Meike/Neewer Speedlite NW320 for Fuji

I have been using my Canon 430EX II on my Fuji bodies for several months now. This can only be done in manual mode which is a big pain. Why is it a big pain? More on this in another post.

Options: Fuji and Metz make a few nice TTL flashes.

  • According to some reports, some are noisy (like the whine old flashes use to make)
  • Many are too large for me to carry everyday
  • Most are more than I wanted to spend for how little I use them
  • and Fuji’s EF-20 doesn’t swivel (but does tilt).

So I thought that I would try out the cheaper $65 Meike/Neewer NW320.

The NW320 is no match for the power of a big pro flash, but it is tiny. Here it is against my Canon 430EX II which is smaller than its popular big brother the 600 EX-RT.

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The NW320 isn’t weatherproof like the Canon 600EX-RT/II-RT, it can’t zoom like many of the larger flashes, but it swivels pretty well (60° to the left, 90° to the right)

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and tilts pretty well, too

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but it can’t go backwards like my Canon (180° counterclockwise and tilts) which is helpful for a more natural bounce quality or bounce while looking downward.

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and it serves pretty well if you take advantage of Fuji’s low ISO noise. What does that mean? If DSLRs need to be shot at ISO400 to avoid noise, but your Fuji can shoot 1600 with similar performance, you have essentially make your flash 2 stops more powerful.

It also only takes about half the space compared to my giant DSLR flash.

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The inexpensive bag hold the tiny flash and the included soft box. (The Canon doesn’t come with a soft box, but you can get them for a few bucks on eBay.) And since the smaller flash only uses 2 AA batteries, you can carry TWO sets of backup batteries (4 AA) for the price of just ONE set for the Canon (also 4AA).

So it is just right for most portable demands and works better on smaller mirrorless bodies.

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The Canon flash nearly dwarfs the Fuji body. Scratch that. It DOES dwarf the Fuji and is awkward to hold and comical in person.

Performance

It does indeed take only 4-5 seconds after a full power blast to power up with nice Eneloop batteries. (FYI Alkaline batteries don’t perform well in flashes. Use NiMH or NiMH hybrid batteries.)

Display and controls

You can probably find PDF manuals for this flash online. It is pretty simple and usable.

The display is backlit when a button is pressed. It sleeps when your camera goes to sleep or is turned off. And it displays a cute “bye-bye” when you shut it off.

Extras

The flash has a built in flash slave that can be triggered with either the traditional primary flash or to ignore the preflash some cameras use to meter the scene.

It includes a soft box, a small bag and a flash stand.

The specs say it can charge rechargeable batteries using a standard smartphone cable which might be handy for those who like to travel light.

Quirks

Since I use rechargeable batteries that maintain 1.2v for longer (rather than the short lived 1.5v in regular disposable batteries), the battery meter always says the battery is low (see above).

Cons

Tilting and twisting the head (don’t forget to lock the shoe in place) has more give than a pro flash and requires more force that I would like. If I made a living on photography, I might look for something that would work more smoothly.

Conclusion

This is an excellent example of the 80/20 rule. 80% of basic needs can be met with 20% the cost, but if you want that last 20% of all needs (giant group shots, freezing action during daylight, zoom head, built in radio receiver, weatherproofing, etc), it will cost exponentially more as you get closer to meeting 100% needs.


FYI

If you have a Fuji X-E1, E2, or E2S, you can do this little trick with the pop up flash to do some bounce photography.


How I shot these photos

20160608 202823 DSCF8966 XT1_DCE

3 poster boards, a scrap mat board for firmness, two flashes on a radio trigger and a built in flash slave, my Fuji X-T1 mostly at 140mm and oops! I just noticed that the ottoman bounced some light into the scene. Woops! It added a nice highlight to the shots so happy accident!

And that heavy 7D and Pro flash made the mat board sag a little (which tilted the camera and flash. Oh, well. You get the idea.

And finally, my DIY seamless background wasn’t designed for such tall subjects. You can see the clips in some of the shots. Oops!

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