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Canon Speedlite 430EX External Flash & S5 IS Review
A photography enthusiast's unbiased opinion of the Canon Speedlite 430EX external flash paired with the S5 IS.

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What's In The Box?
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Pouch & Flash Stand

While I watched the price of my next camera, the Canon S5 IS, keep dropping I went ahead and ordered the Speedlite 430EX external flash to go along with it.

My old S3 super zoom camera was sold to help pay for the S5 & 430EX combination that I hoped would satisfy my desire for a mini-dSLR with good image quality, an excellent movie mode, and the ability to use a high powered flash for low light situations.

I bought the 430EX for $229 with free shipping from BuyDig.com. Inside the box are the flash itself, a soft carrying pouch and a mini stand for when you use it in "slave" mode.

This flash features E-TTL (Evaluative Through The Lens) metering which achieves highly accurate exposure by firing an undetectable pre-flash.

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Rear LCD Panel & Controls
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Auto Focus Assist Beam Panel
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Plastic & Metal Shoe
Some of the other features of the Canon Speedlite 430EX include the 1/250 standard or optionally high speed sync, the .1 to 3.7 second flash recycle time, second curtain sync, -2 to 2+ flash exposure compensation, a twist & swivel head for using bounced flash techniques, a 24mm to 105mm coverage zoom, and a pull down 14mm wide angle diffuser panel.
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Tilted 90 Degrees Forward
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Battery Compartment Cover
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4 AA NiMH Batteries
The 430EX also has a red beam Auto Focus Assist Light that unfortunately doesn't fire when used with my Canon S5 IS (or the Canon G7 from what I've read). In use I haven't felt this to be a disadvantage since the S5's on board green "laser" AF Assist beam works very well. Apparently the flash's AF assist light is too large for the small P&S (point & shoot) camera sensors and only works with the much larger sensors in dSLR cameras.
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Pull Out Wide Angle Diffuser
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14mm Pull Down Diffusion Screen
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Since the 12X optical zoom lens on the S5 IS goes from 36 to 432mm, I doubt I'll ever need to use the 430EX's pull out 14mm wide angle flash diffusion screen. Although it might help when shooting macro subjects up close with an optional lens attached.
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45 Degree Angle
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Upon inspecting the 430EX and testing for build quality I wasn't surprised to find that it is very solidly built with no creaks or rattles. The twist & tilt head does have a tiny bit of play but that is expected since if the joint was too tight it would be a frustrating experience switching back and forth from bounced to the direct flash positions. Although the flash's hot shoe seems to be made of plastic it feels very solid and I have no problem occasionally lifting up the camera gently by the flash.
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Cheap Diffusion Cap
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$4 Hong Kong Diffuser
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White / Silver Bounce Card
I had previously owned a Nikon D100 dSLR with the SB-800 flash which I really enjoyed using but sold it when I got tired of the weight, size, cost, and lack of movie mode. I feel that my new S5 with the 430EX on top will get me as close as possible to the miniature dSLR with live LCD, movie mode and external flash capability that I had been craving when I had the S3.
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Watch Macro Bounced Flash
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Clock 60 Degree Bounced
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Retro Phone
The day that UPS delivered my new camera it was raining outside, so I could only walk around the house to test the abilities of the S5 & 430EX team. For having everything set on "Auto" mode, I was very impressed with the results obtained by bouncing the flash off the ceiling or walls at 45, 60, 75 and 90 degree angles. Of course the direct flash looked harsh but was much improved by the cheap $4 white plastic diffuser dome that I bought on Ebay from a seller in Hong Kong China. I also bought a white / silver bounce card for about $5 from another seller in Hong Kong. Once I master these two flash diffusion techniques I foresee a lot of great portraits & group pictures coming from this camera and flash combo.
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Toothpaste Macro Bounced
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-2/3 Flash Exposure Compensation
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Ceiling Bounced Flash
Below are a few of the pictures I took at a recent racing event using the Canon S5 and 430EX flash for fill light in the shaded garage areas. I had the diffuser dome on the flash to prevent any harsh shadows. This camera only shoots up to 1.5 FPS (frames per second) which the 430EX was easily able to keep up with at all but the highest flash output settings. By testing out the rapid fire ability of the flash with the "Pilot" test button I saw that the 430EX should have no problem keeping up with the high FPS of the Canon EOS line of dSLRs.

Update 2016 - There is a newer version of this flash. It is the Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT.

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PBOC Races Garages
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Porsche - 430EX Diffused
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Direct Diffused Flash Porsche
For more, please visit my Canon S5 IS Digital Camera Review page, the Lowepro EX140 Camera Bag Review, and finally the PBOC Race @ Homestead-Miami Speedway (S5 Sample Pictures & Video) page.

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