Canon Speedlite 270EX Review - Versatile, Compact Flash

| 11 Comments

canon_280ex.jpg

The Canon Speedlite 270EX is a compact hot shoe flash that is an excellent accessory for modern Canon DSLRs and G series compacts. For this review I've tested the 270EX on a Rebel T1i and G9. Owners of older DSLRs, such as the Canon XT have reported that the flash works, but you can't change some settings, such as switching from 1st curtain to 2nd curtain.

Menu Controls on T1i and G9

The story is much more interesting with the Canon Digital Rebel T1i. Mount the 270EX in the hot shoe then go to the Flash Control menu, and you have a variety options including E-TTL II or Manual exposure (1/64 to 1/1), Shutter Sync (1st Curtain, 2nd Curtain, or Hi-speed), Flash Exposure Compensation (-2 to +2), and E-TTL II Metering Pattern (Evaluative or Average). You also have access to two Custom Function settings: Auto Power (on or off) and Quickflash with continuous shot (on or off).


Both photos unedited. Top image captured with 270EX flash in bounce position on a Canon Rebel T1i. Bottom image captured with flash in same position on a Canon G9. The T1i renders a cleaner image with the flash. Click to enlarge. Photos by Derrick Story.


You have many options on the G9 too, even though it's an older camera. There's quick access to Flash Exposure Compensation (-3 to +3) via the Function button. If you open External Flash Settings on the Menu, you have Flash Mode (Auto or Manual 1/64 to 1/1), Shutter Sync (1st Curtain, 2nd Curtain, or Hi-speed), Slow Synchro option, and Safety FE option. The flash responds well to these settings.

Physical Characteristics

The bottom foot of the flash (that slides into the hot shoe) is well-constructed using a metal plate instead of a plastic fitting that we normally see. The flash head pulls forward to "Tele" position for focal lengths 50mm and longer. It also swivels upward at 60, 75, and 90 degrees. I love this feature and consider it a real bonus on such a compact flash. Another improvement that Canon had made over the 220EX is requiring fewer AA batteries from four to only two for the 270EX. And it still has plenty of pop with a guide number of 72 ft. at ISO 100 (28mm focal length). Since most of the settings are controlled via the camera menu, there are only two buttons on the flash itself: the on/off switch and the hot shoe lock lever.

Operation

The 270EX uses an intermittent flash firing system for autofocusing assist and exposure evaluation, regardless of the head position. This system worked fine on the T1i, but it isn't supported on the G9. As for the exposures themselves, I rate the 270EX as excellent on newer cameras. I'm especially impressed with the bounce flash exposures on the T1i. The E-TTL II system in Evaluative mode does a great job of rendering flattering exposures. The results weren't quite as good on the G9, which I attribute to older flash metering technology in the camera. The pictures were still quite good, but not the same amazing quality I saw on the Rebel T1i. (See photo examples for comparison.)

Bottom Line

The Canon 270EX is selling on the street for about $150 US. That's not cheap by any means, but reasonable compared to other Canon flashes such at the 430EX II at $264 or the 580EX II at $400. The 270EX fits in your pocket (or the palm of your hand) and is an excellent match for newer Canon DSLRs (40D on up) and is serviceable on many older Canon cameras such as the G9. The swivel head is the killer feature that really sold me on this accessory.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter

-


11 Comments

Derrick, thanks for the review. I've been pondering getting a 270EX for my Canon XTi.

Excellent review, Derrick. I've been delighted at how well the 270EX bounce flash works on my G10 as long as the ceiling isn't too high.

Just a note on the XTi, Kevin. I think there's a firmware update for the camera that increases its compatibility with the 270EX. Make sure you check into that before purchasing.

And good to hear Roger that you're getting good results with the G10. I was happy with the G9 images, although there was some room for improvement compared to the T1i. I suspected the G10 worked well with the flash. Nice to have the confirmation.

Derrick:

I appreciate your review of this flash. I am new to DSLR's and I just bought my XSI in March of this year. I have listened to all of your podcasts over tyhe last month or so and truly appreciate all you do. maybe I will compete in your monthly photo contest soon. Thanks for everything you do and I wish you every success.

I got this flash just yesterday. Looks and feels nice and cute. Took some test shots mounted on my Canon EOS 450D and results are excellent.

However, I'll be visiting the local Canon camera dealer shortly to update the firmware of my camera which is version 1.0.9. This will be replaced by version 1.1.0 and is supposed to enable the AF Assist beam. Following the update, I plan to emabark on a series of indoor flash photography of various events both at family levels and workplace. Hope to return with more feedback and updoad some images on my flickr site.

I got this flash just yesterday. Looks and feels nice and cute. Took some test shots mounted on my Canon EOS 450D and results are excellent.

However, I'll be visiting the local Canon camera dealer shortly to update the firmware of my camera which is version 1.0.9. This will be replaced by version 1.1.0 and is supposed to enable the AF Assist beam. Following the update, I plan to emabark on a series of indoor flash photography of various events both at family levels and workplace. Hope to return with more feedback and updoad some images on my flickr site.

Just got the 270ex, to replace my 430ex which is to heavey to use as a walk around flash, the best move I ever made. (BIGGER ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER ALL THE TIME)
TOMMY R.

I just got the 270 from B+h for $129 shipped. I have a 5D2 and I really missed my old 20D's pop-up for fill and around the house.
The fact that it has bounce is great. It's well made and feels much better built than a sunpak I tried out.
Even though there is no LCD on the back it's pretty easy to play around with various functions through the 5D2's menu.

I can see this taking over from my 580 II's for taking family shots in and outside, it's just so much more convenient than a large flash.

That aside the 580's will be needed for events and the like but the 270 fills a real need for cameras without a pop up and the bounce flash gives a very pleasing light, far superior to a pop-up flash.

I have heard that if the flash is used with a lens like the Canon 17-55mm that it produces a shadow at the bottom of the frame. 17mm comes out to 27mm on a 1.6 Crop Factor camera and the 270EX is rated at 28mm max. Have you had this problem Derrick?

I have a Rebel Xti. Firmware 1.1.1 with 270ex speedlite. The AF assist beam does not work. I cannot focus on dark places. If you have comments please let me know.

I got this flash just yesterday. Looks and feels nice and cute. Took some test shots mounted on my Canon EOS 450D and results are excellent.

However, I'll be visiting the local Canon camera dealer shortly to update the firmware of my camera which is version 1.0.9. This will be replaced by version 1.1.0 and is supposed to enable the AF Assist beam. Following the update, I plan to emabark on a series of indoor flash photography of various events both at family levels and workplace. Hope to return with more feedback and updoad some images on my flickr site.

Leave a comment