Before getting stuck in the detail of this cracking little external flash gun let’s take a look at the specs……….
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 27m / Focal length coverage – 24mm – 105mm / Recycling time – 0.1 – 4 secs/ ETTL - Yes / EV compensation on flash - +/- 2EV / Slave - Yes / Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt – 0 – 180 degrees/ Dimensions – 100mm x 50mm x 50mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $230/£155/ Power – 4xAA batteries
Considering the size of the Nissin i40 flash (which I will come on to later) this is one powerful external flash that packs a punch, and the 27m guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) is pretty impressive. Okay, it is not as powerful as other speed lights on the market (including my Godox Ving speed lights) but then the Nissin i40 fits in the palm of my hand, takes up very little room in my camera bag or I can carry it around in my pocket. How Nissin have managed to squeeze so much power out of such a small unit I really don’t know, but they have managed it somehow.
The Nissin i40 flash is great for single (and couple) portraits and close up work and provides plenty of power to get the shots I want. If I am out in the midday sun or want to take group shots the Nissin i40 doesn’t provide enough power, but then this is hardly surprising. Once you get to know what this speed light can do (and it can do a lot) and know its limitations I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
The manual mode on the Nissin i40 ranges from 1/1 to 1/256, which makes it very versatile. Many speed lights don’t go below 1/128 power, which is fine unless you want to get in real close and not over expose the shot. With the Nissin i40 you can take it down that extra stop which allows you to get in very close and personal and provide the tiniest kiss of light to lift the shadows.
In addition to manual mode the Nissin i40 offers TTL mode, which is essential for the way I shoot. A lot of my flash photography is a “run and gun” style, and I simply have the time to manually set the flash power before pressing the shutter button most of the time. When you use TTL mode it is essential there is the ability to change the flash exposure and that doing this is quick and easy. Changing the flash exposure (and there is +/-2EV) to play with) is very simple with the Nissin i40 and simply involves turning a dial conveniently located on the back of the flash itself. With this flash you don’t have to go digging deep in the camera’s menu system to change the flash power.
In addition to manual and TTL modes the Nissin i40 also has an HSS mode. I have to admit that HSS is something I don’t use, so the fact this flash has this mode is neither here nor there to me. I appreciate HSS is useful to some photographers so it is worth mentioning this flash has HSS mode as well.
The Nissin i40 can also act as a TTL slave as part of an off camera set up, and this mode not only works well but is also to set up too. Unfortunately this flash cannot be used as a master like some of the other speed lights in this class.
On the back of the body are two settings dials, with the first used to control/change the mode and the second to control/change the power setting (when in manual mode) and the exposure compensation (when in TTL mode). I have to say that I really like the layout on the back of this flash as it is simple, logical and everything is close to hand so you can change the settings very quickly. The only disadvantage with the way the dials are laid out is that when the sun is in your eyes, or the light levels are low it can be difficult to see what’s what, and the only way to deal with this is to use a torch/light when the light is low and shield/shade the back of the flash in bright sunlight.
I am in two minds whether an LCD screen/button layout would benefit the Nissin i40 or not. Flashes with LCD screens are easier to adjust in low light but you do have to delve in to the menu to change key settings, which means it isn’t as sick as the dial set up. The other issue with LCD screens is they are large and I am guessing that to have a screen that is actually usable the Nissin i40 would have to be bigger than it is.
The Nissin has a fully adjustable flash head with both vertical and horizontal adjustments. This means you can use the camera in landscape or portrait mode and can tilt the flash head upwards to bounce the light off the ceiling, or tilt the flash head to the side and bounce the light off a side wall. The fully adjustable head is versatile and allows for a lot of creativity.
Nissin claim the batteries provide enough power for up to 220 full power pops and 1,700 1/256 power pops, and whilst I have not counted the number of shots I have captured on a single charge I doubt these claims are too far off and can confirm that battery life during a single intense shoot has never been a problem. The recycling time of this flash is 0.1 seconds (@ 1/256 power) to 4 seconds (at full power), which isn’t that great but is on par with the other speed lights in this class. Whether the slow recycle time is going to be an issue for you will depend on your shooting style, the speed you like to shoot and also the subjects you like to shoot. I don’t have an issue with the slow recycling time but a camera club buddy of mine who is massively in to his (moving) portrait shots has a different opinion to me. Before parting with your hard earned money on this speed light you need to take a step back, consider your shooting style etc. and then decide if you can live with the slow recycle time.
There is a video light with 9 steps of output level and 3.5 hours (low power) from a single charge. I have to admit that I never use my dslr camera for recording video, although I appreciate there are many photographers out there that do. Personally, it wouldn’t bother me if the video light was there or not, but if you do like recording video footage with your dslr camera I appreciate this video light is an essential feature.
The build quality of the Nissin i40 is very good, and despite its small size it feels strong, robust and sturdy. This speed light isn’t as bombproof as the Canon 270EX, but it is still very well put together. The Nissin i40 seems like it will last and provide years of trouble free service, provided you look after it and don’t abuse it too much.
The Nissin i40 is a tiny flash and, dimensions wise, is the smallest in its class. You really do have to see it in the flesh and put it on a camera to fully appreciate just how small it really is. If you want the smallest and most portable speed light this should be at the top of your list. Even though this is the smallest speed light in its class it isn’t the lightest weight wise, but given the build quality I guess this is to be expected.
The Nissin i40 is priced toward the higher end in this class of speed light, and whilst it isn’t quite as expensive as the Canon 270EX it’s not too far off. That said, the Nissin is full of technology and has features found on much more expensive speed lights, which makes it great value for money and a big bang for the buck flash.
The Nissin i40 is basically a top end and professional grade speed light miniaturized. Overall, the Nissin i40 speed light is an excellent speed light, and it you are in the market for a small (make that tiny) speed light this is one you should definitely look in to. The build quality is superb, it is powerful (although you do need to make sure you are aware of its limitations), is user friendly and logical and it will help you capture great flash photos. The sticking point for me is the cost, and whilst it isn’t up there with the premium speed lights in this class it isn’t that much cheaper. The other thing is there are cheaper alternatives to this flash that do exactly the same job, and I think these are also worth considering.
Alternatives to the Nissin i40 speed light
Godox TT350 (full review here)
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 36m/ Focal length coverage – 24mm – 105mm/ Recycling time – 0.1 – 2.2 secs/ ETTL - Yes/ EV compensation on flash - +/- 3EV/ Slave - Yes/ Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Dimensions – 140mm x 62mm x 38mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $85/£70/ power – 2xAA batteries
Metz 26 (full review here)
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 26m/ Focal length coverage – 24mm – 85mm/ Recycling time – 0.3 – 8 secs/ ETTL - Yes/ EV compensation on flash - +/- 3EV/ Slave - Yes/ Vertical tilt – 0 – 890 degrees/ Horizontal tilt - None/ Dimensions – 63mm x 85mm x 85mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $140/£75/ Power – 2xAAA batteries
Canon 270EX (full review here)
Guide number (35mm @ ISO 100) – 27m/ Focal length coverage – 28mm – 50mm/ Recycling time – 0.1 – 4 secs/ ETTL - Yes/ EV compensation on flash - No/ Slave - Yes/ Vertical tilt – 0 – 90 degrees/ Horizontal tilt - No/ Dimensions – 77mm x 66mm x 65mm/ Approx price $USD/£GBP - $170/£180/ power – 2xAA batteries
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.