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Canon Speedlite 430EX vs. 420EX II - Which is Better?

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Video Transcript

Hi, Phil Steele here. Welcome to another photography Q&A. Today we are going to talk about the Canon flashes--the 430EX and the 430EX2--and which one might be right for you. Now the 430EX is the older model, no longer being manufactured, so you might wonder "Why would anybody want the older model and not the newer one, which is presumably better?" and in fact, the newer one is better on many points. It's got a little more power. It's got about a 20% faster recycle time between shots. They gave it a metal foot instead of a plastic foot where it attaches to the camera so it's stronger. It's got the new fast release locking lever and it's menu system is more compatible with the menu system on the newer cameras. So it's got a lot of advantages.

So why might anybody want the older model--the 430EX model?

Well, one obvious reason is since it's the older one you can often buy one used cheap, like on EBay, for half the price or a quarter of the price of a new one. And the other reason is some photographers prefer the older one because it has a fiscal switch to put it into slave mode. You can just flip it with your thumb. And the newer model, you have to go into the menu system, push a button and change the settings and lock the settings in, which takes a lot more time and more attention. If you're in a fast shooting situation--say a photo journalist or wedding photographer--some of these kind of photographers like that ability to put the older version into slave mode without even having to look at the thing. You can just flip it and it's in slave mode. So if you're one of those kind of shooters you may want to consider the older one.

Now there is one big caveat though. If you ever intend to use this flash with radio triggers, like the Pocket Wizards or the little Hong Kong triggers that you can buy online, then you're going to want to go with the 430EX2 because the 430EX is known to be noisy in the radio spectrum--the older model. It puts out a lot of radio noise that can interfere with the operation of Pocket Wizards or other radio triggers. And I've shot with the 430EX with Pocket Wizards and other radio triggers and I can vouch for the fact that it does seem to have less reliable performance and presumably it's because of that radio spectrum noise. So if you're into off camera flash photography using radio triggers or think you might be, then you're going to want to go ahead and get the 430EX2 because it's going to behave more reliably.

And if you're into that kind of photography you might want to check out my online video course called "How To Shoot Professional Looking Head Shots And Portraits On A Budget With Small Flashes" because then you can see me using these flashes and the radio triggers with live models and show you exactly how that kind of photography is done. So anyway, I hope you found this helpful and I look forward to talking to you again soon.