Flash and Accessory Buying Guide (Updated 2023)

If you are looking to add a flash or two to your collection, here are some options for your Christmas list…

When it comes to buying flashes, you have two main options.

BRANDED FLASHES
For the most part, buying the flash built by your camera brand is the best idea. They are built by the company, for your camera. They should work flawlessly with your camera. However, they tend to be much more expensive.
There are also consumer and professional level models.

NON-BRAND FLASHES
There are quite a few other companies who makes flashes for the various camera brands, like Godox and Neweer. While they are cheaper, they may not be up to the same quality stands as the Nikon or Canon flashes and may not have the same features. They also may not really work properly with the camera or various accessories like transmitters as the company needs to reverse engineer how they work with your camera
But you can’t argue with price…you can get a fully manual flash that should work on most cameras for $100.

Unless you know the person and trust they take care of their equipment, I would not recommend buying a used flash as you have no idea how many times it’s been fired.

BRANDED FLASHES OPTIONS
For CANON, here are your options:

Consumer level
Canon EL-5 $500 The latest Canon consumer level flash, but only works on newer mirrorless models (confirm your compatability before buying!) Uses a special rechargeable lithium battery (buy an extra one)
Canon 430EX-III RT $400 Older model consumer level, should work on all camera (SLR and mirrorless)

DO NOT BUY THE EL-100 or the 270 as they are not very powerful and lack most features. Waste of money, you’d be better off buying a Godox (see below)

Pro level
Canon EL-1 $1500 Top of the line flash with the latest technology. Uses a special rechargeable lithium battery with lots of bells and whistles. Will work on both mirrorless and SLR. But really an insane price for a flash (and you’ll need an extra battery)
Canon 600 EX-RT $700

The basic differences, other than price, are features. These flashes are more powerful, have a strobe/mutlitflash mode, and can be used as a commander(will fire other off camera Canon flashes using wireless)
If you are thinking about getting into doing portraits or wedding, I’d spend the extra $$ and get the 600. If you have a 7D or 70D/80D/90D, your pop-up flash can be a commander…otherwise you’ll need to buy a 600 or and Canon transmitter to act as the commander and then another flash. Better to buy a different wireless system in that case (see below)

For Nikons, here are your options:

Consumer: Nikon SB-700 $400
Pro: Nikon SB-5000 $700 or Nikon SB-910 (discontinued, but still a great flash if you can find one)

The SB-5000 is more powerful, has more modes, and again can be used as a commander. Now, with the Nikon’s, if you have a COMMANDER built into your pop-up flash (which you would if you had a D70/D80/D90, D300s/D700, etc) you could get by with the SB-700. The SB-5000 and the SB-910 also has a built in OPTICAL sensor that can be triggered by any flash. The SB-5000 or SB-910 is probably the best flash you will ever own!

AVOID THE SB-900!!! It has overheating issues!!!

DO NOT BUY THE SB-500, SB-400 or SB-300. They do not have MANUAL power control and are small crappy flashes.

NON-NAME BRAND FLASHES

GODOX (RECOMMENDED)
Godox is a well established brand of lighting equipment, flashes, and accessories. They have a variety of flashes that work great with the various camera brands. Very easy to do wireless flash with Godox transmitter ($100) or trigger it with your flash.

GODOX TT685II (Nikon/Canon/Sony/Fuji/Olympus/Panasonic) $160
Great flash for the price. Good level of power, lots of great features.
For a transmitter, you’ll need the XPROII (make sure it is for your camera brand)

GODOX V860III (Nikon/Canon/Sony/Fuji/Olympus) $290
More expensive, but uses a rechargeable lithium battery.
For a transmitter, you’ll need the XPROII (make sure it is for your camera brand)

GODOX V1 (Nikon/Canon/Sony/Fuji/Olympus)$350
Has a cool round flash head. For a transmitter, you’ll need the XPROII (make sure it is for your camera brand)

GODOX TT600 $92
This is a completely manual flash that would work with any camera brand. Nothing fancy, but works great as an extra flash and the price can’t be beat. For a transmitter, you’ll need the X1 or X2 (make sure it is for your camera brand)

NEEWER
Many NEEWER flashes are just re-branded GODOX. If they aren’t they probably aren’t very good quality or have many features.

YONGNUO
This used to be a pretty good brand, but since the pandemic have been hard to find. Cheap, but cheap quality. Go for Godox.

FLASH ACCESSORIES

If you can do wireless flash, via the camera or with a transmitter and want to do nice portraits, you can get a number of accessories to make it happen!

FLASH UMBRELLA STAND
You can buy a stand with a bracket for your flash and an umbrella.

FLASH SOFTBOX
Godox has a great softbox with a mount for a flash to do portraits.

FLASH MODIFIERS
This Promaster Portrait Kit is a great collection of modifiers, with a softbox, snoot, grids. You’ll want the creative color gel set, and the color correction set too.

Happy Flashing!!!!

Here’s the full list of buying guides

CAMERA BUYING GUIDE
LENS BUYING GUIDE
FLASH AND FLASH ACCESSORY GUIDE
TRIPOD AND CAMERA ACCESSORY GUIDE
FUN STUFF TO BUY FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER


MORE TIPS BELOW!

I hope you find these tips useful!
If so, it would be awesome if you would check out my LearnPhoto365 Photography Assignment Generator Apps on the app store and the Google Play store, a unique photography app that’s meant to inspire you to take great photos!

Perfect for anyone taking part in a Photo 365 challenge, there are over a hundred individual assignments and hundreds of thousands of potential random ones. Versions available for iPhone/iPod and iPad, including free versions so you can try them out! Full details, including reviews and tour videos of the apps can be found at www.learnphoto.ca/apps Even if you only download the free version that would help get it up the app store lists!


WHERE TO BUY
I am a big fan of buying local when possible, for a few reasons.

1) You are supporting a local business
2) If you have any problems, the local people are usually easier to deal with. Buying from an out of province/country dealer, if there is a problem, you will most likely have to pay to ship it back to them. There could also be warranty issues if buying from another country

If you are in Saint John, Best Buy is your best bet as they have brought in more equipment since Applebys closed down…in Fredericton, head to Harvey Studios. (Tell them Noel sent you!) or Ivan’s in Moncton.

If you want to buy online, Henrys in Toronto(also Halifax) is a great store that I’ve dealt with personally and for the Telegraph and had no issues with. Also Vistek.

Avoid buying from ebay, unless it is from a reputable dealer. I’ve seen lots of “great deals” where you seem like you are getting a whole lot of extras…but in reality, it’s a bunch of extra crap. bad lenses, crappy tripods, no name brand memory cards…not worth it.

If buying something off Kijiji or craiglist, make sure you try it out. If the seller won’t let you try it out, that’s a good warning sign…

Once you’ve bought a new camera or accessory , check out some of my photography courses so you can use it to it’s fullest potential! Check them out under the COURSE menu above, onr contact Noel at noel@learnphoto365.com


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Noel Chenier

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Photographer and teacher
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