I have finally jumped into the mirrorless world recently after lugging heavy Nikon and Canon DSLRs around for a decade. My first DSLR was the venerable Nikon D70. Since then, we have seen many exciting digital cameras come and go. However, DSLRs are killing my back and I am no longer travelling with one. Instead, I have often shot travel or day to day photos with just my iPhone. With the capable HDR function on the iPhone, amazing photos could be captured as long as there is good available lighting.
With the new Fujifilm XT1 Graphite Silver, I am hoping to do more where the iPhone falls short of. Nevertheless, I also need to cover some events occasionally due to my job and I have realized quickly that I need a flash despite the decent high ISO performance of XT1. However, Fujifilm is obviously falling behind with its flash development.
Therefore, I quickly got my hands on the Nissin i40 flash when they launched their Fujifilm version. This will enable me to utilise the TTL capability while giving me the necessary features that I am looking for — proper bounce and soft box with decent guide number. Fujifilm’s only flash that meets my basic criterias is a rebranded Sunpak flash that is simply too big for the beautiful XT1 body. Moreover, EF42 comes with an uninspiring plastic shoe mount versus i40’s metal mount. Rumours have also been spreading about a new Fujifilm flash in 2015, but the Nissin i40 is a TIPA 2014 winner of the Best Portable Lighting System and the model has received good reviews from many owners. With a very decent price of S$233, I picked up one in no time.
My initial reactions are mixed. Some quick tests at home seem to suggest that the flash works well and flash compensation is so easy with the power dial. Recharging also feels quick. However, I am used to the build quality of Nikon SB800 and Canon 580EX II flashes and the Nissin i40, while decent, is simply not on par. Then again, Nikon and Canon flashes easily cost twice as much. I also find that the power dial (for flash compensation) is too easily adjusted, without sufficient friction/restriction for the rotation. It is therefore easily subjected to accidental shifts. Personally, I would prefer a tighter power dial.
You can find some product shots which I took with my iPhone 6 below. I have an event in a low-light venue coming up and would soon be able to test it in real world use.
After using the Nissin i40 flash for a few indoor events, I find that the flash does a pretty decent job for its size and weight. As I said before, the flash is a perfect match in size and looks for Fujifilm XT1. I always set it to iTTL mode and I tend to use the power dial to compensate -0.5 EV most of the time so as not to overexpose accidentally. At occasions, especially when I am very close to the subjects, I may dial in -1 EV or more.
The good is that the dedicated power dial is easy to use. The bad is that I tend to move the dial accidentally. I have pointed out before that I wish there is more friction to prevent accidental shifts. Recharging is fairly fast but it seems to slow down quite a bit if you have depleted batteries. Having used Nikon SB800 and Canon Speedlite 580EX II in the past, they feel more powerful and slightly faster to recharge than Nissin i40. But then the price and weight is also in a different class. Besides, XT1 does not support flash in continuous burst mode which is quite a downer. Hopefully, the future XT2 will give us that feature. Otherwise CH mode is useless in indoor or low-light situations. Though Nissin i40 is capable of up to 1/8000s flash sync speed, XT1 can only support up to 1/180s. So again, I expect XT2 to support a much higher flash sync speed.
At such an affordable price, Nissin i40 remains one of the most recommended flash for the higher-end Fujifilm X-series cameras at the moment.