9 Powerful Flashes to Give Your Images a Boost
One of the simplest ways to upgrade your images is to include more light. Many modern-day sensors are sensitive enough to perform well in dimly-lit situations, but there's so much more to the art of crafting an image than simply making sure it's bright enough to take a photo.
A soft, natural light coming through a window can add a lot to a portrait, but beautiful sunlight isn't always available. Adding a flash unit to your kit can give you a lot more flexibility in order to get that perfect image. Let's take a look at three different flash units for each of photography's three biggest brands.
Nikon SB-400 Speedlight
While it may not look like much at first, the SB-400 is an excellent choice as an entry-level unit for Nikon users. With a wide throw, the unit is capable of providing a more natural look on your subject from anywhere between 60 centimeters to 20 meters away. Additionally, the flash head can be tilted up to bounce off of the ceiling, a pro move that can provide quality ambient light to your scene.
Nikon SB-700 Speedlight
With the ability to twist as well as tilt, the SB-700 allows you to bounce your bright flash off of nearby walls as well as the ceiling. This way, your subject doesn't get blown out in the exposure. A zoom function built into the unit also automatically changes the light's angle to smoothly cover lenses as wide as 24mm and up to 120mm.
Nikon SB-910 i-TTL Speedlight
The SB-910 was a top-tier unit in Nikon's Creative Lighting System upon its release in 2011. This Speedlight operates not only as a hot-shoe mounted flash, but also a remote unit or wireless commander with up to four channel options, capable of controlling a huge number of additional Nikon flash units.
Canon Speedlite 270EX II
This compact add-on is a great addition to a first-time DSLR owner's kit. With the ability to bounce light off of the ceiling, the 270EX II opens up a world of illuminating possibilities for your indoor or outdoor photos. It can also be triggered wirelessly by other commander units when placed off-camera.
Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT
This excellent midrange option represents the third edition of the 430EX line. Finding the sweet spot between compact and powerful, this incredibly versatile model carries advanced features like an integrated Catchlight panel, or a bounce adapter to soften the bulb's intensity.
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT
The second version of the Canon 600EX Speedlite is an advanced piece of photo gear, designed to bring photographers into the next level of their imaging journey. With a zooming flash head that covers a range from 20-200mm, your subjects will be lit perfectly. The 600EX II's water- and dust-resistant construction makes this a durable and flexible tool for any wedding, portrait, or event photographer.
The small, but powerful HVL-F20M is a compact flash unit that folds down neatly on the camera in order to save space. Taking advantage of the Sony Multi-Interface shoe, this bulb gives you significantly more power than the built-in flash of Sony's smaller models. Keep in mind that the Sony flashes mentioned here only work correctly on the newer Multi-interface shoe and will require an adapter when used on many of their earlier A-mount DSLRs.
The F43M brings something unique to our list in the form of an additional optional LED Video light. With the same advanced tilt and swivel features seen in some of the other pro models on this list, the F43M makes a perfect choice for a hybrid shooter. This extra functionality allows a creator to easily switch back and forth between smooth illumination for video and photo applications without having to switch out gear.
A premium flash unit from Sony, the F60M brings high-end performance, functionality and customization to your shooting situation. With high-speed sync, full control over multiple wireless flash units, a set of three built-in LEDs for video, and advanced metering and distance calculations, this is one of the best flash units available for modern Sony cameras.
When it comes to on-camera flash units, don't discount the value of a third-party option, either. Plenty of manufacturers like Profoto, Godox, Yonguo, Nissin and Neewer have excellent options available for only a fraction of the price of the name-brand ones. Remember to make sure they're compatible with your kit, though, as many are designed for specific systems.