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Varipower flash units

A buyer's guide to powerful and portable manual flashes

Varipower flash units are battery-powered flashes that let you adjust the power manually. This type of flash has become favoured by photographers using the so-called “strobist”-style flash.

“Strobist”-style flash has become synonymous with using multiple small battery powered manual flashes that are wirelessly triggered (by radio or light). The name is derived from the popular blog, where Baltimore based photographer David Hobby champions this type of flash use (as opposed to using automatic, dedicated TTL flash units, mono-lights or studio lights).

To appear on the DPanswers' list of recommended varipower flash units the flash must have at least six varipower steps, an external sync. socket, be registered in our database with a trigger voltage of 12 volts or less, use standard AA-batteries, and have no known issues with off-camera use.

Generic flash and legacy units suitable for “strobist”-style work:


Dedicated flash units that are also suitable for “strobist”-style work:

Canon 580EX II14, 24-105mm36m/r USD 445
Canon 600EX-RT14, 20-200mm36m/r USD 629
LumoPro LP16024-105mm30sf,sd USD 160
MeiKe MK90035mm42m/r,sf,sd USD 173
MeiKe MK93018, 24-105mm39sf,sd USD 65
Metz 76 MZ-520, 24-105mm45  USD 875
Nikon SB-2520, 24-85mm36  [-]
Nikon SB-2618, 24-85mm36sf  [-]
Nikon SB-2818, 24-85mm36  [-]
Nikon SB-28DX18, 24-85mm36  [-]
Nikon SB-80014, 24-105mm38m/r,sf [USD 315]
Nikon SB-80DX14, 24-105mm38sf  [-]
Nikon SB-90014, 17-200mm34m/r,sf [USD 440]
Nikon SB-91014, 17-200mm34m/r,sf USD 550
Nissin Di622 II16, 24-105mm26r,sf,sd USD 160
Nissin Di86618, 24-105mm40m/r,sf,sd [USD 329]
Nissin Di866 II18, 24-105mm40m/r,sf,sd USD 349
Sunpak Auto 54435mm42  [-]
Sunpak Auto 55535mm45  [-]
Sunpak Auto 622 Super Pro35mm60  [USD 200]
YongNuo YN-560 II18, 24-105mm39sf,sd [USD 75]
YongNuo YN-560 III18, 24-105mm39sf,sd USD 75
YongNuo YN-560EX15, 24-105mm39r,sf,sd USD 110
YongNuo YN-565EX15, 24-105mm39r,sf,sd USD 175
YongNuo YN-568EX15, 24-105mm39r,sf,sd USD 182

25 flash inits found.

To search for a flash using different criteria, use the full flash search instead.

Note that if you are use guide numbers (GNs) for doing comparisons, the guide number you'll find in most manufacturer's literature is for the zoom head at its maximum setting (e.g. f=85mm or f=105mm). This makes it difficult to make direct power comparisons with flash units from other manufacturers, as the maximum zoom setting vary from flash to flash. For zoom head flashes, the list above all show the GN with the zoom head set to 35 mm coverage (FX).

For units still in production, the price columns indicates what you may expect to pay when you buy a new unit from a retailer. Prices are collected from the web pages of leading retailers at irregular intervals. Prices goes up and down all the time, so only treat this column as a rough guideline. To see current price and availability, visit the website of a merchant selling the particular flash. For discontinued units (indicated by square brackets around the price, the price listed is what the item used to sell for. Most used items sell for less than this, but certain hard to find second-hand items may sell for more. DPanswers do not track prices on used equipment. To find the going price for used items, search “completed auctions” on eBay.

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