Canon 430EX II vs Canon 580EX II

The Canon 430EX II vs Canon 580EX II: The Canon 580EX II was introduced in 2007 and at the time was Canon’s flagship model aimed at the professional photographer who needed maximum power and the need to control other slave speedlites wirelessly (using optical wireless not radio wireless). The smaller and lighter Canon 430EX II was introduced the following year and retailed at almost half the price making it a firm favourite with the enthusiast photographer.

Canon 430EX II vs Canon 580EX II - both flashes side by side

The 430EX II is around 2/3 stop less powerful and lacks some of the features of the 580EX II (see comparison table below which highlights the main differences). Both models have now been discontinued but second hand units can frequently be picked up at a bargain price on ebay. Both models are thoroughly dependable and were solidly built to last. Neither model has built-in radio wireless communication, they both use Canon’s optical wireless technology which requires line-of-sight between the master and the slave unit. This older wireless system can work quite well when being used in a studio but can often be a bit unreliable when using it outside in direct sunshine. The 580EX II can act as an optical wireless master or slave, whilst the 430EX II can only act as an optical wireless slave. Of course with the development of more recent technology you can now add a couple of independent radio triggers to upgrade the flashguns. The Yongnuo YN-622C-TX transmitter combined with the Yongnuo YN-622C II receiver work fantastically.

The Canon 430EX II has now been replaced by the Canon 430EX III-RT whilst the Canon 580EX II has effectively been replaced by the flagship Canon 600EX II-RT (both new models are radio wireless enabled)

both flashguns side by side

Main differences between the 430EX II & 580EX II

FeatureCanon 430EX IICanon 580EX II
Lowest power1/641/128
Right Swivel90180
Bounce cardNoYes
Optical Master/SlaveSlaveMaster & Slave
AF Assist points1-91-45
Custom functions913
Recycling time3 secs5 secs
Number of flashes200-1400100-700
PC terminalNoYes
External powerNoYes
Dust/water resistantNoYes

Canon 430EX II vs Canon 580EX II

Canon 580EX II Good Points

  • Around 2/3 stop more powerful than the 430EXII
  • Has an external power socket
  • Can act as a Master or Slave unit
  • Weatherproof
  • More AF assist focus points
  • PC socket

Canon 580EX II Bad Points

  • Expensive
  • More complicated menu
  • Bigger and heavier
  • Longer to recycle at full power

Canon 430EX II Good Points

  • Almost half the price
  • Smaller and lighter

Canon 430EX II Bad Points

  • No master facility – using a speedlite as an on-camera master is never recommended unless you need to use the flash. Best to use a dedicated controller such as Canon’s ST-E2
  • Less powerful (but only by around 2/3 stop)
  • No external power socket
  • No PC socket

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