The best flashgun in 2022: the best strobe units for Canon cameras, Nikon and more

They are the best flashguns available for Canon or Nikon cameras, and also third-party strobes compatible with all camera brands.

The best flashgun to use with your camera isn’t the tiny, built-in pop-up unit unfortunately. For the best results, you require an external flash or speedlight. This will provide you with more power and greater control over lighting, and is also able to be used outside of the camera. Hotshoe flashguns are also referred to as speedlights or strobes aren’t just for illuminating dark spaces – they also slow down action, enhance portraits and do a range of things.

What do you pick? There are a myriad of flashguns manufactured by a variety of various manufacturers, ranging from well-known names that you recognize from the top of your camera and to third-party manufacturers that create highly efficient models at cost-effective costs. The most important thing to remember is that they’re all “dedicated flashguns that are specifically designed to operate with specific camera brands.

It shouldn’t be a problem finding an Nikon flash that works in conjunction with your Nikon camera or you can use a Canon flash that works with your Canon or Nikon camera, however own-brand flashguns are generally more expensive. That’s the reason why there’s a huge market for third-party flashlights that will work with a variety of camera brands however, these are available with different versions for various brands, and you must ensure that you purchase the correct version.

There’s a whole section dedicated to third-party flashguns within this guide Check the specs box to determine the if they’re available in a variant that fits the brand of your camera. We’ve also included the intriguing Kenko AB600-RAI one, a flashgun equipped with the ability to bounce and swivel that is fairly common but equipped it comes with an AI-based ‘brain’ that automatically determines the ideal angle for you to utilize. It’s something that humans too can have a hard time with!

However, flashguns that are portable (or Speedlights) such as these aren’t the only option to light your subject. The best LED panels still don’t quite match the power of a flashgun, but they provide continuous what-you-see-is-what-you-get-lighting, which is ideal for lighting beginners and essential for video.

On the other side of the spectrum there is a need for more power in your flash than these flashguns are able to offer. This is the reason you’ll need to research the top lighting kits for professional studio photography or on location.

  • How do you use flash to enhance the photography you do

What features do you require? The TTL (Through the Lens) flash metering makes it easy to use in all circumstances, while the swivel and bounce heads offer the possibility of reflecting light off walls and ceilings to produce a softer effect. Motorised zooms automatically follow the length of the lens’s focal point to increase the reach of your flash when shooting at greater focal lengths. In various ways they also have wireless connectivity, which makes it easier to connect off-camera flash. Different photographers have different requirements, and a flashgun that doesn’t perform a function that you don’t require it to can be less expensive than one that does.

Our list is divided into brand-specific sections: Canon users should check out the Canon flashguns, Nikon users the Nikon models, and those who shoot any brand must scroll to the third-party section. Here there are brands and models that will suit any shooter.

The most effective flashgun, strobe or flashgun in 2022.

CANON FLASHGUNS

1. Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

Canon’s top flashgun is robust, weatherproof, and flexible

This could appear to be an improved model of Speedlite’s 430EX III-RT that has an GN (Guide number) 60 rating, however it is the Canon EX600 II RT is also equipped with advanced features in a weather-proofed design. One of the major advantages that is distinct from it is that 430EX III-RT is that it comes with the use the wireless master facility for both infrared as well as RF modes. RF comes with 30m of range, which can be used to work around corners or through obstructions. The motorized zoom comes with 20-200mm of range and a full 180-degree swivel both ways and a strobe/repeat programmable mode is also available. When compared to the Speedlite 600EX-RT, this Mark II runs cooler, offering the use of up to 50 percent more flashes during continuous shooting. Maximum output is GN 60m. Recycling speeds are quick with alkaline as well with NiMH batteries. The accuracy of TTL is also outstanding. Overall the 600EX II-RT is a combination of incredible performance with a simple accessibility.

2. Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT

It’s fine, but isn’t able to do a few techniques which the 600EX II can offer.

This Mark III edition of Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT comes with an acceptable max power of 43m GN (at ISO 100) and motorized 24-105mm zoom head that has 150 and 180 degrees of swivel. It can be swiveled to the left and right and vice versa. The controls on the board are now more user-friendly, and the it has a very high-quality build but without the pro-grade finishing of the 600EX II. The high-speed sync and rear-curtain flash modes are available, however there’s no stroboscopic mode. Alongside streamlined controls and a clearer layout The Mark III also adds RF (Radio Frequency) triggers, which were absent in the previous version. The flashgun can be used as an wireless master or slave with other Canon flashguns that are RF compatible, however, it does not have an infrared master mode for wireless use. Other benefits associated with RF linking include that the range of off-camera flashes can be increased from 10m to 30m and triggers are more stable in bright sunlight. TTL flash metering is accurate, recycling times are extremely fast, and the high output is fairly decent.(Image credit: Canon)

3. Canon Speedlite EL-1

Canon’s newest and best flashgun is a photographer’s wish come true

It’s the Speedlite EL-1 is Canon’s top-of-the-line flashgun, and was designed specifically for professional use at a high level. This is the first Speedlite that has the famous Canon “red ring” usually only available on L-series lens. The EL-1 is designed for durability and reliability, featuring an weatherproof design that utilizes sealing similar to those found used on the top Canon cameras. Canon has paid particular interest to the longevity of the battery as well as recycle times and continuous operation capabilities. It’s powered by the latest lithium-ion battery pack called LP-EL. It provides approximately 335 flashes with full power, and recycling times of 0.1-0.9sec. This Speedlite EL-1 has its own internal cooling system, which includes an air conditioner that allows up to 170 full-power flashes in a short time without overheating. Likewise, a brand new Xenon flash tube enhances quality, reliability and accuracy and offers manual adjustments down to 1/8192. This Speedlite EL-1 is without doubt Canon’s most powerful flashgun, however unless you’re a professional photographer that really requires this kind of reliability however, the price is difficult to justify for the majority of photographers.

4. Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI

More sophisticated than your average flashgun, but do you really need the artificial lighting?

Canon Speedlite 470EX AI Canon Speedlite 470EX AI brings automation to a whole new level that includes the ability to motorize bounce and move its head that is controlled with artificial intelligence. When fully automated AI Bounce mode the Speedlite emits a pre-flash signal at the subject, and then the head tilts upwards, and then will fire a second pre-flash towards the ceiling. Then, it calculates and decides on the optimal bounce angle. If you’d prefer to bounce the flash against white walls rather than the ceiling or use it to illuminate an reflector panel, you can use an AI that is semi-automatic Bounce mode. The only issue is that AI Bounce mode that is fully automated isn’t available for certain cameras, such as all Canon DSLRs released prior to the second quarter of 2014. In other ways, the 470EX-AI is a basic camera. It isn’t equipped with the RF (Radio Frequency) connectivity, and for wireless flash off-camera it is able to operate as a slave and not as a master. There are also no features that are more up-market like a programmable strobe/repeat function as well as the ability to pull out a reflector card. In the end, if you don’t have the desire to control automatically the bounce angles, this is a pretty expensive for the price.

NIKON FLASHGUNS

5. Nikon Speedlight SB-5000

Nikon’s flashgun of choice is powerful, but expensive

It is the Nikon Speedlight SB-5000, replaces the SB-910 as Nikon’s most popular model. In comparison to the SB-700 that it replaces, it has a an increased GN power with a 55m zoom (at 200mm, and then changes into 34.5mm with 35mm) in addition to a larger 24-200mm motorised zoom and a programmable strobe/repeat mode, an on-board choice between TTL and TTL-BL settings, as well as the option of using an external power source. The brand new cooling system allows quick-fire shooting for up to 100 shots, even when using full power output. Nikon has taken a page from Canon’s books and has incorporated wireless RF communication as well as infrared technology into the camera, though it’s not well-designed. The Canon 600EX II includes an RF transceiver the SB-5000 only comes with an RF receiver and cannot function as master. For multiple flashguns to use radio frequency, you’ll need the WR-R10 transceiverand an adaptor for WR-A10 for cameras with an interface with 10 pins, costing the equivalent of PS165/$200. The ability to shoot continuously isn’t the only benefit the biggest performance advantage in comparison to the SB-700 is in the highest output power. The accuracy of TTL and recycling speed are outstanding.

6. Nikon Speedlight SB-700

It’s about quality over raw power . SB-700 is a great value purchase

It’s the Nikon Speedlight SB-700 is mid-range Nikon Speedlight that offers full master and slave wireless capabilities as well as a variety of light patterns, both downward and upward tilt as well as a 180-degree swivel that can be used in both directions. It has a zoom of 24-120mm range too, however wireless connectivity is restricted to infrared. There’s a wide selection of accessories that are included, such as the diffusion dome as well as filtering that match the colour of fluorescent lighting and tungsten. The on-board controls are simple to use, however it is only possible to change to Nikon’s TTL and TTL-BL (Balanced Light) flash metering modes by switching the primary mode of metering the exposure on the camera’s host body. Even though it has a low power rating 38m for GN 38m when set to ISO 100 – the SB-700 was not too far behind some of its competitors during our tests in the lab and beats the competition with its Metz 52 AF-1 at the setting of 105mm. Recycling is swift and TTL precision is superb.

THIRD-PARTY FLASHGUNS

(Image credit: Hähnel)

7. Hahnel Modus 600RT Mk II

Excellent features, great price, and long-lasting lithium-ion battery power

The flashgun has the capabilities of camera makers their own flagship models however at less than half the cost. There are three options available which means you can purchase the flashgun as a standalone unit or as an wireless kit with the hotshoe-mounted Viper the RF (Radio Frequency) transmitter. Additionally, there’s a pro kit with two flashguns as well as an Viper trigger that allows for the flexibility of dual flash lighting configurations. Modern flash settings include sync speeds of up to 100 Mbps as well as programable repeated (stroboscopic) choices, as well as wireless RF master/slave has huge range up to 100 meters. A further benefit is that the flashgun powered by a rechargeable Li-ion pack instead of the standard four AAA batteries (and it can be charged within the unit through USB). This provides a much longer battery life with approximately 550 flashes at full power per recharge, and also very quick recycling times of 1.5 seconds following a full-power flash, and only 0.7 seconds following the half-power flash. The only drawback is that any additional batteries (should you require any) cost about $60/PS50.(Image credit: Yongnuo)

8. Yongnuo YN-660

A lot of power and helpful features at a low cost

Nearly twice the cost of some high-end strobes made by companies such as Neewer the Yongnuo flash isn’t the cheapest one you can purchase. The flash doesn’t come with extravagant features such as TTL Metering, as well as High Speed Sync, and there’s only one hot shoe connector, which suggests it’s a completely manual flashgun. However, there are hidden depths. The head is able to zoom from 20-199mm. While it is necessary to manually set this but it’s just a press away. The large, backlit LCD screen is a welcome feature. There’s also a built-in radio frequency receiver , which lets the flash be utilized as a slave activated by a second YN-660 or an flashgun with a YN-560. It has a 100-meter wireless range (far far superior to the more basicslave modes that are triggered by optical signals) and triggers up to six groupings of flashguns. The YN-660 certainly doesn’t lack flash power either it boasts a huge GN66 rating of ISO100/200mm.

9. Nissin Di700A + Air 1

Simple but highly effective, and one of our most-loved purchases from third parties

With a price that is nearly twice the cost of some ultra-budget strobes made by companies such as Neewer The Yongnuo’s flash may not be the most affordable flash that you can buy. The flash doesn’t come with extravagant features such as TTL meters as well as High Speed Sync, and there’s only one hot shoe connection, which indicates it’s a completely manual flashgun. There are however hidden depths. The head can be zoomed from 20-199mm. While you have to adjust this manually but it’s just a press away. The large, backlit LCD screen is another great feature. In addition, there’s a built-in radio frequency receiver , which lets the flash be employed as a slave controlled by a second YN 660 or the flashgun YN-560. It has a 100-meter wireless range (far better than the less simple, optically-triggered slave mode) and triggers up to six sets of flashguns. The YN-660 definitely has plenty of flash power either with a massive GN66 rating with ISO100/200mm.

9. Nissin Di700A + Air 1

Simple but highly effective, and is one of our top purchases from third-party sources.

The unassuming interface on board that comes with this Nissin Di700A is based on the single Set button as well as an adjacent control wheel that are both situated under a screen that is color. The operating modes are fully automated manual, TTL, and more than three different wireless settings. Anything that goes beyond the basic settings, such as TTL exposure bias demands the use of menus on camera. They include rear-curtain synchronization, high-speed sync, as well as manual zoom on the motorized 24-200mm head. The wireless slave mode using infrared can be used by assigning three groups that are independent, and there is also a digital optical slave mode that doesn’t take into account the pre-flash pulses from master flashguns. There’s also film slave mode that triggers when there is a first light pulse. Each mode requires manual settings for power. Recycling speeds are extremely quick, despite the very high power output. The included Air 1 Commander slots into hotshoes and allows for advanced RF control as well as triggering that works with compatible Nissin flashguns while in the wireless slave mode.(Image credit: Kenko)

10. Kenko AB600-R AI

A bounce flash from AI which even knows where to point!

If you’re not confident of figuring out the most optimal angles to bounce flash off ceiling or walls for more of a 3D and more soft illumination, the artificially intelligent’ flashgun by Kenko does all the calculations for you. It is available with Canon or Nikon special editions, its motorised head can automatically rotate in a range of 120 degrees and an entire 180 ° to either side with an uncanny ability to get the angle right.

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