Nearly Flashed & Crashed Into The New Year – Canon 430EX II


Proof Of The Incredibly Indestructible & Durable Canon Speedlite 430EX II

I didn’t want to start the new year disappointed and forced to open my wallet to buy a new flash for my camera bag. Though, I thought I would.

First, the events that unfold in this story happened hours before the ball dropped (in California) so blood alcohol levels were still low and all participants still coherent and sharp.

The conversation with my friend Ron meandered from travel to Asia, Africa and into culture and photography. I explained that I used Canon DSLRs and the shots of people that grace the pages of my book FORKS were  possible due to the connection and trust I earned with my subjects.

He asked about the flash I was using this evening as I roamed the New Years party connecting and earning trust with my fellow party goers.

“Did you use a flash?” he asked, pointing to the Canon Speedlite 430EX II  attached to my Canon EOS 60D DSLR. I had been bouncing the flash off the ceiling and walls; or you might say I was bouncing off the ceiling and walls.

I don’t bring or use a flash on my travels by motorcycle.

Ron stepped outside to light up a Cuban cigar, so our conversation continued outdoors on the second floor deck of the party house.

As we discussed the pros and cons of flash photography, I shared my enthusiasm for off-camera flash photography and the beauty of built-in off-camera flash sync of my Canon 60D. The camera can trigger any of the Canon Speelite flash units, so there is no need to purchase or carry extra gear such as remote flash triggers. The results are amazing, I explained with enthusiasm.

“Check it out,” I said, as I proceeded to set my flash on the small stand that ships with the flash and used for these spontaneous photos where light stands, diffusers and other lighting equipment are not available.

With the flash securely fitted to its stand, I set it on the redwood railing of the deck just a few feet where Carla, Ron’s wife, watched me work my strobe magic.

The first photo didn’t turn out so well. I made an adjustment to the bounce position and snapped another shot. Perfect. I got the lighting just right.


“Carla,” I beckoned, and asked her to stand for a couple’s portrait.

She walked past the flash and as she stood by her husband I heard a thud and then a crash. We all looked at the railing where the flash had been positioned. Stunned, there was no flash. Only the small stand sat on the railing.

My heart dropped as I gripped the railing and leaned over and looked down. Some 20 feet down to a concrete path and another wooden deck. The party house is built on a terraced hillside, so the concrete path slopes down while the redwood deck sits level with the first floor.

I couldn’t see anything. Black. Not the flashing indicator of the remote trigger ready light, or even the pale lit LCD screen. I feared the concrete walkway was littered with hundreds of pieces of flash shrapnel.

I rushed outside with a small flash light and searched. Nothing on the concrete path, but on the redwood deck I spotted my flash. It was in one piece. I flipped the power button off and then on again. The LCD display glowed. Then the flash ready light burned on. I pushed it and FLASH.

Holy crap. It sill works.

canon-ex430_II_flash-2I gazed up at the railing and then into the worried eyes of Ron and Carla. I flashed it gain—a mean trick, but I was giddy and had to share the excitement that my flash still worked. At least I thought. The real test would be another remote flash trigger attempt. Bam! It worked.

I examined the exterior casing of the Canon 430EX II, barely a scuff. I noticed a small hole in the side. A perfectly square opening. It’s the cover for the flash bracket mount for a Canon SB-E2 Speedlite Bracket. It flew off on impact, but would I ever find it?

With flashlights in hand my friend Rob, his son Eron and I scoured the deck, the concrete pathway and even the potted plans on the deck. I feared the tiny half-inch square cover  fell through the gaps between the redwood planks.

With keen forensic sensibilities, we discussed the incident in detail. I had heard a thud, then a crash. Eron deduced that maybe the flash hit the upper deck first and then bounced and flew off the deck. We rushed upstairs, and in the dark, with his keen sixteen-year-old eyesight, he spotted the small cover.

ron-carla-off-camera-flashHow did the flash eject itself from its stand? Did Carla brush by it as she walked past? No, both Ron and I witnessed she was far from the flash. How did the flash shoe lock loosen? Why didn’t the entire flash and stand fall? These are mysteries I care not worry nor think about further.

My flash is whole. It works flawlessly after enduring both a three-foot drop and then a 20-foot drop. This is a huge testament and an incredible case-study of the durability of Canon equipment and the nearly indestructible build of the Canon 430EX II flash.

This is Canon’s mid-level flash. The pricier 580EX II boasts more power, weather sealing construction and a pull out bounce card, among other features. It’s also bigger and heavier. Yet I’m sure it sports the same build quality and durability as the  430EX II.

If you haven’t played with flash bouncing and off-camera flash photography and you own a Canon DSLR, look into a  Canon Speedlite 430EX II — it’s clearly the most durable flash I’ve ever seen or used.

I replaced the little cover, put the flash back securely on my camera and continued to count down the hours to New Years.