For Canon users, the question is often when it comes to flash has always been whether to choose 430EX II or 580EX II. What’s the difference? Is it worth paying more for the 580EX II?
It’s no wonder people are confused – they’ve no idea why should they choose 580EX II over 430EX II!!
I’ll go through the major details and hopefully you’ll have a better idea on which one is right for you.
580EX II and 430EX II, the major differences.
Firstly, let’s look at the size.
Notice how the 580EX II is significantly bigger than the 430EX II – and it’s certainly heavier too! 525g for the 580EX II and 375g for the 430EX II, that’s 40% heavier already.
Next, look at the buttons. Notice that while the buttons are similar, the 580EX II has a dial with a button in the middle while the 430EX II has a left / right button with a button in the middle.
From my experience, settings are much easier done with the dial on the 580EX II than the 430EX II, for example setting flash power levels. Going from 1/1 to 1/128 on the 580EX II is a matter of moving the dials while for 430EX II, stepping the power down to 1/64 (lowest it has) requires you to hold the button, and it’s rather a rather deep button to press.
Take a look also at the hotshoe contact point, you’ll see that the 580EX II has a cover on it while the 430EX II doesn’t, which is why you see the shining component there. It’s the 580EX II’s protection of the hotshoe area against water and dust that could short the system.
Here’s the front.
Then there’s the diffuser. The 580EX II comes with a bounce card while the 430EX II doesn’t.
From the side, you’ll see that the button to adjust the flash angle is less defined in text, that’s because it’s rubberized for protection.
Top view, obviously 580EX II is bigger too.
Besides the physical part, the 580EX II is also capable of being MASTER and SLAVE while the 430EX II could only be used as SLAVE.
Master = controller
Slave = being controlled
Here’s an example of Master / Slave communication.
The key difference between both of them are their output – 430EX II has a guide number of 43m while 580EX II has a guide number of 58m
Here’s a shot I took in a pitch dark condition, and I got quite a number of mosquito bites from there. Arrgggh, the things I have to put up to educate others. 😛 Photos are taken on wide, with the flash power set to maximum (manual, not using E-TTL II) and zoomed to the max.
The photo on top is the one from 430EX II, the bottom for 580EX II.
Here’s the same photo, with the specific area zoomed in.
Notice how the 580EX II reaches further? Notice how the tree and part of the concrete slabs are lit further.
Which One For Me?
Don’t bother referring the Canon site. Street price for the 580EX II should be around RM 1.6k – 1.7k while 430EX II around RM 1.05k to RM 1.15k.
Should you pay more for the 580EX II?
Having used both, I love both of them. For the professionals, I’d say 580EX II is the obvious choice. I’ve used 430EX II for events before and sometimes I do wish I had a stronger light, even just a bit but comparing those occasions against the total number of time I used the 430EX II to light the scene – it’s really rare.
Remember that when you bounce or diffuse the light, the additional strength is helpful.
In some cases, you could be exposed to elements like rain and dust so the 580EX II would stand better due to the protection, though drizzle and strong winds never hampered my 430EX II either.
The down side of the 580EX II besides the cost, is the size and weight. The 430EX II on being small and light, works great! It’s also fits very well to my small sling bag, as for my backpack, I could carry 2 units of 430EX II in it but for 580EX II I had to modify the compartment and could only fit 1.
For people who shoot in small rooms like birthday parties, family gathering and such – the 430EX II is more than sufficient. I use it for my studio shoot as well, and often I drop the power to around 1/8 or further if need to. For starters or even the semi-pro with budget constraint – you can’t go wrong with the 430EX II either.
I know there are people who would suggest to opt for 580EX II straight away, get the best and you’ll eventually use it once you progress in your flash photography – it’s logical but in my opinion it’s not applicable to everyone. My thought is that if I can’t tell my own future, I shouldn’t be telling you your future either. 🙂 Who am I to say you eventually will utilize your 580EX II?
Not everyone is into photography that requires flash, let alone to be using the best available flash out there, that’s why Canon has the 270EX and 3rd party brands offer similar guide number with lesser quality build at much cheaper price.
So which one is it for you? Only you can decide.