The Nissin MG8000 Extreme hotshoe flash capable of 1000 shots in a row without overheating, is now available in Canon and Nikon versions.
The MG8000 is the latest flagship speedlite from Japanese manufacturer Nissin Digital, and features an impressive new vented flash head, and quartz flash tube similar to those found in studio flash units. Combined with an external battery pack, this creates a pretty special hotshoe flash capable of sub 1 second full power flashes, for about as long as you care to shoot.
Apart from the elaborate new flash head, the rest of the MG8000 appears to be, in specification and physical body, the same as the previous flagship Di866 MkII units. Which is not a bad thing as the Di866 II have been tried and proven now as a well priced alternatives to the top end Canon/Nikon units.
Hotshoe flashes are brilliant for being lightweight, compact and convenient, but they have few limitations compared to the larger studio strobes, the main issues being –
- Recycle Time
Power is always limited in such a light and compact unit, but speedlites are incredibly efficient, with their fresnel zoom lens focusing the light only in the area of the frame it needs to be. Recycle time can easily be overcome now with high voltage battery packs, but that still leaves overheating as the main limitation as to how fast, or how many times you can shoot before resting the flash.
Nissin have overcome this with a pretty significant advancement, using a more durable quartz flash tube and newly designed vented flash head. This basically allows you to shoot as much as you like at full power, or in HSS, and that’s even with very quick sub 1 second recycle times achievable when using the Nissin battery back (Canon and third party packs can be used too).
Due to the venting in the flash head there is no place for a built in catch-light card or flip down wide angle diffuser, so Nissin supply a Stofen style wide angle diffuser cap with the MG8000.
The vents also mean you would have to give more consideration to mounting modifiers like small softboxes, grids and gels etc on the flash head.
Off course this added capability doesn’t come for free unfortunately –
So the “Extreme” does come at a considerable cost. But I would be very surprised if that price doesn’t drop after a short while, as even the Canon and Quantum alternatives have done recently with price reductions and rebates etc.
The MG8000 can also run off regular HV external battery packs from Canon/Nikon, and third parties. 8 cell AA Pixel Packs are as low as $45 – $55. Where the smallest Quantum Turbo SC pack is $466, and sealed inside the Turbo SC are just the same regular 8 AA Nimh cells.
Nissin Power Pack PS-300 –
As well using the 4 regular AA batteries placed inside the flash, the MG8000 can also run off standard high voltage power packs which allow improved recycle times and many more flash pops without changing batteries. Nissin’s own PS-300 power pack or any HV pack suitable for Canon or Nikon speedlights can be used.
Canon/Nikon CP-E4 / SD-9, 8 cell AA packs, or inexpensive third party options like the Pixel pack, will bring the full power recycle time down to as low as 1.2 seconds, or around 1.5 seconds can be expected for continuous shooting.
The Nissin Power Pack PS-300 – $420 – will bring those recycle times down to as low as 0.7 seconds. The PS-300 can also run 2 flashes at around the recycle rate of the 8 cell AA packs above.
The great thing about the Nissin Pro Pack is that it contains a regular 7.2 volt Nimh battery pack very commonly used in model electric radio controlled cars. So they are relatively inexpensive to replace and widely available. You can also purchase extras and have a few charged up ready swap into the PS-300 as needed.
The Quantum Turbo packs otherwise have custom made packs built in, which they would like you to pay $100+ for Quantum themselves to replace. Some third party replacements can now also be found on Ebay though.
If you are only using these occasionally, the regular 8 cell AA packs may be a better way to go, as the AA cell chargers can recharge and condition each cell individually, and you can discard any bad cells. The pre made packs generally need to be used regularly or they will stop holding charge and need to be replaced. This is because they are only as good as the worst cell in the whole pack. At least that’s not too expensive with the 7.2 volt replacement packs available for the Nissin though.
The 600EX-RT is not really an alternative to the MG-8000 for continuous flash capability, but we should mention the 600EX-RT has very much rained on the parades of a lot of third party flash and radio trigger options.This is simply because the built in TTL wireless radio system for remote slave flashes brings a level of convenience and reliability a lot of wedding and event photographers now find hard to go past. And no doubt Nikon will be sure to follow with built in radio system in the near future.
Nissin does not have the built in TTL radio trigger system, though the previous Di866 II works with the Phottix Odin TTL trigger, or PocketWizard TT1/5 and Radiopopper PX if flash on camera is required, so the MG8000 should very likely work with those too.
Canon RT is a limited and closed system though and many people do require alternatives features like this continuous flash capability, or controlling higher power studio lights etc.
Quantum QFlash Trio
The Quantum Trio is really the main alternative to the MG8000. The Quantum is a bare bulb flash unit with quartz tube so it can also be fired at full power of in HSS continuously without overheating.
Quantum flashes have been popular with wedding and event photographers for many years due to the extra power, larger light source, and even the light colour which tends to be more neutral or white than the slightly magenta cast often seen from Canon speedlites.
The Trio is also approximately twice the power when bouncing etc. Quantum state the Trio as 80ws as opposed to approximately 50ws for the top end speedlites like the Nissin. Being bare bulb the Trio does not have a zoom head though, so the Nissin can catch up to some degree at longer zoom lengths.
The major advantage of the Nissin, and speedlites in general, is the compact size and weight, less delicate and more compact flash head, zoom head, and the ability to use it self contained without an external battery pack. This can be a lot more convenient particularly when packing and travelling with a number of them for off camera work.
Metz Mecablitz 76 MZ-5
With the high ISO low light ability of many DSLR cameras, the powerful, but also heavy and bulky, handle mount flashes have gone out of fashion to a large degree. The Metz still lives on though and its a powerful flash, twice that of the Nissin, and just as capable of sustaining many continuous flashes without overheating. Although not required, an external P76 battery pack brings the recycle times down to that of the Nissin as well.
The disadvantage of course is the size and weight of the unit. And Metz do not have any built in off camera radio TTL system like Canon or Quantum either.
So there are not really a lot of hotshoe flash alternatives with this serious continuous flash capability, which is obviously why Nissin though it worthwhile to invest in the MG8000 knowing the outcome would be a speedlite with a premium price tag.
Quantum have a well established alternative with the Qflash, and the price with a Turbo 3 battery pack is not much different to the MG8000 with Nissin PS-300, producing similarly fast recycle times. But there are many third party battery packs available for the Nissin, and the flash price is sure to drop to some degree eventually.
The MG8000 has the advantage of compact size and weight, less delicate and more compact zoom-able flash head, and the ability to use it self contained without any external battery pack at all. While the Quantum has its unique advantages too.
The Nissin Quartz bulb and vented flash head is certainly a significant advancement in compact speedlites though, and something that will hopefully filter through to a lot more speedlites in the near future.
The Nissin MG8000 is $629 on Amazon
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