Flashes are a necessary part of any photographer’s equipment- whether you want to highlight a moment during the day so its details peek out from the surface, or if there is an extensive need for it due to lack of luminosity. There is no need to question that, but our problem occurs when we think about buying one. With so many choices, how is one expected to choose and who guarantees the right choice will be made?
Not all flashes are suitable for all cameras- having that in mind, how do we know which are the best for a Nikon?
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The absolute best camera flash for Nikon
- 5 x 2.8 x 4.1 inches, 1.32 pounds
- Complete flash head positioning freedom
- Portable, versatile speedlight unit
- Wireless flash control
- Nikon’s Precision i-TTL flash control
- Hot Shoe and Wireless operation
Being the best flash for Nikon that it is, this is not one of those things you should use if you’re not a professional- simply because you do not have the need for it. Professionals, on the other hand, will find themselves wondering how they managed to take photographs without this flash by their side.
As we have come to notice, built-in bounce cards and a wide panel are a standard feature of Nikon. So of course, they are a part of this flash as well. You can use 4 alkaline, nickel metal hydride or lithium AA batteries. It’s light and very handy which makes it great and comfortable to use. Its recycle time is a remarkable 2.5 seconds.
As all experienced photographers will tell you, flashes match the outdoor light so there’s no need to do anything but snap photos while outside, but be wary while inside. If you do not match the flash color to the light of the ambient, the objects (including people) of your photographs won’t keep their natural colors.
An elegant solution for this problem is included with the flash at hand- hard plastic tungsten and fluorescent filters that pop over the flash.
Since you usually have to purchase a few handy toys to gain the full experience of using a flash separately, Nikon thought to rid you of that hassle by including various gadgets: Nikon Diffusion Dome SW-14H (It lets you use whacky lenses without any hot spots), Incandescent Filter SZ-3TN (which helps you with matching lights indoors), Fluorescent Filter SZ-3FL (especially great in rooms with fluorescent lighting), Speedlight Stand AS-22, Soft Case SS-700.
- Improved control interface
- Good continuous ability
- Little compatibility with film SLRs
- Higher MSRP
The second best aftermarket flash for Nikon
- 24-104mmm Auto Zoom Head
- 3 x 4 x 9 inches, 1.15 pounds
- Auto Rotate Color Display
- Wireless TTL Master
- Quick Load Battery Magazine
Even though Nikon didn’t come up with this one, it was still made to accommodate their cameras. It represents an improvement over its predecessor- the so-called “Mark I”. Some of these improvements include better Nikon adjusted sub-flash settings.
It has a metal flash foot instead of a plastic one which had been commonly used before, and this is a better choice because it allows you to connect it to all types of mounts. What really makes it a second best aftermarket flash for Nikon is that it is now able to combine wireless mode and high-speed sync mode, putting it well above other competitors, and just below Canon and Nikon.
The flash has a number of features you can play with, such as: a maximum guide number of 60 at 105mm zoom, digital TTL support, PC port, ability to fire with X-sync pin, 2 optical slave modes, auto zoom, wireless E-TTL / i-TTL, 8-step manual mode with 1/3 stop increments, the ability to update the firmware via USB, and finally, what might be the best of all- a fair amount of customization.
Of course, the flash will come with some accessories you would otherwise probably need to buy: the flash unit with official GN 40 (35mm), user manual on mini CD (38 pages long), a flash stand (with a metal tripod thread on the bottom and a pin hole in the shoe mount), 1-page quick reference guide (which quickly explains all the modes and settings), and a soft pouch.
- master mode, dedicated slave mode, 2 built-in optical slaves
- PC sync and external power pack connector
- the feature set very close to camera manufacturers’ flagship models
- high guide number – record setting at 35mm wide angle with GN 40 (meters)
- AF assist a bit simpler than Canon or Nikon pro flashes (despite dual-beam)
- lacks some less essential features e.g. sensor size zoom and allows fewer customization
- not the fastest recycling flash on the market
The Third best camera flash for Nikon
- High guide number of 50 with ISO 100/21
- HSS- high-speed synchronization
- Firmware update via integrated USB port
- Illuminated LCD display
- Metal foot with fast lock
The Metz 50 AF-1 has a very high level of TTl support which other competitors in the same range cannot compete with.
What makes it revolutionary is that it has a better wide range coverage- down to 12mm. The optical slave mode didn’t use to be a standard feature in this kind of flashes but that changed when the Metz 50 AF-1 appeared. You are also able to upgrade its firmware through a USB device, which allows you to enjoy having up-to-date equipment.
The one thing you might mind about this flash is that it has relatively few and considerably small buttons- but then again, this is a matter of personal preference. Some people like exploring all the different buttons, yet other find a plethora of them unnecessary and inconvenient.
A dual-beam is what you would like your flash to have because it provides better coverage of the camera’s sensors at the frame borders. Now, being the third best camera flash for Nikon, it only has a single-beam but that does not possess a problem because it’s equipped with a projected grid pattern, making it easy for the camera to focus even with no contrast.
This flash is more suitable for those who have a casual approach to photography or who just want to save a few bucks. Granted, it’s not super cheap but it’s a solid, mid-range flash that won’t be considered a waste. It is something to consider buying even if your camera is next-generation due to its high compatibility. Of course, for that price, it does not feature any accessories.
- compatible with latest gen flash exposure protocols: E-TTL II, i-TTL BL
- dedicated remote slave mode with wireless HSS
- good build quality, metal flash foot
- no master mode
- simpler AF-assist – single-LED design (but with pattern)
- doesn’t come with any accessories
The Fourth best external flash for Nikon
- AF illuminator
- Wireless off-camera control
- Red Eye Reduction
The best way to describe this flash is a worthy alternative to those fancy, super expensive flashes. It’s just perfect for everyday photographs which don’t demand a lot of professional equipment but which still deserve to look decent.
This is another commodity launched by Nissin but this time they took into account the people who like photography more as a hobby or who just aren’t willing to spend that much on a flash.
In this particular product, modeling light has been excluded, but that doesn’t really matter since everything you need to make the photos look good is still there and very much included. Unlike the one released before it, this flash contains a feature that allows you to wirelessly trigger within the system of the Nikon it is mounted on.
This is a quality that can be found in those top-notch flashes as well. And like all those other Nikon and Canon flashes, which are next to impossible to beat, the Nissin flash is so simple to use that not even beginners will have troubles with it. The movement of the head is solid, and there are clearly defined notches between steps. This would mean that the head is somewhat stiff, but do not fear- this is a good thing!
It comes with a few accessories to help you get acquainted with your new toy. These include the warranty, the instruction manual on a mini-CD, a flash stand, a quick reference card, and a soft bag in which to safely carry your new friend. Because the features are so corresponsive with the price, it was named the fourth best external flash for Nikon.
- Very powerful (official GN 32, but GN 37 in testing)
- 5 triggering options for wireless flash
- One of the lowest price flash with wireless TTL slave mode
- no modeling light
- no high-speed synchronization
- no manual zoom by default
The best budget flash for Nikon
- no bells or whistles
If you’re looking for a cheap flash that will get the job done, but won’t break or won’t need a replacement anytime soon, then look no further. Even though it comes at such a non-passable price, it doesn’t mean it is missing some key features which make it worth buying.
What other flash could you buy for that price and expect it to have an additional “M” mode for “Strobist”? Sure, this flash represents a Chinese alternative which should automatically mean that it’s prone to breaking or not working at all. It comes with a soft bag and it’s relatively small and easy to put away. Perhaps it even looks a little bit vintage which is an admirable virtue.
- additional manual mode with min power of 1/64 and all full stops
- super easy to use
- fully automatic flash photography with DSLR
- no optical slave mode
- weak AF assist light
These are some terms you should be familiar with before buying a flash.
TTL– Stands for “Through the lens” and is used for automatically determining the amount of light in the room. The camera measures the flash reflectance during exposures, but another option is that a pre-flash is sent out to measure the distance between the camera and object at task. It really doesn’t matter which method is used since both get the job done. There’s a slight possibility that these methods won’t work but only if the contrast is too big.
Radio transmitters– Most wireless systems are based on pre-flash or infrared signals which are sent out by the camera. Since the base is optical, the camera and flash must be in sight of each other, so if you want to take photographs that are out of line, it’s best to use radio transmitters. They basically ensure your work is well done under any circumstances. Widely available as both TTL and manual.
Flash sync– This is a feature every camera has, and it serves a means to set the speed shutter. So, you can use a slower shutter speed if you want to capture and increase ambient light, but be careful not to create motion blur. As opposed to that, you can use a faster speed, while being cautious to expose the whole image properly. A combination of the two lets you free motion more effectively.
Wireless flash– This basically means that you do not need any wires to operate the flash connected to your Nikon camera. This means your possibilities are endless- you can use many flashes to create interesting lights, or you can backlight the subject you’re taking a picture of, and of course, it allows you to move the flash from one side to another. Those are just some of the perks of new technology, which you are bound to enjoy as a photographer.
Manual flash– As opposed to the TTL, manual flash lets you set exposure by hand. Some photographers prefer to do this and it kind of does give you a personal print on all your photos, but then again, why torture yourself with adjusting everything on your own if there are models who do measure everything for you? Again, this would all be a matter of a personal preference. Either way, it’s good to know that almost all flashes will work with digital cameras in both modes.
Now that you’ve thoroughly read through all the best and cheapest options, and now that you’ve made friends with the Buyers Guide, you are ready to buy a flash that will meet all of your needs as a photographer. Hopefully, this list has been useful and worth sharing with your friends. Remember that photography is a noble occupation, be it just in your free time or as part of your career. How else would we keep our memories fresh to look back onto when we have nearly forgotten about them? Enjoy your new flash and good luck with making those special pictures!