Canon Speedlite 220EX

There is a wide variety of choice at the level entry end of the camera flash market, and one of the best known and leading players is Canon. They have a massive range of flash units from the level entry right to the top professional high-end unit, and have a vast knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work, so have they used this knowledge well in their level entry Canon Speedlite 220EX or is it a bit of a miss?



From a looks point of view this is one of the few Canon flash units that failed to impress. It has a very small flash surface area, and it is made to seem even smaller with the sheer amount of black plastic, which seems to be a bit of wasted space and could have given rise to a larger flash unit quite comfortably. In fact, Canon does offer a cheaper unit that has a larger flash area, so this seems to be an unusual way to take the design. In the middle at the bottom is their trademark red indicator light, which doesn’t add to the overall beauty. In fact it brings it down in the attractive stakes.

Actual user review:
“The Speedlite 220 is the perfect companion for my G2. The Speedlite 220 is indeed the perfect way to get better illuminated flash photos and extend battery life in your G-series camera. It’s great for providing fill flash on sunny days, lighting shadows – and with digital cameras it costs you next to nothing to experiment with lighting and get immediate feedback. The 220 talks to all the G-series cameras so you can concentrate on lighting and composition and let the camera worry about exposure. Add a couple sets of rechargeable AA cells and a small charger- cheap these days- and you have an inexpensive but powerful lighting studio. Some may recoil at the price- after all, you can get a tiny flash unit for half or a quarter the cost- but the ability to integrate with the camera are well worth it.” – M.J.Edelman (MI,USA)



Performance wise the Canon Speedlite 220EX is designed only to operate as an automatic flash, but to be fair it does do that well, and provides an excellent light fall that definitely adds to the picture and far outweighs the functionality of the built in flashes on digital cameras. Its compact and small design does give it an edge with some of the smaller cameras. No one likes the top heavy flash look, as it gives the camera an unwieldy feel. It does have some limits to its capability, and again the cheaper little brother the 270EX offers the ‘bounce’ technology that cannot be achieved by this unit. That said the red eye control is excellent, so it is definitely a case of swings and roundabouts when it comes to selecting a level entry unit.

Due to the limits on the functionality it is unlikely that Canon would ever suggest this is any more than a home enthusiast type flash, and for the professional this is unlikely to meet the needs. However, it is not really priced to appeal to the professional market. It is just a case of deciding whether this is the level entry unit for you or whether one of the others would be better.

Bottom Line

It has a maximum guide number of 72ft / 22m which again isn’t the best at the level entry end but is pretty good, and the recovery time for the flash is also about right for the price, with the maximum turn around of 4.5 seconds. The Canon Speedlite 220EX doesn’t really have the functionality of many of their other units, but if you are looking for a simple flash at a low end price then this could be the option for you. It does what it does with ease and incredibly well, producing excellent picture quality. So from this point of view it cannot be faulted.

Average User Rating:

  • “This is Canon’s smallest EX flash. With a guide number of 22m it is about 2.9 times as powerful as the typical onboard flash (guide number 13). It does not allow for tilt or sviwel. There is a cheaper Cullmann flash, the 20 AF-C, that does allow for tilt but unlike the 220EX it does not support high speed sync. The support of high speed sync is crucial for use of the flash for daylight fill. For me fill is the primary use of this flash. The small size is a big advantage over its larger cousins. It has adequate power for bounce flash of standard height ceilings though you will need a flash bracket and off shoe cord since the flash does not support tilt.” – A.J.Windsor (TX,USA)
  • “Excedes my expectations. Wonderfully integrated into my Rebel XT, always good photos. Powerful, able to shoot telephotos up to 60 feet outside in the late dusk. Versatile, fine indoor photos as close as 10 feet. Closer, use built-in flash which is also very good.” – M.Sabes (CA,USA)


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