Using Godox with the A7iii/A7Riii
I put together my thoughts on how to use the Godox/Cheetah/Flashpoint (and the many other names it has) system with Sony.
Let me know if I missed anything, I won't be able to update it here as I have copied and pasted my article but I could update it on my site.
I’ve written this article as there seems to be a gap in the information provided by Godox specific articles, videos and Sony flash articles with specific reference to the Godox system and how to use it with Sony cameras. Like any camera system, there are unique ways the lighting system works and this can be confusing for many people.
I’ve noted this is specific to the A7iii and A7Riii, however, this is due to these being the only two Sony cameras I have. As a result, I can’t test it across the entire range of Sony cameras. It may or may not be applicable, free to try it out, it won’t break anything.
I will also try to update this article as time goes on, but if you feel anything is wrong here, please feel free to let me know, either via the comments or email. I might have missed something while writing it. If you know of any additional cameras from Sony that would be supported in the same way and you can validate they work, let me know and I’ll update the article to reflect compatibility.
Note: Godox do rebrand their gear under a number of names, so this should also be applicable to Flashpoint, Neewer, Adorama and Cheetah although I can’t tell you the exact models
I’ve tried to cover an overview of the most commonly used Godox gear first, along with some recommendations on what I believe are the best first purchases if you plan on buying into the Godox system with Sony. After the gear port of the article, I’ve moved straight into the use with Sony, so feel free to skip the gear section if you feel this is irrelevant.
When I wrote this article, I that the audience in some cases may be new to flash. As a result, I’ve included fairly basic descriptions of what I consider “Flash Basics” at certain points in the article. These will be relevant to a specific area I am writing about and will help extend the knowledge for a novice. These are not comprehensive detailed descriptions so you may need to research these further if you don’t understand. They are areas that more experienced photographers will already know and as a result, to avoid boring the crap out of the more experienced photographers, I’ve included these in a box entitled “Flash Basics”. An example of a subject I am talking about is “What is Flash vs Ambient”. In some cases, I’ve written a short description, in others, I’ve just pointed to a video that covers these areas well enough that it’s pointless me writing about it.
If you are someone who has used flash extensively, feel free to ignore them, and I’ve put them in blocks to make it easier to identify them. They have a bolded “Flash Basics” that looks like this:
Flash Basics: Sample
This is a sample example of flash basics description
AN OVERVIEW OF GODOX SPEEDLIGHTS, STROBES AND TRIGGERS
One of the greatest advantages of the Godox system is the ability to mix and match speedlights and strobes with a variety of camera systems, along with the low-cost entry point for people looking to experiment or start using lighting for the first time. Many of the Strobe brands do not manufacture speedlights and many speedlight brands do not manufacture strobes. Godox (along with Profoto) is one of the few to provide both options. I’ve tried to cover all speedlights, strobes, and triggers here, and I will continue to update these as time goes on, and new models arrive, but please understand I’m not planning to buy every speedlight and strobe they manufacture so my hands-on experience with some models may be limited. I have not covered the non-battery studio models of their strobe lineup.
Flash Basics – Speedlights vs strobes
The difference between these two has always been blurred, more so in recent years. Do a search on google and you’ll find 5 different definitions. Some people consider the difference to be the power output; others whether it has a cable or battery, for some it’s whether it has a fresnel or globe head.
I couldn’t find any definitive definition which is part of the challenge. As a result, lets assume for the sake of this article that a speedlight is a lightweight flash that can be used on camera and the strobe is a high-powered flash designed to be used off camera. It’s not to say you can’t put a speedlight off camera, but you can’t put a strobe on camera.
With Godox’s speedlight lineup, there are only 2 sizes for Godox, each with sub-options. You have a small low powered flash and a larger full powered flash. For each of these, there is a sub option with AA Batteries or a Godox rechargeable battery option, but they’re essentially the same or similar model with different battery options/
Typically in the speedlight range, a TTL version is an AA battery version and a V version is one supplied with a rechargeable battery. In the case of some (like the TT350/V350), the names match however with the V860 and TT685, they don’t…do ask me why. The S indicates Sony version, although they are compatible with other cameras if used with the brand specific trigger. i.e. you can trigger a Sony flash on a Fujifilm camera with a Fujifilm trigger.
The Godox TT350S and V350S are the same , however, the V350S version comes with a battery and charger whilst the TT350S uses 2 AA batteries. The V350S goes for $159 and the TT350S goes for $89.
The small flash is more suited to the size of the Sony mirrorless cameras, however, these units have a limited amount of power, about 2 stops worse than the larger brother, and this, in turn, will limit your capability with the speedlight. I’m personally not a huge fan of flash, so I would avoid this option unless you intend using it as for travel where you need to keep the weight down. Long term, I think most users will outgrow the capability of the speedlight fairly quickly, so unless you’re a point and shoot photographer with no intentions of ever taking the flash off your camera, go for the V860 which I cover in the next section.
I would recommend the internal rechargeable over the AA version if you do go for this model. The recharge time between flashes is faster and the batteries can produce more full-powered flashes per charge. The version that comes with rechargeable batteries is more expensive for obvious reasons.
The TT688S and X are the full powered speedlights Godox’s range offering a power output of 85ws, hence the 85 in the name. Whilst the 685 is large, it also offers what I consider the minimum acceptable power for any decent flash work.
As with the TT350, the 685 is offered in two different versions, an AA version, and a rechargeable version. The V860iiS goes for $189 whilst the TT685S goes for $110. As you can see from the pricing, there is only a small premium for the V860 over the V350 with a substantial power increase, and as a result, unless size is a constraint, I’d recommend buying the more powerful version.
Important note: The TT685 and V860ii are prone to hotshoe breaks for some obscure reason. If this does occur, hotshoes can be purchased separately and at a fairly low cost. I haven’t had to replace mine as I do not do much on-camera flash, but I’d recommend carrying a spare speedlight if you shoot weddings. For more information on replacing the hotshoe, have a look at this article and video.
Important note: The larger Godox speedlights are known to have hotshoe breakage issues for people who use them heavily.
Strobe options (200WS+ options)
Godox has a good range of strobes, but for the purpose of this, I’m going to focus on the battery-powered strobes which include the AD200, AD360, AD400 and AD600/AD600 Pro. The name indicates the power output of the strobe. I.e. the AD200 has 200ws of power whilst the AD600 has 600ws.
The AD200 is the most popular strobe from Godox due to the compact size and high-powered output. It’s provided in a case with both a fresnel and bulb head, along with a bracket to mount it on a light stand. If you are looking to get into off-camera flash, this is where I would start. It’s small, flexible and lightweight, and you can carry 3 with you without breaking a sweat. The AD200 retails for around US$300 without a trigger which is pretty reasonable.
Battery power on the AD200 is very good. I’ve used two of these in a forest with 4 fellow photographers and about 1,000 pops without draining the battery but ultimately it’s going to depend on the power output.
One of the great things with the AD200 is that Godox a bracket with that allows you to combine two AD200’s into a single 400ws strobe. That gives you the flexibility of having a single AD400 and two depending on what you are planning to do.
The AD400 was released in 2018 and is new to the Godox lineup. It falls cleanly between the AD200 and AD600. The AD400 starts to bridge into a territory of being too large to carry around in your camera bag, due to the increased thickness which is twice as thick as the AD200.
I don’t have hands-on experience with this model, but many of photographers I know that have purchased these love them.
In comparison to the AD600 Pro, I would question whether you will need 600WS of power. The AD400 should be sufficient for most situations. My Magbox review consisted of two AD200’s shooting into the sun and it was more than enough power to overpower the sun so it would have to be some pretty brutal light or a large softbox to need more than this.
Godox AD600/AD600 Pro (available in TTL or Manual/HSS)
The AD600 and AD600 Pro models are the most powerful strobes in Godox’s lineup that consist of a built-in battery as opposed to an external battery pack. The pro version is a recent upgrade to the AD6oo and offers more stable temperature and faster recycle times. The AD600 series comes with a weight premium over the smaller models.
The AD600 (non-Pro) comes in a manual version which includes HSS, or a TTL version which includes HSS. They used to offer it in a unique Godox or Bowens mount, but the Godox mount seems to have been phased out in of Bowens mount. If you have the option of both, I’d recommend a TTL Bowens mount.
Common Godox strobe accessories
Godox some nice accessories for the AD series of strobes. These include extension cables to take the strobe bulb off the head of the strobe and extend it on a cable with the strobe unit becoming a battery pack. This is great for keeping weight off the head in stronger winds or when you have an assistant hand holding a softbox on a boom and they aren’t Superman.
Godox has two triggers which I have covered below. If you want to skip this section and know which to buy, buy the XPro S, it’s worth the additional cost over the X1S. If buying the XPro is going to mean you can feed yourself, get the X1, it’ll do most of what the XPro can do, but it’s not nearly as intuitive or well designed.
Godox X1 S Trigger
The X1 is the original trigger from Godox. I had this when I was shooting Nikon, and when I shot with Fujifilm but switched to the XPro when it was released. It’s a good trigger, but with the availability of the XPro trigger, I wouldn’t recommend it for the simple reason that you can get a far better trigger for a minimal amount more and it is worth the difference.
The X1 trigger offers full control over the Godox tangle of speedlights and strobes with the ability to switch between manual and TTL and it’s capable of triggering HSS with compatible cameras.
Whilst the X1 is capable of doing the job, it has some small annoyances which is why I recommend the XPro:
- For one, the trigger sits flat on the hot shoe which limits access to some of the controls on the camera. This is less of an issue with Sony but with Fujifilm, the top dials were more critical.
- The second big annoyance is the rear dials one the trigger bump your head when looking through the viewfinder and are accidentally adjusted
- Usability is far worse – the XPro is more intuitive
Godox XPro S Trigger
The XPro S is what I consider V2 of the X1 trigger and a far better design. In conjunction the functionality offered with the X1 trigger, the XPro offers:
- TTL to Manual – The ability to take the current TTL settings and switch over to complete manual allowing you more control if you are not happy with some of the refinements in TTL. This reduces the requirement for a light meter.
- From a usability perspective, the XPro wins heads and shoulders over the X1, it’s almost hard to compare the two, like a beta and a final version.
- You can zoom in so only the current group is shown on-screen if you aren’t using multiple groups
- The design offers more of a slanted upright view, ensuring the trigger is kept away from the controls and your forehead
All of the strobes and speedlights covered in this article have receivers built into the flash unit.
Do I buy TTL or Manual?
This will probably be controversial, but some of the seasoned professionals are going to tell you “don’t worry about TTL, no professional uses manual”. I’m going to respectfully disagree with these people, many of whom have never actually shot with a TTL strobe. For them, it’s about the comfort of doing things they way they have always done and the discomfort with losing control, but like anything, technology changes and TTL has matured to a point where it is pro-ready. Think of it like mirrorless. The initial mirrorless cameras were basic consumer grade cameras, but now mirrorless is good enough for professional use and the same applies to TTL. Its matured and in many cases is capable of making decisions more accurately due to its ability to adapt to changing lighting conditions. Using TTL isn’t about losing control, you have the same level of control in dynamic situations. I.e. sun goes behind the clouds and all of a sudden, your lighting needs to change, but with TTL, it doesn’t.
In short, if you know enough about strobes to know what you need, buy whatever you want, if you don’t, buy the TTL version. Best case scenario, you buy TTL and don’t use it, worst case, you buy manual and need TTL and don’t have it.
Flash Basics: What is TTL?
TTL (Through The Lens) is where the flash automatically decides how much exposure to use based on what it see’s through the lens. The idea is you set up the depth of field and shutter, and TTL will try ensure you get a perfectly exposed image. Here is a simple explanation of TTL on youtube
What Godox gear would I recommend buying?
If you’re an experience flash photographer you can probably skip this section because you should have a fair idea of what you need.
- If you are on a limited budget and have no experience with the flash, you could start with the TT350 or V350, but overall, if your budget isn’t limited I’d recommend getting the V860ii instead because it is a little better from a future-proofing perspective.
- If you want a recommended starting point for getting into off camera flash, I’d recommended starting point would be an AD200 and an XPro Trigger. This will give you a starting point with a powerful enough flash to grow into decent softboxes. It is also powerful enough to overpower the sun in many situations and can be doubled up with another one in a Godox supplied bracket for a 400ws strobe.
- If you have a good budget, I’d say get a single AD600 Pro and two AD200’s or AD400’s, depending on how many lights you need. You could also get a V860ii which could double as a 4th light due to the interoperability of the lights.
Flash Basics: What about modifiers Should I buy?
Flash modifiers is a massive topic in itself – you could write an entire article dedicated to it. For the sake of keeping it simple, if you’re new to lighting, I’d recommend starting with the 40 or 60cm square softbox if you have a speedlight, or an 80-90cm Octa (round) softbox if you are buying a strobe. My preference for larger softboxes is the Magbox or Rimelite due to the ease at which they can be set up but they also come with a big price premium. If you can’t afford these, a basic Godox model would be adequate.
HOW TO GET GOING WITH FLASH ON YOUR SONY GEAR
Presettings to avoid common problems
When using the Godox system with your Sony camera, there are a couple of things you need to set up on your camera to avoid problems. I’ve tried to include reasons where possible:
Create a custom mode just for flash if you have one spare
Sony has the great functionality where you can create a whole set of custom settings which you can recall at any point in time. That saves you having to change the settings on a regular basis. There are a couple of settings you are more likely to only use during flash so having the ability to switch these over automatically for when you use flash will save you a lot of time every time you have to change these settings. If you want to know how to do it, check out this video from Mark Galer that covers the setup of custom modes or memory recalls. Mark Galer is a respected Sony Ambassador and has some great video tutorials on his site so I’d recommend having a look when you have time.
Switch off silent shooting
Go to Camera Setting 2 (the camera with the 2 next to it), page 4/9 and the first option in the list will be silent shooting. You will need to switch off silent shooting. Flash doesn’t work with an electronic shutter so the Sony system will not trigger the flash if it’s switched on. Great for not annoying guests at weddings, terrible for flash work because your flash won’t actually work.
Switch off electronic front curtain shutter
Go to Camera Setting 2 (the camera with the 2 next to it), page 4/9 and the second option in the list will be e-Front Curtain Shut. The front curtain shutter causes banding when used with HSS so recommended that you switch off front curtain shutter and stick to mechanical when shooting flash.
Switch wireless off
Go to Camera Setting 1 (the camera with the 1 next to it), page 11/14 entitled “Flash” and for the option called wireless and switch this off. The wireless option is for Sony’s wireless speedlight system, not the Godox system. I haven’t picked up any adverse reactions through having this on, but I have had speedlight issues so unless you are using Sony’s wireless system, turn it off.
Make sure the trigger or flash is seated properly
On occasion, you will encounter an issue where TTL or HSS won’t work but the flash seems to be triggering fine. More often than not, this is as a result of the flash not being seated correctly. When you seat the flash or trigger, take the time to make sure it’s seated properly.
Separate Exposure Compensation for Flash and Ambient
Go to Camera Setting 1 (the camera with the 1 next to it), page 11/14 entitled “Flash” and for the option called Exp.comp.set ensure this is set to Ambient only. This is to separately the exposure compensation for ambient and flash because flash can be adjusted using the TTL settings on the flash or trigger and the ambient can be adjusted with the exposure compensation dial. Realistically you would have the ISO set to manual anyway, but in the beginning, this may not be the case.
Flash Basics – Flash vs Ambient
If you don’t know the difference, flash is where the light from flash is impacting, ambient is everywhere the flash isn’t impacting. Imagine you are shooting a model in a forest; if you turn off the flash, that is ambient because the flash will only affect a portion of the photo. You need to be able to change this, because you may want to portray a scene as dark and moody with the highlight on the model, or just fill enough of the shadows to make it difficult to tell that flash was used. This is part of the creative process. The second issue is that the flash can sometimes impact ambient, so by separating these, you can change a setting without impacting the whole scene.
When you shoot flash, you need to adjust these independently if you aren’t in manual mode. Eventually you will be in manual and this won’t make a difference.
Turn off Anti-Flicker Mode
Yes, I know it sounds strange but you have to turn off anti-flicker mode and there are some good reasons behind it. When you use anti-flicker, it interferes with the ability to turn the Shot Result Preview display on. I’ll cover why in the next point. Go to Camera Setting 1, Page 14/14 and turn anti-flicker off.
Assign Shot Result Preview to a button if you shoot flash regularly.
Go to Camera Setting 2, 8/9 (Custom Operation1) and select the first option which is for photos. Assign Shot Result Display to a button, I normally use C1 which is right now the shutter button.
Shot Result Display preview is the functionality that you to see what the exposure looks like. If you’re shooting indoors at f/8 1/250 and ISO100 with flash, the ambient is going to be pretty dark so you may not be able to see what you’re shooting. Sony cameras are smart – When they detect a flash they turn off the live preview and there is a good reason behind it so now you can see as if you were looking at a perfectly exposed photo.
But that’s a good and bad thing, because if you are shooting in a forest with a flash on the subject, you still want to see what the areas will look like that aren’t getting flash and to do that, you’re going to have to turn off the trigger the whole time, which may or may not cause some of the settings on the flashes to change. By assigning this to a button, you can switch it on the preview by holding down the button and it will show you what the ambient will look like for as long as you hold down the button.
How do I switch on TTL?
Using TTL with the Godox system is relatively easy. All you have to do is the camera the way you want and then put on the flash or trigger, set the group to TTL and fire away. Provided you have changed the settings above, it should work.
Scroll through the wireless selection button (furthest right) and the mode button and the screen on the speedlight it should look like this:
On the trigger, it should look like this depending on how many groups you have set up
Additional considerations for speedlights
For speedlights, it is important to ensure that they are in the correct receiver/trigger setup.
- If you are using it on camera, it needs to be so the flash is in receiver mode. The screen of the V860ii will change between orange and green depending on the mode it is in. For on camera, it should be in green.
- If you are using it wirelessly, ensure that it is in wireless receiver mode, and the group and channel are set correctly. The screen on the V860ii will be orange in this mode with a flashing wireless sign in the top left corner.
If it looks like this, it won’t work. This indicates it is being used as a controller.
Flash basics: What are groups and channels in flash?
Groups and channels are used to ensure that you can only trigger a specific set of speedlights or strobes and you can adjust the settings of individual strobes or groups of strobes.
Let’s take two hypothetical situations:
- Different channel example: More than one person using wireless at the same location (a skateboard park as an example) – In this case you would use different channels to avoid interfering with each other if you were both using the same brand of lights because it is possible that he could trigger your lights
- Different group example: Lets assume you are in a studio and you have 3 strobes setup. The one on the backdrop you may want at full power to make it white, the key light at half power and the hair light at one eighth power. To set the strobes up this way, you need to assign each to its own channel so you can adjust them independently.
For more info on groups and channels, have a look at this link.
How do I switch on HSS?
HSS can be switched on one of two ways, in manual or TTL. In TTL the HSS fires automatically when the shutter is higher than the sync speed which is 1/180 to 1/250 on most cameras.
To turn on HSS, click on the button assigned to sync and you will see a little bolt of lighting arrow with an H on it. You can see it below under the second “m” of the 24mm
Flash Basics: What is HSS?
HSS (High Speed Sync) is the ability to shoot photos faster than the sync speed of the camera and is typically used for action or photos where you are shooting into the sun with a shallow depth of field which requires a faster shutter. You can read more about it at this link.
Set ISO manually and understand your flash power
The problem with most flash systems is that TTL doesn’t use the full power of the flash. You can test easily by leaving auto ISO on and taking a photo with the flash bouncing off the ceiling.
Set the camera to f/8, 1/250 and Auto ISO and take a photo with TTL. In a largish dark room, you will find the ISO rising to around 3200 or 6400.
Then set your camera to f/8 1/250 and ISO100 and take a photo with TTL. The photo will likely be exposed at the same level (unless its a really large room, a small flash or a high ceiling) and yet, you have a much lower ISO.
Now set the flash to manual and conduct the same exercise. If the flash photo is overexposed, it means the flash wasn’t using full power at ISO100. What this means is you have to be careful about the use of auto ISO.
One option if you’re not sure what ISO value to set based on the flash power is to set an acceptable level of ISO as a maximum, ISO800 as an example and let the camera push the ISO up to this maximum level. This will allow you some level of leeway without having to worry about the camera pushing the ISO up too high.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I run two systems…will my Sony specific V860ii S or V350 S work with my Nikon/Canon/Fujifilm
Yes and no. It will only work in manual mode for on-camera flash, but it will work with TTL and HSS if you have the appropriate trigger. I.e. Canon Trigger with Canon Camera.
Can the speedlight be used as a transmitter?
Yes, they can, but the interface isn’t that user-friendly. I’d recommend getting a dedicated trigger.
Do I need TTL?
If you are asking that question, then yes, I’d recommend getting TTL. Your learning curve will be much faster.
What lighting tutorials would you recommend?
I’d recommend starting with youtube, it’s free. If you can’t find what you want, try http://www.kelbyone.comand have a look at some of the education streams that take you from beginner all the way up.
Can I charge the V350 or V860 by the USB port?
No, it’s only for firmware. Batteries must be charged with the
Where can I learn how to use individual speedlights or strobes from Godox?
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