Canon Speedlite 420EX, retail $TBA (
Manufactured by Canon (
Last updated 06-03-10

Wel, thuh kumpenie thahtt maiks thuh Speedlite 420EX kant spel thuh werd "light" , but they do make what I believe is an excellent product.

The Canon Speedlite 420EX is a speedliGHT (an electronic xenon flash) for your camera. Its primary purpose is to provide extra light so that the film (or a digital camera's imager) is exposed properly when you take photographs in low-light (dim or even totally dark) conditions.

It comes in a plastic body, and feeds from 4 AA cells, which you furnish yourself.

 Size of product w/hand to show scale SIZE

Feed the speedliGHT first, and ***THEN*** you can go photograph those goliath beetle grubs (larvae).

Affix the unit to your camera's hot shoe by sliding it on from the open-end of the shoe (usually positioned so that it faces the back of the camera), and gently tighten the ribbed wheel on the flash unit near the hot shoe attchment.
Hand-tighten it only for Christ sakes; please do not use a Crescent wrench, strap wrench, or any other tools!!!

The hot shoe of this camera is circled in red.

Turn it on by sliding the grey slide switch on the back of the product near the lower right to the "ON" position (slide it right).

When the red LED with the word "PILOT" comes on, you're ready to go on a shooting spree.

The angle of the flash head in its Y-axis (vertically) is adjustable from straight ahead to aiming at the ceiling (for bounce flash) {a total range of motion near 100°} by pressing & holding the circular button near the top of the product on its right-hand side, whilst simultaneously (at the same time) tilting the flash head to the desired position. It has several detents (places along its range of motion where it "locks in" with an audible "snap" sound and a tactile feeling).
However, it will stay in place between detents as long as you don't just beat the living tweedle out of it.

You may also swivel the flash head along its X-axis (horizontally) by pressing & holding the rectangular button on the back of the flash head while rotating the head. It has an approximately 270° range of motion; when rotated toward the left, it can spin all the way back so that it faces you; when rotated to the right, it stops when the flash head is aimed directly to the right (90° from forward-facing).

When finished using the flash, turn it off by sliding the grey slide switch on the back of the product near the lower right to the "OFF" position (slide it left).

From the Canon website, comes the following:
  • Maximum Guide Number 138 at 105mm setting; G.N. 101 at 35mm setting.
  • Approximately 1/2-stop less powerful than 550EX.
  • Full E-TTL (Through The Lens) flash operation with "Type-A" camera bodies.
  • E-TTL features include high-speed FP sync mode, and FE Lock.
  • Fully compatible with Canon EOS-1v, EOS-3, Elan 7 series & D30.
  • Powered by four AA-size cells.
  • Totally TTL-compatible with all "Type B" Canon EOS cameras.

There are numerous operating modes, but I still use the most basic of them all -- that is, affix it to the camera's hot shoe and turn that sucker on, so I'm in an extremely poor position to comment on modes I've never tested or even toyed with.

To change the batteries, look on the left side of the unit's body for a ribbed door.

Push the door downward (toward the base of the unit ) until it springs open. It stays attached to the flash unit via a hinge; so I do not need to tell you to remove it, huck it down the stairs into the basement crawling with thousands of hungry piss ants, and then rather emphatically tell you not to.

Dump the four used AA cells out of the compartment and into your hand, and dispose of or recycle them as you see fit.

Insert four new AA cells, orienting them according to the photograph directly below.

This shows how the AA cells should be oriented; as the flash of the unit is facing to the left and the base (where it fits the camera's hot shoe) is facing you.

Swing the battery door back closed, and while pushing down on it (so that it does not just summarily spring open), slide it upward away from the hot shoe assembly at the base of the unit, and there, you're done. No really, you are.

The Canon Speedlite 420EX is designed to be used as a camera flash, not a flashlight meant to be carried around, thrashed, and abused; so I won't try to drown it in the toliet tank, bash it against a steel rod or against the concrete floor of a front porch, let my mother's big dog's ghost or my sister's kitty cats spring a leak (uranate) all over it, run over it with a 450lb Celebrity motorised wheelchair, stomp on it, use a medium or large ball peen hammer in order to bash it open to check it for candiosity, fire it from the cannoņata, drop it down the top of Mt. Erupto (I guess I've been watching the TV program "Viva Piņata" too much again - candiosity is usually checked with a laser-type device on a platform with a large readout (located at Piņata Central {aka. "Party Central"}), with a handheld wand that Langston Lickatoad uses, or with a pack-of-cards-sized device that Fergy Fudgehog uses; the cannoņata (also located at Piņata Central) is only used to shoot piņatas to piņata parties away from picturesque Piņata Island, and Mt. Erupto is an active volcano on Piņata Island), send it to the Daystrom Institute for additional analysis, or perform other indecencies on it that a flashlight might have to have performed on it. So this section of the web page will be ***SIGNIFICANTLY*** more bare than this section of the web page on a page about a flashlight.

In fact, those photographs, spectrographic analyses, and video located directly below may very well be it.

Photograph of its flash on the test target at 12".
It was so intense that it simply washed out the target so that the image is all white.

Photograph of its flash on the test target at 12".
Unit was aimed at the ceiling; its close proximity to the test target resulted in the upper portion of the target being illuminated more than the rest.

Photograph of the back of the unit, showing the controls & indicators.

Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of the "Pilot" LED in this strobe.

Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of the "E-TTL" LED in this strobe.

Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of the yellow-green "Flash Exposure Confirmation" LED in this strobe.

Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of the xenon flash itself.

USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.

Video clip on YourTube showing the flash discharging two times.
O boy! A camera flash flashing!!!

If you listen carefully, you may also hear the unit "recycling" both times after the flashtube has discharged.

This clip is approximately 2.300093424234 megabytes (2,437,756 bytes) in length; dial-up users please be aware.
It will take no less than twelve minutes to load at 48.0Kbps.
I cannot provide it in other formats, so please do not ask.

Test unit was sent by a fan of this website as part of a Canon Powershot G3 camera package and was received on 10-12-06 (or "12 Oct 2006" if you prefer).

UPDATE: 00-00-00



    PRODUCT TYPE: Xenon camera speedlight (strobe)
    LAMP TYPE: Xenon flashtube
    No. OF LAMPS: 1
    BEAM TYPE: Wide flood
    SWITCH TYPE: Slide on/off on back of product
    CASE MATERIAL: Plastic
    BEZEL: Plastic; flashtube & reflector protected by prismatic plastic window
    BATTERY: 4x AA cells
    CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown/unable to measure
    WATER- AND URANATION-RESISTANT: Very light splatter-resistant at maximum
    ACCESSORIES: Soft case, shoe stand
    SIZE: 2.80" W x 4.80" H x 3.90" D
    WEIGHT: 10.60oz (w/out batteries)
    WARRANTY: 1 year


    Product is not intended to be used as a continuous light
    emitter, so the conventional "star" rating will not be used.

Canon Speedlite 420EX *

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