Sorry to post this in this section of the forum, i tried in the advice section but had no replies!
I have a Canon 450d and i'd like to get my first proper flash. I'd like to be able to use it attached to my camera but also on a cord so i can point it where i want it, and for it to flash automatically.
I really am very clueless when it comes to flash and what is needed so i'd be very grateful for some advice please!
I am in a similar position to you as I am thinking of getting a proper flash unit for my 400d.
I am getting into macro photography and want a flash that is able to work off the camera as well.
The digital picture review site is fairly informative also please look at the link above for info on camera equipment geared at canon users. there is a lot of helpful info on this site.
I hope some of this might be of use to you. I would welcome anyones advice on macro flashes as well.
This answer could fill a book. For on camera flash any of Canon's three speedlites will do the trick. Off camera, cords are okay but you're limited by the cord length and there's the risk of tripping over it etc. A better option is wireless remote flash and there are several options here. Both Canon's 580EX and 430EX speedlites can be used wirelessly off camera as can several third party guns from SIgma, Metz, Nissin etc.
There are also numerous third party off camera flash triggers at various prices.
Without some idea of your budget, the type of pictures you want to take, the range of flash required etc its hard to be more specific but to read up on off camera flash I'd recommend heading to http://www.strobist.com.