Best Detachable Camera Flash

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Whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur taking pictures as a hobby, having the right equipment is essential. Outfitting your camera with a high-quality detachable camera flash can make all the difference in capturing great images.

What Are The Best Detachable Camera Flashes?

From built-in LEDs to adjustable settings, there are many options available. To help you decide, here’s my list of the best detachable camera flash options for photographers.

  1. Profoto A10  (Nikon)

    The Profoto A10 is an advanced studio light that produces smooth fall-off with its round flash head design. It is surprisingly lightweight and easy to use, with a large high-res display that makes controlling settings a breeze. It's also incredibly fast, with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that gives you lightning-quick flash recycling.

    Get global connectivity through its Bluetooth sync technology and smart compatibility with the Profoto app for iOS/Android. You can start shooting immediately with just one tap on your device’s screen. You can also choose between your flash and modeling light's auto or manual zoom capabilities. Using the laser AF-assist and LED modeling light, focusing becomes an effortless task even in low light conditions.

    The Profoto user interface is beautiful and easy to use. It's one of the most intuitive designs on the market.

    Note: This is the Nikon version. Make sure you get the version for your camera brand.

    • Excellent user interface
    • Small & lightweight
    • Works with Profoto app
    • Modeling light
    • Magnetic ring to attach accessories
    • Expensive
    • Off camera flash use requires Profoto trigger
    • The TTL switch and zoom control switch poorly placed on side of the flash is easy to change accidentally
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    03/15/2024 01:22 am GMT
  2. GODOX V1 Flash

    The GODOX V1 is a powerful flash perfect for on and off-camera use. A powerful Li-ion battery offers a recycling time of 1.5s and up to 480 full power pops. Additionally, the built-in 2.4G wireless transmission offers all-in-one functions and allows you to shoot from 100 meters away. The built-in intelligent magnetic mount makes it easy to click on and off or stack with other light modifiers.

    • The head rotates 120 degrees
    • Lithium-ion batteries
    • It has a modeling light
    • The round head creates a pleasing shape
    • More power than most small flashes
    • More expensive than Godox V860IIC
    • The controls feel flimsy
    • The Godox magnetic accessories are of poor quality. Get the MagMod system, instead
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  3. Godox V860III-N Flash for Nikon

    The Godox V860III is a powerful flash that is perfect for any photographer. You can easily pre-visualize your shots with a quick switch to TTL mode. The Godox 2.4g wireless X system provides reliable shooting with seamless connectivity. The upgraded Li-ion battery provides 1.5s recycling time and 480 full-power flashes. Zoom the flash head from 20mm to 200mm, and the swivel angle from 0° to 330° horizontally and from -7° to 120° vertically makes it easy to complete direct flash or bounce flash.

    IMPORTANT: This link is for the Nikon version. Make sure you choose the model that works for your camera's hot-shoe.

    • Inexpensive
    • Fast recycle time
    • Plenty of flashes per charge (Li-on battery)
    • Sony version has problems with hot shoe
    • Burst mode misses some frames
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  4. Canon Speedlite EL-1

    The Canon Speedlite EL-1 has a maximum guide number of 197 ft./60m at ISO 100. You know that you’re getting a flash head with an incredibly wide range of 24-200mm. You’ll also benefit from its improved recycling time (0.9 sec.) and number of flashes (335 times) thanks to the new rechargeable li-ion battery utilizing LC-E6 battery charger and active cooling system for thermal management.

    The Speedlite EL-1 is made with the same Dust- and Water-Resistance as the EOS-1D series, plus it has a newly designed high-durability glass flash tube.

    The Speedlite EL-1's 14-stop exposure range covers everything from 1/1 to 1/8192, so no lighting situation is too challenging. A handy LED modeling lamp and adjustable brightness let you easily control the look, as does its full swivel 180° with a bounce up to 120° capability and integrated catch light panel and wide panel. It even supports RT Series Flash products, enabling Wireless Second Curtain Sync.

    • Powerful and versatile
    • The interface is easy to use
    • Weather sealed
    • Fast recycle time
    • Built-in cooling system
    • Expensive
    • Large size
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  5. Nikon SB-700

    The Nikon SB-700 is a portable and versatile Speedlight unit that offers more power for greater depth of field control than the built-in flash. The effortless flash head positioning allows you to rotate, tilt and zoom for the right angle and intensity.

    Nikon’s precision i-TTL Flash Control ensures your photos always look great. Take advantage of the SB-700’s wireless flash control to adjust your settings from any angle quickly.

    Unlike the Nikon SB-5000, this flash doesn't pack a lot of needless technology that costs three times more.

    • Powered by 4 AA batteries
    • Works as a Commander for other flashes
    • Works with Nikon CLS
    • Created in 2010, it's getting outdated
    • No RF wireless communication
    • Recycle time is 2.3 seconds
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  6. Phottix Mitros+ TTL Flash

    The Phottix Mitros+ TTL Flash brings a lot to the table - from its built-in Odin Transmitter/Receiver and Canon E-TTL / E-TTL II compatibility to its wireless Master/Slave TTL functionality.

    The Mitros+ TTL Flash has an impressive zoom range of 24-105mm (14mm with Panel), so you’ll have no problem matching any focal length. It has a Guide Number of 58 meters / 190 feet at 105mm focal length, ISO 100, and power adjustments can be made in 1/3-stop steps. Its head rotates 180 degrees to the left and right and tilts from -7 to 90 degrees.

    It fully supports all optical wireless features developed by Canon and is compatible with the popular Phottix Odin radio triggers.

    • Thermal protection performance is very impressive
    • Menu is easy to understand
    • Durable build quality
    • Comparable power to Canon & Nikon flashes
    • Can get hot when pushed hard enough
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  7. Yongnuo YN-560 IV Flash

    The YN-560 IV is a low-cost flash that covers more bases than you would expect for its price point.

    It provides an impressive GN58 @ ISO100.

    A powerful Wireless Master Function allows you to control its settings from multiple locations easily. It also supports YN560-TX, RF-603, and RF-602 Wireless transmitters, so you can use whichever works best for your needs.

    Using the Multiple Trigger Synchronous Mode capability, you can now set each group independently and control the respective modes, outputs, and focal lengths of different Yongnuo flashes from afar.

    This model’s custom settings are automatically saved and quickly recalled when you fire up the flash again.

    • Very inexpensive
    • Works as master to control other YN flashes
    • Easy to use
    • Great starter flash
    • Batteries won't last long
    • Build quality is weak
    • No HSS
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What is a Detachable Camera Flash?

Best Detachable Camera Flash - Off Camera Flash

A detachable camera flash, also known as a speedlight, is a portable flash device that can be attached to the top or side of a digital camera. It offers the photographer advantages such as:

  • extra creative lighting options
  • faster shutter speeds
  • improved photo quality

A detachable camera flash can also provide an even and balanced light source for better accuracy in capturing images.

A detachable camera flash offers many benefits compared to the camera’s built-in flash.

You can change the flash output or use directional flash. A powerful detachable camera flash also offers a horizontal rotation angle to bounce light off a wall or reflector, emulating natural lighting conditions.

Detachable camera flashes are tools that belong in every camera bag. You get more flash output using detachable flashes compared to the built-in flash.

You can also create a multi-flash lighting setup, such as cross-lighting for portraits or covering a dance floor at a wedding so the photographer can move around and rely upon wireless trigger functionality to have remote control of the flash kit.

Criteria to Consider When Purchasing a Detachable Camera Flash

When shopping for a detachable camera flash, several key criteria exist. Factors such as mount type, guide number, flash zoom or head swivel, recycle time, external battery pack support, and TTL capability should be considered when looking for the most suitable device.

Understanding these features can help you choose the right speedlight for your needs and budget.

1: Type of Mount

Check the camera’s hot shoe mount and ensure it is compatible with the flash unit. Typically, this is as simple as checking to ensure the version of the external flash works with your mirrorless or DSLR camera brand.

Most flash units are brand specific. Vendor models like the Nikon SB 700 AF speedlight only work with Nikon cameras. Third-party flash products, like Godox, have different versions of the same flash to ensure it’s compatible with the hot shoe of each camera brand that it supports.

2: Guide Number

In flash photography, the guide number (GN) measures the power of a camera’s flash. Specifically, it represents how far the light from the flash will travel to illuminate an object.

Higher guide numbers generally indicate more powerful flashes that can reach objects further away. Guide numbers are usually expressed in a combination of distance and aperture value.

For example, if a specific flash has a GN of 40 at ISO 100, it means that the flash will provide enough illumination for an object standing 40 feet away if the aperture is set to f/4.0.

A guide number can be used with different apertures to determine the distance of an object that a camera’s flash can illuminate.

The same object could be illuminated up to 56.7 feet away if the aperture was changed to f/2.8. Changing the aperture setting in conjunction with the guide number makes it possible to adjust how far a given camera’s flash can illuminate objects.

The formula to calculate a guide number with a specific aperture is:

GN = Distance x Aperture (in f-stops)

For example, if the distance is 10 meters and the aperture is set to f/2.8, then the GN would be 28 (10 x 2.8).

3: Flash Zoom or Head Swivel

The ability to adjust the direction of light helps when shooting in tight spaces or creating lighting effects.

Flash zoom merely changes the spread of light from the flash unit. Zooming your camera flash doesn’t change the flash power. It just changes how the light gets distributed, from wide to narrow.

By tilting the head up or down, you can reduce shadows cast on background objects and avoid unwanted reflections in surfaces such as glass or water. Perhaps more importantly, moving the head can allow you to bounce light off a large surface or reflector to change the quality of light on your subject.

4: Recycle Time

This measures how long it takes for the flash to recharge once it has been fired. Shorter recycle times are better as they allow you to take more pictures in a shorter amount of time.

Most camera flashes can have a high-speed recycling system when used in low-power settings. Recycling is easier when you use less power, and the flash duration is shorter.

The trick is to have a fast recycling time when used at full power. In many cases, the type of battery you use affects the recycling time.

Nickel–metal hydride rechargeable batteries offer better battery life and recycle times than the standard alkaline batteries you find at the supermarket.

5: External Battery Pack Support

Some devices can be powered by an external battery pack, providing an additional power source.

While this may be cumbersome for on-camera flash, it’s perfect for off-camera flash use. Mounting an off-camera flash on a light stand is a great place to use an external battery pack.

6: TTL Capability

Through-the-Lens (TTL) flashes offer greater automatic control, allowing for faster and easier operation settings than manual settings on most cameras without a built-in TTL flash system.

Some photographers love TTL, and others don’t. TTL changes with each exposure so that you may get inconsistent flash power with each shot.

One of the flash features to help make the most of this situation is the ability to use TTL to get a good exposure and then lock in those settings to retain consistent output from your flash unit.

7: High-Speed Sync

Best Detachable Camera Flash - High Speed Sync
High-Speed Sync

High-Speed Sync (HSS) is a camera flash feature that lets photographers use flash at shutter speeds faster than the normal sync speed.

HSS allows for shooting in bright daylight or when using wide-open apertures, thus providing more creative control over exposure. It is especially useful for capturing fast-paced action since it eliminates motion blur when shooting at shorter shutter speeds.

HSS works by using a radio signal or infrared pulses to fire the flash at the same frequency as the camera’s shutter.

This way, the flash, and shutter can remain in sync regardless of the shutter speed used. When using HSS, the flashes are pulsed at full power for a brief period, with each burst of light covering multiple exposures.

This allows for faster shutter speeds without any risk of dark bands being captured on the image.

8: Flash Modes

Flash modes are settings that determine when the flash fires, and how much light is emitted. Flash modes can create various effects, such as creating a stream of light behind moving objects or providing fill flash for backlit subjects.

The most common flash modes are Auto, Front Curtain Sync/First Curtain Sync, Rear Curtain Sync/Second Curtain Sync, Slow Sync, High-Speed Sync, and Red-Eye Reduction.

In Auto mode, the camera determines when and how much light is emitted from the flash. In Front Curtain Sync/First Curtain Sync mode, the flash fires at the beginning of an exposure.

In Rear Curtain Sync/Second Curtain Sync mode, the flash fires at the end of an exposure. Slow sync allows for a longer exposure while using a low-powered flash burst to illuminate your subject.

High-Speed sync allows you to use a higher shutter speed than normal while still using a low-powered burst of flash to illuminate your subject. Red-Eye Reduction mode helps reduce red eye in photos by emitting several pre-flashes before the main burst of light.

When shooting with external flashes (also known as Speedlites), photographers can choose between TTL (Through The Lens) and Manual modes.

In TTL mode, the camera automatically adjusts the flash’s power output based on what it sees through its lens. In Manual mode, photographers have full control over their power output settings.

9: Price

Make sure to look at what features you need and compare prices between different brands/models before deciding which one to buy.

You can find some inexpensive detachable camera flash models with only basic features. Other external flashes are loaded with features and priced accordingly.

The Canon Speedlite EL-1 has more features than the Canon Speedlite 430ex III RT that may appeal to a professional photographer or serious amateur who needs to fire the camera flash so frequently that the built-in cooling system is worth the expense.

A good detachable camera flash does the job the photographer needs. Don’t get caught up buying the most expensive brand name because of other flash features you may never use

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about detachable camera flashes.

Conclusion: What is the best detachable camera flash?

When finding the best detachable camera flash, it is important to consider factors such as price, compatibility, and capabilities.

While the right flash for you may ultimately come down to personal preference, understanding the differences between flash units can help you make an informed decision.

Ultimately, choosing the best detachable camera flash depends on your individual needs.

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