Canon Speedlite 380EX Flashes

Speedlite 380EX

Originally introduced with the EOS 50/50E, the 380EX features a maximum guide number of 38/125 (ISO-100, m/ft), six-position auto zoom head for coupling from 24 to 105mm and a variety of sophisticated creative controls. The Canon Speedlite 380EX brings the technology of flash photography to a new level. It is the first shoe-mount flash unit to incorporate Canon's exclusive E-TTL pre-stored evaluative auto flash control.

User Reviews (26)

Showing 1-10 of 26  
Morgan Welk   Professional [Jul 18, 2003]
Strength:

Automation. Point and shoot simplicity. Automatically adjusts (when not broken, like mine) reflection zoom, intensity, and is compatible with my elan. Quick cycles. Good used price. Modern, although discontinued. Excellent improvement over opo-up flash. Battery efficiency is good for a flash of this output good.

Weakness:

Automation. Point and shoot simplicity. Automatically adjusts (maybe I shouldn't have gotten it fixed). Noisy capacitor makes screeching sound during first second of cycle, before sounding like a normal flash recharging for the last one or two. I'm waiting for the capacitor to need replacement next. However, since I've never used this exact model or any other Canon Speedlight, it is possible that this is normal. Battery cover remains attached when open, yet feels considerably more flimsy than that on the SunPak 444's I use on my Nikon FE2 bodies. For some reason the aux light fires even when I cf the camera's to stay off during AF. This is a major glitch, as I do stealth night photography, the surprise of which is ruined by the bright red LED on the flash. The hotshoe adaptor cable, necessary for ambient flash techniques, is another $50. The current pro models are all capable of revieving up to 1/500 sec synced pulses via rf, and up to 5 flashes can slave off one transmitter. Use of different color gels can produce a stunning effect with enough flashes, saving steps, avoiding multiple exposures, subject mov'nt, none of this is possible with this flash, as it only has one connection from camera. Hub is neccesary to achieve multiple flash points using this model.

Bought this unit during Maxwell St. Days on State Street in Madison, WI. Couldn't believe it for only $70! When I picked it up, they told me the zoom was broken. Upon taking the light head apart (after discharging the capacitor), I found that I was able to move the worm drive to different reflection lengths. However, if I move the drive anywhere but middle (50), it just moves right back to that point after turning power on. Hmm... Getting it fixed locally, estimated at $25 for a new bounce-mode sensor (default bounce reflection length is 50). That was just the parts labor is $40.

Customer Service

Good local authorized service at BDC Camera Repair on Johnson St., near State Street, in downtown Madison, WI.

Similar Products Used: Sunpak 444, other SP's, various Vivitar models.
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
gauteng   Intermediate [Jul 28, 2002]
Strength:

Guide Number ( relative to the built in flash) Bounce capability E-TTL Flash and accurate metering

Weakness:

Slow recycle times on alkaline batteries

This flash when used on my Elan IIE surpassed my expectations. It generates great color balance indoors in bounced and non-bounced modes. It also does fill flash outdoors very nicely. Have only had perfectly exposed flash shots so far on about 10 rolls of film. If you're still using the built in flash on the Elan you are missing out.

Customer Service

None needed so far

Similar Products Used: Nikon SB-24
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Space Clown   Intermediate [Aug 10, 2000]
Strength:

Great addition to the Elan II. Especially if you don't know too much about flash photography.

Weakness:

If you're trying to learn more about flash photograhy and want to experiment, you can't do much because it's totally automatic. Doesn't swivel, to over come this you can buy the hot shoe cord for $50 (which is a thrid of the 380's price?!?).

A good upgrade from the little pop-up flash.

Customer Service

Never needed it.

Similar Products Used: Speedlite 200 on a rebel.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Dion Mikkelsen   Intermediate [Aug 10, 2000]
Strength:

E-TTL
High Speed Sync
Ease of Use

Weakness:

No manual controls

E-TTL and High Speed Sync are awesome. I use them often with my EOS300 and have become addicted to the great fill-in flash it provides. Its great for portraits, and also good for photography at car shows for car interiors and engine bays.

My only wish is that it had a few more manual controls. I don't need swivel, I don't need more power, I'd just like some manual controls :-)

Customer Service

Not tried.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Steve Lutz   Intermediate [Jul 31, 2000]
Strength:

Inexpensive, E-TTL works well with Elan II. Simple to operate. Basically you just turn it on.

Weakness:

Limited range, no way to override the zoom head setting, no way to reduce flash output other than with the camera's flash exposure compenstation

A good flash for the Elan II, which is the camera it was designed for. Although the features are limited, so is the price, so I guess that's fair. I have had bad experiences with the use of a softbox on this flash, but I am not sure it is the flash's problem. May be just operator error on my part. Knowing what I know now, I would still buy it for the E-TTL and the FP features, which make full use of my camera. A 550EX would be nice, but it is heavier and more expensive. I think I'll stick with my 380EX for a while longer as my "main" flash. (I also have the 220EX, which I have because I can carry it in my pocket.)

Customer Service

Not used

Similar Products Used: 220E, 220EX, Promaster 7000
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
raymond Kowk   Intermediate [Jul 10, 2000]
Model Reviewed: Speedlite 380EX Flash
Strength:

Full E-ttl funtion.Light weight.Auto power zoom (24-105) with EF lens.Resonable price.

Weakness:

No PC connect.No manu control.Sometimes not powerful.

Good for everyone up to prosumer.Not for real pro.

Customer Service

None.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Yu Pok Hon Wally   Intermediate [Jul 05, 2000]
Model Reviewed: Speedlite 380EX Flash
Strength:

Easy to use
Light-weight
E-TTL works accurately with my Elan IIe
High speed sync
2nd curtain sync

Weakness:

Not a very powerful flash
No swivel
Very limited manual control.

This is a perfect companion with Elan II(e) for party, family, and portrait shots. E-TTL works very well for off-centered subjects. High speed sync works for all shutter speed from 1/125 to 1/4000s, making fill flash very easy. Also, 2nd curtain sync provides very creative control in night photography.

Customer Service

Haven't tried before

Similar Products Used: Canon Speedlite 550EX
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
M Brown   Intermediate [May 07, 2000]
Model Reviewed: Speedlite 380EX Flash
Strength:

Great match with Elan II and Sigma 28-200. I use this flash on every shot both indoors and out. Get best results with 400 speed film outdoors and 800 speed film indoors. Sync the flash to the shutter speed.

Weakness:

Didn't recycle as fast as I wanted to. Switched to NiCd batteries now recycle time very fast and batteries can be topped off to keep power level high. Swivel would have been nice.

Great flash! Works great with Elan II.

Customer Service

Haven't had to use it.

Similar Products Used: Elan II, Canon 28-105, Sigma 28-200
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Luke DeLalio   Expert [Apr 20, 2000]
Model Reviewed: Speedlite 380EX Flash
Strength:

Very consistant exposures. ETTL is awesome - it makes flash photography a no brainer. For a relativelt inexpensive flash it has quite a bit of power.

Weakness:

None really - anything more I would want on a flash is found on the 550ex

I was blown away by this thing. I hated using a flash and now I use it a lot, because ETTR works so well. 380ex and the ELAN II is a great combination. It could use a bit more power, but even with a pocket bouncer and a diffuser on it I get enough light usually. And without that stuff the 380ex has plenty of power.

Customer Service

no need for it yet.

Similar Products Used: Vivitar 285
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
richard chittick   Professional [Feb 08, 2000]
Model Reviewed: Speedlite 380EX Flash
Strength:

e-ttl produces great results and has a neat side effect outlined below. not terribly expensive. lightweight.

Weakness:

no swivel. doesn't withstand abuse on a pro level (not that it really should, just be wary).

buying speedlites for canon is pretty much a no-brainer. each flash is designed with a specific body in mind, so if you buy a particular body, just buy the flash that goes with. in this case, the 380 is designed specifically for the elanii and iie. the e-ttl works amazingly well, producing flawlessly in less than perfect situations by producing a small burst of light before the actual exposure and using the burst to read the light quality in the situation your shooting. the nice side-effect mentioned above is that you can see this burst in the viewfinder just before the mirror raises. this way you know your flash went off, which i found to be a bonus in sports photography.

once i stepped up my efforts, however, and began shooting more, two things happened: the battery cover went bad, popping open at very in-opportune moments, and then the zoom head conked out. i've learned recently that the zoom head problem is common in this flash. so if you do plan to take your work to that level, even if you have the elan ii, scrap the e-ttl and spend the dough on a 540. you'll appreciate all the extra features anyway.

Customer Service

no experience

Similar Products Used: not too many
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 26  

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