Nissin Digital Di622 SpeedLite for Nikon DSLR Review
We’ve taken a look at many DSLR cameras over the past few weeks and today things will be a little different. We’ve all seen what these DSLR cameras can do but we haven’t looked at any accessories. We’ve talked about accessories such as a backup battery or memory card but what about the more important ones that actually help you take a better photo. Today we have such a device to our disposal.
An external flash is one of the first accessories I would recommend purchasing after you make a splash into DSLR photography and it will bring your photos to a whole new level. Once you gain experience, you will realize that lighting plays a very important part for a photo, especially when lighting conditions are meager to begin with. I truly feel that purchasing an external flash is a must for all DSLR owners out there.
What are the differences between an external flash as opposed to the on-board flash that comes built-in to your DSLR? The biggest difference is the amount of power and look of the photo. Using the on-board flash will create a photo that has a very direct and harsh tone. Using an external flash however, you can create a photo that looks natural and soft and there is a huge difference as you’ll see later on.
Which external flash unit should you purchase? That is ultimately up to you to decide and I’m here to offer you one of the alternatives that will help you in your decision. As you’ll soon find out when making your decision, there are first party manufactures (Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony) and there are many third-party manufactures (Nissin, Vivitar, Metz, Sigma, Sunpak, Promaster) out there ranging from the power they deliver and ultimately the cost factor. Generally speaking, third-party flashes can be found for less than their first-party counterparts, so you can save some cash and put it towards something else.
Today I will be reviewing the Nissin Digital Di622 SpeedLite for use on Nikon DSLRs. The Di622 comes also for use on Canon DSLR’s and the FujiFilm FinePix S5 Pro. Check the Nissin website for more details.
About Nissin (from the Nissin Digital website)
“Nissin is one of Japan's leading manufacturers of electronic flash units. It has supplied high quality lighting to the world-wide photographic community. For almost 50 years Nissin has maintained exceptional quality standards that two generations of photographers have relied on for their lighting needs.
In 1959 Nissin founded
In 1967 Nissin created its first professionally oriented flash, "PRIMO" for photographers.
In 1987 Nissin introduced its first dedicated auto focus flash with the now common red beam focus assist light.
In 2007, The chairman of Nissin group - Mr. Chikara Goto reorganized the development of flash unit for digital SLR camera and leaded Nissin to announce the launching of Di622 with its advanced technology of digital TTL system.
In 2008, Nissin announced that company has developed the new Di466 and Universal Shoe Cord (SC-01) in market.”
Looking at the specifications of the Nissin Di622, one can tell that it looks to be sufficient for most applications. The ability to turn the flash head 90 degrees upward and 270 degrees horizontally for bounce lighting really makes it as complete as you can get. This is the lone reason to get an external flash, the ability to bounce flashes off walls to create a natural looking photo.
Power delivery is very strong and comparing it with the specifications for the Nikon SB-600, I would have to say by specifications alone, the Nissin Di622 seems to be slightly more powerful than the SB-600, capable of 44m/145ft (ISO100) compared to the SB-600’s 42m/138ft power delivery specification @ 35mm zoom. Using an external flash will trump what you can achieve with an on-board flash.
Comparing the Nissin Di622 to the Nikon SB-600, you’ll notice that the SB-600 utilizes an LCD screen to control functions whereas the Di622 does not and uses more traditional LED and tactile buttons. Additionally the battery recycle time could be up to one-second longer for the Di622 as opposed to the SB-600. This means the flash won’t be ready to fire as quickly as on the SB-600, theoretically speaking.
The Nissin Di622 SpeedLite arrived to us from the great folks at EDMA Photo Marketing, a Canadian distributor of photographic supplies serving retailers since 1975.
The Nissin Di622 comes in a simplistic corrugated box with product information on the front and sides of the package with wireframe views of the Di622 SpeedLite around the box.
A Nikon SB-600 flash will cost around $279.99 Canadian whereas the Nissin Di622 can be found for $239.99 Canadian. This will net you about $40 savings.
For our American friends whom seem to always get cheaper pricing, you will save even more. Adorama sells the SB-600 for $224 and the Di622 is $149.95 netting you savings of $74. Or you can search on eBay and such for possibly even more savings. You’ll save a pretty penny regardless and can put the money you save for some other digital accessory.
Purchasing the Nissin Digital Di622 SpeedLite for about $239.99 (Canadian pricing) will provide you the following…
The pouch is a nice addition as it will give your SpeedLite a little protection from scratches from transport. It’s a nice soft material but my only hope was that maybe it could have had more cushion as it is a little thin.
Looking at the Di622 SpeedLite, it is made out of hard plastic having a matte bare finish. The product color is a lighter shade of black and fits well with the look of a Nikon DSLR.
The construction quality of the Di622 is very good and hardly feels like a cheap product. I can’t say that I’m surprised as Nissin has a long history producing solid products. The SpeedLite feels solid, relatively lightweight and has no unusual sorts of noise like some flashguns I’ve come across. Comparing it to my uncles Canon SpeedLite, I’m going to have to say I think the Di622 feels like a first-party product and actually feels better in use than the Canon.
The Nissin Di622 has a tilt and swivel flash head. On the product there are 45, 60, 75 and 90 degree tilt points embedded on the plastic. Moving the flash head to each indicator produces a click and lock to give you the indication that you are on the correct track. Swiveling has the same characteristics having 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 degree indicators along with a lock for each position.
Looking at the actual flash we see that it is made of plastic as well and when connected to the camera’s iTTL flash system, will zoom the flash head internally automatically to accommodate the distance it reads from the cameras lens. The internal motor when doing so is relatively quiet and not intrusive in any way.
The AF Assist Beam at the front is covered by a red cover. The beam isn’t as bright as Nikon’s own AF Assist Lamp but it seems to work well, capturing focus quickly and producing sharp results.
The Di622 features an integrated diffuser and white bounce card which you can pull out when you desire to use them. This is a great addition and prevents you from purchasing these things separately.
The diffuser is used to spread out light in a balanced fashion (all directions) giving your picture an even softer look and is recommended for portrait use. The white card is used when you use the flash as a bounce flash (90 degree angle) but will direct more light forward and not have all the light being diffused.
To the bottom we see the hot-shoe connector. It is made out of plastic to save cost (the more expensive units have their hot-shoe constructed out of metal) although it did not pose a problem during my two-month usage. The fitment on my Nikon was rather tight and sometimes needed a little force to remove. This is one of the drawbacks of a plastic hot-shoe; you don’t have the precision as when cutting a metal piece. Once the hot-shoe is mounted to the camera, you tighten the plastic lock so that it doesn’t fall out. This is the same locking mechanism I’ve seen with some Canon flashes. The Nikon flashes use a lever that you move forward to lock.
Performance and Results
To turn on the Di622, just hold the Power button for about two seconds and the unit will come to life initializing the motor and readying the flash. When your batteries are full, the flash is readying instantaneously and stays like that for a while. It is only until your batteries begin to drain is where the flash takes a couple of more seconds to become ready.
I’ve tested the Nissin Di622 for about two-months now and I can tell you that it is quite consistent and definitely easy for anyone to use. For the most part, the flash works great on the Nikon D50 and always has communication with the camera’s iTTL flash system.
Were there any drawbacks? Just a little bit. In this unit, I found that the Di622 consistently underexposed by about half-stop, so I would have to raise the flash EV compensation on the D50 to +0.5 to have a brighter picture. This to me is a not a big issue as it can be corrected easily. I know some flashes have different characteristics as I’ve used a Nikon that consistently over-exposed by a half-stop as well.
The only other problem I experienced with the Di622 was some sort of misfire. It did this infrequently, but the Di622 would randomly fire a dark picture even though the flash fired. I’m not sure why this happened (batteries exhausted?) but it’s something to note.
The diffuser works wonderfully well at balancing the lighting of the photo and I seem to use it a lot along with bouncing the light off walls. For demonstration purposes, I’ve provided what each type of photo looks like (direct, bounce 90 degrees, and with diffuser). Please rollover to see the differences. Two images are in one rollover, with the third result just below. The tiger photos were taken when pitch dark.
The Nissin Di622 is an attractive SpeedLite alternative to more expensive first-party options. You can save a bit going with the Di622. It provides good results and is capable of being used off camera as a slave unit. There is no LCD display at the rear but that doesn’t really hinder what it can do. It has a built-in diffuser and white bounce card that works well. The battery recycling time is relatively fast and should be no problem for the most of us.
Professionals will probably go with more expensive units that have more professional functions, but for the rest of us, the Nissin Di622 is a good SpeedLite to purchase.
Pros and Cons