Sunday, June 13, 2010

Canon 430EX vs. 430EX II - Which Is Better?

Story By: Mark Lawson II
Many photographers may think it's obvious that you should always buy the latest model of any photographic equipment. But sometimes an older model has advantages that make it a compelling choice.

For example, consider the Canon Speedlite 430EX flash, versus the newer Speedlite 430EX II.

According to Photographer Phil Steele, in his video tutorial at, there is a good case to be made for considering the older model.

Sure, the newer 430EX II is a better flash in many ways. It has increased power and a 20-percent faster recycle time. Canon has given it a metal mounting foot to replace the older, fragile, plastic version. It has the new, fast lockdown lever. And it has full compatibility with the menu-driven system on the newer cameras.

Overall, the 430EX II is a better flash.

So why do some photographers prefer the older 430EX? Two reasons. First, you can often pick up the older model used on auction sites for half the price of a new one, or less.

But more importantly, some photographers prefer the manual slave switch on the older 430EX. That flash has a physical lever that you simply flick with your thumb to put the flash in slave mode. It takes a fraction of a second and you can do it without looking.

On the newer 430EX II, you have to hold down a button to enter the menu system on the flash, dial in the appropriate settings, and lock them in. This takes precious time and attention which some photographers, such as fast-shooting photojournalists and wedding photographers, prefer not to spend twiddling flash controls.

There is, however, one huge caveat. The older 430EX puts out a lot of noise in the radio spectrum, and the newer 430EX II is much more radio quiet. Why does this matter?

Photographers who use radio triggers for off-camera flash photography find that radio-noisy flashes diminish the range, and sometimes prevent them from working at all.

So if you plan to use your Canon Speedlite with radio triggers, such as PocketWizards or the less expensive Cactus triggers, you should choose the 430EX II. Its relative lack of radio noise makes it the smarter choice for off-camera flash radio triggering.

A video version of this article, along with other tutorials on Canon flash photography, can be found at Canon Speedlite 430EX flash.

About the Author

Copyright 2010. Mark Lawson writes for where photographers can find free photo tutorials and training on a wide variety of photography subjects, from the Canon Speedlite 430EX flash to Photoshop techniques and more.

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