Which speedlight for Nikon?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
kli Veteran Member • Posts: 3,569
Re: Which speedlight for Nikon?

Giovanni_1968 wrote:

I am totally new to speed lights (which we commonly call "flash" here in Italy),

Just FYI, two websites I'd recommend for learning about flash are Neil van Niekerk's Tangents website (as a wedding/portrait photographer, he's great for learning on-camera bounce flash), and David Hobby's Strobist website.

I would also highly recommend just learning on-camera bounce at first. It's much easier and cheaper if all you have to buy and master at first is a speedlight/hotshoe flash. And with on-camera bounce you can still learn all the basics of flash exposure, ambient/flash balance, and controlling the direction, intensity, quality, and color of the flash. And it will make learning off-camera flash go a lot faster if you've already mastered all that so that when you do get into off-camera lighting it's only the "off-camera" part you have to concentrate on.

I thought sooner or later I'll get one as a fill light for summertime open air shots when sun is high and shadows too harsh and then to use it for portraits later on with a diffuser/softbox etc

Wondering if the third party ones like Godox work flawlessly with both D and eventual Z bodies.

Third-party flashes are reverse-engineered. They only have access to the external signalling on the flash hotshoe/foot, and don't know the internal design. If Nikon makes changes to the hotshoe communication signals, they'll be sure their own gear isn't rendered incompatible, but they probably don't care much about third parties.

Third-party flashes, like Godox, will typically offer firmware upgrade capability, so they can "fix" incompatibility issues, but you may have to wait. This is the current situation with the new D780: Godox flashes are currently incompatible, but Godox is working on a fix and will post one when/if they've gotten one. So, if you're bleeding edge and always like the newest stuff, OEM (original equipment manufacturer; in your case Nikon) might be a better choice. If you hang back and buy used, you're probably fine with Godox, or at least you can research compatibility.

Third party Chinese flashes, like Godox, also save a lot of cost by using less rigorous QA/testing and they source parts from manufacturers who do the same. Doesn't mean you'll get a bad unit, just that copy variance is going to be a little higher. And they also push off customer service to the retailer: so it's up to whoever you purchased from for copy replacement during the warranty period if you do get a bad unit.

That said. A new Nikon SB-5000 in the US costs $600. A Godox TT685-N is $110; a V860II-N is $180. And while the Godox certainly is not the same as having an SB-5000, it can probably do all the things you use the most really well. It does iTTL, HSS/FP, rear-curtain, RPT, etc. It's about as powerful. And it comes in a li-on version (V860II-N, US$180) where the single li-on rechargeable battery pack has 2.7x the life of a set of 4xAAs. If you're a wedding shooter, you can probably get by on one pack for an all-day event, without having to swap batteries. And. The TT685-N / V860II-N has a built-in radio transceiver, just like the SB-5000 that allows for remote power/zoom/group control with TTL and HSS/FP.

Head rotation is stiffer; AF-assist isn't as good (particularly with mirrorless), and TTL accuracy and consistency won't be as great. But on the flip side,the Godox 2.4 GHz system is much better for expansion if you really get into lighting. Their system has seven different speedlight models ranging from mini speedlights to a Profoto A1-like round-headed speedlight that takes magnetic modifiers directly.

They also do the AD200 bare-bulb/modular flash, as well as studio strobes, both cheap A/C-powered manual models and li-on battery-powered TTL/HSS models. And the current models, like the current Godox speedlights, all have a built-in 2.4 GHz radio trigger in Godox's X system.

Nikon only does speedlights, and not all of them are radio-equipped.

Godox does a cheap $60 single-pin manual (non-TTL) flash that is now the Strobist's choice for a beginner setup (if you don't also need a TTL on-camera speedlight). Just saying a $60 TT600 makes it a lot less expensive to put together a four-light off-camera key/fill/rim/background setup than, say, new SB-700s do. And that TT600 works over radio in concert with a TT685-N or V860II-N.

In addition, Godox's lights, as radio slaves (if firmware-upgraded to do so), can support all the camera brands Godox supports: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Olympus/Panasonic, and Pentax. The only thing you have to rebuy if you shoot more than one system or swap systems is whatever goes directly on the hotshoe (speedlight or transmitter). For example, I shoot Canon, Fuji, and Panasonic. I have a TT685-C for Canon that works as a TTL/HSS speedlight only on my Canon gear. But as a radio slave, it does TTL, HSS, group/power/zoom control to the XPro-C transmitter on my Canon 5DMkII, the XPro-O on my Panasonic GX7, and the XPro-F on my Fuji X100T.

Nikon speedlights only support Nikon cameras.

If you want the best functionality/compatibility with Nikon cameras, best reliability and service options, and you don't mind not having li-ion battery life, and are planning to shoot only Nikon forever more into the future, and you prefer on-camera flash to off-camera flash, then NIkon OEM speedlights are probably a great choice.

If you're a pro or semi-pro with a lot of location work where you want to use speedlights or smaller than monolight options [and can't afford a Profoto B10 or A1] :); if you shoot more than one system or are tempted to switch away from Nikon on occasion; if you're willing to get multiple copies if you require backup; if you want to ditch your external 8xAA battery pack, if you want to expand to bigger lights; or if you're Strobist-mad or budget-limited, then Godox is probably worth a look.

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