Reviews |Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Hands-on Review

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Hands-on Review

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review product shot

What is the Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI?

The Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI is a flashgun that’s designed for use in the hotshoe of Canon DSLRs and mirrorless cameras to provide illumination. With a Guide Number of 47 (measured in meters at ISO 100) it sits in the middle of Canon’s flashgun range for power. A new feature called AI Bounce that makes it incredibly easy to use, especially when you’re shooting a moving subject or you switch frequently between landscape and portrait orientation.

The new technology is specifically designed to help with bounced flash photography. This is when the flash/strobe light is bounced off a ceiling or wall to give softer, more uniform lighting than can be achieved by pointing the flashgun directly at the subject.

The artificial intelligence (AI) calculates the ideal angle for the flash head and moves it into position automatically. Alternatively, there’s a semi-automatic option that lets you set the angle of the head and then when you move the camera, it automatically adjusts the head to maintain the same bounce angle.

The head has a rotating range of 180 degrees left and right, and can be tilted 120 degrees upwards. These movements can be made manually or by the AI Bounce system.

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review product shot


The Speedlite 470EX-AI’s motorised head covers a focal length range of 24-105mm and there’s a built-in adaptor to disburse the light further so it can be used with lenses with focal lengths as shot as 14mm.

According to Canon the Speedlite 470EX-AI recharges to full-power in 5.5 seconds when using 4 AA/LR6 batteries, or 3.5 seconds with rechargeable NiMH batteries. There’s also a high-speed sync function to enable it to be used with fast shutter speeds to freeze movement or allow wide apertures to be used outdoors.

A total of 19 custom functions are provided to allow photographers to set-up the flashgun to suit their shooting style. In addition, a built-in optical receiver wireless enables it to be used at up to 10m from the camera while its infrared transmitter enables it to trigger other flashguns.

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Key Specs

  • AI Bounce with Full-Auto and Semi-Auto modes
  • Guide Number 47 (m, ISO 100)
  • Wide flash coverage 24 to 105mm
  • Wireless Optical Receiver
  • Large LCD and intuitive user interface

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Price & Release Date

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI price tag is £499.99/€599.99. And the Speedlite 470EX-AI release date is slated for April 2018.

US price information wasn’t available at the time of writing.


Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review product shot

Build and Handling

At first glance, the Speedlite 470EX-AI looks pretty standard for a Canon flashgun but when you slip into a hotshoe and activate the automatic AI Bounce system you begin to realise it’s a little different.

The first time you go to use it, it fires off a flash to assess the scene. Then it starts to move, tilting and twisting smoothly and (fairly) quickly into position to produce flattering illumination when you press the shutter release again. Move the camera or change orientation, and the flash will move again ready for the next shot.

In the semi-automatic setting, you tilt and swivel the flash head to the position that you want and then press the large button on its side to set that angle. Now when you shoot, the flashgun aims to maintain your selected angle and will move between shots if you change the camera orientation or angle.

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review product shot


I was able to spend 20 minutes shooting with the Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI, mainly focusing on the AI Bounce aspect and it worked very well. It’s a little freaky at first to have something moving about on top of the camera, if you’ve used a motorised gimbal like the GoPro Karma Grip or DJI Oslo Mobile 2 you’ll know what I mean. But it delivered consistent results even though I was moving around my subject and changing the orientation of the camera.

Bouncing the light from a neutral coloured ceiling or wall delivered soft, uniform illumination and the AI always ensured that it arrives at the right point in the scene.

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review product shot

Sample Images

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review sample image

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review sample image

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review sample image

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review sample image

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review sample image

Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Review sample image

Early Verdict

Many photographers are frightened of using flash/strobe light and bounced flash can be a tricky technique to master because you have to factor in the distance to the ceiling or wall and the angle of the flash head. Get the angle wrong and the light may miss your subject or create very harsh shadows. The artificial intelligence inside the Speedlite 470EX-AI takes the guesswork (or maths) out of it, enabling you to get flattering light on your subject without effort.

If you’re more confident with using flash and you’ve got to grips with how the AI Bounce works, the semi-automatic mode allows you to take creative control. You can make the light bounce where you want it to and the AI system ensures that the same angle is used even if you move the camera.

Should I buy the Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI?

The Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI appears to be a good choice of flashgun for wedding and social event photographers who use bounced flash on a frequent basis. It doesn’t have the power of the Speedlite 600EX II-RT, but its AI Bounce technology makes it easy to get flattering results.

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