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MrsStigg Sep 20, 2009 9:21 AM

Flash recommendation - Canon XS20 IS
Just purchased a Canon Xs20 IS.

Saleswoman suggested an off-brand flash. It was not expensive, perhaps in the $70 range, so I was not concerned about her overselling me.

Still, I wanted to do a little research.

I am just a SAHM who likes to take pics of everything, no professional photography in my future. However, we are making a trip out of the country and I would like to make a good decision on a reasonbly priced option for external flash.....I really prefer it to be small. I'm a little on the rough side with my electronics and anything sticking out too much runs the risk of me banging it against something....I've broken 3 digital cameras in the past year, lol....

Any recommendations?

Thanks in advance!!


anthlover Sep 20, 2009 11:10 PM

Which camera do you have again? Is it an XS Rebel? I just looked at your other posts, its a PowerShot SX20 IS:)

There are a lot of choices and previous threads on this topic. You should read them. None the less.

There are some very good Third party flashes Metz and Sigma. There are also "off brand ones" you should stay away from. Flashes are invaluable for getting enough light take pictures. Even outdoors they can provide fill light. Generally you want a lot of power because you will eventually want to bounce the light or defuse it to get the most pleasing results. Having enough light is crucial, but even more so with a Digicam size sensor (rather then the larger APC or full frame sensors in DSLRs).

You should know that Canon does not license its lens or flash communication protocols so these have to be reverse engineered and this can mean having issues or having to send a unit in to be upgraded, usually only if you buy a much newer Camera then the when you bought the flash for example.

There is no perfect choice or single budget for anyone.

Canon's Flashes the 220 and 270 start a little over $125 and $150.
Canon's Larger more powerful flashes that are better able to bounce light and be defused 430EXII and 580EXII start at around $250 and $425

Metz Makes Flashes starting at around $125. They also make the very Nice AF48 AF58 that sell for around $250 and $400 respectively (these are comparable to the two top Canon ones). They are also USB upgradeable at home making them more future proof then other 3rd party flashes

Sigma makes a well regarded Sigma 530DG around $230 and the ST Model for around $150. I would only get the 530DG. Make sure that you the one you order says 50D compatible on the box if you order it. The flash was updated about a year ago for the newest canon Cameras. Some of the old ones were still floating around for a while.

I have a 530DG and am very happy with it. I bought mine just prior to the update and I sent it in they upgraded it for free. I only had to pay to ship it them.

The Sigma 530 DG and its less desirable cousin the ST are unique in that they are almost as powerful as the Canon 580EX II and Metz AF58 and have most of their valuable features and yet they cost about 1/2 as much.

As I mentioned though there is no single best choice. If you value being able to future upgradeable at Home, the Metz 48 and 58 are USB upgradeable.

And of course you can go with Canon's various offerings too.

What ever you buy make sure it is from somewhere with a good return policy, perhaps Amazon for example.

mtclimber Sep 21, 2009 2:05 PM

Mrs. Stigg-

You got a very good answer to your question. Personally, I tend to favor Canon Brand external flashes, as they work better and last longer.

Sarah Joyce

Gizmog Oct 14, 2009 3:53 PM

I have also recently purchased the Powershot SX20 IS and am looking for a good flash unit. I tried one of the EBay $65 wonders (Vivitar DL340ZC) which was touted as E-TTL II compatible. The ETTL light on the flash lightes up and the green exposure confirmation blinks but while the flash goes off reliably exposure is dismal and erratic. I get more power from the pop-up. This flash apparently only communicates with the camera some of the time. In fact, the "Control Flash" option on the menu will blink off a little while after I open it and then I am flipped over to the next menu item.
According to the manual, not all the features of the EX flash are available to the SX20 but I would think that controlling the flash and getting the exposure right would not be disabled. Maybe some of the more advanced features like HS shutter speed and 2nd curtain would not work but I can't tell from the information on the CD.
I can probably afford the Sigma 530 DG ST and possibly spend the extra $70 dollars to get the 530 DG Super or even a used 430 or 580EX. But if the camera doesn't support the advanced features of these flashes, why buy something I can't use? The question is: what parts of the ETTL II spec don't work with the SX20 and should that affect my flash buying choice?
Help me please. Glenn

mtclimber Oct 14, 2009 8:19 PM

The best external flash unit for the SX series of Canon Cameras is the Canon EX-430. If you are shopping the used market, the Canon EX-420 will also work with your camera, but it is NOT as powerful.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce

Gizmog Oct 22, 2009 2:00 AM

Well I cheaped out and got the non-super Sigma 530DG ST. I looked at the Sigma site and found that most of the features left off the reg ST model won't matter to me unless I want to get multiple flashes and use a built-in wireless. One omission that does bother me is that in manual mode one only can select full power or 1/16 power. I am hoping the camera's FEC still controls the fhash's output when I selelct M on the mode dial. From the fine print on the Vivitar instruction it seems that the SX20 can only use ETTL protocal with a flash. the older TLL settling are not available. That might be why the camera manual cautions that older Canon units may or may not flash. I am hoping that I didn't shoot myself in the foot again by opting for the less expensive unit.

mtclimber Oct 22, 2009 7:35 PM


B&H are super reliable supplier has the Canon EX-270 on sale right now (10/22/09) for $129.00 with free shipping.

Sarah Joyce

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