Best External Flash for Canon SL1 [2021 Review]

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Professional photography relies heavily on lighting. Without proper lighting, your images will come out distorted, blurry, and filled with shadows. To ensure great quality, you can attach an external flash to your Canon SL1. 

The best external flash for Canon SL1 can help you look for the best exposure so you can continue shooting images even in the dark. 

Our Top External Flash for Canon SL1 Reviews

As you enter the world of photography, you will know the importance of external flashes to upgrade the lighting game and give your images a natural glow. 

The best external flash for Canon SL1 can naturally transform your photos into art, no matter where you do your photoshoots. 

Brand
Best Overall
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT
Best for the Money
Canon Speedlite EL-100
Best Cheap Pick
Pentax AF201FG Flash
Product
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT
Canon Speedlite EL-100
Pentax AF201FG Flash (Black)
Special Features
Multiple flash system allows control of up to five groups of flashes
Horizontal and upward bounce rotation capability
Power-saving feature optimizes battery life
Product Dimensions
4.8 x 3.1 x 5.6 inches
2.8 x 2.6 x 3.6 inches
2.9 x 1.2 x 2.6 inches
Rating
-
Best Overall
Brand
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT
Product
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT
Special Features
Multiple flash system allows control of up to five groups of flashes
Product Dimensions
4.8 x 3.1 x 5.6 inches
Rating
Price
Best for the Money
Brand
Canon Speedlite EL-100
Product
Canon Speedlite EL-100
Special Features
Horizontal and upward bounce rotation capability
Product Dimensions
2.8 x 2.6 x 3.6 inches
Rating
Price
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Pentax AF201FG Flash
Product
Pentax AF201FG Flash (Black)
Special Features
Power-saving feature optimizes battery life
Product Dimensions
2.9 x 1.2 x 2.6 inches
Rating
-
Price

Best Overall External Flash for Canon SL1: Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

The Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT delivers impressive performance. It has advanced wireless communication, ideal for those who are thinking of getting into flash photography. 

Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

The flash is dust and water-resistant, unlike the Pentax AF201FG Flash. It is ideal for shooting images outdoors. 

The flash is equipped with the AUTO setting. This feature allows the flash to fire whenever the subject is detected by the sensor, and it determines if the area needs lighting or not. 

The guide number of 60 can illuminate subjects that are up to 197 feet away from the camera. The distance it covers is longer than that of the Pentax AF201FG Flash, which can only cover subjects up to 66 feet away. 

However, the recycling time of 5.4 seconds is long, unlike the Pentax AF201FG Flash that has recycling of only 4 seconds. Also, the text on the LCD screen can be challenging to read under direct sunlight. 

Pros: 

  • It has an AUTO setting feature that saves battery life as the flash determines when to illuminate the subject
  • Its guide number 60 is high, it can cover subjects that are 197 feet away

Cons:

  • The 5.4-second recycling time is too long, it can’t be used for fast-paced photography
  • The LCD screen can be difficult to see when it is under harsh lighting 
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT
  • Improved performance of continuous flash by approx. 1.1 to 1.5x for fast firing (up to 2.0x if used...
  • Wireless flash shooting support is available for both radio and optical transmission, offering users...
  • Multiple flash system allows control of up to five groups of flashes;Approx. 100 to 700 flashes

Best Canon SL1 External Flash for the Money: Canon Speedlite EL-100

The Canon Speedlite EL-100 is ideal for photographers who want to explore their opportunities with flash photography. It is compact and versatile with a 24mm wide-angle coverage. 

Canon Speedlite EL-100

The flash has a guide number of 26, which means the external flash can illuminate subjects up to 85 feet away.

What makes this flash stand out from the rest is its ability to determine whether the light is needed or not, thanks to the AUTO setting. This setting can be used if the subject keeps moving or if you are in a dark area. 

The flash will fire only when necessary, saving you a lot of power. This is a feature that the Pentax AF201FG Flash does not have. 

However, its recycling time of 5.8 seconds is slow compared to Pentax AF201FG Flash, which has a recycling time of 4 seconds. Also, the hot shoe is not sturdy, it may break if it falls. 

Pros:

  • The flash head can be tilted horizontally and vertically that allows you to illuminate different angles
  • The AUTO setting follows the subject and fires only when needed, prolonging the flash’s battery life

Cons:

  • The 5.8 recycling time is slow, you could miss important moments
  • The hot shoe is made of plastic, it does not have a solid built
Canon Speedlite EL-100
  • Compact, versatile and easy-to-use Speedlite
  • Horizontal and upward bounce rotation capability
  • Maximum guide number of Approx. 85 ft./26M at ISO 100

Best Cheap External Flash for Canon SL1: Pentax AF201FG Flash

The Pentax AF201FG Flash was created for professional photographers. Its weather-sealed construction is ideal for outdoor flash photography as it can withstand harsh weather conditions. 

Pentax AF201FG Flash (Black)

The head of the flash can be tilted up to 90 degrees vertically so you can illuminate more angles. 

If you want the flash to fire a series of shots at a certain time, you can use the assignable mode button. You can set the timer so the flash goes off to your liking. 

The recycling time is as fast as it only takes 4 seconds, so you won’t have to wait that long or it to recharge. 

However, the guide number of 20 is short as it can only cover subjects up to 66 feet away, compared to the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT, which can cover up to 197 feet. 

Also, it does not have the AUTO setting, unlike the Canon Speedlite EL-100 and the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT. The AUTO setting is a feature that determines whether the subject is within the frame or not and whether it is the right time to fire flashes. Without it, you will need to manually adjust the camera to ensure the subject is in the frame. 

Pros:

  • The assignable mode button allows you to set a timer for the flash, firing at your desired time
  • The recycling time of 4 seconds is fast, it can be used for fast-paced photoshoots

Cons:

  • Guide number 20 can only cover 66 feet, which is too short of a distance
  • It has no AUTO setting, you will have to make sure that the subject is within the frame yourself
Pentax AF201FG Flash (Black)
  • Compact, lightweight and portable, ideal for travelling.
  • P-TTL flash for quick, accurate exposure.
  • Manual operation for user selectivity.

Features to Consider in an External Flash for Canon SL1

External flashes give you the extra light that you need when you are in a dark area. It also helps you achieve balanced exposure during the day, and it gives an artistic feel to your images. 

When it comes to getting the best external flash for Canon SL1, there are a few things that you need to consider to ensure that what you get suits your needs. 

Product Guide Number Recycling Time AUTO Setting
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT605.4 secondsYes
Canon Speedlite EL-100265.8 secondsYes
Pentax AF201FG Flash204 secondsNo

Guide Number

The flash’s guide number shows just how far it can illuminate subjects. A high guide number means that the flash reaches longer distances compared to low guide numbers. 

If you wish to have a flash that can reach longer distances, you can get the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT, as it can reach subjects up to 197 feet away. 

Speedlight camera flash

Recycling Times

Flashes need breaks in between firing shots to recharge. It gathers power from the battery and readies itself before bursting out the light again to prevent overheating. 

Since every second counts, especially in flash photography, it is best to get an external flash that does not take too long to charge up. You can go for the Pentax AF201FG Flash as it only takes 4 seconds before it lets you fire another round. 

AUTO Setting

The AUTO setting feature helps save battery life. The feature uses the camera’s sensor to determine if the subject is within the frame or if it is constantly moving. 

If it detects that the subject is within the frame, it fires a round of flashes so you don’t miss a shot. If you are looking for this feature for your external flash, you can get the Canon Speedlite EL-100 and the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT. 

Man holding a Canon camera with an external flash

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an External Flash Different From a Speedlight?

An external flash and Speedlight are basically the same. They both have the same functionality. Speedlight is what Nikon calls its external flash, while Canon used the term “Speedlite” for its external flashes. 

What Does the TTL on an External Flash Means?

TTL means “Through The Lens,” and it is a system that estimates how much power the external flash gives off every time it fires a round. 

The TLL is controlled based on the exposure settings of the camera. 

Conclusion

External flashes can boost the performance of your camera and allows you to take amazing images in almost any condition. 

The best external flash for Canon SL1 lets you pursue flash photography as it has all the features you need for the genre. 

Jared Bauman has spent more than twenty years in the professional photography profession. He founded Bauman Photographers in 2001, which is a wedding and commercial photography studio in San Diego, California. The company has been in business for 20 years, and has a stellar reputation in the community. In 2007, Jared co-founded ShootDotEdit, the premium post production company for professional wedding photographers worldwide. The company has edited millions of images for photographers around the world. Jared has spoken and presented at the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Conference 9 years in a row. He has also given several multi-day courses on Creative Live, in addition to two national speaking tours.