Comparison of current strobist flashes – I
Through this article in the blog I want to address a comparison of flashes of current strobist because some of you have asked me via e-mail previously.
The main problem when choosing a strobist flash is not the price, nor the availability, nor is usually a determining reason the number of functions available. The problems that some amateur and / or amateur photographers encounter when choosing a strobist flash is usually disinformation or ignorance.
For this reason I show collaborator when you ask me via email about which flash to buy. If we think about it coldly, to argue the purchase of a flash is a relatively complex subject while entertaining. In short, time that rest to other tasks.
With this comparison of cobra-type flashes I intend to clarify concepts to keep in mind so that you can match your compulsive buyer’s sense of smell. Let’s see if I get it.
However, before starting, I would like to tell you that it is not so much the flash but the strobist accessories that will help you create creative illuminated photographs, or not. Do not worry, we take this bull by the horns another day.
What do you want to achieve with your flash?
It is important to reflect on what you want to achieve with the flash in question. A manual flash can never work in automatic or TTL mode.
A strobist flash with a minimum zoom above 18mm will not expose the edges of a photo taken with a wide-angle lens, a Tamron 10-24mm for example.
Are you interested in exposure mode with Multi flash or strobe mode?
What power or guide number do you need? At what distance from the object will you find yourself?
Do you find it interesting to have a flash that covers 180 or 200 mm? Seriously? Personally, I have never exhibited a flash photograph at that focal length. I love triggers .
Do you have to use it in sessions where you make so many shots that it would be advisable to use external power? You could also use this connection plug for external power to reduce flash recycling time.
If you are looking for a flash with master flash function that allows you to synchronize wirelessly other delegated units in wireless slave mode, you will be an advanced user and you will need a flash with advanced functions.
The Metz 52 AF-1 flash covers this and other advanced features, is also controlled by a touch screen and has a size similar to the Canon 430EX-II surpassing this in functions and power.
To make matters worse you can buy the Metz 52 AF-1 and go for a pizza for the price of the Canon 430 EX-II. Tempting, right?
Based on all the above and taking into account that you can be even more confused that before starting to read we will simplify things a bit, or at least try.
For this I will try to simplify strobist flashes in three groups , in this article I will do it this way, while in those that are to come we will expand the groups based on the functions.
Flashes with basic functions:
In this group we will type all the economic flashes or not whose functions are basic. So it will be the group of basic strobist flashes . The objective of this article is not to review all the options available in the market but to compare some of them.
The functions and characteristics may vary depending on the manufacturer of the flash, however we could say that this will be the low range of the flashes manufactured by each brand. Let’s see some of them:
Basic flashes from Japanese or European manufacturers:
Nissin Di 466 The Nissin Di 466 flash includes 4 flash modes. TTL flash, manual flash and optical slave in S1 and S2 modes. Despite being a basic flash Nissin already incorporates the functions of optical slave. It does not work at high speed HSS. Canon Speedlite 270 EX-II This basic Canon flash can work in ETTL and ETTL-II mode. You can also do it in slave mode. The advantage over the previous one is that it works in HSS mode. Nikon SB N-7: The Nikon SB N-7 is similar to the previous Canon flash. It allows to be used in i-TTL mode and in manual mode. The manufacturer does not specify if it can be synchronized in HSS mode. Metz 24 AF-1 Digital: The Metz 24 AF-1 is the most basic flash of Mecablitz. The advantage over the previous 3 is Metz’s own continuous flashing system that acts as modeling light.
Basic flashes from Chinese manufacturers:
Yongnuo YN 460 II: The YN 460 II flash works only in manual mode. The advantage offered against the previous flash is the price. However, it does not allow working in TTL mode. Yongnuo YN 468 II: This Yongnuo flash is the most economical of this manufacturer that incorporates TTL mode . The advantage over Japanese flashes is the price. But it also includes a feature of mid-range / advanced flashes. It is the strobe flash function . It also has synchronization in optical slave mode S1 and S2. Yongnuo 560EX: The Yongnuo YN 560EX is above all the previous ones considering that it is a flash developed to be used in a different way to the previous ones. On the one hand, the contact of the shoe based on a single pin makes this flash compatible with all brands. On the other hand, in wireless slave mode it can be used in ETTL, ETTL-II and i-TTL mode . It can also be synchronized in optical modes S1 and S2. Includes advanced flash multi function or strobe.
Flashes of mid-range strobist:
The group of flashes of mid-range strobist is much more complicated as some manufacturers differ sharply in the functions offered by their flashes. We have a European and Japanese manufacturer that includes features of advanced flashes in this range and not to mention the Chinese manufacturers. The manufacturers of Chinese flashes are willing to break the market especially in this range of flashes .
So remarkable is this fact that Nikon has released the SB-700, a flash that incorporates the master flash function. Metz already did it some time ago, improving the interface with the Metz 52 AF-1, which greatly simplifies the use.
Between this range and the previous one we find other flashes whose public is not so defined. We will be guided by the Japanese flashes.
Comparison of flashes – Metz 52 AF-1
Comparison of strobist flashes, in the image a photo of the Metz 52 AF-1 for Nikon made for a review published on this photo website © Sebastián Cueva.
Mid-range Japanese and European Flashes:
Flash Metz 52 AF-1 The Metz 52 AF-1 flash completely stands out from the competition in this sector. Not only offers all the functions of other manufacturers (except the Chinese) but also does it with a very advanced flash in TTL master mode. On the other hand it also offers Metz’s own function, the modeling light. Flash Canon 430 EX-II The Canon 430 EX-II flash includes all the functions of the average flash range. However, I find missing the strobe mode and the bracketing of the flash exposure. Some functions that I understand necessary in this range of flashes. On the other hand, a flash mounted on the camera’s shoe allows you to shoot slave flashes in Canon wireless mode or compatible with Canon, although it does not serve as master flash. Nikon SB-700: The Nikon SB-700 is a state-of-the-art flash. It already includes the master flash function and a few more mm than normal as far as zoom is concerned. All good in this flash except the maximum power. A guide number of basic flashes. Sigma EF 610 DG SUPER flash The sigma EF 610 DG Super has a higher power than previous flashes. Very superior to the SB-700, moderately superior to the 430 EX-II and not so superior to the Metz 52 AF-1 in this regard. On the other hand, it can not be used as a master flash, something that 2 of the previous flashes can. Nissin Di 700, Nissin Di 866 MK-II and Nissin Di622 MK-II: Nissin is the manufacturer of Japanese flashes that introduces more products in this range. On the one hand the Di 866 Mk-II that includes all the functions of the advanced flashes. On the other hand the Di 700 that is one step below his brother in some functions and one step above in others. Serious conflict when deciding on one or the other.
And something smaller in functions the Di622 MK-II, a flash that has been part of my backpack for quite some time, the best secondary flash to synchronize as a slave (wireless or optical) , 0 failures, always works, an SUV to which only The HSS is missing.
Mid-range flashes from Chinese manufacturers:
The market of Chinese flashes keeps growing. They seem to have the “how to”. Listing all the mid-range Chinese flashes becomes complicated as even mythical manufacturers such as Vivitar have gone “sell” flash units almost identical to some Chinese ones. The same thing has been done by other brands that do not sell reflex cameras. A good margin for companies with a certain prestige?
Do you sound the phrase all these products do the same Chinese? Well, it’s a personal opinion. There are dozens of models of mid-range flashes that seem to have come from the same belly. I change the keypad to this model, I include flash master to this other, and the latter I put a motorized zoom up to 180mm range.
Again, Yongnuo’s policy seems much more accurate, maybe because I’ve already tried a few flashes from this manufacturer. Although personally I think they are implementing improvements in each new model. This is the quality policy that I like. Especially the EX ranges up as they exceed the functions of mid-range flashes.
Yongnuo mid-range flashes:
Yongnuo YN 500EX: The YN 500 EX can operate in TTL slave mode, in manual mode, strobe mode, synchronizes to the 1st and 2nd curtain and has a GN 53 guide number, exactly like the Metz 52 AF-1. It is also possible to shoot it in optical slave (this is possible in all tested Yoginus). The only downside of this flash is the sensitivity of the buttons. Yongnuo YN 565 EX: The YN 565 EX is very similar to the previous one, just that it is a flash with a polygamous TTL. It is possible to trigger it in slave ETTL-II and i-TTL independently of the model that you have bought (Canon or Nikon). It also improves the amount of customizable functions and has a maximum guide number of 58. Yongnuo YN 568 EX and YN 568 EX-II: This flash is the flagship of Yongnuo. The EX version does not incorporate the Master flash mode but the EX-II version does incorporate it. The YN 568 EX-II has all the functions of Japanese flashes including the duality of Nikon’s own TTL slave mode and Canon’s own. A duality that seems fantastic to me.
High-end strobist flashes:
In subsequent articles we will see other flashes of strobist, not only talk about flashes of high-end strobist or very advanced functions but also try to provide more details about what are the functions and how they are used, or what they serve. It is understood that they are products intended for expert photographers so it is interesting to unmark them from the flashes mentioned in this blog article.
The purpose of this article and the following is to put a bit of order to this whole collection of flashes with fantastic and innumerable functions that sound like Chinese, especially if you are an inexperienced user in this type of product. On the other hand, if you have any questions about any of the topics mentioned in this article, please do not write me an email, I understand that it is much better to share those doubts and answers openly so that other people with the same doubts as yours can benefit.