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Canon Flash Models

by Gisle Hannemyr

This page is part of a series of articles about using flash on digital cameras. The complete set of segments in this series is:

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Canon Dedicated Flash Models
  3. Review Site Link farm

1. Introduction

This note lists dedicated flash units for Canon's E-TTL II system that are made by Canon.

Disclaimer: I have not tested all the units discussed in this note myself. The data have been copied from various sources, such as Canon's web site, private communica­tions, manuals, discussion forums, and other sources. I've included it here “as is”. The information may not be complete or correct, and corrections are welcome.

For corrections, or if you want to share a review about one of these units, or just would like to comment, please user the blog (public) or the feedback form (private).

How to read the tables

If you are use GNs for doing comparisons, note that the guide number you'll find in most manufacturer's literature is for the zoom head at its maximum setting (e.g. f=105mm). This makes it difficult to make direct power comparisons with flash units from other manufacturers, who may list use another zoom setting as reference for GNs. I try to list the GN for three different settings of the zoom head (35mm, 50mm, and maximum), with a “centre weighted” light pattern.

The tabulated summaries only lists some of the features of each flash. If you want to know all the technical details and features, please see Canon's specification sheets.

2. Canon Dedicated Flash Models

ModelCoverageGN (ISO 100/meter)WLCostNotes
ST-E2 - - - - m/-USD 210(1)
MR-14EX - - - 14m/-USD 450(2)
MT-24EX - - - 22m/-USD 650(3)
EOS 7D bi 27mm 12- 12m/-- (4)
220EX 28mm 22- 22-/-USD 120(5)
270EX 28, 50mm 222727-/-USD 150(6)
380EX 24-105mm 283138-/-USD 160(7)
420EX 24-105mm 313442-/rUSD 200(8)
430EX 14, 24-105mm313443-/rUSD 250(9)
430EX2 14, 24-105mm313443-/rUSD 330 
550EX 17, 24-105mm364255m/rUSD 350(10)
580EX 14, 24-105mm364258m/rUSD 380(11)
580EX2 14, 24-105mm364258m/rUSD 410(12)

For more detailed specifications, see the Canon' website.


  1. Dedicated transmitter for E-TTL wireless flash system.
  2. Macro ring flash.
  3. Macro twin flash.
  4. EOS 7D built-in pop-up flash. GN in E-TTL II mode. As far as I know, the built-in flash on all current Canon models have similar GN and coverage.
  5. No tilt or swivel. Discontinued 2009.
  6. No swivel.
  7. No swivel. Discontinued 2001.
  8. Discontinued 2005.
  9. Discontinued 2008.
  10. Discontinued 2005.
  11. Discontinued 2007.
  12. Non-TTL auto. PC socket.

If you plan mixing Canon Speedlites with third party flash using plain optical slave triggers, see notes on compatibility.

Usage notes

Canon's older zoom head flashes 380EX, 420EX, 550EX do not take the sensor size into account when zooming. This is not a problem with Canon compact cameras because their interface seamlessly convert actual focal lengths to 135 film FOV – but it wastes power when used on a digital camera with a sensor smaller then the 135-format negative by zooming out too wide. Canon's newer E-TTL II Speedlites compensate for this.

The initial batches of the Canon 580EX (mk I) were faulty. These Speedlites would compensate for sensor size for normal and tele lenses, but would give severe vignetting if used with wide angle lenses (below f=24mm) on a body with a small (1.6x crop) sensor. Canon silently corrected this problem some time in 2005, but has still to acknowledge the problem publicly. According to this thread at DPReview, Canon UK has started replacing or repairing faulty units under guarantee, while service centers in other locations may still not acknowledge the problem. If you are planning to buy a used 580EX to use with a camera with a non-FX sensor (e.g. EOS 1000D, 500D, 50D), you should be careful if the serial numbers on the 580EX starts with 0 or 1, and test the unit for this problem prior to purchase to avoid being stuck with a broken unit.

Review Links

3. Review Site Link Farm

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