Most Canon cameras have a built-in flash that pops out automatically at low light, so you might think why bother with external flash. Reason is that the quality of light these pop-up strobes can deliver is really low.
When you’ve had enough of the harsh shadows and flat illumination and you can’t stand the point-and-shoot look of your DSLR pics anymore it’s time for an upgrade.
Canon offers 4 different models of external “clip-on” speedlites, and the Speedlite 270EX II aims at the occasional user: it’s low cost (for a Canon, not in absolute terms), very small and very light, and gives you almost 2x the range of the 600D/T3i built-in flash (GN 22 versus GN13).
And speaking of quality of light it comes with 2 big improvements: first, there is the option to tilt the flash reflector upwards, away from the subject, so that you can flash against the ceiling and bounce the softened light back.
And second, the new entry-level Canon flash can now even be set to wireless E-TTL mode, which means it can be used remote – not attached to the accessory shoe – while preserving all automatic features the camera offers.
The wireless TTL mode is also the biggest and most useful upgrade over the previous Canon 270EX that was useless for wireless flash. Owners of a 600D, 60D or 7D can use the remote feature right off the bat, whereas there’s an extra transmitter required for other camera bodies (e.g. a Canon or Yongnuo ST-E2 which go on the camera accessory shoe to send out the infrared signal).
A limiting factor for the usefulness of the 270-II’s wireless mode is the sensor location: the electronic eye is placed on the front side of the flash body so it always faces the subject. But this also means it’s usually not in the best position to catch the signal from the commander flash on the camera, usually sending from the opposite direction. Other speedlights with a movable flash head (320EX, 430EX-II, etc) allow rotating the flash body with the sensor towards the master flash.
Another new features is a camera remote control mode (the release button is shown in the pic), but that feature is just a gimmick. A dedicated remote trigger cable – or wireless trigger – will be better for that purpose and don’t break the bank.
Here’s more info on the other Canon speedlites: One step up from the Canon 270EX II is the 320EX, adding a fully flexible flash head with tilt plus swivel, more power plus a built-in video light – go here for the Canon 320EX review. Next comes the Canon 430EX II with features such as real LED-based AF-assist, a zooming flash head and manual flash mode on top of the E-TTL. Canon’s 580EX II is finally the flagship model and geared towards the pro – both in terms of features and pricing.
Priced at $170 the 270 EX II is not too expensive in absolute terms but you get more “flash per dollar” from third parties: for around $170, and also with the recommended wireless ETTL mode, you get the Nissin Di622-II or the Metz 44 AF-1 for a similar price of around $200. If you don’t need the automatic wireless mode, there are even more options from Sigma, Sunpak, Yongnuo and Vivitar – check out the flash finder for Canon for a complete list of current options!
Canon 270EX II Highlights
- small and light, relatively low cost
- tilt option for vertical bounce flash (no swivel)
- wireless E-TTL (II) slave mode
- manual “tele” flash head position (pull out for 50mm coverage)
- manual mode but only if set through the camera menu system
Compatible Canon Camera Bodies
The 270EX II can be used with all recent digital SLR cameras from Canon: either in ETTL mode for first gen camera bodies or in ETTL(II) with the current models.
The wireless E-TTL II feature however requires an EOS body with built-in commander flash such as the Canon 600D or the Canon 7D, or an additional Speedlite commander Canon ST-E2 or the Yongnuo ST-E2 clone.
Speedlights.net In-Depth Review
Canon 270EX II Tech Specs Table
The tech specs table shows the performance data for the 270EX II.
|Guide number spec
(35mm, ISO 100, in meters)
|Guide number test result||?|
|Manual power settings||no manual mode|
|Flash duration (full power)||unspecified|
|Recycle time spec
(at full power)
|3.9 sec alkaline|
|Recycle time test result||?|
|Flash foot material, type||metal, standard ISO (Canon)|
|PC Sync Port||no|
|Other Trigger||wireless TTL slave mode|
|Trigger Voltage||? (should be safe)|
|Standby Mode||configurable (C.Fn-01)|
|Flash Head Features|
|Swivel||no swiveling flash head|
|Tilt||0 to +90 degrees|
|Manual Zoom Head||28 + 50|
|Auto Zoom||28 + 50 (no auto zoom)|
|Bounce card / 2nd reflector||no / no|
|Batteries Used||2 x AA|
|External Power Source||no|
|CLS Wireless Slave||na|
|CLS Wireless Master||na|
|E-TTL(II) wireless slave||yes|
|E-TTL(II) wireless master||no|
|Other Flash Modes|
|AF Assist Light||yes (using flash tube)|
|Exposure Compensation in TTL Mode on the Flash unit||no|
|Rear Curtain Synchronization||yes|
|High Speed Synchronization||yes|
|Sensor Size Detection (DX, FX, etc)||no|
Where to buy the 270EX II
Check also the prices on eBay where you don’t only find the current 270EX Mark II but also the ‘original’ 270EX in used condition.