Photography News Issue 70

First tests

In this section / Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone / Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4 / Tenba Skyline bags / Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4

PRICE: £189.95

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As mirrorless cameras become more popular, so do smaller accessories, like this compact Nissin i600 speedlight Nissin i600

SPECS

› Availability Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony ›  Guide number GN80 at 200mm zoomhead position, GN27 at 24mm zoom ›  Focal length coverage 24mm to 200mm, 16mmwith built-in diffuser ›  Power output range Inmanual, full power to 1/256 ›  Number of flashes 220 to 1500 flashes › Flash duration 1/800sec to 1/20,000sec › AF assist beam range 0.7 to 5m ›  Modes TTL, first and rear curtain sync, high-speed sync, red eye reduction, slow sync ›  Exposure compensation on flash +/-2EV in 0.5EV ›  Wireless modes Wireless TTL, slave non-TTL (SDmode, SFmode) › Recycling 0.1 to 5.5secs ›  Bounce position Up 90°, down 0°, left and right 180° ›  High-speed sync Up to 1/8000sec › Colour temperature 5600K › Power supply Four AAs ›  Dimensions (hxwxd) 112x73x98mm ›  Weight 300g excluding batteries

IT’S LOGICAL THAT the boom in mirrorless cameras, with their (mostly) smaller body forms, is accompanied by a similar boom in the many imaging accessories available. So, we have smaller bags, more compact tripods, scaled-down filter systems and, of course, more wee flashguns like the Nissin i600. This compact speedlight is available in options for Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony. We had the Fujifilm option for trial. The Nissin i600 is a squat unit with a generously sized zoom head, which covers from 24mm to 200mm – these are 35mm format equivalent focal lengths. The physically longer head does have the advantage of helping to avoid any lens shadow – at least with a standard zoom – when shooting with wider lenses. A slide-out diffuser gives coverage as wide as 16mm, and there’s a pull-out bounce card, too. The quoted Guide Number of 80 (ISO 100/m) is impressive, but it is worth noting this is for the flash

zoom head set to 200mm. Zoom out to 24mm and the GN drops to 27. What I like about this Nissin is it is really simple to use and there are just two dials, a test flash button and an on/off switch – no need to scroll through LCD readouts here. The smaller dial is the mode dial where you select TTL, auto aperture operation, manual and slave modes (A, B and C). The latter settings are slightly different on Sony models. The larger dial adjusts power output from 1/1 to 1/256 power in manual mode and flash exposure compensation from +2EV to -2EV in 0.5EV steps in TTL flash mode. I like this dial for its size and clarity, but it needs much firmer click-stops and at least a firm one or even a lock on the TTL 0 setting. As it is, the dial is much too easy to adjust unintentionally, with the risk of poor flash shots – or at least until you spot the dial has moved. I applied a piece of gaffer tape on the dial’s edge to hold it at 0.

To assess power indoors, I placed a flash meter set to ISO 100 two metres away from the i600 and used the manual power settings with the zoom head at 200mm and 24mm. You can’t manually set the zoom head to a specific setting, so I used a zoom lens of suitable focal length to achieve the appropriate zoom head setting automatically. Tests showed the i600 has an impressive output, giving full power manual readings of f/16.5 at 200mm and f/8 at 24mm. Power decreased accurately in step with the manual output settings, so at 1/256th I got just over f/1 at 200mm, and the same aperture reading with the output set to 1/64th at 24mm. Recycling times – with high- quality alkaline AA batteries – were

within the range quoted in the specs to start with, but did increase as the test wore on. The number of flashes available per set of batteries was roughly in line with the specs, too. I used the flash on a Fujifilm X-E3 in manual, auto and TTL modes and got a consistently high level of exposure accuracy, including when I tried bouncing with the integral reflector. I was shooting in a 3x5m living room – so not a huge room – but shooting at ISO 400 and f/8 was no problem. When I used a plain, white wall as a target, it showed that coverage was generally even, although I noticed a little darkening at the bottom edge with the 35mm format equivalent of a 28mm lens when I got within two metres of the subject. In real situations, this is not an issue. WC

Verdict The Nissin i600 is a nicely priced speedlight that’s compact and well featured, too. I like the thinking behind the concept of the dual dial control set-up, but stiff click-stops on the larger output dial would have been nice. Output levels are good for a small speedlight and there is plenty of versatility inmulti-unit flash set-ups, too. For themultitudes of smaller camera owners out there, the Nissin i600 is definitely worth a serious look.

PROS Compact, simple to use, good output for its size CONS Power/compensation dial too easy to move

56 Photography News | Issue 70

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