What flash do you use?

Started Oct 1, 2022 | Discussions thread
Michael Firstlight Veteran Member • Posts: 5,152
Re: What flash do you use?

As usual, it all depends on what and where you are shooting, but here's my portable lighting/flash kit that is quite versatile for my needs:

  • Flashpoint R2 V860II (x2)
  • Flashpoint V1
  • Godox X1T-N TTL 2.4G Wireless Flash Trigger
  • Flashpoint R2 Pro Mark II 2.4GHz Transmitter for Nikon
  • Flashpoint R2 i-TTL 2.4G Wireless Receiver For Nikon (X1R-N)
  • Nikon SB800 w/SC-28
  • MagMod MagBounce w/ MagGrip
  • Rogue FlashBender (x2)
  • Westcott Rapid Box Octa-S with Speedlite Insert
  • Photogenic 10’ compact lightstand w/cold shoe (x2)
  • Mini light stand (remote accent/bg flash)

On camera for brainless snapshot shooting with balanced fill, I'll use my trusty old Nikon SB-800 in iTTL-BL mode. But I keep the SB-800 only for snapshot convenience. Given the Godox/R2 flash gear, I could lose the SB-800 tomorrow and not miss it.

I also have two V860II (Flashpoint R2 branded) units. So why don't I use the V860II on the camera for snapshots? Simple - on my Nikon camera in backlight situations, the V860II's overexpose constantly by about a stop compared to the SB-800, whereas the SB-800 in TTL-BL mode nails balanced fill every time. I don't want to have to remember to muck back and forth with flash exposure comp - just another detail to complicate things.

When shooting anything serious, I'll typically not use TTL-BL at all. I'll use BFT-flagged bounce (if at all possible), put the camera in manual mode, adjust ambient exposure -1 stop (unless I'm doing something special), then use iTTL instead for the most consistent results. In these situations, I can use either the SB-800 or a V860II.

So why the pair of V860II's then? I put them on portable stands, usually with a Rogue Flashbender attached, and control them remotely with an X1Tn on-camera radio transmitter or the Flashpoint R2 Pro Mark II Transmitter (Adorama equivalent to the Godox X-Pro). Why the Flashbenders? Flexible and highly compact combo diffusers/reflectors with a black backing that can double like a BFT (Black Foamy Thing). If you don't know about BFT, look it up).

Note: While the X1Tn and R2 Pro transmitters are rather redundant, the X1Tn has the additional top hot shoe that comes in handy in some situations - like mounting a mini Ulanzi VL49 RGB video, a larger video light, a microphone, or compatible flash, but note that Nikon SB flashes don't work atop an X1Tn transmitter as that hot shoe isn't a passthrough-type shoe (I tried every which way over time, no go).

BTW, Adorama versions of Godox flash gear can be easily serviced - Godox not so much. The Adorama R2s are otherwise just rebranded and identical flash gear, but both can be mixed interchangeably.

The V860's on stands with the Rogue Flashbender's provide versatile flash setups for off-camera event and wedding work (such as dance floor shots) and on-location portraits where I need off-camera flash. One reason for the V860II's over the SB800 is I don't like using optical control over using radio control. Optical is less reliable and doesn't provide the distance that radio control does. The Nikon SB flashes are poor in this respect. With an SB-5000 I'd need three of them - one of them on camera. The cost of just one SB-5000 is nearly $600USD - yikes! The V860's and V1's are far more economical and well built - not as well built as the Nikons, but still solid and besides, I prefer their controls. Add to that their big, powerful rechargeable batteries over being stuck with AAs for Nikon flashes, and the Nikon speedlights fall that much further behind. Add to that if I ever pick up a far more powerful AD-xxx they're all compatible and controllable with the Godox/R2 transmitter, although in a pinch, I could also put the SB on an X1 receiver as a 3rd light if had to and it becomes a radio-controlled remote, but that's more clunky than simply getting a 3rd Godox/R2 V860 or V1 as they all have built-in wireless. For the cost of one SB-5000 you can get three V860 kits!

As an aside, why Nikon fails to embed Nikon flash radio control in the camera body is beyond me. I despise using external appendages - they/ll just break off under production use - pure stupidity.

One of the best features of using Flashpoint R2 Pro with a V860 or V1 and a Nikon camera (specifically) is simple remote radio-controlled HSS. Simply put the camera in manual mode with FP sync 200 and the flash in iTTL slave mode. Now you can dial in a wide aperture and high shutter speed to easily get that creamy bokeh outdoors. When the dialed-in shutter speed drops below 1/200 the setup automatically reverts to non-HSS mode. If the V860/V1's aren't powerful enough with the sun, the same works with the more powerful AD-200 or larger flash units.

If I'm on a non-windy location and using a V860II's and want both radio remote and softer light than using the Rogue Flashbender(s), then something like the Westcott Rapid Box makes for a highly portable setup as it is compact and really folds out and up quickly.

Now I do have a Magmod Magbouce 2 in the bag if I'm desperate and can't find any other way to bounce off something else. That thing folds-up compact in the bag and never loses its shape - the thing is nearly indestructible. It's one of the best on-flash diffusers for on-camera fill if you can't use off-camera flash for some reason and absolutely need to use on-camera fill - much better than the silly little snap-on diffusers or pop-up white cards.


The one thing everyone can agree on is that film photography has its negatives. It even has its positives and internegatives.

 Michael Firstlight's gear list:Michael Firstlight's gear list
Nikon D1X Nikon D800 Nikon D850 Nikon Z9 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR +34 more
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