. This means the circular flash head fills them more evenly with light.
The second benefit is the way that circular fresnel heads shape the light to allow it to fall off in a more uniform way at the edge of the beam. The V1 also features magnets in the front of the flash head. This allows you to very quickly attach and detach Godox magnetic light modifiers. That’s a great time-saver for wedding and portrait photographers.
The bright blue LCD screen makes it easy to see, even in sunlight, and the screen also turns orange when you have the V1 in slave mode, so you always know which mode you are in.
Sometimes round head flashes lack in the power department, but the V1 packs a lot of punch in light output. Recycle time is advertised as 1.5 seconds at full power, but in use, these flashguns often recycle faster than that.
Although this unit is on the higher-priced side, it will suit portrait, wedding, and event photographers. It’s also a good upgrade choice.
Which Canon Flashgun is Right for You?
If you’re finding it difficult to choose the best flashgun for Canon, then here’s a quick recap of our choices and who might benefit from them. For beginners, the Canon 270EX II, Neewer NW-670 Kit, and Powerextra Professional DF-400 are all solid flashguns to get to grips with the basics.
If you’re a professional photographer or want a flash that will work over a longer distance or for larger group shots, then the Canon 600EX II-RT, Canon EL-1, Godox TT600 or the Godox V1-C will all fit the bill for you.
What does Guide Number (GN) mean?
All flashguns have a GN, which is how their power output is rated. This is worked out using a mathematical equation that includes camera settings and distance, but at its most basic level, the higher the GN, the more powerful the flash. A GN of 60, for instance, shows that the flash is able to light a subject up to 60 meters away, while a GN of 30 is much less powerful and the maximum distance it can light to is 30 meters.
Are expensive flashes more powerful than cheaper ones?
No, not necessarily. Companies like Godox and Neewer produce powerful flashes at a fraction of the price of high-end ones.
What does flash Master and Slave function do?
If you want to use your flash off-camera, or in a group of off-camera flashes, you’ll need one flash to be the Master and the others as Slaves. The Master flash is the one that triggers off all the Slave flashes to fire. Not all flashes have this capability, so if you want to use your flash off-camera, check to see if it has these features before you buy.
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