Update January 2010: I’ve revisited this topic following my switch to Nikon, and the newer posts gives a more “concrete” comparison.
Neil Van Niekerk has just written a very interesting comparison between Canon and Nikon flash systems. Neil’s a very experienced TTL flash user, and uses both Nikon and Canon extensively, so there’s really no better person to discuss the subject.
His conclusion is that for on camera TTL (including bounced flash) the systems are just different. That’s all.
We often hear that Nikon’s flash system is better than Canon’s and being the curious fellow that I am I’ve tried many times in the past to get to the bottom of this question by searching the net. Until now I’ve never seen a decent comparison – probably due to the fact that there are so few people who are intimately acquainted with both systems.
I personally use Canon’s ETTL-II flash extensively, and I’ve never had an issue with it. It’s always worked extremely well for me. Clearly understanding the system is key to getting good results in either case.
However, I was very interested to note Niel’s thoughts concerning the better ease of use of Nikon’s off-camera TTL, so I took a peek at the SB-900 manual…
Here’s my own feature comparison based purely on reading the Nikon manual, my own experience with Canon, and the things that are important to my own use of flash.