Flash photography is tricky. If you’re not careful, you’re likely to end up with something blown out and awkwardly shaded. However, it’s also a great tool for achieving textured, realistic images.

Now, Canon is here to bridge this gap, making sure you get more texture and less blow out.

How, you may ask, could they do that? Will they pay for your lessons in art school? Subsidize your Instagram habit until you get it down?

Nope.

They’re going to solve it the same way we solve everything nowadays: robots


Yesterday, Canon unveiled the SpeedLite 470EX-AI, the first-ever flash to incorporate an “autointelligent,” rotating base. Here’s how it works:

Instead of aiming the flash directly at their subject, most skilled photographers employ the “bounce” technique, reflecting it off the ceiling to soften it. The thing is, it’s not easy to determine the correct angle of your “bounce,” and proficiency takes many failed attempts.

Like this

The 470EX-AI, on the other hand, is programmed to determine the best angle upon which to bounce light. Simply aim the flash once at your subject, and once at your ceiling, and an internal computer calculates the optimal angle. Begin shooting, and it will set itself to that angle, remaining there until you move.

Also, if you’re the type to often switch between landscape and portrait work, it’s got you covered: the head swivels ninety-degrees when the camera is sideways, always remaining aimed upward.

All of this takes place while in the flash’s “full AI Bounce” mode. But it also comes equipped with a “semi AI Bounce” mode for more seasoned photogs.

In this mode, you set your own “bounce” angle; the flash then simply maintains this angle no matter how you turn your camera. For the wedding photographer who knows bounce but doesn’t have the time to constantly reset their flash, this is a huge time save.

While reactions have been a mix of incredulous “do we really need this?‘ and “woah, that’s frickin, awesome I need one,” a review on Amateur Photographer (after all, its a piece of gear designed with amateurs in mind) is glowing.

Michael Topham writes that “Canon are onto something rather special,” explaining that the flash “worked faultlessly” and “nailed the lighting.” It is, he continues, a true “stroke of genius.”

The 470EX-AI will begin shipping in April and will cost $400.