Canon Speedlite 320ex Review

The Canon Speedlite 320EX flash was designed to bridge the gap between the 270EX II and the 430EX II, and it is somewhat of a hybrid between the two. But how does it match up to Canon’s other highly successful speedlites? Let’s look at the specifications and description:

Guide Number: 32m (105 feet)
Coverage: 24mm, 50mm
Tilt / Swivel: 270 degrees
Recycle Time: 1.8/2.3 seconds
Custom Functions: 4
AF Assist: Series of flashes
Canon Speedlite 320EX Flash Review

This flashgun is an extremely useful piece of equipment, and it will suit many enthusiast photographers who would’ve previously found the 270EX II lacking in features. Like all Canon flashguns, it’s well-built, sturdy, and easy to use. It provides many useful features, but it is missing a few!


Unlike its two big brothers — the 580EX II and 430EX II — the 320EX actually has a “slave” switch that’s easy to access. The back of the flashgun is neatly laid out, with switches to slide to activate different features. Why Canon doesn’t implement this design into all of its speedlites is a mystery to me.

Batteries and Power
The 320EX takes AA batteries, as do most speedlites. Recycling times are excellent, and they can be further improved by using NiMH rechargeable batteries, which produce up to 33% faster recycle times than alkaline batteries. The different recycling times refer to 50% charge time and 100% charge time.
This flash has a guide number of 105 feet, so it provides a decent amount of coverage.

What is the Guide Number?
We’ve talked about how the 320EX has a guide number of 105 feet (32 meters). But how does this translate in practical terms? .

The guide number follows this formula:
Guide Number / Aperture at ISO 100 = Distance
To shoot at f8, we would divide the guide number by the aperture to determine the appropriate distance for the subject:
105 feet / f8 = 13.1 feet
Therefore, if we are shooting at f8, our subjects shouldn’t be further than 13.1 feet away.

Flash Head
The 320EX is able to bounce light at angles of 0, 60, 75, or 90 degrees. It also features the ability to rotate the flash head, at 270-90 degrees to the right, and 180 degrees to the left. This is a good amount of coverage for a flashgun in this price bracket. Both zoom settings (of 24mm and 50mm) are available at all bounce settings.

LED Light
A new feature on the 320EX is the yellow light situated on the front of the flashgun. This is a constant LED light, and it has been designed to be used as a video fill light (as DSLRs are more and more frequently being used to shoot video). There are two modes — manual and auto. Auto mode is designed for newer DSLRs that have an automatic LED light-up function. However, it can also be used for AF assist in low light conditions.

Wireless Capabilities
The 320EX can act as a wireless slave, but it will need a master flash unit (such as the 580EX II) or a wireless transmitter to work with. Like the 430EX II, the 320EX can be used on one of four transmission channels. Slave mode is activated by merely flicking a switch.
In Conclusion

This is another solid little flashgun from Canon. It has useful features, and it will provide a great range for most amateurs. However, many of the features have to be accessed via the camera menu, and this is only compatible with the EOS 5D Mark II and later models. Firmware updates are available, but only for a very limited range of DSLRs, at least initially. Also, the lack of a display screen on the flashgun does not warn of battery life so you may be left standing in the dark.


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