Godox have kindly sent over a couple of early Ving V860C ETTL flashes for testing and feedback.
If you’re not familiar with the V860C already, they are a soon to be available TTL version of the popular V850 remote manual speedlite, also released not so long ago.
UPDATE – The full V860C review is now posted here.
To understand the V860C, its really best to familiarize yourself with the V850 here first. As the V860C are basically like a Canon 580EX II (or Nikon SB-910) TTL flash, combined with the existing V850 remote manual flash.
The V860C are already in high demand, because like the V850 they have a brilliant Lithium-Ion battery built in, providing a huge 650 full power pops and 1.5 second recycle time, without an external battery pack required.
They are also a fairly high quality TTL flash for under $200, which is a combination that’s currently unmatched.
Having tested the early sample V860C pretty thoroughly I have discovered a few issues and limitations.
Owners of the current V850 would know that these are well made flashes, and the V860C are going to be a killer flashes. There are few issues still to be resolved though, at least with the early units I received. And some limitations also to be aware of for current V850 owners (and also some good signs regarding TTL radio triggers as well).
UPDATE 14/3/2014 – Godox have confirmed they are still working on the flash, the samples I received where still beta models in development. And Stock has not gone out yet to sellers. That’s likely not far off though.
ETTL Underexposure & FEC doubled –
The early V860C samples I have are consistently underexposing by one stop (compared to the Canon 600EX-RT and most ETTL flashes). FEC (Flash Exposure Compensation) adjustments are also at least double what they should be. So adding one stop of FEC increases the exposure by around two stops.
UPDATE 17/3/2014 – Godox are reporting these issues have now been rectified (and first customer reports also now verify this).
Light Pattern –
Its noticeable when the flash is used on-camera and direct, that the light patterns are not as even as the Canon flashes, or even YongNuo YN-568EX for example. This is more noticeable at longer zoom lengths, but even at 24mm there is room for a little improvement .
UPDATE – Godox are reporting they have a now have a new lense with more even light pattern.
Further Update – In the final production units Godox have actually updated the 14mm side angle flip down diffuser lense, which now provides a more even light pattern at wide angles. And not the actual flash lense.
Having looked more closely at the light patterns with the flash zoom length set to match the camera lense zoom lenght, the V860C light patterns are quite even within the frame. So I agree with Godox that this is really a non-issue.
Firstly I should point out that if you’re just after a simple ETTL flash for on camera use, the items below should not really effect you at all.
But No H-Mode –
UPDATE 14/3/2014 – Godox have now added H-Mode to the V860C (like the V850 has).
H-Mode is the function that allows HSS off camera with the V850 (and now V860C) triggered through the small FT-16 receiver which clips onto the side of the flash.
This update is significant because it means the V860C can also now act as complete replacement for the V850 (with added TTL features).
No TTL Ratios In Optic Wireless Master Mode –
Like the Canon 580EX II, the V860C has an Optic Wireless Master Mode. Though strangely ETTL ratios can not be selected.
In Manual (or Multi) Modes you can select A, B, and C separately, and adjust separate power levels in each group from the V860C’s master interface, or the camera flash control menu.
Though for ETTL this option has not been enabled. So you effectively have a constant A:B:C ratio.
You can still however set different FEC directly on each slave flash, which then still allows a ratio of sorts. Its just that you can not adjust that ratio quickly from the camera.
This is only for the Optic Wireless Master mode though. It has no effect when using TTL radio triggers. And I get the impression Godox are aware that radio triggers like the YN-622C, and Optic Master function already built into cameras, have left the Master function on the flash as less of a priority now anyway.
Having said all that, the V860C Optic Master interface is clear and simple to use (unlike many other TTL flashes).
No Way To Fire the V850 or Witstro Off Camera –
With the V860C mounted on the camera hotshoe, Godox have not provided any method of firing the current V850 or Witstro units via radio off camera.
This is inconvenient, though as discussed under ETTL Radio Trigger Compatibility below, Godox’s strategy appears to be that other third party triggers provide better options for this currently anyway. And they will focus on their own TTL systems to be available around the end of the year.
We did suggest a number of options which could have at least provided some solution without adding extra third party radio triggers, but Godox are clearly now focused on a more well refined systems to come in the future.
Many of Godox’s current flashes have clip on external receivers, so they can all be updated. And their intention at least is not to leave current flashes behind in new systems.
ETTL Radio Trigger Compatibility –
The question most people have been asking is about compatibility with other third party TTL triggers like the YongNuo YN-622C.
I have spent a solid day just running through all the functions, and from my initial testing found all functions working with the –
Please Note Though – This is just my initial testing. Its a lot of time just trying to confirm all these functions a working correctly with all these triggers, as well as the Canon Optic Wireless system. So its possible I could have missed some things, and that other issues may still be discovered once a number of people start using these flash / trigger / camera combinations in more depth.
Also I have spent a lot of time over the last few years warning people that most of the issues people run across with TTL triggers are due to mixing third party gear. So I’d be a bit of a hypocrite to not point that out now as well.
Its pretty obvious though that the V860C are going to be one of the more popular TTL flashes available. And that is due to the unique Lithium-Ion battery, not just the low price (for what you get). So there should over time be enough user feedback to allow any compatibility issues to be well know and documented.
How fast, or if Godox will address any issues found with third party gear is unknown as yet.
Other Observations –
LCD Screen Not as Bright –
The current V850 has a nice clear bright backlight which I really like. The V860C have a more subdued tone and brightness.
This may have been implemented intentionally though, possibly so that you don’t have the brighter light in your face when working with the flash on-camera in dark environments.
Though annoyingly the backlight still goes off all the time after just 10 seconds. And it still doesn’t come on with the press of any button when making adjustments either. You need to remember to press they Light button first every time. A custom function to leave the back light on all the time would be highly desirable (especially considering the flashes very large battery capacity).
Micro USB port –
I’m not sure of the correct terms for the various USB port types, but Godox have used what appears to be the Micro B USB port in the V860C, instead of the Mini B commonly found in most DSLR cameras, flash units and triggers etc.
I’m not sure if the USB cord is supplied in the kit.
4 Custom Functions Implemented –
Of the 13 External Flash Custom Functions accessible through the Canon Flash Control Menu, only 4 have been enabled on the V860C.
- 01 – Auto Power Off
- 03 – FEB Auto Off
- 04 – FEB Sequence
- 10- Slave Auto Power Off Timer
Though I’m not sure the lack of any of the others are anything really going to be missed by most users.
More Shots Before Overheat Protection Cuts In –
The V860C now allows 30 full power shots consecutively before entering overheat protection, compared to 20 shots for the V850.
In HSS mode its now 15 shots at full power, 20 shots at 1/2(+0.3,+0.7), and 30 shots at 1/4(+0.3,+0.7).
Auto AF Assist Light –
The V860C AF assist light now comes on automatically as you would expect with a TTL flash.
The AF light itself is the same laser style light pattern as the V850 uses, which is also much like the YongNuo YN-568EX. These work quite well with the center focus point at least, provided you are at least about 0.8M from the subject.
Recycle Time –
Another thing that probably should be noted, is that although the V850’s 1.5 second recycle time is very fast compared to a Canon 600EX-RT for example without an external battery pack, its also slow compared to a 600EX-RT connected to Godox’s own PB960 battery pack, which is almost instant at full power (using a 2 into 1 cord).
So although the V860C’s Lithium-Ion battery is good, it still can’t produce the super fast frame per second bursts some wedding photographers etc need at times. As mentioned in the V850 review though, its pretty obvious Godox have additional intentions yet, as there are extra unused electrical contacts in the V850/860 battery compartment. So a faster high voltage option of some form may be yet to come.
Overall the V860C should be another stand out flash. A great quality ETTL flash for the low price, with a nice clear user interface, and a killer Lithium-Ion battery like the V850. (Images to come).
Price and Availability –
The V860C for Canon should be available soon from around $185 (Nikon V860N scheduled for April) –
Godox V850 – Full Review
V860C – Brochure
Godox – Website