First impressions Review - Nissin Di866 MKII for Sony / Minolta Shoe

Started Dec 22, 2014 | User reviews
K E Hoffman
K E Hoffman Veteran Member • Posts: 5,103
First impressions Review - Nissin Di866 MKII for Sony / Minolta Shoe
1

After this post last week:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/54932831

I took the plunge and bought two

Company Info Link: http://www.nissindigital.com/di866mkii.html

Just want to say I just got my first one. Seller failed to notice I ordered 2, but caught error himself and second one arrives tomorrow. FEDEX 5 business days from Malaysia to Seattle. Not bad Free shipping and all.

Came FEDEX signature today.

It was in full retail packaging with the Ser# labels in their spot on the box matching the official eteched S# on the flash.

Initial impression - Very Good.

Build Quality = Very Good ( feels close to if not the same as my HVL -F56AM) It actually sits firmer in the Sony adapter than the Sony flash.

Documentation: in Box its a one page full color (because the control screen in color LCD) that just gives you the menu navigator. Which answered 90% of my questions. comes with a mini CD with all the manuals in different languages for Canon / Nikon / Sony nicer than a printed manual with some of each. And it has full color illustrations.

Quick differences between the Sony 56AM and the Nissin Di866II

  • Extra down tilt (for macro?) Nissin doesn't have that
  • Tilt / Swivel lock button Sony yes Nissin No.. (not sure that is a bad thing)
  • AF Beam is just a soft red none of the focus patterns of the Sony beams so probably won't help focus in the dark on flat white walls like some have tested.
  • Nissin swivels 180 to the right and 90 to the left Sony is 180 to the left and 90 to the right.
  • Recharge is silent though when on flash does make very quiet gigger-counter like noise if you put your ear to it.
  • Flash release is an swing level vs a button.. had to come up with a new way to grab the flash to remove it. Annoying but not much.
  • When Sony Zooms is shows you your distances covered on back.. Nissin does not. (there is a manual mode where it shows this. But in TTL the primary display is a flash based EVF you can dial in easily when shooting
  • The Flash stand is nice than the Sony.. has larger and has metal threads for light stand tripod
  • Zoom goes 105 to 24 mm drop down diffuser which would give you wider coverage but it is not assigned coverage number. On Sony 24-85 with 17mm drop down diffuser the flash knows this is down and will tell you its in 17mm mode and when you drop it the camera zooms to 24mm .. On the Nissin there is no sensor.. you can drop it down on any zoom setting and it will not warn you its down so its just lens like diffuser.

Quick tests exposure looked good. Color temp looks accurate might be a touch less warm than Sony.

Color LCD is low res, old looking for color LCD and slow refresh. It might give the feel of cheapening the flash but when I realize the ability it gives to run the flash in several modes and customize it. Outside of missing a good single view status like on LCDs I think it is a benefit.

Features

  • It supports HSS
  • Sony Wireless TTL
    Supports both the old and new Sony Wireless systems. When you switch the camera to wireless with the flash on it auto switches to the wireless control set on the flash screen. Nice!
  • Strobe
  • Modeling light
  • Sony run Auto mode
  • Two manual modes one that does 1/1 to 1/128 in 1/3 stop increments (Nice!) The other is uses manually entered in camera f-stop you set in and tells you the range that gives you. Like the old days
  • And is has a manual controlled mini front flash for fill and catch light when bouncing that has a diffuser built on that the user can set manually 1/1 to 1/128 power
  • Also has a little built in bounce card like expensive Sony flashes
  • It also supports a dumb optical slave mode so you could slave it to mono-lights or other flashes not using the Sony wireless
  • Battery compartment comes out, assume if you bought extras you could swap them fast its one piece with the cover lock.. Like it better than the tight door on the Sony.
  • USB for firmware updates..
  • PC sync cable plug
  • and external battery connector

I need to read some of the manual some more This is what I know after 45 minutes.

I am very impressed and for $159..its a steal I just ordered a 3rd one and will sell the Sony. This gives me three flashes for portrait setups with matching color temp and full 3 group Sony support.

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K.E.H. >> Shooting between raindrops in WA<<
Don't Panic!.. these are just opinions... go take some pictures..

--
K.E.H. >> Shooting between raindrops in WA<<
Don't Panic!.. these are just opinions... go take some pictures..

 K E Hoffman's gear list:K E Hoffman's gear list
Canon EOS 450D Nikon 1 J1 Sony a6500 Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +3 more
K E Hoffman's score
4.5
K E Hoffman
OP K E Hoffman Veteran Member • Posts: 5,103
Firmware Note Not sure if it needs update

I am still trying to figure this out.

There is supposed to be a FW update needed for recent SLT A77 etc. It was released 2 years ago.. but you know New Old Stock.. easy for them to have original FW

I have email Nissin directly about this...

The one I got today is

03.01.04.02  seems to be the one that needs an update for A77.. BUT Its working..

This says there most recent is xx.xx.06.03  But not sure what the other numbers mean

http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?from=&to=en&a=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nissin-japan.com%2Fcompatibilitychart.html

Word is you send it to them for $32 and they do it. Evidently this upgrade is not one the USB port can do..

HOWEVER..

So far the flash is working really well I have had it in Wireless mode (supposedly what was the problem)  I am doing HSS  WL with flash compensation and so far I think I like the Nissin exposure better than the Sony.   (going really kill my "Sony Fan boy" reputation)

I have email in.. At the $159 if I spend a few $$ for a FW update.. I am still happy..

From all I can tell except for that fancy pivot.. these things have the power and more features than the HVL58AM / 60M  For a fraction of the price.

If Nissin did a MI shoe version of this flash I would buy it.

When I have two I can test a two group set up with the HVL 56AM

When I have 3 I can test the 3 group set up.. with ratios etc

BTW I have been running some tests in my office not big.. but bouncing at ISO 100 so I am creating a 1-2 second recycle time.. I have not after running off several shots in a row been able to get an over heat issue..

-- hide signature --

K.E.H. >> Shooting between raindrops in WA<<
Don't Panic!.. these are just opinions... go take some pictures..

 K E Hoffman's gear list:K E Hoffman's gear list
Canon EOS 450D Nikon 1 J1 Sony a6500 Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +3 more
Bart7D
Bart7D Veteran Member • Posts: 4,445
Re: First impressions Review - Nissin Di866 MKII for Sony / Minolta Shoe

Good report Ken - thanks!

Been using it with a D700, and I can confirm all that you said. A great flash, and affordable as well

Bart

 Bart7D's gear list:Bart7D's gear list
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony SLT-A77 Sony Alpha a99 Sony a77 II +21 more
K E Hoffman
OP K E Hoffman Veteran Member • Posts: 5,103
Found the problem.. Took some searching and testing

The Nissin Di866Mk2 goes looney tunes when you try to use it as a controller..on the A77M2

I Set this flash up as a controller for the Old Two group system.. so I could try ratios with it and the HVL56AM

EVF goes dark.. and the WL / NO flash symbol starts blinking .. EVF doesn't know how to simulate the exposure.  Flash will fire sometimes but no useful exposure. then lock up.. had to pull the  battery  YIKES....

Sigh.. You take a risk..

So I expect I will be getting firmware updated. Maybe just one.. that would be the controller.

$500 for 3 flashes where new even now I would be paying $800-900 for HVL 58AMs and if you did this with HVL 60Ms you are at $1400+

The Key is.. I like the Nissin with the sub fill flash and the extra Manual and optical manual Slave modes MORE than the Sony feature wise.

When is this flash steal:

  • Used on Camera as a standlone unit
    With the sub flash you can do some traditional bounce with file and can also do better "black Foamy thing" shooting with a single flash. http://neilvn.com/tangents/the-black-foamie-thing/ because I can fill and create catch lights in the eyes with a single flash.
  • Used off camera as a Remote so far seems to work well

Where you might not like the deal.. (for what I wanted them for   Sony TTL wireless strobist light stand set ups if you want to use it as a controller.

I will try some shots with my tonight and post the results.

-- hide signature --

K.E.H. >> Shooting between raindrops in WA<<
Don't Panic!.. these are just opinions... go take some pictures..

 K E Hoffman's gear list:K E Hoffman's gear list
Canon EOS 450D Nikon 1 J1 Sony a6500 Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +3 more
K E Hoffman
OP K E Hoffman Veteran Member • Posts: 5,103
Samples using subflash More flashes need this
1

I honestly don't know why so few flashes offer this feature. Always wanted it but Metz was so expensive. Here is an example using my daughter..

These are out of the camera jpgs that with this flash have a really nice color to them.

both are with the Flash rotated 90 to the left. I am trying not to get much light on the Christmas tree, using slow shutter etc.

First Two are just the bounce only ..

2nd two are with the dub flash set to between 1/128 and 1/64 so you have plenty of power to fill flash a group shot etc.

No Sub Flash, main flash pointing up and left

No Sub Flash, main flash pointing up and left

Flash up to left but with sub flash fill I think this is 1/128 power

Flash up to left but with sub flash fill I think this is 1/64 power

-- hide signature --

K.E.H. >> Shooting between raindrops in WA<<
Don't Panic!.. these are just opinions... go take some pictures..

 K E Hoffman's gear list:K E Hoffman's gear list
Canon EOS 450D Nikon 1 J1 Sony a6500 Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +3 more
artlmntl Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
Re: Firmware Note Not sure if it needs update
1

It's a very good flash, Ken. I've been using mine for a couple years, but I only ever use it on the camera. You probably do need the update for the A77II. I didn't for the A57, and I'm sure it would also be fine with an A65 or A77. Also, you can overheat it if you crank it up to max output and you fire it a lot. That has happened once or twice when I wanted more light for the bounce. With normal or reduced settings, it's fine. Glad I'm not the only one who likes it.

-- hide signature --

Hunter

K E Hoffman
OP K E Hoffman Veteran Member • Posts: 5,103
Re: Firmware Note Not sure if it needs update

artlmntl wrote:

It's a very good flash, Ken. I've been using mine for a couple years, but I only ever use it on the camera. You probably do need the update for the A77II. I didn't for the A57, and I'm sure it would also be fine with an A65 or A77. Also, you can overheat it if you crank it up to max output and you fire it a lot. That has happened once or twice when I wanted more light for the bounce. With normal or reduced settings, it's fine. Glad I'm not the only one who likes it.

I bough 3 to create a portable lower cost studio set up.. So I will have to do at least one FW update to get the control function working..

-- hide signature --

K.E.H. >> Shooting between raindrops in WA<<
Don't Panic!.. these are just opinions... go take some pictures..

 K E Hoffman's gear list:K E Hoffman's gear list
Canon EOS 450D Nikon 1 J1 Sony a6500 Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +3 more
IanML Senior Member • Posts: 1,654
Re: Firmware Note Not sure if it needs update
1

It's one thing if you bought the flash before the upgrade was developed, but I think, in your case, the upgrade should be free - they sold you an outdated copy.

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Ian

 IanML's gear list:IanML's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V Sony RX10 IV Sony SLT-A33 Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony a77 II +1 more
artlmntl Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
Re: Firmware Note Not sure if it needs update

IanML wrote:

It's one thing if you bought the flash before the upgrade was developed, but I think, in your case, the upgrade should be free - they sold you an outdated copy.

I agree, they really should do the update for free. Also, the chart still shows update required for the A99. That's weird!

http://www.nissindigital.com/download.html#compatibilitychart

-- hide signature --

Hunter

K E Hoffman
OP K E Hoffman Veteran Member • Posts: 5,103
Re: Firmware Note Not sure if it needs update

IanML wrote:

It's one thing if you bought the flash before the upgrade was developed, but I think, in your case, the upgrade should be free - they sold you an outdated copy.

Keep in mind I got it from an overseas seller selling new old stock.. for a fantastic price.. this is maybe part of why the flashes are left over.   Us distributor who manages the warranty will likely not do free service for flashes from another region and I am not sending my flash back to Malaysia.. for the price I got.. no worried a bout a few $$ to get one updated.

I will wait and see what the FW version is for all three.. then contact them

-- hide signature --

K.E.H. >> Shooting between raindrops in WA<<
Don't Panic!.. these are just opinions... go take some pictures..

 K E Hoffman's gear list:K E Hoffman's gear list
Canon EOS 450D Nikon 1 J1 Sony a6500 Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +3 more
artlmntl Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
Re: Firmware Note Not sure if it needs update

K E Hoffman wrote:

IanML wrote:

It's one thing if you bought the flash before the upgrade was developed, but I think, in your case, the upgrade should be free - they sold you an outdated copy.

Keep in mind I got it from an overseas seller selling new old stock.. for a fantastic price.. this is maybe part of why the flashes are left over. Us distributor who manages the warranty will likely not do free service for flashes from another region and I am not sending my flash back to Malaysia.. for the price I got.. no worried a bout a few $$ to get one updated.

I will wait and see what the FW version is for all three.. then contact them

When you put it that way... You probably have to pay the fee. It would be nicer if we could do those things on a download, though.

-- hide signature --

Hunter

K E Hoffman
OP K E Hoffman Veteran Member • Posts: 5,103
Re: Firmware Note Not sure if it needs update

artlmntl wrote:

K E Hoffman wrote:

IanML wrote:

It's one thing if you bought the flash before the upgrade was developed, but I think, in your case, the upgrade should be free - they sold you an outdated copy.

Keep in mind I got it from an overseas seller selling new old stock.. for a fantastic price.. this is maybe part of why the flashes are left over. Us distributor who manages the warranty will likely not do free service for flashes from another region and I am not sending my flash back to Malaysia.. for the price I got.. no worried a bout a few $$ to get one updated.

I will wait and see what the FW version is for all three.. then contact them

When you put it that way... You probably have to pay the fee. It would be nicer if we could do those things on a download, though.

Yup I thought that was a feature.. this upgrade is at the CPU level they said, its fast but needs an device only service centers have.

-- hide signature --

K.E.H. >> Shooting between raindrops in WA<<
Don't Panic!.. these are just opinions... go take some pictures..

 K E Hoffman's gear list:K E Hoffman's gear list
Canon EOS 450D Nikon 1 J1 Sony a6500 Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +3 more
Alcibiades New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Samples using subflash More flashes need this

Hello K E Hoffman
Have you done this FW update? I have two nissin di866 mark II for my Sony a77ii. I have same issue when trying use one as on camera controller. I wonder if the FW update can resolve this problem.

 Alcibiades's gear list:Alcibiades's gear list
Sony SLT-A57 Sony a77 II Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM
Mr Spocko Regular Member • Posts: 434
Re: Samples using subflash More flashes need this

Does it support Wireless HSS? And master control

thanks

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LLAP

K E Hoffman
OP K E Hoffman Veteran Member • Posts: 5,103
Re: Samples using subflash More flashes need this

Mr Spocko wrote:

Does it support Wireless HSS? And master control

thanks

Yes and Yes.. control for both the old Minolta system and the new Sony

Only caveat in wireless use is for non-HSS shooting you need EFC shutter to off.

On camera they work like of not better than the Sony ...

-- hide signature --

K.E.H. >> Shooting between raindrops in WA<<
Don't Panic!.. these are just opinions... go take some pictures..

 K E Hoffman's gear list:K E Hoffman's gear list
Canon EOS 450D Nikon 1 J1 Sony a6500 Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +3 more
carljervis Senior Member • Posts: 1,000
Re: Samples using subflash More flashes need this
1

I have to agree on the bargain factor of the Nissin.

Had mine for 18-24 months now and it's replaced my pair of f42s as a take everywhere flash. Works seamlessly with my A200/A55 and A77 in all modes including wireless hss - try telling canikon owners that your entry level kit does wireless and high speed synch without add on expense!

It's powerful, certainly over and above what the budget would normally get you from first parties and while you can reduce power, you can't increase power so the GN is welcome.

Carl

HapK
HapK Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Found the problem.. Took some searching and testing

I just bought the Di866 Mkii on Amazon. Within 24 hours it has gone from freezing and going into a coma to not being able to flash, not even a pilot button test flash. Pulling the new fresh batteries allowed it wake from coma, but nothing helps with the no flash issue.

The unit I have has this firmware number 03.01.06.03. From searching widely (including forums in German & Italian), this seems to be the current firmware. Does anyone on dpreview know of a later version. So far I can't get any info out of Nissin or Amazon. There are very few actual use reviews anywhere.

I looked online at Nissin for an update download link, but it says the available download is not for the  Mkii.

This unit has many features that I like. But if the product line is unreliable & not just my unit, then I won't get a replacement.

Hoping to hear from others using the Nissin Di866 Mkii whether it is worth persevering. Is there an  update out there that will help or is this product too problem ridden.

Thanks, Kiernan

ps I own the Nissin i40. I have had no problems with it.

 HapK's gear list:HapK's gear list
Canon EOS 6D Sony a77 II Canon EOS 7D Mark II Sony a7 II Sony a7 III +4 more
HapK
HapK Junior Member • Posts: 27
in case anyone else has the questions I had about Nissin Di 866 Mkii

Update to my previous post: I just found out that the Nissin Di866mkii flash unit that I just bought from Amazon as brand new, is anything but. At best it's old new stock. The main Nissin distributer in the U.S. helped me find out that my unit was manufactured in June 2011. It is grey market. The seller on Amazon is unauthorized by Nissin, so there is no warranty. There's also no Firmware update available, which of course it desperately needs, because Nissin stopped making the Sony Mkii mode  a couple years ago. lT should have  FW #03.01.08.04, instead it has 03.01.06.03.

Buyer beware. It is interesting that the Nissin site still says that they make the Di866mkii for the Sony. The was a surprise to the U.S. Rep. That have not removed Sony from the page. He says they can try to remind Nissin to change their product info page, but that doesn't mean they will.

There's little info on the web about the Di866 Mkii other than "puff pieces" so in case anyone else has bought one that is not working as expected or is thinking of buying the unit, I've added what little I know. Mine died within 24 hours of delivery. Amazon has already refunded my money.

Any suggestions for the best flash for Sony A77ii? I mostly shoot herons & hummingbirds. The herons at local ponds, the hummingbirds in my garden with towering firs and dappled shade/sunlight here in Oregon. I want a good strong flash that does High Speed Sync. The herons often have the sun or bright sky/water behind them even when sitting motionless. The trees and weeds surrounding them are of course blowing in the breeze.

I will be using a Better Beamer Flash Extender.

thanks

 HapK's gear list:HapK's gear list
Canon EOS 6D Sony a77 II Canon EOS 7D Mark II Sony a7 II Sony a7 III +4 more
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