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I want to purchase a Speedlite for my Canon DSLR, but am curious to whether I need to spend the extra dollars to get the top of the line 580EX II over the more affordable 430EX II.

What are the advantages of the 580EX II?

For people that have owned both, was the 580EX II worth the extra cost for you?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

More power! Master capability. PC port. Retractable bounce card. "Weather sealing" at the hot shoe. The 580 will also swivel further to the right and a little more downwards.

The 430 is a great flash though. I don't think you'd regret it. Too bad you just missed Canon's summer rebate on the 580! It was going for $400. If you got the 430 and eventually upgraded to a 580, you'd still have a nice slave and a great backup. Get what you can afford.

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Good point about upgrading. 580EX is bit better that 430EX, but having both at the same time is a completely different league. –  che Jul 18 '10 at 7:26
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The biggest advantage that I know is that it can act as an optical master, and can control a and b groups of slaves (the 430 can act as a slave). They also both have hotshoe hookups, but only the 580 has the pc sync cable, afaik.

I own both, and while I'm sure there are various features I am missing, I never notice those differences because i always use remote triggers and shoot in manual.

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I would argue that once you need the sophistication of the triggering options the 580 offers, you'll soon hit the limitations of the optical system and will want radio triggers. I'd choose the 580 for its power and speed, not for its role as a master flash in a multi-flash setup. –  drewm Aug 1 '10 at 11:59
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