There are some things that you just don’t go off brand with. Speedlights used to be one of them, but that’s changing. Although Nikon and Canon both make some great speedlights, they come with a high price tag. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a name brand flash, it just means you have options. For some of us, price is more important than others and it’s nice to know you can get a reliable, quality flash without spending a lot of money. Choosing a specific speedlight for your photography is a choice you have to make. I can’t tell you what to buy. I can, however, make the process easier and give you a list of the seven best speedlights out there. Enjoy!
Yongnuo 560 III
The 560 III is my go-to flash. If you are new to flash photography, this is what you want to start with. It’s a manual flash compatible with Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Olympus cameras. It’s very powerful and my favorite part is the built-in wireless receiver. As long as you have one transmitter, you can have several of these flashes off camera with no need to buy multiple pairs of wireless transmitters. At $70, this flash is an incredible deal.
Yongnuo 565EX II
If you prefer that your flash has TTL metering capability built-in, you will want to look at the 565EX. It’s the same powerful flash as the 560, but with the TTL metering built-in and no built-in wireless receiver. The 565EX costs about $100 and comes in two models, one for Nikon, and one for Canon. Make sure that you get the right model for your camera.
The newest flash in the Yongnuo lineup is the 568EX. It has every feature you could want in a flash including TTL and High Speed Sync (HSS). Most flashes have a shutter sync speed that limits them to shutter speeds below 1/200 to 1/300 of a second. HSS means you can use the flash at shutter speeds up to 1/8000 of a second. The 568EX, like the 565EX, comes in two separate models for Nikon and Canon and costs around $170.
The SB-910, the latest and greatest from Nikon. The SB-910 is the replacement for the SB-900. It is loaded with features including i-TTL, High Speed Sync, and a flash zoom that goes to 200mm. It also has a price tag of $545.
The Nikon SB-700 is comparable to the Yongnuo 565EX. It’s a full-featured high-power flash. The SB-700 is smaller, more compact, and at $327, it’s much more affordable than the SB-910. The only major differences between this and the SB-910 are: slightly less power and a flash zoom to 120mm instead of 200mm.
The 600EX is the replacement for the older 580EX from Canon. The features of the Canon flashes are almost identical to what Nikon offers for their cameras. The 600EX has an expanded flash zoom range of 200mm, e-TTL, and HSS. Just like the Yongnuo 560 model, it has my favorite feature, wireless triggering built-in. The 600EX has a price tag of $549.
Canon 430EX II
If you want to stick with a Canon flash, but you don’t want to spend over $500 for it, the Canon 430EX II is what you’re looking for. It keeps all the important features of the 600, but with slightly reduced flash zoom and no wireless trigger built-in. It’s also more compact, lighter and $250 cheaper. The 430EX is a great choice for a speedlight and the $300 price tag is fairly reasonable.