A flash is an essential bit of kit but the camera’s built in pop up flash - if the camera has one of course as many now don’t, is low powered and weak. In addition to this you can’t control the direction or the intensity of the light. A built in pop up flash is okay for snap shots and those occasions where you want a quick picture to capture a memory and post a low resolution copy to a social media site or something like that, but a pop up flash is a total waste of time for taking proper photos.
Speed lights and external flashes are typically big and heavy, which for travel photography is not ideal. Travel photography accessories need to be as small, light and as portable as possible and the standard speed lights and external flashes don’t fir this bill. Fortunately, there is a new breed of speed light which is smaller, lighter and more compact. These speed lights aren’t as powerful as the standard speed lights but with guide numbers around 30m or so they do pack a punch, and given the top end features of these speed lights they are versatile and simply a smaller version of standard speed lights.
These new style speed lights have come about as an increase in the popularity of the smaller CSC and mirrorless style cameras where the standard speed lights were too big and top-heavy. You can use these small speed lights on dslr cameras as well, and they make awesome speed lights for travel photography.
The choice in these smaller speed lights is growing all the time and many manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. Some of these speed lights are exceptionally good, and some leave a lot to be desired. The best of these smaller and ‘travel friendly’ speed lights include:-
NISSIN i40 (full review here)
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
The Nissin i40 is a tiny (and I mean tiny – you have to see it in the flesh to appreciate just how small it is) speed light that is perfect for travel use. Despite its small size the Nissin i40 packs a punch with GN of 27m which, all things considered, is pretty impressive.
The Nissin i40 is a top quality product that is sturdy, robust and strong but then given the price tag (it isn’t cheap) this is to be expected. One of the best things about the Nissin i40 is the location of the dials to change the settings, which are conveniently located on the back of the flash close to hand.
The Nissin i40 doesn’t have an LCD screen, but then given the tiny sixe of this flash any LCD screen (if it had one of course) would be tiny and next to useless. I don’t have a problem with the lack of LCD screen however I appreciate this may be a deal breaker for some people.
Overall the Nissin i40 is an excellent speed light and one that is well worth buying for travel photography. Get one f these and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
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
The Metz 26 is another small speed light that is also great for travel photography. This speed light has a lower GN than the Nissin i40, but it is only a meter less so in the real world you won’t even notice it.
The Metz is another well built speed light that is sturdy and robust. This speed light isn’t as strong as the Nissin i40, but given the difference in price this isn’t unexpected.
In order to change the settings of the Metz 26 you have to go delving in the camera’s menu, which I find cumbersome and a bit of a faff, however I know this won’t bother all photographers. Having to change the power settings this way is, in my opinion, the Metz 26’s biggest disadvantage.
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
The Godox TT350 is te new kid on the block when it comes to speed lights of this size, and I have to say it is an impressive bit of kit. With a guide number of 36m this little speed light (although bigger than the Nissin i40) really packs a punch.
The Godox TT350 has an LCD screen and being able to change the settings on the back of the flash makes it easy to dial in the correct settings quickly and efficiently – even in the lowest light. The Godox TT350 one of the most user friendly speed lights I have used.
Like all Godox speed lights the TT350 is not only full of features but also dirt cheap, and I am stunned that Godox can make any money with this flash.
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.