A lot of people have been champing at the bit to hear what the new Godox V850 Lithium-Ion powered flash is like, so I’m posting a quick hands on preview.
In short this flash is brilliant! It’s definitely the real deal.
Previous Godox speedlights have been made to very low prices, and generally around a stop less powerful than the top end flashes. So I really wasn’t sure what to expect with the new V850, but thankfully Godox have followed on from the excellent quality Cheetah/Witstro bare bulb units, and stepped it right up with the V850 speedlight.
The V850 is a really nicely made flash, and power is right up there with the Canon-Nikon units. Color temp is similar to Canon, and consistent. Light output between shots is also very consistent. Build quality is really nice, with a very smooth and solid head tilt and swivel, and large clear LCD. Buttons are large and easy to access, and the interface is as simple and user friendly as they come.
So this is a higher quality flash than the popular YongNuo YN-560 III, with 2 to 3 tenths more power, and color more consistent with the Canon-Nikon units. Both flashes share the Canon 580EX/II head shape, so modifiers designed for those will fit both flashes. The V850 body is just a little fatter, and you can feel it has a bit more weight to it, but not that much difference really.
Like the YN-560 III (should eventually provide) the V850 is a manual only flash, but with remote power control available via radio. Unlike the YN-560 III though, the V850 also has HSS available off camera (with another Cells II transmitter used).
Lithium-Ion Battery –
The game changing feature of the V850 though is the built in Lithium-Ion battery, capable of a huge 650 full power pops. Effectively negating the need for an external battery pack to a large degree (and a heap more AA batteries).
I tested this capacity (and if I counted right) I reached 645 full power pops on the one full battery charge. And recycle didn’t slow right down until the last 5 pops. That’s really 12 AA’s worth, and with no slow down!
The V850 really is a game changer when it comes to off camera speedlights. You simply don’t have to worry about batteries any more. And even if you did need a battery change, its an effortless exercise you can do with your eyes closed. No fumbling around with AA batteries in the dark ever again!
I said to Godox this is really the first professional self contained off camera speedlight available. Because constantly replacing AA batteries in the middle of a shoot really makes regular speedlites feel like a toy in comparison. External battery packs are a way around that, but that’s a lot of extra gear, inconvenience, and battery management again. This is one simple battery, and very neatly packaged inside a completely self contained flash unit.
Stress Test and Recycle –
Godox sent this flash sample over, but another retailer asked me if I could really give this flash a hard time (at their expense), so that they could get a good indication of how well they would really hold up. So for the last 2 days I have pushed this poor flash to the extreme… and its still going fine. The front diffuser is now melted!, but the flash is still going strong.
The same can’t be said unfortunately for a fairly new YN-560 III, which burnt out the flash tube trying to keep up with the V850 in a direct comparison. I was firing both flashes exactly the same with continuous 1/2 power pops, but I had to keep opening the battery door on the YN-560 III to cheat the overheat protection to try and keep up with the V850. And eventually the poor YN-560 III went pooof! The Eneloops inside were so hot I could not even hold them. In comparison the V850 battery with exactly the same pops was hardly even warm.
So that really showed the difference between these two flashes. That was really pushing them to the extreme though, and in defence of the YN-560 III its really quite a fast little flash when it comes to recycle time. The power is a little lower, but for quite a few shots (50 or more) its recycle time is actually slightly faster than the V850. I know that is going to confuse things for some people, but it is true. The V850 will eventually pull ahead though, and then it has the capacity to go on for a long long time! The V850 is faster than the comparable output Canon/Nikon flashes from the start though –
So the V850 is not actually rocket-ship fast recycle like you can get from some external battery packs. Though unless very short bursts of multiple frames per second are what you’re after, its overheat issues that are always going to slow things down eventually more than recycle time anyway.
At half power you can shoot at 0.5 second recycle (which is as good as instant), and as long as you stop for at least 30 seconds once in every 60 shots, the flash will never go into overheat protection. So you can basically shoot over 1200 shots at 1/2 power, with almost instant recycle when needed. Which is simply amazing for a small self contained speedlight.
And if you did need super fast recycle off camera, the money would be better spent on a second V850 rather than a battery pack anyway. Because using two V850 flashes at half the power level of one, would be faster than virtualy any battery pack anyway, and allow a lot more pops before overheating them as well.
And that’s another great point, using multiple flashes together will also be much more convenient now without trying to run battery packs to them all.
The V850 has a large clear LCD, and the buttons are large and easy to access. The wheel is fast to operate, though simple push buttons like the YongNuo flashes have are arguably even slightly faster. Its hardly worth comparing that in detail though, as the remote transmitter will likely be the main interface used to control the flash 95% of the time anyway.
The button functions and display are extremely simple though, with no multi button pressing. And nothing hidden other than what you see on the buttons face, except for just 2 custom functions, sleep time/off, and AF assist light time.
Godox have clearly tried to follow in the steps of the Witstro/Cheetah and make this the most simple user friendly speedlight interface available. The simple ON/OFF switch sure beats holding a button down for ages to get the flash turned on or off as well.
Manual, S1, S2, RPT (Multi), and HSS modes are available, and displayed down the left side of the LCD screen. The all important battery level indicator is in the right.
Triggers and HSS –
The FT-16s receiver module is not available until the end of the month, but we know already from the Cheetah/Witstro that the transmitter and remote power control is one of the quickest and simplest available, and you would be lucky to ever see a misfire.
HSS requires a separate Cells II transmitter, and the FT-16 transmitter above is then held in hand to change power levels. I did test the HSS using a Cells II as transmitter and receiver for now, and its comparable in output to an on-camera speedlite, though not quite as even. (Cells II are currently available for Canon, Nikon coming soon).
The V850 instruction manual says only 10 continuous full power shots in HSS, but I found its actually set to 20 shots just as regular full power is. Taking a short break within that 20 shots easily avoids going into overheat protection at all though.
I did find some very small issues with the V850, but as an off camera flash nothing I would really even be concerned with (though I have informed Godox of these).
Catchlight Card – Can pull right out of the flash too easily. Off camera I would rarely ever use it though.
Flash Foot – Although wider than YongNuo feet, its still a bit too slopy in the Canon Hotshoe. Not really an issue with a single firing pin flash though.
Light Pattern – Although monumentally improved over some earlier Godox speedlights, the light pattern is still not as even as many other speedlites at longer zoom lengths (at 24mm etc its very even though). To be fair Nikon has not been perfect with this on recent flashes either. And for off camera use its generally not an issue anyway.
Sound Buzzer Memory – All settings stay in memory except the sound buzzer and HSS. It gets a little annoying remembering to turn the buzzer on all the time if you like to use that.
LCD Backlight Time – 10 seconds for the LCD screen backlight time is really too short. One of the great things about the Witstro is the LCD stays on all the time. The ideal option here would be another custom function to change the time to 30 or 60 seconds, or on all the time like the Witstro. Though with remote power control it is possible you never use the flash interface anyway.
2.5mm sync port – The manual and specs state this as 3.5mm, not 2.5mm as it actually is. (Which is a little annoying when the Witstro port is 3.5mm)
Soft Pouch – This is currently tight on the flash, but it would have been much better to fit the flash with FT-16s receiver attached to the side as well. This may be an early pouch though.
As mentioned the Godox V850 is the real deal, and I’m sure its going to change off camera speedlites forever.
Its an incredible flash, and at $119.95 with battery and a great charger, Godox have got the price point spot on as well. (It will be available cheaper without charger as well).
Don’t tell Godox, but many professionals wouldn’t even think twice about paying double for the convenience of this flash. Though Godox have clearly aimed the V850 at an ideal balance, built well and still priced to suit as many people as possible this time.
For owners of the Cheetah and Witstro bare bulb flash units, this will be the obvious companion speedlite choice as it uses the same transmitter unit for remote power control (and HSS etc).
The V850 is really going to make a lot of people think twice about any off camera speedlight choice now though.
More details in the Godox Brochure below –
Price and Availability –
Available now for around $119 –
Eachshot -6% – V850
You can also see more details on the V850 in the previous post here.