Best Camera Flashes Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Often referred to ass “off-board” camera flashes -- differing from the flip flash built-in to most cameras -- the flash is the perfect way to freeze time, assist your camera in capturing the right moment, or creating the light you truly need to see your vision come to life.
It can be tough to shop for camera flashes because most of the big brands only function with their intended hot-shoes (the metal plate on the head of the camera). Here are the ten best flashes on the market, and why.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Use is obviously (to us) the most important factor in almost any product, but becomes far more important when it’s a tool like a camera flash that most people need to do a specific thing, or adapt to specific needs.
There are, unfortunately (we say this because it definitely doesn’t help keep the vetting and shopping process simple), many types of flashes, that do many different things. There are accessories for flashes that can range in the dozens of types, and all of them affect the way flashes are used in many ways.
Whether you’re looking for something that will do what you need on the red carpet, or during personal and close-up portraits, or you need to fill out an entirely large subject on a dim or dark background or atmosphere, there is a flash out there for you. Working alongside flashes, things like the ever wonderful sync studio lighting will become a factor when considering the type of flashes or sync connections you need whilst shopping.
A main factor to consider when it comes to the use is the full breadth of the onboard settings. Whether or not there is multiple mode -- of which you shouldn't live without if you have the opportunity to avoid it -- is probably the biggest gauge as to whether or not a camera flash is a worthy option for your photography need. Modes denote a whole lot of versatility in the case of camera flashes.
Camera flash modes you should have are (and these are the use names for them, the official names differ depending on brand and type of flash) immediate flash, which sets off the flash when you push your shutter button. A tethered flash mode, which uses other flashes and a built-in sensor to set off multiple flashes when detached from your camera body. A shutter close mode, that triggers the flash at the close of a shutter and not the open of it (this can be used to great effect for cool movement photography), and more.
Do not, allow yourself to get locked into a flash product that doesn't do all of the standard (by today's standards) as it pertains to the modes of your flash.
It’s not very often that we have to put a whole lot of time and care, and authority to the idea that products have to be compatible. And that’s really because markets are pretty great at doing that themselves these days. It’s not very often you come across a shopping experience where there’s a good chance that product X isn’t going to work with your needs, and that’s because of the identity issue, brand and technology war within the imaging industry.
Almost every camera brand uses hot-shoes -- those metal plates with the bumps and groove on the top of your camera -- in the twenty-first century, and that’s the main line of communication between your electronic camera, and the electronic flash you attach to it. Unfortunately for the consumers of this market, almost every single camera brand has a different kind of hot-shoe and it’s been this way forever.
A Canon brand off-board camera flash is never going to work with a Nikon made camera body, and vice versa. You can pretty much guarantee that if there is a specific camera-body brand attached to the flash, that it will only work with that brand.
Well, okay. It’s not that dramatic, or accurate. A Canon flash will fit on a Nikon hot-shoe, and the synced camera flash (the one that fires the flash at the same time as the shutter is opened) will work. This cross compatibility, however, is the only thing you will get. Extra conversations between your camera body and your flash will not be able to happen, and you will be left with the basic flash functionality.
In summary, it’s very important that you get an off-board camera flash that is compatible with the camera you want to use it with, otherwise you will be very unhappy with the capabilities you’re confronted with.
No matter what kind of product we’re discussing here, we always want to ensure that the inherent value of said product is the type of value we’re considering, in terms of the products viability in our argument. In order to figure this out, we’ve got to take a look at the actual inherent value, and for that we use our trust “what’s its value” formula.
The easiest way to find a product’s inherent value is to take all of the criteria used to judge the proper match for a product (in this case it would be the use, the compatability, the bran
d, and the flexibility), add up all of those scores (give them an “out of ten” ranking for their match in each criteria section) and then match that score up against the price point asked for by the vendors or brands. This, the result of this equation, will be the clearest indication regarding the inherent value to any product, in any market, against any needs.
The harsh reason why we vote for this specific comparison of values is due to most people coming down on some products as having no value, and that’s just simply not true. Instead of comparing products that aren’t trying to fight the same need, we take each product’s inherent value into consideration when it comes to whether or not they are viable options.
At the end of the day it’s important to remember that, no matter what, every product has a value. It’s what you do with the summarized that is completely up to you.
10 Best Camera Flashes
1. Neewer TT560
We’ve done a whole lot of camera guides on this site, and something that crops up almost every time -- especially as we talk about quality and affordable additions to your gear bag -- is the brand Neewer. Off-board camera flashes are no different in that regard. Here, we’ve got one of the cheapest, and most capable “off-brand” camera flashes, and it comes from none other than our favorite peripherals brand, Neewer.
Certainly, when you think about getting a camera flash, it would be best to get something that could sit on and fit with a wide variety of camera brands. It’s not always the case that a single photographer has access to multiple brands (as it’s more cost effective to stick to a single brand), but nonetheless, having an awesome flash that can work with common brands like Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, and Panasonic is very valuable.
The Simple Things
Part of the reason that Neewer can get away with charging almost nothing for an extremely competent flash that is compatible with a whole library of different cameras is that it only really does one thing, and does that one thing so well. It’s a trigger flash, and is a key part of any photographers kit. Especially if you’re looking for a second, third, or fourth flash to bounce some indicator lights through. It’s the essentials.
Cost and Value
We just mentioned it a moment ago, Neewer is barely asking for even a moment's breath for this amazing flash, and while it doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of having crazy modes, it will work with almost any modern camera with a hot-flash, and comes with a little foot stand making it an extremely viable pick for an extra off-board camera flash.
2. Altura Photo AP-C1001
Another brand we’ve often brought up -- especially lovingly in our most recent Camera Sling Bags Buying Guide -- is Altura, and that’s because they seem to be overstepping their bounds as a budget camera or imaging manufacturer and designer, by making their products capable of far more than they have to be. That’s precisely the case with their Photo Professional Flash Kit for Canon DSLRs, and we’ll tell you why.
It’s hard to pick the “easy place” to start gushing about the Altura Photo Professional Flash Kit for DSLRs, so we’ll just jump right into the waters that aren’t offered by a whole lot of companies (even the large ones). The best part about this kit is that it comes with a full wireless communications set-up. You get an off-board flash mount and stand, with a hot-shoe on-board trigger to set it off. That’s astonishing at any price-point, but especially so at this one.
Thanks to the fact that Altura has made this flash (and it also comes in a two flash set) for Canon Digital SLRs only, it has the ability to have the full-range of conversation with the camera that we’re always looking for in those high-power camera flashes. This full E-TTL Flash has all the modes and speed flashings. It also has a strobe mode for cool and creative shooting no matter the circumstances.
Cost and Value
You’d probably think we were lying if we told you that the Altura Photo Professional Flash Kit for Canon DSLRs was still floating around the mid-two-digits price range, but we’re not. There’s no denying the staying power and utility here, and if you’re a Canon camera user, there may be no better off-brand option, and that’s not even getting into the amazingness that it this as a complete bundle with the trigger set-up.
3. ESDDI i-TTL for Nikon
In our number three slot, we wanted to take some time aside and offer up a fantastic solution for those that do not run a Canon set-up, and that shares a little love with a company that (until now) we hadn’t heard of. This is the ESDDI Flash Speedlite for Nikon, and it’s pretty glorious, especially if you consider the fact that it’s only a few bucks more than the amazing Altura Canon E-TTL Flash Kit we just spoke of.
And the price range isn’t where the similarities between the Altura set for Canon, and this ESDDI Nikon Flash set stops. The ESDDI Flash Speedlite for Nikon simulates their proprietary i-TTLE Flash sync computer, and gives the user a wide breadth of modes and manual control to fool around with in order to get the absolutely perfect shot. It’s almost identical to the Nikon set-up, just not as expensive.
This set (although with Nikons communication instead of Canon’s) also comes with a foot-stand for off-board use with ease, and a master to slave communications device for extremely easy and intuitive wireless flash triggering. It’s the ideal companion for anyone looking to mess about with a flash for a cheaper value, or for someone that needs to add a few more fill lights to their gear bag.
Cost and Value
We’re still talking near the half a century mark in the price department, and this just continously blows us away. Even though we’re the ones who vetted these products, made the item list, and are now writing it, it’s crazy to us that you can get all of this utility at this price point. The camera market is not normally this forgiving. Especially when it comes to actual technical accessories, and not just material ones. This kit has an extensive, and obvious value.
4. Canon 430EX III-RT
Maybe it’s fitting that we placed our first “big boy” on the outside looking in, when it comes to landing a spot on our podium. Or maybe it’s the just desserts they are owed for consistently making their in-house designed products just a tad too expensive to stomach. Either way, it’s time to finally call in the big guns, and talk about the monster in the room. That behemoth is one of the most popular flash line-ups the world has ever know. Here, it’s represented by one of the most recent iterations, the Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash.
Normally the words “Canon” and “Compact” don’t go well together. Canon is known for (as is Nikon) making rather large and bulky camera bodies and accessories, but I guess when it came time for the most recent of the Speedlite heritage, they decided that maybe gigantic wasn’t the way to go. The Speedlite 430EX isn’t tiny by any means, but it is for sure one of the smallest big-brand camera flashes we’ve ever seen, and easier to carry around and stick in your gig bag is always a huge selling feature in our books.
No, the name of the flash isn’t just for show. The Canon Speedlite flashes have always been extremely popular because they have a speed that is rarely comparable to other brands or flashes. This, the Speedlite 430EX has a recycling time of approximately 0.1 to 3.7 seconds depending on the kind of batteries you use. And if you have the need for speed, we think you should look no further. Especially if you’re a Canon camera photographer.
Cost and Value
Here’s the downside. Though the Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash is a crazy great utility, and you will find no equal rival amongst brands that are not Canon themselves, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. Specifically, it’ll be nearly 5-times the price of the previously mentioned Altura Canon DSLR Flash, and for some that’s too much to stomach. For others, there’s no other choice besides Canon, for Canon things.
5. PLOTURE LCD Adapter Rings
When it comes to the product you will most likely find in any market, you’re really looking at a whole bunch of companies fighting for a lot of the same space. Things will be different, but only in spec (usually), and not in originality, and even less often in actual use (because that most likely puts them in a different market). Stuff like this, the ring ling, adaptive flash or steady light from Plloture is something we can all agree fits the bill of ingenuity, while remaining on course.
When things get up close and personal -- and trust me, if you’re any kind of photographer, there’s going to be a time when it does -- you’re not going to be able to use your traditional flash. That’s because traditional flashes sit atop your camera body, and don’t point down towards your lens, make close subjects almost unflashable (maybe that’s a bad term to use … ). Having a ring light, and one that attaches to the front of your camera’s lens, makes any target lighttable.
There’s a whole lot of magic in the idea that you could, one day, potentially shoot something with this fabulous ring light flash from Ploture. It’s even more magical when you realize that there are eight different mounting rings in the box to ensure it fits almost any size lens, as well as three different addition diffusal covers for color and temperature control. Lastly, it works with almost every kind of camera, so you won’t not be able to use it.
Cost and Value
It’s a bit crazy to think that you could potentially get something this versatile and useful at this kind of price point, but it’s totally true, and the evidence is sitting right in front of you. There’s not a whole lot to dislike about this package as a whole, and that probably is a major reason why we’ve included it on this list, right? The Ploture Flash Light with LCD Display is a heck of a product.
6. ESDDI Speedlite
In the world of photography, and especially when you get into the nitty gritty of camera flash photography, you’ve got to start rounding out the rest of your kit. There are things called masters, and others called slaves. Slaves only function as the master intends it to, and rely on the master to initiate. It’s also common that photographers from all over the globe don’t want to stick their wallet’s neck on the line when it comes to picking up a few slaves to have in the gear bag, that may or may not come in handy. Well the ESDDI Flash Speedlite is the perfect answer to that problem.
Built For Either
With an on-board manual mode, and two slave settings, the ESDDI Flash Speedlite fro DSLRs is an amazing options, especially at this budget-friendly price point, for those looking to add a second, or third flash to your gear bag. Slave settings aren’t terribly hard to come by, but it’s especially prevalent in this case, as the standard flash doesn’t have a specialization when it comes to full-blown communication with one brand or another, making it the perfect simple slave flash to have in your kit.
No matter where you head in the flash or camera accessories world, you’re going to want to focus on the products compatibility list. When is comes to the ESDDI Flash Speedlite for DSLRs, there isn’t much left off of the list. It’s got enough to handle compatibility (in a standard degree) with Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Pentax, and any other DSLR of your choice.
Cost and Value
At roughly the cost of a large meal for two at any of your favorite fast-food joints, don’t you think it would be smart to add something as versatile and useful to your gear bag as the ESDDI Flash Speedlite for DSLRs? It’s an amazing product that has a broad compatibility list, and is the perfect solution for anyone seeking to add more slave flashes to their load-out.
7. Neewer NW-561
Now, would this list really count as a camera accessory guide if we didn’t include more than one product from our absolute favorite third-party brand Neewer? We don’t think so. Luckily for us, and for you in turn, Neewer makes some pretty darn great camera flashes for DSLRs, and their awesome speedlight kit is no different. It’s everything you need out of the box, with potential for so much more.
The Kit and Kaboodle
Normally we don’t need a whole lot in order to praise the hard work and determination to provide customers with an exemplary experience that Neewer so often brings to the table regardless of the kind of product we’re looking at. But Neewer has outdone themselves with this package deal. This kit not only comes with two seperate flashes, but it comes with four tether cables, as well as a set of two wireless receivers, and a wireless transmitter. It’s the full kit.
Neewer Need For Speed
No, this isn’t some tie-in to the latest in the similarly named racing game franchise from Electronic Arts. Rather, this is one of the fastest off-brand camera flashes on the market right now, and of course it’s coming from one of our favorite brands. The Neewer speedlight has a recycling rate of 2.9 seconds with is extremely fast for a “budget brand” flash, and is comparable to on-brand flashes in some cases.
Cost and Value
We’ve snuck a little close to the three digit mark with this amazing kit from Neewer, but that’s okay in our books, because it doesn’t just come with one flash, but two. On top of that, you get the dual listening partner wireless receivers, as well as the transmitter in the kit too. Making this one of the most fully-fledged flash communication kits out there today.
8. Emiral 48 Macro LED Ring
Coming in at number eight on this list, we wanted to rehash an oddity from higher up on our charts, but this time, spend some time talking about a few other points. The Ring Flash from Emiral is essentially the same product we spoke of earlier with the other Ring Flash, but it’s a tad cheaper, and yet can do all of the same things, and provides users with a comfortable and easy ring lens tip flash experience.
Steady On Mode
Much in the same vein as we discussed earlier, the Emiral Ring Flash looks to solve the problem of you getting in the way of your own best work. The front-mounted flash ensures that nothing from the lens tip backward gets in the way of the perfect lighting, and this goes just the same for steady light sources. Thanks to a Steady-On mode, the Emiral Ring Flash can become your go-to light source for those close up product or portrait shots, providing your images with a steady source of light.
Controlled Side Flashes
One of the drawbacks that initially was unforeseen when it came to ring flashes or lights was the removal of stylized shadows and the play of the light as needed whilst making the art. Well, the Emiral Ring Flash has a solution for that and its three different flash modes. The first is a normal flash, while the other two are a left-side-only flash and a right-side-only flash mode. These allow photographers to focus light from one side or the other.
Cost and Value
You could head down the street and grab a few hamburgers, maybe some fries, and some milkshakes, or you can pick yourself up this amazing front mounted ring flash for your DSLR and start taking unhindered close-up and focused stills thanks to its direct source of light, and multiple modes of control.
9. Neewer TT560
Oh! What’s this? A Neewer made flash on a list about the best flashes? Who are these folks? Why haven’t we discussed them in great detail before (on this list, and many other lists pertaining to great camera and imaging accessories)? What’s that? We have discussed how great these guys are in previous lists, and in this very specific list? Well how about that, huh? All jokes aside, there are a million and one reasons why the Neewer folks crop up on our lists so much. Namely, they make amazing products.
Although this particular flash doesn’t support the big camera brand’s standard TTL in-camera menu settings, there is a lot to be said about functioning at the very least at standard operating procedures on any camera, rather than working in detail on one specific type. Thanks to the simple technical prowess of the Neewer TT560 Speedlite Flash, it’s abundantly usable by anyone.
Diffuser and Remote
Not only do we get all of the standards in awesomeness that we’ve come to expect from the brand Neewer, but they’ve thrown in a boxed flash diffuser in the package, and even a wireless fr-id remote trigger as well, making this universally usable, and easily one of the easiest flashes on our list.
Cost and Value
Much like all of the other budget-friendly flashes on our list, the Neewer TT560 Speedlite Flash Kit for Universal use on DSLRs isn’t going to break the bank. In fact, it’s almost pocket change. Yet it still comes with a heavy punch packed, and will work great in almost any situation you need it to.
10. EACHSHOT Godox TT350S
The brand name Eachshot isn’t one you’ve probably heard of -- and to be honest, it had only come up in passing in our worlds too, previously to this -- but that doesn’t detract from just how stellar this outing is in the flash department. Other than a store-bought premium on-brand flash, this Sony-ready flash from Eachshot is quite alarmingly great.
With it’s direct intention of supporting Sony photographers and their flash needs, the Eachshot Godox TT350S Wireless Speedlite Flash can converse with the Japanese company’s DSLR and mirrorless cameras with ease. This gives photographers full access to the in-camera flash settings and much more control over sync.
Thanks to a very simple idea -- the inclusion of simple colored films -- the Eachshot Godox TT350S Speedlite for Sony cameras has a whole lot of versatility with its tones. Bringing out 12 dynamic color filters to the part, the produced light from the flash can hit a hugely wide range of tones that no other flash manufacturer thinks to add to their offering.
Cost and Value
There is a lot going right for the Eachshot flash here, and a majority of that comes in the form of their Sony focus (with the growth of the Sony user base, this isn’t a niche selection anymore). Thanks to that focus, this Speedlite has the ability to communicate fully with the Sony camera, giving users access to all of the brand’s TTL settings, even if it (in combinations with build quality) translates to a bit of a larger price.