Last Updated on March 16, 2021
Shooting with a high quality flash allows you to create great lighting in any scene. If you are a Nikon photographer then you will want the best flash specifically for Nikon cameras.
There are a lot of options available for selecting a Nikon flash and they come in across the entire range of prices. There are also some excellent third party models compatible with Nikons. In this article I will show you the best Nikon flashes so you can get the best one for your budget.
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How to Select the Best Flash for a Nikon DSLR Camera
Flashes come with feature options and in all prices from low cost entry level models to higher priced professional models.
When considering what is the best flash for your Nikon it is important to think about your budget and how much quality you are willing to invest in. For my recommendations I have been sure to include options for all budgets, but it is important to keep in mind that like with most things in life, you do tend to get what you pay for.
It is also important to understand what circumstances you will be shooting in. For example, if you are planning to shoot long distance shots with a telephoto lens then you will need a flash that is designed to handle lighting a long shot. On the other hand, if you are shooting with a portrait lens then you will need a flash designed for close up shots. And if you are shooting surreal portrait photography you may want flexibility to alter the mood of your shots.
When looking at various flashes it is important to know that they are essentially ranked with a number system that tells you how much light they produce. The higher the number, the more light it can generate.
You will also find a recycling rate which lets you know the duration of the flash of light. If you have a TTL flash it has an effective auto mode that is built into the flash. It has the ability to automatically select the settings for you.
A flash with manual mode gives you the ability to set the flash settings yourself. You will also likely want to select a flash that allows you to adjust it with a tilt and rotation feature. This will give you the ability to bounce light, giving you greater control over the lighting of your scene. There are also a number of other potential feature options that may come in handy. Some flashes have wireless remote control which allows you to control a flash setup off camera. There are even continuous LED models designed for shooting video, which is great for vlogging cameras.
With all that in mind, here are the best Nikon and Nikon compatible camera flashes on the market today.
Top Rated Flash for Nikon
This is a true professional flash for Nikon cameras. The SB 5000 is technologically advanced and ideal for the serious photographer. It has a built in radio control allowing you to use the flash on or off camera. It pairs with the WR-A10 and the WR-R10 wireless remote adapter if you want to shoot with it off camera. The wireless function is amazing and will offer you much more creative freedom when setting up your shots. It is important to note that the wireless function works with just the more modern Nikon camera models which include the D850, D500, D7500, the Z7 and the Z6. The SB 5000 also offers the quickest recycling time of any Nikon flash on the market. With it’s built in cooling system it will not overheat and give you the ability to shoot up to 100 shots in a row. This modern cooling system is also smaller than older versions helping keep this flash lightweight. It has a guide number of 113 feet when shooting at 35mm and 180 feet when shooting at 200mm. This is an impressive and powerful flash for Nikon cameras. It has the TTL mode in addition to an advanced autofocus assist beam. You get a number of key modes including high speed sync, slow sync, and first and second curtain firing mode. This is a pro flash model and it comes with a premium price tag. If you are a serious photographer and need the best performance and features this is an amazing flash.
This is a great performing flash and comes in at a lower price point than the SB-5000. This flash is an exceptional model for those looking to invest less while still getting a very high performing flash. The SB 700 offers you a guide number of 92 feet up to 128 feet with a flash recycle time that is a very solid 2.5 seconds. This model offers high speed sync which will allow you to shoot with faster shutter speeds, above 1/250. It additionally provides you with first and second curtain sync. Add in the autofocus assist beam and the TTL mode functionality that makes setting up your shots much easier. The flash head provides up to 90 degrees of rotation with six total stops. You can also turn off TTL mode and use this flash manually which is great for providing soft lighting for portrait shots. This is a great flash with a lot of pro level features. It does not come with wireless mode and it does come in with a slightly slower recycle time than the SB 5000 but at the price point this is an excellent option.
The Nikon SB 500 is an excellent value and versatile flash. It pulls double duty as a solid speedlight flash and LED video camera light all in one great package. It is priced very reasonably and comes with excellent performance. It offers a guide number of 24 feet all the way up to 78.7 feet. It is well designed and lightweight making it great for traveling with. With a three and a half second flash recycling this is a solid option. It provides you with tilt up to 90 degrees and rotation up to 180 degrees making it easy to setup your shots. If you are interested in the camera light mode, it offers three different brightness modes. When shooting stills, it offers TTL and manual settings modes for complete control over your lighting. This model does not offer built in remote control but if you want to upgrade you can use an external remote control or utilize the pop up flash. The battery is great when shooting still shots but it is a bit of a battery hog when shooting in video mode. It also does not provide high speed sync and the recycling time is not as fast as the professional flashes above. This is a high quality Nikon flash for those looking to spend less than you have to for a top of the line flash.
Godox TT685N Thinklite Flash for Nikon
This is another excellent budget friendly flash. It provides a flash guide number of 197 feet with a zoom range of 14 – 200mm. This flash comes with a solid feature list including manual and TTL mode along with high speed sync. The manual flash goes from 1/128 to 1/1. It also has a snappy recycle time of .1 to 2.6 seconds with a duration that goes from 1/300 seconds to 1/20000. I particularly like how this hot shoe flash has a swivel and tilt bounce head and the back facing LCD screen that makes adjusting settings simple and quick. It has a sleek physical design and, for a third party option, it performs on par with Nikon made flashes in the same price range. It comes with built in wireless control which will allow you to use it of camera. The wireless offers 32 channels to ensure you can use it when you need it. By going with a Nikon compatible, third party model you can get more features while keeping the price down.
Yongnuo Speedlite for Nikon
This is another third party option that offers a top feature list with a very reasonable price tag. This flash from Yongnuo provides a 196 foot guide number, an adjustable power range from 1/128 – 1/1, and a recycle time that clocks under three seconds. The power is right on par with the Nikon SB 700, but at a much lower price. You do not get high speed sync but it does pair with Nikon’s TTL system which does provide high speed sync. This lens is another model that provides LED movie lighting in addition to still shot flash. It is very lightweight, weighing in at under one pound. It is powered with four AA batteries (I use rechargeable to save on battery costs). Best of all, it comes with built in wireless control, but it does not work with the newest Nikon models. This is another great example of how a third party model can give you a lot of bang for your buck.
As you can see, there are some great flashes available for your Nikon no matter what your budget is. While the top two models are definitely the best performers on the market, if you have a lower budget the rest of the top rated picks will absolutely offer you excellent performance. Keep in mind that you need to consider how much power you need for the type of photography you shoot. If you are shooting long shots with a telephoto lens you will need much more power than if you are shooting up close portraits. I love having built in wireless remote control and a fast recycling time, high speed sync, and TTL but you do not necessarily need these features if your budget does not allow it. If you do want the best of the best then you should definitely go with the SB-5000. If you do not need all the bells and whistles yet then any of the rest of the models will serve you very well without breaking the budget.
For more Nikon flash picks check out these articles