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Canon Unveils the Speedlite 470EX-AI: World's First Speedlite with AI Bounce Technology

On 26 February 2018, Canon announced the Speedlite 470EX-AI, a clip-on flash that uses the new, sophisticated Auto Intelligent Bounce (AI. Bounce) technology to automatically set the optimal bounce angle. This feature will help both new and advanced users easily achieve soft, natural lighting when conducting bounce flash photography, an effect particularly sought after in portrait photography. (Reported by: Makoto Suzuki (Digital Camera Watch))

Speedlite 470EX-AI

The flash that helps you find the optimal flash angle, even if you change the camera orientation

The Speedlite 470EX-AI is equipped with the AI. Bounce (Auto Intelligent Bounce) feature, which uses a built-in motor to move the flash head. In AI. Bounce Full Auto mode, the flash analyses the height of the ceiling and the distance of the flash from the subject, and uses this information to calculate the optimal bounce angle.


Speedlite 470EX-AI (slant)

Bounce flash photography is a fundamental lighting technique where the flash is aimed and fired at a ceiling or wall surface near the subject. The light from the flash “bounces” off the surface to illuminate the subject, which results in a softer more natural-looking effect than that achieved by firing the flash directly at the subject.

The ability to conduct bounce flash photography is one of the fundamental features of a clip-on flash, but the technique is also perceived to be difficult due to the challenges of achieving the optimal bounce angle manually. This perception is what Canon hopes to address by automating settings such as the flash head direction and flash exposure. By making it easier to achieve natural results, it is hoped that users will be encouraged to try external flash photography.


Speedlite 470EX-AI in use during a portrait shoot

The AI. Bounce function has two modes. The AI. Bounce Full Auto mode* supports beginners to flash photography by automatically selecting the optimal bounce angle. Meanwhile, more advanced flash photography users are supported by the AI. Bounce Semi Auto mode, which automatically corrects the bounce angle to an angle predefined by the user, even if the camera orientation is changed from horizontal to vertical or vice versa.

*AI. Bounce Full Auto mode is not compatible with the following EOS cameras: All cameras released before June 2014, EOS 1300D, EOS 1500D, EOS 3000D, EOS M6, EOS M5, EOS M3.


Speedlite 470EX-AI mounted on camera
Speedlite 470EX-AI mounted on camera, rear view


To use the AI. Bounce Full Auto mode, slide the AI. B toggle switch above the LCD panel on the rear of the Speedlite to “F”. If you press the blue button marked “AI. B” on the bottom-left, the Speedlite’s flash head will move as it measures its distance from the wall/ceiling as well as from the subject, and then set the optimal bounce angle and flash exposure.


Speedlite 470EX-AI, highlighting AI. B toggle and button

To measure distances, the flash uses information obtained from a pre-flash as well as information about shooting distance obtained from the camera. Hence, the bounce angle that is automatically set will change if the shooting distance (or focal position) changes, even if the camera position and angle is the same.

To change to the AI. Bounce Semi Auto mode, slide the AI.B toggle switch to “S”. To set a bounce angle for the Speedlite to memorise, manually move the flash head to the direction you want it to face, and then press the button located on the side of the flash head (the same location as the bounce lock release button on existing Speedlites). The camera will memorise the bounce angle from this position. After that, if you need to recall this bounce angle after the camera orientation and flash head orientation have changed, simply half-press the shutter button twice in quick succession. The flash head will move into a position that achieves the bounce angle memorized earlier.


Speedlite 470EX-AI rear (toggle button circled)
Speedlite 470EX-AI (right view)

All it takes is one step for the Speedlite 470EX-AI to memorize a user-defined bounce angle in AI. Bounce Semi Auto mode. The angle that you have rotated the flash head vertically and/or horizontally will be displayed on the LCD panel.


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Digital Camera Watch

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