Many thanks to Photoshop Parma and Rinowa SRL for cooperating.
I start with an important foreword: too often we underestimate the limitless creativity that the ability to master the flash can offer to many photographers. Making an exclusive use of the natural light (not the ambient light, because that’s different!) might end up turning to be reductive and less exciting from a creative point of view. Indeed, what’s considered more divine than controlling the light? Controlling the light means deciding its direction, its quantity, its quality, its presence or its absence… in other words, it makes us feel like we’re almighty gods with our camera in our hands.
The Nissin Di700a + Air Commander & my OMD EM-5
Putting jokes aside, in some photographic genres the ability to master the artificial light is essential to take our ideas to a higher level of quality.
The flash technology, as many other aspects of modern photography, underwent many radical changes (even if the masses didn’t really acknowledge them because they were more interested in other aspects). It underwent so many changes that it wouldn’t be wrong to say it’s now possible to keep a small photographic studio in our backpack.
There are many flash lighting systems that can work, and work very well, even wireless. For example, all the cameras in the Olympus world are already equipped with an RC system communicating with their dedicated flashlights.
At the same time, it’s possible to buy a pair of triggers and an old flash-lamp just for a few pennies under the condition that you (un)comfortably choose to control everything manually. A very interesting and smart solution is given by some Chinese manufactures, who created sets including a dedicated transmitter that are very functional and convenient (I already wrote a post about them in this blog few years ago). However, for some people they lack something very important: they’re not TTL.
The new selection of Nissin Flash tries to solve this “historical problem”: it merges in just one system both the wireless (radio) versatility and the TTL. Before the TTL could only be managed “optically” with the Olympus RC mode, and the Radio mode could be used exclusively with manual flash.
Finally, the Nissin Air system has been made available since the end of the last year for Olympus/Panasonic and this put an end to this problem.
The Nissin Di 700° is a flash that has been available for more than one year, but it only started to be noticed at the end of 2016 with its Micro4/3 version (I was one of the very first photographers to get two samples). Its flash system consists of a mid to high range flash-lamp with a head that can be fully rotated. It also includes a diffuser and a control panel. Its built is solid and very well done. The excellent color display with its simple and intuitive interface catch your eye immediately: you can access all the options with just a ferrule and a selection button.
Another considerably tidbit is given by the recharging system of the 4 AA batteries supplying the unit. Basically, the battery block is completely extractable from the flash and this makes its recharge very convenient, because you can buy distinct rechargers to always keep ready in your bag. Also, you don’t really need to disassemble and turn the flash upside down to remove the batteries: this is really a bright idea.
The flash works in TTL mode both when it’s directly assembled on the camera and when it’s controlled wirelessly with the Air1 (sold separately, or as a set with the unit). For anyone who might not know it, TTL is the acronym for “Through-The-Lens”, so it refers to a feature of cameras whereby the intensity of light reflected from the scene is measured through the lens. The data related to the light reflected are sent to the flash system, which automatically doses the power of the flashlight to get the right lighting.
I tried this feature with my Em5 and I didn’t observe any problem. Of course, you always need to be careful to not alter the framing between a shot and the other, so that you can deceive the light meter. The flash lightings were precise and always well dosed.
Even after taking off the flash the situation remained unchanged. Should the lighting power be improperly calibrated, with few simple commands on the commander it is possible to correct it remotely.
My Little Son Michele as model :)
A praise should be sent to the designers of such a foolproof interface. Forget about the elaborated menu and the absurd button combinations many manufacturers made us used to in these years. The Nissin Di700 series is really excellent with its usage simplicity. The wireless configuration also takes only few seconds without showing any issue. You just keep two buttons pressed on the transmitter, then on the flash and… done! You’re connected!
The commander can manage three groups of flashlights independently (A, B and C) to create even complex set-ups.
It’s also possible to control the parabola of the flashlight (with a 24-200mm/12-100mm cover) through the transmitter.
The presence of the TTL is an interesting plus in different situations, even though when used in studios or in portraits it doesn’t add any kind of advantage. In a static set up, where the distance between the flash and the object remains constant, there is no advantage in using the TTL reading. On the contrary, the TTL automatic exposure becomes very interesting when the flash (when assembled on the camera) changes its position in relation of the subject and conversely. In this case, it’s very important to keep the right exposure without always adjusting it.
Indoor / Studio - only flash light
Outdoor mixed with sunlight
It hasn’t passed much time since I started to use the Nissin Di700a, so it’s still early for me to express an opinion about its reliability on the field (for example, after a wedding), but after considering these first experiences and the very well-done built I can say to be extremely satisfied.
At the moment I have a couple of them, managed by just one commander, and the lighting solutions both indoors and outdoors are really limitless, especially while using softboxes and studio-like lighting modifiers.
The only small bad point is given by the fact that you have to use different batteries for the transmitter (AAA) and the flash (AA). It would have been very convenient if we could just use AA batteries for both of them, but it’s still ok. After all, we can’t have everything in our lives.
English Version by: Laura Di Croce