Adventures in Off-Camera Flash

Speedlights shine with new features

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In the past few years, a big shift in the functionality of speedlights and strobes have taken place. Photographers who wanted to use wireless with their portable strobes had to cobble together external transmitters/receivers like Pocket Wizards to trigger their off-camera flashes.

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The big change came when Chinese manufactures like Godox and Yongnuo reverse engineered the TTL metering systems of Nikon and Canon speedlights. They added built-in wireless receivers, making the need for Pocket Wizards moot. Rapid development schedules proceeded to out-spec and undercut the price of the big camera manufacturers strobes by half or more. High-end strobe companies like Profoto jumped in too with their innovative wireless  AirTTL B1 and B2 systems

So why does is this matter?

Lately, the cost of entry into a wireless off-camera systems has fallen through the floor. When I was researching flash systems, I  was shocked at the price of the new Nikon SB5000 wireless speed light. At $600.00, plus the camera trigger for $200.00 more, the price just didn’t seem like a great value to me.

Instead,  I took a chance and ordered two Godox 860IIN speedlights for $200.00 apiece. The quality-built hot shoe trigger cost only $49.00! So for cost of one Nikon SB5000, I got two Godox TTL wireless speedlights and a trigger. Later, I added a slightly larger, but more powerful 200 watt-second Godox AD200 ($299.00) to my kit.

So what am I missing by not going with the Nikon? Not much as far as I can tell. The build quality is of the Godox is excellent. The Godox strobes also come with rechargable lithium ion batteries, which are a huge cost-saving. They last forever, and the recycle time is faster than the alkaline batteries the Nikon SB5000 uses.

Before I bought the Godox speedlights, the best I could do is use a long TTL cord tethered from my camera to the flash. Now I can quickly set up multiple speedlights and dial in the exposure of each right from the display on the hot shoe trigger.

The most powerful feature for me is the inclusion of high-speed sync. HSS allows me to shoot above my camera’s sync speed of 250th of a second. Depending on the lighting situations, I can shoot up to 8000th of sec.–turning ambient daylight into night. This feature also opens up creative possibilities, allowing photographers to use wider apertures with flash in their photos.

I have been using my Godox system trouble free for five-months now and have no regrets at not spending twice the money on a Nikon system.

 

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