What’s a Speedlight/Speedlite?
A speedlight, also known as on-camera flash or flashgun, is an external flash device that sits on top of your camera, usually plugging into your camera's hotshoe/coldshoe. However, you can also use it off-camera, for example by placing it on a stand or even just placing it on a level surface and using a remote trigger to fire the speedlight rather than through your hotshoe. Put simply, a speedlight is the quintessential tool you'd expect to see any photographer’s arsenal.
Why use a Speedlight?
The primary reason for using a speedlight is to create more light for your shot than what your camera’s built-in flash can provide. In addition to improving lighting in darkly lit areas, it can also be used to supplement natural light shoots providing a more balanced controllabe exposure.
Typically if you needed more light than what your built-in flash provides then you would be looking at studio or strobe flash lights, but they can be unwieldly or impractical in certain situations - not to mention quite expensive - hence a speedlight which is portable and compact, practically pocket sized and reasonably priced would be the next best option.
What to look for in your Speedlight – a Quick 101 Buyer's Guide
The most important thing to consider, especially if you are a beginner, is to buy a speedlight that is made specifically for your brand of camera. This is because the speedlight will be controlled by your camera's hotshoe so they must be compatible. Godox speedlights come in Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Pentax, Fuji or Olympus variants, so pay attention to the title and description on our product pages, a Godox V1-N for example means it's the Nikon version, or V1-C for Canon.
Secondly is power, speedlights come in a range of powers expressed as GN (guide numbers), the guide number relates to metres so for example 'GN60' is 60 metres. The guide numbers relate to your ISO being set to 100; you can work out the number by multiplying your subject distance by your f-stop number.
The third thing important to consider is the compatible flash modes, the most popular of which are TTL and Manual. TTL or 'through-the-lens', is effectively automatic mode - the speedlight will work with your camera to determine the correct setting.
Manual on the other hand is as described on the tin, you will set the settings yourself either on the camera or using the controls on the speedlight.
The final feature to look out for is HSS or High-Speed Sync. This nifty little feature will allow you to take shots using a faster shutter speed than what your camera will allow without getting that nasty black banding at the bottom of the frame.
Check out some related content on our blog:
Godox, Should I buy a Godox AD100 Pro or V1? | Equipment Comparison Guide