Nissin i40 speed-light arrived yesterday afternoon.
First impression was … this box is so small
True to that promise, I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the flash, and how well proportioned it is to my tiny A7R.
Here are the PROS:
Comes with all the accessories like a padded belt mount soft case with a QR bag clip, and table stand/light stand mount that I personally just leave in the box before storing it. It does not come with a little cap for the multi-function mount … which eventually just gets lost anyway.
Has a W/A diffuser that pulls out from the bottom of the head. Also comes with a clip-on diffuser which is well designed with the diffusion area deep enough to actually scatter light to the sides as well as straight forward. More importantly, it is deep enough that when tilted up to the full 90º you can still use the slide out bounce card inside the diffuser to throw more light forward because it is cleverly accessible from outside the diffuser … so you can use it, or not use it, without removing the diffuser.
Analog controls are no-brainer to use. The printed instructions are meager and sparse … Nissin assumes you know the basics of speed-light use. If Sony wrote them they'd be a phone book
Full 90º bounce, with swivel 180º to left and right. Clear crisp click indents that promise no flopping forward (although that remains to be seen when other heavier modifiers are used like a Lumiquest bounce).
A key difference with this Mighty Mouse flash is that unlike the new smaller Sony flash, it takes 4 AAs in the main body. Even with 4 batteries, it is a feather weight, and causes no feel of unbalance. 4AA will help with the piss-ant video light .
The AF assist light is really strong … an amber color which burns out part of the viewfinder view when the camera is set to "Setting Effect Off" for using strobes or flash. That may be either a Pro or Con. We'll see.
The mount is simple … slip it in and the flash firmly clicks into place with no wobble or play, press the rear release button and remove it.
A, M or TTL/HSS is user controlled by pressing the green test button for three seconds and then a mode light flashes to tell you HSS is set. It does NOT retain that setting if you turn off the flash! You have to re-set HSS each time you power-up the i40.
I did a few quick shots using TTL and bounce and it exposed perfectly … what remains to be seen is how well it does for daylight fill, and whether it has enough juice to work in larger spaces and/or low light … although I tend to use the "drag the shutter technique" in lower light, so it'll probably be fine. I have an upcoming wedding where I'll find out all the answers quick enough.
That's the good news … here are the cons:
The shoe mount is not metal. I advise taking care not to constantly pick up the camera/flash using the flash in any way.
The plastic swivel mechanism is less than robust and promises to self-destruct if handled roughly in haste, or more likely takes a side hit when in upright bounce position. I'd advise NOT carrying the kit with the head in bounce position.
The analog TTL compensation dial offers +/- two stops either way. Minus 2 is probably okay, but plus 2 often doesn't always cut it in strongly back-lit ambient. Probably the most they could manage in a unit this small.
Compared to LCD digital flash communications, the little dial indicator lights on the back are quite bright in dark conditions, making it very difficult to see the printed analog dial settings because you are looking at those bright lights. It'll be fine outdoors, but indoors or any darker ambient conditions will have you wishing for a flash-light.
Worst aspect of the i40 is the battery door. It pops open and is held open by a spring mechanism, which requires a degree from MIT to then close. I practiced it many times and it was still difficult to quickly close and requires use of both hands to do it. There are no special instructions regarding the insertion of batteries with the unit. Maybe there is a secret to it, and when anyone finds it they should make a video of it As for now, it is NOT conducive to quickly changing batteries on the fly (like at a wedding or event shoot). I predict this door will get broken in droves. Bring some Gaffers tape in your bag or you may be SOL if it breaks.
More to come after I get a chance to give it a work-out.
I can't upload images here due to exceeding some quota which I haven't a clue how to correct … so here is a link to photos of the i40 on my A7R, with close-ups of some discussion areas like the swivel mechanism and battery door spring hinge.
i40 flash on A7R - fotografz