Find out what are the best flashguns 2020 and best Speedlites for cameras. You can use the top rated camera flashes speedlights to improve your photo quality.
These flashguns can also be used with mirrorless camera and dslr.
A good flashgun can enhance lighting in almost any shooting scenario. Our experts separates the strong speedlightes from the week.
Many amateurs only reach for a flashgun when shooting indoors or after dark. But that’s really missing a trick.
A decent flashgun will be much more powerful and versatile than the pop-up flash built into most Canon cameras.
They’re not only great for adding much-needed illumination when you’re shooting in the dark.
Also for filling in shadows and giving a more balanced lighting effect even under intensely imposing bright sunlight.
Most good flashguns have a zoom facility, which can concentrate the beam over a tighter area when using lenses with longer focal lengths.
This increases the effective power and range of the flashgun when using telephoto lenses, as you’re not wasting light illuminating areas that won’t be in the image frame.
Indeed, most feature a motorized head which can automatically track the zoom setting of the lens fitted to the camera, or match different prime lenses as you swap between them.
The power of the flashgun is referenced as a Gn (Guide number, more on page 106). A bigger Gn represents a greater maximum power output.
You can easily adjust these flash gun into your rolling camera bags when traveling.
Although we run our own lab tests to check the actual output of each flashgun through its range of power settings.
Greater power is particularly useful if you want to use the flashgun in bounce and swivel modes, as you’ll need a stronger intensity of light to cover the distance.
We test eight of the latest flashguns to see which shines brightest for photography…
Canon Speedlite EL-100
Compact yet capable, with some interesting and surprising trick modes up its sleeve. Just about small enough to slip into a pocket.
Canon’s baby EL-100 is still much more powerful than a pop-up flash. And for full frame cameras that don’t have a pop-up flash, it makes a handy space saving add-on, weighing in at just 190g.
Although compact, the flashgun features a bounce head, with 0-90 degrees of vertical movement, and 150/180 degrees of swivel to the left and right. However, there’s no motorized zoom.
Instead a rudimentary push-pull manual adjustment gives alternatives to match focal lengths of 24cc or 50mm focal lengths (38mm or 80mm for APS-C).
Wireless connectivity includes both master and slave infrared modes, whereas the pricier, 470EX-AI only features an IR slave mode.
Even so, there’s no RF connectivity. Onboard controls are bit too simple, only really catering to channel and group assignments for wireless modes, and there’s no LCD screen.
You need to make all adjustments via in-camera menus, which can be long winded. On the plus side, high speed sync and rear curtain sync are supported.
As indicated by the modest Gn rating maximum power output is a little down on other flashguns in this test group.
Considering that the EL-100 only run on two AA batteries, recycling is pretty swift, at three seconds after a full power flash when using NiMH batteries (5.2 seconds for alkaline). TTL flash metering is spot-on.
- The head is quite small but has tilt and swivel movement.
- There’s no wide-angle diffuser screen, nor a pull-out reflector card.
- Basic controls are only of use for assigning wireless channels and groups.
- The rotary control dial includes full ‘Auto’ and more adjustment-friendly ‘On’ positions.
- The build includes a metal mounting foot and quick-release locking lever.
Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT
Mid-range but feature-rich, complete with a built-in wireless RF transceiver. The mid-range 430EX II was a top seller. Packing powerful performance into a compact yet robust build, all at an attractive price.
The headline upgrade in the more recent III-RT is that, like Canon’s range-topping 600 RT series of Speedlite. It also adds a built-in RF (Radio Frequency) transceiver.
So whereas the previous model could only act as a wireless slave with an infrared range of around five to eight meters.
The new model can act as an RF master or slave with a transmission range of about 30 meters in master mode.
That’s when using it in the Camera’s hotshoe to trigger other ‘RT’ compatible flashgun.
Another improvement over the previous edition is that the control panel and menu system are redesigned. They’re much more user-friendly and intuitive, for quicker and easier operation.
Similarities to the Mk II include a motorized 24-105MM zoom head, with 0-90 degree bounce and 150/180 degrees of swivel to the left and right.
The accessories include the usual carrying pouch and stand, but adds a high quality diffusion dome and tungsten color matching filer.
We’re used to seeing excellent TTL accuracy with own brand Canon Speedlites and the 430EX III-RT is no exception.
With four batteries instead of two, recycling speed is better than from the EL-100, despite the greater max power rating.
Even so, our measured max output at the long end of the zoom range is a little down on most other flashguns on test.
- The usual catch light panel and wide-angle diffuser are built into the flash head.
- This Speedlite features a motorized zoom mechanism.
- The flashgun can detect when the diffusion dome or colour filter is fitted.
- The redesigned rear control panel is a joy.
- With a built-in RF transceiver, it can operate as a master or slave with other compatible ‘RT’ flashguns.
Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI
Bounce flash is generally preferable to direct, so long as you’re confident about how to work the angles.
If not, this flashgun comes to the rescue, with a motorized bounce, swivel and zoom head that are controlled via AI. But how does it work?
In fully auto AI Bounce mode, a pre-flash pulse is fired at the subject, then the head tilts vertically upwards and fires a second pre-flash pulse at the ceiling.
The optimum bounce angle is then calculated and set automatically, prior to the shot. If you swap between portrait and landscape orientation. The flash head adjusts with a double light tap of the camera’s shutter button.
It’s all clever, but fully auto mode is only available with recent cameras, launched during of after the second half of 2014.
Even then, some newer models are excluded, including the 1300D, M3, M5 and M6. If you’re rather choose whether to bounce the flash off the ceiling or a wall.
There’s a semi auto AI bounce mode and an ‘Angle Set’ button to accommodate this, which has more compatibility.
In other respects, the 470EX-AI is conventional although the recently designed controls panel is very similar to that of the 430EX III-RT.
Max output at the longest zoom setting is midway between that of the 430EX III-RT and 600EX II-RT.
Recycling after a flash is both silent and swift, but battery life about two thirds that of the 430EX II-RT, due to the extra motorization.
- The head has 120 degrees of vertical rotation, and 180 degrees swivel.
- The three-way ‘AI.B’ switch offers 0 degrees (no bounce or swivel), semi-auto and fully auto modes.
- In semi-auto AI Bounce mode, you manually position the head then press the Angle Set button.
- Includes a wide-angle diffuse.
- A diffusion dome, stand and padded soft case are included.
How We Test
Our two-stage procedure combines extensive real-world shooting with rigorous lab tests.
We test all features for each flashgun. These can include flash exposure comp and manual power settings, motorized zoom heads and advanced flash modes like high-speed sync, rear curtain and, sometimes, strobe flash.
To test power output, we used a Sekonic flash meter placed one meter away from each flashgun. We check the complete range of manual power settings, in one-stop increments.
The results are checked by taking shots with the appropriate lens apertures and using the camera’s histogram display in playback mode.
This is done for flash zoom settings of 24mm, 50mm and 105mm (in full-frame terms). We also check the accuracy and consistency of E-TTL (Electronic-Through The Lens) flash metering (see opposite).
The speed with which each flashgun can recycle to a state of readiness after a full-power flash, using both Ni-MH and alkaline cells.
How accurate are flashguns during TTL metering?
TTL (Through The Lens) flash metering is available with almost all dedicated flashguns that are designed for use with the Canon EOS camera system.
Before the actual exposure, the flashgun fires short pulses of light that are reflected back from the subject, pass through the lens and are measured by the camera.
The system then calculates the duration of flash required for a ‘correct’ exposure and sends this back to the flashgun.
This chart shows how accurately TTL flash metering works when using each of the flashguns. Positive values equate to overexposure, negative for underexposure.
How powerful are flashguns? These numbers will be your guide.
The maximum power output of a flashgun is generally quoted as a Gn (Guide number). It equates to the distance at which the flashgun can effectively illuminate a subject, at any given aperture, usually with a camera sensitivity setting of ISO100.
If you divide the Gn by the f-number of the aperture in use, you’ll get the effective reach of the flashgun.
For example, a flashgun with a Gn 40 rating (ISO100) will give you a range of 10m when shooting at f/4, or 5m when shooting at f/8.
Bear in mind that if you’re bouncing the flash off a ceiling or wall, the distance between the flashgun and the object you’re shooting can become much longer, and there will also be a loss of intensity due to absorption of light in the surface that you’re bouncing it off.
Similarly, diffusion domes will also reduce the max available output.