Attaching the flash to the camera is a breeze. Simply slide the flash into the hot shoe facing forward from rear to front. Twist the locking ring to hold the flash on. In many hours of use over several weeks, the flash stayed put without frequent re-tightening.
The external flash has its own power button. Remembering this if you are used to using the built-in automatic flash all the time can be difficult. However, once turned on, the flash has an automatic shut off after 90 seconds and will restart automatically when the shutter button is pressed half way.
Though the 430EX has manual configuration via the buttons on the back panel, it is simpler and less error prone to do all of the settings through the camera controls. However manual settings are available ranging from 1/64 power to 1/1 full power. When the photographer just wants to boost or lower the flash output a bit for a series of shots. In this case, the +/- buttons adjust the flash exposure in 1/3 stops up to plus or minus 3 full stops.
The Speedlite also auto adjusts for focal length between 24mm and 105mm, and a built in flash covering wide panel allows for wide-angle lenses down to 14mm.
Shooting candid photography, as well as on the spot portraits, proved very smooth with the 430EX. While it lacks some of its higher-end cousin’s power and features (mostly for non-attached shooting purposes), the 430EX came through with flying colors in a wide variety of situations ranging from kids running down an unlit hallway, to a quick shot of a bride near the coat check at a rehearsal dinner. The main advantage to the 580EX demo unit I tried was faster recycling which does come in handy, but the 430EX running on fresh fully charged batteries runs quick enough for most occasions.
The 430EX is heavy. With batteries installed, it weighs nearly a pound which makes the camera not only heavier, but also very top heavy. This is especially noticeable on the XT, XTi, XS, and XSi models where the extra top weight causes hands to cramp quicker. If you plan to use a Speedlite on one of these cameras, I recommend the add-on battery which, while it increases the weight, does offer more grip spacing.