Nissin i40 Flash Review

Nissin i40 Flash

Nissin i40 Flash

Like many professional cameras, speedlites seem to be getting bigger, so it’s a huge relief to see the new i40 flash system from Nissin totally buck that trend.

With a guide number of 40 it’s clearly not going to be the most powerful flash you can buy, but in terms of portability it has to be worth considering, especially if you’re also thinking about converting to mirrorless cameras for similarly reduced size and weight.
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The great news is that not only are Nissin supporting the big guns of Canon & Nikon, they’re also supporting Fuji, Sony and the Micro-Four-Thirds community of Olympus and Panasonic directly.   I bought my Nissin i40 here.

The model I’m reviewing was purchased by me for use with a Panasonic GH4, but it’s essentially the same size and controls as those available on the Canon / Nikon / Fuji / Sony models.

Nissin i40 Flash Review - What's in the Box

Nissin i40 Flash What’s in the Box

What’s in the box? 
The first thing to notice is how small the box is. Inside there’s a quick start guide, a carabiner (marked ‘not for climbing’), a dedicated pouch holding the Nissin i40 Flash, a sto-fen style diffuser and desktop stand. Kudos to Nissin for including a metal threaded light stand instead of the cheap plastic threads we’ve become used to nowadays.

Nissin i40 Flash Review - Case Belt Loop

Nissin i40 Flash Case Belt Loop

The pouch is almost square, with a belt loop on the back as well as a loop for attaching to the carabiner and then to your bag. I’m not a fan of stubby square cases since they don’t tend to hang nicely from your belt, but the design is functional and fits both stand and diffuser fit in dedicated compartments.

Nissin i40 Review - 580EX II Left - Nissin i40 Right

580EX II clone Left – Nissin i40 Right

So how small is the i40?
IT’S TINY!  I don’t think words alone can describe how tiny this flash is, so here is a picture next to a Yongnuo YN560-III which is essentially the same size as a Canon 580EX II.

As you can see, the Nissin i40 fits completely underneath the Yongnuo head!

The weight is a mere 203g (7.17oz) without batteries or 308g with a set of 4 Sanyo Eneloop AAs.

Another great feature for such a tiny flash is that the head tilts upright to 4 preset positions (although not down) and goes through a full 360˚ turn, with locking positions in 30˚ increments.

Nissin i40 Review - Flash Batteries

Nissin i40 Flash Batteries

Fitting Batteries
The battery compartment is the usual slide to open, then spring loaded to stay open while you fit the batteries. The hinge mechanism is a little odd, lifting the door both up and away from the body, so closing the door takes some getting used to since it requires both pushing down and sliding at the same time.

Nissin i40 Flash Unlock

Nissin i40 Flash Unlock Button

Mounting to Camera
Mounting the i40 to a camera is as simple as sliding it on to the hot shoe, with the spring loaded pin locking in to place. To release the i40 push the small plastic ‘Unlock’ button and slide back. There appears to be no attempt at weather sealing the foot.

 

Nissin i40 Flash Power Button

Nissin i40 Flash Power Button

Turning On
To turn the i40 on or off simply tap the power button for a short time.  There is no need to hold it down like some other models require. On powering up you’ll hear the motorised zoom head initialise and then it’s ready to go.

Nissin i40 Flash Controls

Nissin i40 Flash Controls (micro four thirds version) Canon & Nikon versions  are almost identical but show 24-105mm as the zoom range.

Controls & Modes
The simplicity of the Nissin i40 controls is refreshing. With two dials and clear legends offering a plethora of modes and power adjustments, the left dial provides operating mode selection while the right dial is dedicated to power settings, depending on the currently selected mode.

Controls not Illuminated
The one major complaint I have about the i40 is that neither of the control dials are illuminated, so if you’re operating in a relatively dark environment you can’t see what your settings are. While there are some hints about modes, based on how three different LEDs are lit, if you accidentally moved the power dial there’s no easy way of knowing, other than your photos not coming out as expected. This is a major omission and is something Nissin would do well to fix in a version 2.
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Nissin i40 Flash TTL Exposure Comp

Nissin i40 Flash TTL Exposure Comp

TTL Mode
Let’s start with TTL mode which directly supports both Olympus and Panasonic micro-four-thirds cameras as well as Canon/Nikon/Sony depending on which model you buy.

When selected, the two outer LEDs are illuminated to confirm TTL operation, with the flash compensation settings indicated by the right most LED position.  Flash comp can be adjusted +/- 2.0 in 0.5 step increments (from -2.0 to +2.0). Having this as a manual dial is refreshing and very quick to use.

The i40 responds well to the GH4 I tested with, providing fast and accurate results. In fact, the results were completely in line with my expectations of how a TTL flash should work.

Automatic Mode
Automatic mode is similar to TTL where the camera is controlling the flash power, but in Auto mode the flash compensation is no longer available, so I wonder how many people will ever use this mode?

Nissin i40 Flash Manual Exposure

Nissin i40 Flash Manual Exposure

Manual Mode
In manual mode the left and middle LEDs illuminate and the legend on the left side of the power dial shows the absolute power in full stop adjustments only, from 1/1 all the way down to 1/256.

 

SD and SF
There are three slave modes built in to the Nissin i40, one being remote TTL and the other two being for optical triggering from other visible flashes. In ‘SD’ mode the system will recognise and ignore the pre-flash from a TTL master and trigger instead on the main flash. In ‘SF’ mode it will trigger on the first flash it sees, so is suitable for use with studio strobes or other flash units used in manual mode.

Nissin i40 Flash Wireless Remote Group

Nissin i40 Flash Wireless Remote Group

TTL Remote / Slave Mode (not Fuji)
In TTL remote mode the i40 can be set to any of the three A, B or C groups available. Not all cameras can support this, but the latest Olympus and the Panasonic GH4 do, allowing each group to be controlled from the camera for both mode (TTL or Manual) and power (+/- EV or manual power).  On the GH4 the manual power settings are only 1/1 down to 1/128 so I’m assuming the 1/256 setting on the i40 is unachievable remotely.

Model Variations
Nissin make several variations of the i40 and the remote control options vary  depending on what system you’re using.  The Canon/Nikon/MicroFourThirds systems have A/B/C groups controllable from the (supported) camera body, the Sony version has RMT-M (Manual), RMT -TTL and RMT2-TTL while the Fuji version provides only the optical slave (SD & SF) modes with no on-camera control.

High Speed Sync (HSS) (not Fuji)
The i40 includes a high speed sync option that is conveniently remembered between power cycles. This means that if you select HSS then power the i40 off, when you power back on it remembers the HSS mode for you. Using this mode I was able to shoot up to 1/8000 shutter speed with no problems.

High Speed Sync is only supported in A, M, TTL or wireless mode. To enter HSS mode hold the pilot button (the LED next to the power button) for 3 seconds, or until the left LED starts blinking.  To exit HSS mode hold the pilot button for 3 seconds or until the left LED stops blinking.

Zooming the Head
The i40 will zoom the head automatically when camera mounted, but when used as a remote/slave in M, SD, SF or Wireless mode it could be desirable to set the zoom position manually, such as when you need to fill an umbrella or when using as a hair/rim light.

The zoom settings are 24mm (12mm), 50mm (25mm), 80mm (40mm) or 105mm (53mm) – the first numbers being full frame equivalent and the numbers in parenthesis being micro four thirds settings. To access these positions press and hold the power button for 3 seconds. When changing position the colour of the pilot light with change as follows:

Nissin i40 Zoom Colours

Nissin i40 Zoom Colours

Green: Auto
Dark Blue: 24mm (12mm)
Pink: 50mm (25mm)
Blue: 80mm (40mm)
Orange: 105mm (53mm)

In case you’re worried about having to remember these, they are also printed inside the bounce card flap!

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Nissin i40 Bounce Card

Nissin i40 Bounce Card

Bound Card
A bounce card is built in to the i40 flash head for creating catch lights and flips up to reveal the colour coded zoom settings to the back.

Wide Angle Diffuser
As is the case with most speedlites a wide angle diffuser is built in to the head and automatically zooms the head back to the 24mm(12mm) position.

Focus Assist
The i40 includes a focus assist beam to help with focusing in low light.

Nissin i40 Video Light

Nissin i40 Video Light

Video Light
Something that’s beginning to appear on more and more flashes is a video light and the i40 is no exception. These lights are of little use unless your subject is really close and are really only useful in a real emergency. Any further than a couple of feet and you need to be getting a proper video light.

Thermal Protection
The i40 includes a thermal protection system so if the pilot light starts blinking you know it’s overheating!  Under normal circumstances the pilot light will be green when ‘ready’ an red while recycling.

Audible Beeps
Unfortunately the i40 does not include any audible signal to indicate when it’s recycled and ready.

Conclusions
For it’s size this really is a great flash for use with micro-four-thirds systems or when travelling with DSLRs. Other flash guns can totally dwarf and unbalance smaller cameras so the small (tiny!) size if the i40 could well be the perfect flash if you’re heading over to mirrorless shooting.

If you’re looking for maximum power then it’s guide number of 40 may be a little limiting, but I’ve yet to find a problem in ‘normal’ shooting situations.

The ability to operate in ETTL (Canon), iTTL (Nikon), P-TTL (Sony) and TTL (MFT) makes this a truly flexible tool when shooting in run & gun situations.

If I had to find fault with the i40 it would be a really simple yet significant one. Flashes without control illuminations are always going to be harder to operate in dark environments. Nissin really need to address this in future versions since accidentally knocking the power dial could mean ruined shots and it may not be obvious why until it’s too late.

If the controls were backlit and there was an option for an audible beep then I would without doubt give this a 5 out of 5, but alas without those two options it’s a straight 4 out of 5.
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Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Nissin i40 Flash (including Micro Four Thirds TTL support)
Author Rating
4

15 thoughts on “Nissin i40 Flash Review

  1. John G

    Thanks for this. I’ve been looking for a good flash to use on vacation in yosemite this summer and this sounds like just the thing to go with my EM5!

  2. ggg

    Good review.
    In which situations would you need the (missing) master functionality or isn’t this an issue?

    1. David Partington Post author

      If you need both on-camera and off-camera flash and your camera doesn’t have built=in (popup) flash OR you need to bounce the on camera flash away from the subject.

      Much depends on what you’re shooting.

      I’m almost always shooting with either a single on camera flash or all off camera flash. It’s not very often I use both.

      However, we’re all different and a lot of people do shoot both, so that’s when you need to figure out if your slaves need TTL or can be manual (optically triggered).

  3. Nathan

    Hey thanks for the review, one question: what do you mean by Not Fuji in “High Speed Sync (HSS) (not Fuji)” I thought the HSS DID work on Fuji’s as they make a specific model? Many thanks!

    1. David Partington Post author

      Thanks for the question. There is a model dedicated to Fuji but unfortunately high speed sync is not supported.

      1. Nathan

        High, thanks for the reply, any product page for the Fuji model says it DOES support high speed, so wondering where you got this from? Trying to be sure because I’m thinking of buying it! :-)

        1. David Partington Post author

          I originally thought it did, but two Fuji users told me it didn’t, so I personally checked the user manuals from Nissin and HSS is not in there, where all the other models have it.

  4. James Domingo

    Hi David! I just bought the GX7 together with this Nissin i40 flash. Im kinda new to this compact cameras and external flash, as I only shoot with my Iphone before. When I attached my i40 to the GX7, it works just fine in MANUAL mode of the i40.

    But when I placed it in the TTL mode of the i40, the GX7 does not trigger the i40 flash at all. My GX7 flash settings are also placed in TTL mode, Forced Flash ON. When i press the shutter button, the FLASH icon in the GX7 turns into RED, and it will not trigger the flash anymore.

    Is there any setting that I need to change in the i40 and in the GX7 so that it could work flawlessly in TTL mode (with the flash mounted ON CAMERA)? Thank you very much David.

    1. David Partington Post author

      Unfortunately I don’t have the use of a GX7 so I’m not able to personally test your configuration. I’m wondering if your camera TTL/Forced Flash On configuration is conflicting with using an external flash, but I have no way of testing it. Sorry.

  5. boulanger

    good morning
    Thank you first for the valuable comments and tests
    I got a Panasonic GX7 and i40 Nissin that I use in remote and sometimes manual and HSS , it’s works very well.
    I would buy two other more powerful flash Yongnuo YN568EX-II to progress in shooting: portraits, for example. Do you think if it’s possible to trigger 2 flashes YN568EX-II Yongnuo slaves with Nissin in master and think that I could trigger Yongnuo YN568EX-II off camera and HSS with built in flash master
    thank you in advance

    1. David Partington Post author

      You would be able to trigger the 568EX-II in dumb slave modes only (fixed power, no HSS). That means you will have to set the power of the 568EXII manually and they will fire when they see the i40 fire, but you will not have any remote control other than trigger and I do not believe the HSS will work in dumb slave more either since it has no point of reference. You could achieve the same using the cheaper YN560-II, YN560-III or YN560-IV speedlites.

      1. Joe Cowell

        Hi David,

        Thank you for your interesting post. I have a Panasonic GH4 and use it primary for video. However, recently I have been to a couple of workshops on still photography and the creative use of an off camera flash to create stunning stills. There is so much confusing information out there about TTL and the use of a wireless flash mounted off camera.
        Some camera stores tell me that Panasonic doesn’t make a wireless, off camera flash that will fire when the camera flash is triggered. Others tell me that the only way the GH4 will trigger a remote flash is if you have a cable connecting the flash to the camera. I can’t even find a cable that will stretch 20 feet to all me to move the flash away from the camera to achieve the desired effect.
        I would love to hear your thoughts and any specific recommendations about which flash and trigger system you would recommend to me for the purpose of putting the flash on a remote lighting stand to achieve the desired effect which the GH4 triggers the flash.
        Thanks very much David!

  6. Michael

    I wonder if having two Nissins i40 – one on-camera and another off- would allow both to operate in TTL.
    Fuji camera(s) here – XT-1 and XE-2. Would love to know your response if you know the answer.

    One more comment – someone posted a discovered “hack” where you can force Fuji version of i40 into HSS and shoot up to 1/4000s. I can confirm it works although it is in manual only and not TTL.

Comments are closed.