Canon's AI flash moves by itself to make portraits more flattering

The motorized Speedlite 470EX-AI finds the best angle to bounce light.

Camera flashes aren't normally the sexiest products, but Canon has made its Speedlite 470EX-AI a lot more interesting by using artificial intelligence. As photographers know, you're better off bouncing a flash off a wall or ceiling to best flatter subjects, rather than pointing it directly at them. Figuring all that out can be a pain, however, which is where Canon's "AI Bounce" tech comes in. By calculating the distance between the camera, ceiling and subject, it lets beginning photographers "utilize the ideal lighting and natural brightness of the room," Canon explains.

The flash will adjust itself automatically, even if you move the camera, thanks to built-in motors at the base and hinge, and sensors in the front corner (as shown above). When you double-tap on the shutter release, the flash first points at the subject and the ceiling to calculate distances. It then sets itself to the ideal angle for the perfect bounce light on your subject. You do have to stick to that camera position, however, or the whole dance starts over again.

It can also operate semi-automatically, letting more experienced photographers store flash positions in memory, then recall them when needed. It includes an optical receiver, but lacks a radio transmitter if you need remote studio operations.

Lately, Canon has been accused of being stuck in the past with its camera tech compared to rivals like Sony and Fujitsu. However, this new flash features some pretty cool tech, and the new entry-level M50 is also a good sign for the future of its mirrorless lineup. The 470EX-AI arrives in April 2018 for $400, or £500 in the UK.