Re­flected Glory From Canon’s New Smart Flash

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Gen­uinely new de­vel­op­ments in pho­tog­ra­phy are be­com­ing few and far be­tween, but Canon has def­i­nitely come up with one in its Speedlite 470EX-AI ac­ces­sory flash unit… which has au­to­matic bounce flash con­trol.

It’s all done with prox­im­ity sen­sors which de­ter­mine where is the best sur­face for bounce flash – in re­la­tion to the sub­ject dis­tance – and the mo­torised flash head is then au­to­mat­i­cally moved into the re­quired po­si­tion. Canon is call­ing it “AI Bounce” (as in Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence) and it only takes a sec­ond or two at the most. Once the op­ti­mum head po­si­tion is es­tab­lished, should you then move or re-ori­en­tate the cam­era, the flash will au­to­mat­i­cally re­set it­self to main­tain the cor­rect bounce an­gle. There’s a semi-auto mode which en­ables you to set the bounce an­gle your­self, but the 470EX-AI will then au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just if you change the ori­en­ta­tion.

The mo­torised flash head also has a zoom­ing func­tion which cov­ers the an­gles-of-view from 24mm to 105mm (in the full-35mm for­mat) and there’s a wide-an­gle dif­fuser which gives a 14mm-equiv­a­lent spread. The head’s ad­just­ment range is 180 de­grees left and right, plus 120 de­grees up­wards.

As the model num­ber sug­gests, the guide num­ber is 47 (ISO 100/me­tres) so the new Speedlite has plenty of range, es­pe­cially if used at a higher sen­si­tiv­ity set­ting. Other fea­tures in­clude a large dot-ma­trix LCD in­for­ma­tion panel (with built-in il­lu­mi­na­tion), high-speed sync (via a pulsed out­put), a to­tal of 19 cus­tom func­tions and a mas­ter con­trol wheel for more ef­fi­cient con­trol.

The Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI will be avail­able in Aus­tralia from early June and you can ex­pect to pay around $700.

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