|Canon 420EX TTL Speedlite Flash #048|
eBay Buyer Protection
Indianapolis, IN, USA
|The Speedlite 420EX is sure to appeal to EOS users everywhere with its combination of power, features and affordability. It is fully E-TTL-compatible, and reverts to standard TTL operation when used on older EOS bodies or the T90. The fully swiveling bounce head zooms automatically over a range of 24mm-105mm. Most impressively, 420EX' wireless E-TTL compatibility permits it to function as a "slave" unit, triggered by a 550EX; ST-E2, or MR-14EX. Any number of 420EX and 550EX Speedlites can be combined as "slave" units.|
|UPC||082966150449, 4960999150444, 8714574913315, 95966150449|
|Guide Number||100 ft/ISO 100|
|Lens Coverage||24mm - 105mm|
|Supported Exposure Control||A-TTL, E-TTL, TTL|
|Compatible Brand||For Canon|
|Vertical Rotation Angle||+90 / -7|
|Horizontal Rotation Angle||+180 / -90|
|Min Flash Duration||1.2 ms|
|Additional Features||AF illuminator, Flash +/- compensation, Flash exposure bracketing, Modeling flash capability, Ratio control, Wireless off-camera control|
|Required Battery||4 x battery - AA type|
Average review score based on 33 user reviews
of customers recommend this product
Let me preface with this: I'm a regular Canon user; I've bought and used a dozen or more Canon bodies, lenses and flash units. But...a number of times I've bumped up against Canon's unwillingness to maintain lens-body and flash-body compatibility/continuity. This was one of them.
Back in the day I used a Canon Speedlite 420 EZ on my film bodies. But that flash unit did not transfer to the newer digital SLRs I bought after bidding adieu to film. The 420 EZ works only in Manual mode on these digital SLRs. Why couldn't those brilliant Canon engineers make my sturdy 420 EZ flash unit work with the newer digital bodies, even in a simple TTL or ATTL mode? Could it be the marketing folks whispered more loudly in the boss's ear?
In any case, this meant I had to go searching for a compatible flash for my digital SLRs, and I decided to purchase the 420 EX, which I bought on Ebay for a good price. (Be not confused here with the two models I'm referring to: the older 420 EZ (for film cameras) and the newer 420 EX (for digital cameras).) Here are the pluses I found in the 420 EX I recently bought: (1)Light-weight, yet powerful. Fits nicely in my camera bag. (2) Simple and easy to use. Turn it on and you're ready to go. (3) The automatic zoom feature is very handy, so you don't use more energy off the batteries than you need for the lens coverage (although sometimes the coverage angle doesn't quite match the lens). (4) Works as a slave (although I haven't used it in that way yet).
Now for the not-so-nice features: (1) The battery compartment door might as well have a little sign on it: "Break me," it's that flimsy. And though forewarned by having read reviews on this problem with this flash unit before I bought it, I still managed to apply too many milligrams of pressure at the wrong angle, and boink, off it came. Fortunately, it still can be worked back onto the battery compartment opening. (In fact, I think it works better broken. Go figure.) In general, the heft and feel of this unit (compared to my trusty but unusable 420 EZ) leads you to treat it as gently as your 92-year-old Uncle Bert. (2) No LCD display, which is a handy feature for knowing what's going on. (3) You have to press buttons to tilt or swivel, which slows down your shooting.
Bottom line: an OK unit for simple flash work.
Now, any engineers out there who can re-wire my trusty 420 EZ?
The Canon 420EX flash is made to work with all Canon EOS SLR cameras (film and digital) as well as Canon's Pro-70/90 and PowerShot G-series digital cameras, though with older models some features will not be enabled, most notably E-TTL metering (explained below). Even with the very earliest EOS camera however, you will get fully automatic TTL flash metering, even when the tilt/swivel head is used to bounce the light off walls or ceilings.
On newer cameras, Canon's E-TTL system is even more precise, as it will fire a "pre-flash" at a set brightness level, then the camera's meter can calculate exposure based on both the flash illumination and the ambient light for perfect exposure. Of course, the same pitfalls that confuse camera metering with ambient light will do the same here, such as overly light of dark colored subjects, or more often, metering off of the wrong part of the picture.
The most difficult thing about trying to review a flash designed to operate on a wide variety of cameras is that each camera may operate differently, with different metering systems and other functions. FOr example, I use this flash with a PowerShot G3, and the G3 uses its own small white light for autofocus assist. Because the G3 won't focus using IR, the IR light on the 420EX doesn't fire, and the G3 continues to use its own white light. Some EOS cameras do focus using IR and on those, the IR light on the 420EX provides a real boost in range compared to the tiny lights built into the camera body. I don't own an EOS film camera, so I couldn't test this feature.
The reason I bought the 420EX to use on my G3 was the G3's (and every built-in flash mounted close to the lens) horrific red-eye and the harshness of direct flash illumination. Simply put, when the light comes from the same point as the camera, illumination is head-on, which tends to be rather unflatering light, especially for human subjects. Oiy skin washes out while dark circles under the eyes are emphasized.
Bouncing the flash off of a wall creates a very pleasant light that comes from the side and front of the subject. Bounced from the ceiling the subject is simply surrounded with light, rather than hit in the face with it. Either way, people will be much happier with the way they look, and eyes will be brown, blue or hazel, instead of bright demon red.
Of course there are other benefits to an off-camera flash. The 420EX is considerably more powerful than any built-in unit, and since it is much further from the lens, ther eis less chance of red-eye, even you don't bounce the flash.
On the G3 and G5 (and perhaps other cameras as well) there is anohter problem with built-in flash. At the wideangle setting, the lens barrel (or at any setting with an accessory lens) obscures the light from the flash, resulting in a dark lower-right corner in flash photographs. The 420EX sits high above the lens, and illuminates your entire subject. The only exception is when the wideangle accessory lens is used, the flash doesn't know it, and thus sets the zoom head to 35mm instead of 24mm.
The zoom head works in conjunction with your EOS camera. As you zoom your camera's lens the flash adjusts the head so that it either provides a wider field of illumination (and less range) for wide lenses, or a concentrated beam of light for telephoto lenses (and more range).
I'm running out of characters so let me say this:
If you find a Speedlite 420EX new or used buy it, you won't regret it.
A couple of words on the Canon Speedlite 420ex..."WAY SWEET"! The 420ex was recently added to my system which includes the Speedlite 550ex and an EOS 10D. It was purchased primarily to use in a wireless flash set up for portraits. After doing some extensive research, "I'm convinced this was a good choice".The added expense of an additional 550ex pointed me in the direction of the 420ex, which was nearly 1/2 the cost. The Speedlite 420ex has worked flawlessly in concert with the 550ex. Both flash units are equiped with Sto-fen Omni Bounce diffusers. "These little fella's are extremley useful and reasonably priced". The best results hands down has been with the 420ex mounted on a light stand, shooting through a translucent umbrella with the (550ex)master flash set to the "OFF" position..."WOW"...good bye flat, unflattering lighting". The 550's exposure compensation set at (+1/2 stop) seems to be the magical formula for clean exposures. Some other cool features are the ability to set up high speed sync, flash exposure lock, flash exposure bracketing and of course flash exposure compensation as mentioned earlier. All information is communicated from the master(550ex) to the slave unit(420ex).Just turn on the 420ex, set the control switch to "slave" and you are on your way to some great, portable, consistant and reliable flash shots,..."Very Cool". In closing, I'd like to add that the Speedlight 420ex is a great stand alone flash for fully automatic E-TTL flash pictures. As a note of caution: It's important to ensure your camera body incorperates flash exposure compensation. This feature is "not" built into the 420ex and can only be accessed through your the camera body. If your camera body does "not" support this feature, you may want to consider the 550ex which offers this feature built into the flash. Either way you do have options. I often use the 420ex for candid shots around the house and at family gatherings with great results. This certainly saves the wear and tear on the 550. But in my opinion, the 420's true calling is definetly in the "slave unit wireless" arena, "There, it truley shines".
Wireless, full E-TTL capabilities, powerful, accurate consistent exposures... "It's a Canon"
No manual mode, exposure compensation can only be accessed through the wireless transmission of a master flash or by a camera which incorperates flash exposure compensation in it. Sorry, Digital Rebel owners, you may want to look at the 550ex to access this missing and much used feature.
I was looking for a older Canon flash that I may use with my Phottix Odin flash triggers. The small 220EX is easy to transport and a good match but its not powerful enough for larger indoor situations (and it does not rotate to allow you to bounce the output). The 550EX is huge and offers lots of manual controls, but IMHO its better suited to professionals and super-enthusists who want to diddle with an additional set of controls. This model, the 420EX is just right to meet my needs.
Size wise the 420EX is right in the middle. It does not offer any manual controls, although it does support wireless operation and when connected to the Odin flash trigger you have full manual control. In terms of light output, it is very powerful. I have used it from well more than 100 feet away from my subject with very good results. And it supports bounce flash, which I prefer over straight on light output. I tend to use the 75 degree bounce, and I've also used a light diffuser to softer the light from time to time (check out the Stoffen diffuser that is a custom fit for the 420ex).
I get more than 200 flashes on a set of AA Alkline batteries or 300 with eneloops (it uses 4), and the flash unit does a nice job of managing power by shutting down. The flash cycles pretty quickly, so I can frequently get off a quick series of 2 or 3 flash shots.
And the 420EX supports E-TTL, where the camera manages the level of flash output based on what the camera meters (as opposed to what the flash meters independent of the camera). As a result, I believe that it does not make sense to get this flash unless you are using a Canon camera that supports E-TTL (you are paying a real premium to get the E-TTL feature).
Overall, this is a fantastic flash, manageable in size and very powerful in terms of light output.
While I prefer my 550 and 580EX, I bagged a brand new, boxed 420EX for cheap, and was pleasantly surprised by it's performance.
While it lacks manual user controls externally, it's easy enough to do so within the camera menu, and works well with the newer 7D bodies. Even so, when used with a brolly one can simply change the distance to subject to increase or decrease intensity, (old school).
I use flash for ceiling/wall bounce, inside events and places of worship, and while it's power is technically about 2 stops less compared to a to a 550EX, it's still hot enough to light up venues with moderately high ceilings to get the ambiance I need, thus keeping me within ISO800.
I also power it via quantum batteries and it's held up well for all day use.
While I use third party triggers, it slaves/communicates well with other canon flashes.
Because it's considered a consumer model, models with little to no use can be readily found at bargain prices. In the right hands, if you want E-TTL, this is the cheapest ticket to play, (or to consider for your backup).