Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review

Front view of the Canon 470EX-AI Speedlite
Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI

Introduction

The Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI is the first flashgun ever to be equipped with what’s called AI bounce – a new Auto Intelligent (AI) function that’s been cleverly designed to work out the optimum position of the flash head before automatically manoeuvring it to create the best possible lighting results in any given shooting environment.

This speedlite has primarily been designed as an on-camera flash to be used indoors such as weddings or events. Canon have decided not included radio wireless communication in this model which gets a big thumbs down from me and limits its use in an off-camera situation or for controlling other units. It does however still include the old optical wireless system (slave only) relying on line-of-sight communication. Unless you specifically require the auto-bounce feature you are much better off buying the Canon 430EX III-RT which is cheaper and offers more useful features. Expect the price to fall as the novelty factor wears off. It’s already much cheaper in the US compared to UK prices.

From my experience in flash photography it has never crossed my mind that having an auto flash bounce feature would be a really useful feature and make my life easier. Moving the flash head so that it bounces off a nearby wall or ceiling is not that difficult and doesn’t have to be that accurate anyway. Maybe if you are just starting out in flash photography it might be useful but you will soon find the lack of other features such as radio wireless very limiting. The expensive price tag will also put off all but the richest beginners from buying this flash. You would be much better off buying the excellent Canon 430EX III-RT speedlite or even a couple of cheaper radio wireless speedlites such as the Godox TT600 (Manual) or the Godox TT685C if you wanted full auto E-TTL II.

Guide Price:

£389 / US$299 (updated 05 March 2021)
note: the UK price is so much more than in the US however if you are patient you’ll frequently find it on sale at prices between £250-300.

Wex (UK) / Amazon (UK) / B&H Photo (US) / Adorama (US) / Amazon (US)

Compatibility

* IMPORTANT – READ THIS BEFORE BUYING

The Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI does have some compatibility issues with older Canon Cameras. In general it works well with Canon EOS cameras released after June 2017. For Canon EOS cameras released between July 2014 and June 2017 the AI full-auto bounce will work by pressing the AI.B button on the speedlite. The AI full-auto bounce won’t work with Canon EOS cameras released before July 2014 so there’s not much point in buying it really. Visit the Canon webpage click here for more detailed and up-to-date information.

Canon 470EX-AI Specification

Power

Maximum Guide Number 47m @ 105mm & ISO 100
Comparative Guide Number 29m @ 35mm & ISO 100

Canon 470EX-AI - back view of the control panel

Zoom Head

Zoom head: Yes
Focal length coverage: Auto, 24-105mm
Coverage with flip-down diffuser: 14mm
Auto zoom for sensor size: Yes
Flash bounce card: Yes

Flash Head Tilt & Swivel

Bounce Mode: Aull-auto, Semi-Auto, manual
Up: 45, 60, 75, 90 and 120°
Down: No
Left: 60, 75, 90, 120, 150 and 180°
Right: 60, 75, 90, 120, 150 and 180°

Canon 470EX-AI Speedlite - side view showing tilting flash head

Manual Exposure

Manual / output settings: Yes – 1/1- 1/128
Manual steps: 1/3 stop intervals

ETTL Exposure

Canon ETTL with flash exposure compensation (FEC), flash exposure lock (FE lock)
No flash exposure bracketing (FEB) 

Canon 470EX-AI Speedlite - front view showing flash head in vertical position

Wireless Communication

Radio Wireless (RF)
None. There is no in-built radio wireless communication.

Optical Wireless
Line-of-sight communication. 
Transmitter maximum range approximately: Indoors: 12-15m, Outdoors: 8-10m
No. of groups: 3 (A, B & C)
No. of channels: 4
Master/Slave: Slave only when using optical wireless

Auto-Focus (AF) Assist 

AF-assist beam: Yes
Number of AF points supported: 1-19
AF-assist beam type Infra-red / flash strobe
Beam range: 0.7-10m at centre. 1-5m at periphery

Canon 470EX-AI Speedlite - side view showing battery panel

Other Features

High speed sync (HSS): Yes
Second-curtain flash sync: Yes
Modelling flash: Yes (fired with camera’s depth-of-field preview button)
Colour temperature info communication: Yes
Remote shutter release: No
Custom function: 10 (+9 personal functions) 
Flash settings from camera menus (with compatible cameras only): Yes
External flash exposure sensor (S1, S2): No
PC terminal: No

Batteries & Recycling Time

Battery: 4 x AA batteries (alkaline or rechargeable Ni-MH. Lithium not recommended)
Recycling time: Approx. 0.1 to 5.5 sec
Number of flashes (approx): 180-1200 with AA alkaline batteries
External power supply: No

Canon 470EX-AI Speedlite - side view

Build Quality

Dust and water resistance: No
Mounting foot material: Metal
Size: 74.6 x 130.4 x 105.1mm (2.94 x 5.13 x 4.14″)
Weight: 385g/13.6oz (excluding batteries)

Included Accessories

  • Mini stand
  • Soft case
  • Bounce adaptor SBA-E4
  • User manual

Compatible accessories: 

Alternatives

The Canon 430EX III-RT is cheaper and offers radio wireless communication and only a tad less powerful. If you really need the added power then the 600EX II-RT is a better bet for the professional wedding or event photographer or you could choose from any number of the Yongnuo or Godox speedlites for much less.

Canon 470EX-AI Manual

Canon 470EX-AI manual download pdf format
Canon 470EX-AI Manual pdf format (opens external link to Canon official website)

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Page last checked and updated: 05 March 2021