Launched earlier in the year alongside Canon's EOS 500D DSLR, the Speedlite 270EX sits at the bottom of Canon's off-camera flash line...
Launched earlier in the year alongside Canon’s EOS 500D DSLR, the Speedlite 270EX sits at the bottom of Canon’s off-camera flash line. The small format unit has been designed with both EOS and PowerShot users in mind, though despite its entry-level status it brings with it a host of improvements over the 220EX model it replaces.
Arguably its most impressive feature is its bounce flash head, which tilts through a 90° axis for bouncing light off a ceiling or wall, for example. The unit conforms to the ETTL-II algorithm, which uses distance information from certain lenses to optimise flash output, and in its default position offers a guide number of 22m @ ISO 100, with coverage to 28mm in equivalent terms. When pulled out this increases to 27m @ ISO 100 at a 50mm coverage.
Canon is also said to have improved the flash’s circuitry to offer near-silent recharging, and as well as maintaining similar recharge times as the 220EX – around 3.9sec – despite the switch from four AA cells to just two. Without these batteries the unit weighs in at 145g, while its size is close to that of a cigarette packet.
In line with its market positioning the unit offers little control from its body – in fact, there are just two switches for power and locking the unit, and a lamp to indicate the flash’s status. Controlling the unit, therefore, is done via the camera on which it is mounted, where you have the options of setting sync modes, flash exposure compensation and various other flash controls and functionality.
The unit takes a second or so to power up, and does so relatively discreetly. It’s only when it’s initially powered up that there’s the familiar flash squeal for a couple of seconds, but from shot to shot it recharges silently and at a pace that shouldn’t interrupt general shooting. The head retracts easily from the body and moves between its three preset degrees fluidly, while the locking mechanism ensures it stays in place securely. Illumination is also good, with a little fall-off at wider focal lengths and large apertures, but disappearing when stopped down a few stops.
There’s nothing particularly to complain about with the 270EX, although as a relatively simple unit it lacks certain things we would take for granted on a higher-specified unit, such as a battery indicator, bounce card or any kind of display. It’s also worth bearing in mind that a more powerful third-party unit with such luxuries may be had for much the same price and cheaper, as well as Canon’s own 430 EX II Speedlite costing only around £60 more. Even so, for PowerShot or entry-level EOS users this pocketable unit could prove invaluable for those spontaneous portraits and fill-in shots. MG