Before diving in with the specifics of the Canon 270EX and my thoughts about this speed light let’s take a quick look at the specs……
Guide number (@ ISO 100) – 27m/ Focal length coverage – 28mm – 50mm/ Recycling time – 0.1 – 4 secs/ ETTL - Yes/ EV compensation on flash - No/ Slave - Yes/ Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt - No/ Dimensions – 77mm x 66mm x 65mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $170/£180/ power – 2xAA batteries
Whilst the guide number is stated at 27m, which is pretty impressive, it is worth pointing out that this is at the 50mm zoom setting. At wider angles the GN is less, but if you can get up close and personal to the subject this power should be fine.
This flash has manual and TTL modes, pretty much the same as other speed lights in this class. Both modes work very well and produce the results you’d expect them to, but given this is a Canon branded product this is to be expected.
I have to admit that I am not a fan of HSS flash photography and never have been as it doesn’t suit my style but I should note in this review there is high speed sync with this flash. Whether it is any good or not I am unable to comment, but if HSS flash photography is your thing, or you want to have a go at it you can with this flash. There is no switch on the 270EX to set the mode to HSS and you have to do it through the camera’s menu, like changing all settings on this flash.
You can use the Canon 270EX as TTL slave flash but not a master. One interesting/unique features of this speed light is that you can use it to remotely trip your camera’s shutter from a distance of up to 5m. I have to admit that I was sceptical about this feature at first, and really couldn’t see how useful it would be in the real world. Now I have had the chance to use the feature and put it through its paces I openly admit I really like this feature, which I think is a game changer especially with food photography and product photography.
Using the 270EX to remotely trip the shutter allows me to find the composition I want, set the camera on the tripod and lock it in place and then try different lighting positions and angles whilst snapping photos as I go. I like this experimental type of photography and whilst more often than not the lighting doesn’t work but there are times when you stumble on that one lighting position producing a jaw dropping image that I would have missed if the 270EX didn’t have the remote feature. It doesn’t take too much time and effort moving a speed light around a subject and pressing a button, once the composition is nailed and locked down of course.
The Canon 270EX doesn’t have any adjustment dials on the back of it and you have to adjust the power of the flash through the camera’s menu. I like to have everything close to hand so I can change the settings quickly and efficiently so having to delve in to the camera’s menu to change the settings is a negative for me. I like the run and gun style of photography, especially for parties and events and the Canon 270EX slows me down too much for this.
There range of power increments of the Canon 270EX range from 1/1 – 1/64, which isn’t that great, and if your style of photography involves getting up real close and personal to the subject, like you do for macro and close up photography, it is difficult to dial the down low enough to prevent over exposure.
The Canon 270EX has a vertically tilting head of 0 degrees to 90 degrees so and bounce the light off ceilings (providing they are low enough) or reflectors to soften the light. The flash head does not tilt or swivel horizontally, unlike other speed lights in this class, which is a shame.
Canon claims 2 AA batteries provide enough juice to provide 100 full pop flashes, and this number obviously increases in normal shooting situations where you (or your camera) sets the power at less than full flash power. I have to admit that I have never counted the number of pops I have manged to get out of a single set of batteries, but I can confirm I did manage to capture many shots before I needed to replace the batteries.
The recycling time of 0.1 seconds (at the lowest power setting) to 4 seconds (at full power) isn’t great, but it is comparable to other flashes and speed lights in this class. The slow recycle time using this flash at full power can be a pain in the field and result in missed shots, but this is the same with all speed lights in this class.
Canon is renowned for creating high quality products and the 270EX is no exception. The build quality of this speed light is second to none, and I can only describe it as bombproof. If you want a flash that is going to take a lot of abuse and last many years, this is the flash for you.
The Canon 270EX is the priciest speed light in this class, and by quite some margin. Okay, it is exceptionally well built, and the remote shutter feature is nice but there are features on cheaper (and I mean far cheaper) speed lights in this class the Canon simply doesn’t have.
Overall the Canon 270EX is a nice speed light however there are better alternatives out there, when it comes to features that is, that are much less money. If you shoot a Canon, want to stick to Canon branded accessories and want a small speed light this is your only choice and you’ll have to dig deep to buy one. If you are prepared to buy third party you could end up getting a flash with more features for significantly less money, however the build quality will not be the same as the Canon 270EX. Before buying the Canon 270EX you need to ask yourself a few questions, and answer them honestly to see if the Canon 270EX is the best speed light for you or not.
The Canon 270EX is available from Adorama, Amazon (US), eBay, Amazon (UK)
Canon 270EX alternatives that may be of interest
Godox TT350 (full review here)
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 36m/ Focal length coverage – 24mm – 105mm/ Recycling time – 0.1 – 2.2 secs/ ETTL - Yes/ EV compensation on flash - +/- 3EV/ Slave - Yes/ Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Dimensions – 140mm x 62mm x 38mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $85/£70/ power – 2xAA batteries
Nissin i40 (full review here)
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 27m / Focal length coverage – 24mm – 105mm / Recycling time – 0.1 – 4 secs/ ETTL - Yes / EV compensation on flash - +/- 2EV / Slave - Yes / Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt – 0 – 180 degrees/ Dimensions – 100mm x 50mm x 50mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $230/£155/ Power – 4xAA batteries
Metz 26 (full review here)
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 26m/ Focal length coverage – 24mm – 85mm/ Recycling time – 0.3 – 8 secs/ ETTL - Yes/ EV compensation on flash - +/- 3EV/ Slave - Yes/ Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt - None/ Dimensions – 63mm x 85mm x 85mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $140/£75/ Power – 2xAAA batteries
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