Best Camera Flashes 2017 – Buyer’s Guide

If you want to take your photography to the next level, it is essential that you invest in an external camera flash.

An external flash is much more powerful than an on-board flash, allowing you to illuminate subjects that are further away. It also enables you to illuminate wider shots.

Most photographers who are dedicated to their art will purchase an external flash, because it can make a big difference in the quality of their photographs.

Here is a review of some of the best camera flashes that are currently available in the market.

Best External Flashes for All Cameras

ProductFlash ControlGuide Number 
Neewer TT560 Flash SpeedliteManual38Check Price
YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless FlashManual58Check Price
Powerextra Professional DF-400 SpeedliteManual33Check Price
Canon Speedlite 430EX II FlashTTL43Check Price
Altura Photo Professional Flash KitTTL68Check Price
Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight FlashTTL28Check Price
Altura Photo Studio Pro Flash KitTTL68Check Price
Sony HVLF43M High Power FlashTTL43Check Price

1. Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

  • Brand: NeewerNeewer TT560 Flash Speedlite
  • Compatibility: Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, and other DSLR cameras
  • Net weight: 0.63 lbs

The Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite is a great camera flash for amateur photographers. It has a vertical rotation angle of up to 90 degrees and a horizontal rotation angle of up to 270 degrees. As such, it is suitable for use in all kinds of environment.

It offers eight levels of power output control, which are indicated by eight LED sensors at the rear, as well as a test flash and mode selection. This unit runs on four AA batteries, and it is equipped with an integrated power-saving feature.

  • The Neewer TT560 may look cheap with its matte black hard plastic surface, but it can be durable if it is given proper care. Compared to other external flashes in the market, this flash is very affordable. It is also easy to operate, which makes it a suitable choice for beginner photographers. Although it is not loaded with the most advanced features, it provides all the core functionalities that you can expect from a beginner flash.
  •  The TT560 also has a tripod attachment, which is great for slave use. Overall, this camera flashlight offers good value for your money.
  • One thing that makes this unit not so beginner-friendly, however, is that it has to be adjusted manually in order to achieve the right flash settings. Then again, this is not difficult to figure out after some practice.

2. YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash

Brand: YONGNUOYONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash

Compatibility: Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, Panasonic, Fujifilm, and other digital cameras

Shipping weight: 1.2 lbs

The YONGNOU YN560 IV is equipped with a large LCD display screen. It offers a strong flash output, with a guide number of 58 at ISO 100 and 105mm, and it comes with an automatic zoom. The zoom range on this unit is 28mm to 105mm. Also, this flash has an incredible recycle rate. It is capable of producing three flashes in one second with low power, and one flash in about two seconds at full power. The YN560 IV features an integrated wireless transceiver, and it supports wireless master function, slave function, and multiple trigger synchronous mode. It also has a sound prompting system.

  • The YN560 IV is one of cheapest DSLR flashes available in the market, but it offers some features and capabilities that are only found in more expensive flashes, such as zoom function. It is relatively easy to use, and it is suitable for you if you are just starting to use external flashes.
  • This camera flash is not made of highly durable materials, and it may not last as long as higher-end flashes. Another disadvantage of the YN560 IV is that it is purely manual. This means that it is unable to receive exposure information from your camera and automatically adjust flash output. While this can be seen as a disadvantage, some photographers prefer to use manual flash. Also, this external flash does not have high-speed sync.

3. Powerextra Professional DF-400 Speedlite

Brand: PowerextraPowerextra Professional DF-400 Speedlite

Compatibility: Canon, Nikon, Samsung, Pentax, Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifil, Sigma, Leica, Ricoh, Minolta, single-contact hotshoe digital cameras, and DSLR cameras

Shipping weight: 0.96 lbs

The Powerextra Professional DF-400 has a flash guide number of 33 at ISO 100/1m, and it provides eight levels of power output control, which are represented by eight LED lamps. The head of this camera flashlight is capable of rotating vertically from 0 to 90 degrees and horizontally from 0 to 270 degrees. It has a flash recycle time of approximately three seconds, and it features automatic shutdown function for saving power, automatic save function, test flash, and a PC port. It uses four AA batteries, and it comes with a mini stand and protective bag.

The DF-400 offers three different modes for you to choose from, which are:

M mode – This mode enables you to adjust the brightness of the flash according to your preference.

S1 mode – If you choose this mode, flash will be triggered with the main speedlight. You have to set the main speedlight to manual flash mode, without using TTL flash system or red-eye removal system.

S2 mode – This mode is the same as S1 mode, except that it can be used with TTL flash system. If S1 mode cannot flash synchronously with built-in speedlight, try switching to S2 mode.

  • The Powerextra Professional DF-400 is highly sought after by beginner photographers because it is inexpensive and easy to use.
  • It does not offer some of the more advanced features that are found in other camera flashes. Also, it is big compared to other flashes, and it looks like it is made of cheap materials. Still, this unit gives you more than your money’s worth.

Best Camera Flashes for Canon DLSRs

4. Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash

Brand: CanonCanon Speedlite 430EX II Flash

Compatibility: Canon DSLR cameras

Shipping weight: 1.1 lbs

The Canon Speedlite 430EX II is the successor of the Speedlite 430EX, and it is one of Canon’s mid-range DSLR flashes. It offers a very powerful flash that is rated at a guide number of 34, which is close to professional level. It is able to support all of Canon’s latest flash features, including sensor size zoom, high speed sync, and others. Some of the great features that are available in this unit are ETTL II flash metering, 24mm-105mm auto zoom, full flash control, AF assist, and one-touch quick-lock mechanism. The 430EX II also has a wireless TTL slave function with three groups and four channels.

  • The Speedlite 430EX II is made of very durable materials, and it comes with a sturdy metal foot that provides extra strength. It has everything that is expected to be found in an accessory flash. It gives you excellent range, and it can work in every camera mode with all the different shutter speeds of a camera. Its ETTL II flash exposure system automatically adjusts everything, from flash strength to flash reflector zoom.
  • There are a number of important things that were left out of this camera flash, such as wireless commander mode, PC sync port, and external power supply. These features are very common these days, and they are available in camera flashes that are much cheaper than the 430EX II.

5. Altura Photo Professional Flash Kit

Altura Photo Professional Flash Kit

Brand: Altura

Compatibility: Canon DSLR cameras

Shipping weight: 1.35 lbs

The Altura Photo Professional Flash Kit consists of an Altura Photo AP-C101 Speedlite camera flash, wireless flash trigger set with one transmitter and one receiver, hard flash diffuser, protective pouch, and MagicFiber lens cleaning cloth. The Altura Photo AP-C101 Speedlite has a large backlit LCD display screen, and it syncs with the camera to display zoom, aperture, and other settings. This unit gives you very powerful flash performance with a guide number of 68m, as well as an ultra fast four-second recycling time. It features a 180-degree swivel and zoom head and provides a seven-step zoom range of 24mm to 105mm. The AP-C101 has several different modes, including TTL mode, manual mode, strobe mode, slave1 mode, and slave 2 mode.

  • The Altura Photo Professional Flash Kit is very reasonably-priced, and it can be a great buy for amateur photographers as well as aspiring professionals. It does not disappoint in terms of performance, and it offers very good range. It also communicates very well with the camera. Another good thing about this flash is that it offers better power consumption than many other DSLR flashes in the market. This ensures that you will rarely miss important shots.
  • One drawback about this camera flashlight is that it switches into standby mode too quickly. Also, its TTL may not be as efficient in exposing shots as those found in higher-end camera flashes.

Best Camera Flashes for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

6. Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash

Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash

Brand: Nikon

Compatibility: Nikon DSLR cameras

Shipping Weight: 1.32 lbs

The Nikon SB-700 is a medium-sized camera flash that has a flash output with a guide number of 28 at ISO 100. It offers recycle times of 2.5 seconds with alkaline batteries and 3.5 seconds with lithium. Its head can be tilted at an angle of -7 to 90 degrees and rotated 180 degrees. This unit comes with a sensor that enables it to work with other flashes wirelessly, and it features remote commander, infrared AF assist lamp, FP sync, no-regular-TTL mode, and no-A mode. It has three modes for you to choose from, namely, iTTL, manual, and GN.

  • The SB-700 offers some useful interface upgrades, and it is a good all-around performer. It has a faster recycling time than its predecessor, the SB-600. Also, this camera flashlight is able to read filter types and send data to your camera.
  • The SB-700 is quite costly, and it is specially designed for newer Nikon cameras only. Its guide number is relatively low, considering that it is a high-end camera flash. Some of the features and capabilities that are found in this flash can be considered fluff. For instance, its firmware updates are quite useless, because you can update the firmware yourself. Also, it has approximately the same light pattern range as any other camera flash in the market.

7. Altura Photo Studio Pro Flash Kit

Altura Photo Studio Pro Flash Kit

Brand: Altura

Compatibility: Nikon DSLR

Shipping weight: 2.6 lbs

The Altura Photo Studio Pro Flash Kit includes two Altura Photo AP-N1001 Speedlite flashes, two hard flash diffusers, wireless flash trigger set with one transmitter and two receivers, camera trigger for CableNote, and two protective pouches. The AP-N1001 provides excellent flash performance rated at a guide number of 68m, and its recycling time is four seconds. It is a dedicated camera flashlight that can work in both manual and automatic modes. It comes with a sizeable backlit display that is clear and easy to view. This flash has a flash coverage distance scale, as well as an optical sensor that enables off-camera flash. The wireless flash trigger set that is included in the kit offers remote shutter function. It has an operating distance of up to 100 feet and a flash sync speed of up to 1/250 seconds.

  • The Altura Photo AP-N101 Speedlite camera flash may be a low-priced flash, but it can work as well as some of the more expensive DSLR flashes. Its large LED display makes it easy for you to change settings, but it may take some time for you to figure out the configurations. Another good thing about this flash is that it can be adjusted manually in very small power increments.
  • Overall, the AP-N1001 is not the most user-friendly camera flash. However, if you can spend some time playing with it and getting familiar with the settings, you will find that it is a great addition to your photography equipment.

Best Camera Flash for Sony Digital SLR Cameras

8. Sony HVLF43M High Power Flash

Sony HVLF43M High Power Flash

Brand: Sony

Compatibility: Sony DSLR cameras

Shipping weight: 1.5 lbs

The Sony HVLF43M High Power flash is one of the most powerful camera flashes in the market. It boasts a guide number of 141 at ISO 100 and a zoom head that offers a range of 24mm to 105mm. Its auto zoom function can identify and adjust according to sensor size. Some of the excellent features that this unit offers include Quick Shift Bounce system, wireless TTL ratio control, complete ADI/P-TTL support, and Advance Distance Integration flash metering. The Quick Shift Bounce system allows 90-degree pivot both right and left to keep the flash head properly oriented. The head can be tilted from -8 degrees to 150 degrees. The HVLF43M also provides 10 levels of power output control, power saving mode, and battery life for 200 to 250 flashes.

  • The HVLF43M is made of very durable materials, and it is moisture and dust resistant. As such, you can expect it to last a very long time. It has most of the features that are available in other camera flashes, plus a few innovative ones of its own. Although it is comparatively expensive, it is a worthwhile investment.
  •  You may find that the bounce indicator will only show on downward bounce, but not in an “up” position. Also, the flash may fire even when it is not sufficiently charged. As such, you should take a look at the charge indicator before you shoot.

Camera Flash Buying Guide

If you are a beginner photographer, you may have a difficult time choosing a camera flash. There are so many options available for you to choose from, and each flash has its own set of features and functions. This can be confusing if you do not understand the technical terms that are related to camera flash. However, it is essential that you learn more about flashes if you do not want to make the wrong choice. Here are some tips that can help you select the right camera flash.

1. What Does TTL Mean?

You will see this abbreviation a lot when you are reading about camera flashes. TTL means “through the lens”. It refers to a camera’s ability to automatically communicate and control the flash settings. With the use of a pre-flash, it identifies and measures certain variables that will determine the amount of power that will be thrown off by the actual flash.

2. Is Manual Mode Important?

This largely depends on personal preference. If you want full control and get the best out of your camera flash, it is a good idea to switch to manual mode. Manual mode also enables you to use a flash of any brand with a camera of any brand with a standard hotshoe. Shooting in manual mode requires more skill, but it can improve your overall proficiency as a photographer.

3. What is Recycle Time?

High recycle time means that you can fire your flash more rapidly. This is especially important if you are a quick shooter, or when you are trying to shoot action sequences. If you want to increase recycle time, you should consider using nickel-metal hybride batteries. These batteries are also less harmful to the environment. Some camera flashes have higher recycle times than others. If you need fast recycle time, you have to look for a flash that can meet your needs.

4. What are Guide Numbers?

A guide number is a number for calculating the range of a camera flash. To measure the range, you have to divide the guide number by f/stop. For instance, the guide number of the Nikon SB-910 is 34 meters. If you shoot at f4, you can figure out that the flash has an 8.5-meter range. Guide numbers can be shown in feet or meters, so you have to make sure that you get the right measurement when you are finding out the specs of a camera flash.

5. Importance of Flexibility

One of the disadvantages of using a built-in flash is that it cannot be directed at any direction other than the one the camera is facing. If the camera flash you wish to buy has a head that cannot be tilted or turned, you should consider getting something else. A flash that is not flexible is the same as a built-in flash, and therefore, it is just a waste of money. Flexibility can vary greatly from one camera flash to another. Choose according to your photography needs.

6. Wireless

There are basically three options for strobing wireless. Firstly, you can get a camera flash that has an optical trigger and use it with any camera that supports optical triggers. This will require you to sacrifice its TTL ability. Secondly, you can preserve TTL capabilities by getting a flash that is compatible with your camera. Alternatively, use Pocket Wizards and mix and match different flashes with different cameras without giving up TTL.

7. Temperature Control

When they are used extensively, camera flashes can become hot. Some units may shut down or operate at a lower power when this happens. When you are buying a flash unit, make sure you choose one that has good temperature control. This is especially important if you plan to use the flash to shoot for long hours.

8. Durability

Similar to a light bulb, a flash will burn out after some time. As such, it is essential that you find out about the longevity of a flash before you buy it. Camera flashes that can last a long time are typically more expensive, but it is possible to find some cheaper flashes that are moderately durable. Read reviews from users to get a better idea of the durability of different models of camera flashes.

9. Functions and Features

Different camera flashes have different sets of functions and features. If you want advanced features such as multi-flash for quick burst shooting or modeling lights, you have to be prepared to pay more. Choose functions and features that are required for the types of photographs that you will be shooting. It is pointless to pay more for features that you do not need.

After you learn more about camera flashes and do some comparison shopping, you will realize that flashes are mostly fairly priced. Flashes that are expensive are usually more durable and have more advanced features, while cheaper flashes are more basic and less resistant to wear and tear. Since a flash is an important device for a photographer, it is advisable that you invest in a higher quality flash that lasts longer. As long as you keep the abovementioned points in mind, you will be more successful in your search for the right camera flash.

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