Best Off-Camera Flash (For Canon, Nikon, or Sony)

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You won’t find any Nikon, Canon, or Sony flashes on this list but you will find the best off-camera flash for any of those systems.

So stay away from the flash gear from big-name brands. They’re over-priced and you can get more flashes for the same price.

Having more than one off-camera flash will have a much more positive impact on the quality of your images than a single expensive (Nikon, Canon, or even Profoto) flash.

So depending on what your goals are with flash photography, here are some recommended kit setups at three different price ranges…

Budget-Friendly Flash Kit (For Beginners)

You don’t need to break the bank to create awesome flash photography. If you’re just getting started and the budget is a real concern, then this kit will be perfect for you.

Start with one flash, one stand, and the trigger and work your way up from there.

Kit List (Total Cost Under $400)

  • Godox TT600 Flashes (x2)
  • Godox X2T Trigger
  • Light Stands & Shoot Through Umbrella Kit
  • Color Correction Gel Kit
  • Reflector
Click To Compare Prices
Godox TT600

Godox XT2 Trigger
See below for camera-specific triggers
Light Stands & Shoot Through Umbrellas
Color Correction Gels
5-in-1 Reflector

Even though this is a relatively inexpensive kit, you can create impressive images with this kit for a long time…and easily add better components over time.

I recommend the Godox system for a few reasons…

The “entry-level” Godox flashes are very affordable, but they’re also relatively high powered, high-quality flashes that can be used for a wide variety of shots.

More importantly…all of the Godox flashes work together and be controlled by one remote trigger.

That means that the $70 flash you buy to start out with can be easily combined with an $800 studio strobe you save up for down the road and they will all work from the same trigger.

So your upgrades will never make your old gear obsolete or require some crazy workaround to get them all to play nice together.

You can also find the exact same products at Adorama under the Flashpoint name. It’s the exact same stuff as Godox from the exact same company. For your convenience, links to Amazon and Adorama are both included here.

So let’s get started…

Flash | Godox TT600

This is a very cost-effective, but still good quality, flash. The TT600 is Godox’s entry-level flash. It’s affordable, works great, and works seamlessly with almost all of their higher-end models.

Click below to compare prices and check availability…

It is a manual flash, which means you need to set the flash power yourself rather than let the camera choose (which is called TTL).

But having a manual only flash isn’t a bad thing because (1) using a manual flash is a great way to learn to use flash and (2) auto mode (often called TTL, or “through the lens”) doesn’t give you a lot of control and can be very difficult to use with multiple flashes.

If you are looking for the best beginner entry point into flash photography, pick up one of these and a remote trigger (more on that below). That’s all you need to start learning and creating high-quality flash portraits.

The TT600 has a radio receiver built in so you can use it off camera with the trigger below OR use it on camera to control other Godox units.

NOTE: Since these are manual flashes, they work with any camera that uses a hot shoe. Sales listings may say specific brands, but that is most likely a result of sellers that don’t know any better. Only TTL flashes and triggers are brand specific. These are manual.

It has a faster recycle time and can produce more flashes on a single charge. But it’s more than twice the price of the TT600, which is why I recommend starting with the TT600 and getting two (2) of them.

There is also an upgraded version of this flash available (V850II) that uses a Li-ion battery instead of AA batteries.


Remote Trigger | Godox XT2 Transmitter

The XT2 is one of the primary radio controllers in the Godox system. The XT2 controls just about every Godox flash worth owning. It’s simple, easy to control, and compact enough that it adds very little weight or size to your camera.

IMPORTANT: When buying a trigger (or a flash with a built-in transmitter) you need to make sure to get the version that matches your camera system.

Click below to compare prices and check availability (be sure to choose the right version for your camera)…

Canon Version

Nikon Version

Sony Version

It’s very common for portrait photographers to use only a controller like this on their camera (rather than a flash) and have all the flashes off-camera.

You can also use the flash above to control other flashes, but the simplest way to use off-camera flash is to grab one of these controllers and one flash.


Modifiers | Light Stand and Shoot Through Umbrella Kit

When you’re using your flash off the camera, you need something to put it on and modifiers to give you some more control over the light.

Click below to check price and availability…

While it’s not the best, this kit is a very affordable way to get started with off-camera flash. As long as you aren’t shooting in any harsh conditions, this will get you started and you can upgrade as your skills improve.

These aren’t kind of umbrellas you take outside when it’s raining (although you could in a pinch).

Shoot through umbrellas are as basic as it gets when it comes to lighting modifiers. They are simple to set up, very inexpensive, and do a great job creating soft light.

There are some limitations to umbrellas. They are difficult to use outside because they catch the wind very easily. Although they soften the light very well, they have a very wide spread of light which makes it difficult to control where the light hits.

But you can always add more advanced modifiers later…umbrellas are perfect for getting started.


Color Correction Gels | Rogue Flash Gels

Color correction gels may seem like an advanced piece of gear, but they are essential if you want your photos to look natural. The added benefit is that you can also use them creatively for some really cool effects.

Click below to check price and availability…

You can often find deals online where gels are included for free when you buy a flash. But if you need to buy them separately, these Rogue Flash Gels are a great and affordable option.

These flash gels give you every color you need for basic color correction and creative effects as well. The bands included will let you easily attach them directly to the flash.


5-in1 Reflector

A reflector is a low cost but extremely versatile piece of gear that every photographer should have.

Click below to compare prices and check availability…

If you do a lot of natural light photography, you might even already have one of these in the bag.

In addition to controlling and directing any natural light in the scene, you can also use a reflector like this on the opposite side of a flash to fill in and soften shadows.

The one below easily folds up to make it compact and easy to keep with you.


Sand Bags

Sand bags are a small but very necessary part of the flash kit. You fill them with sand or other heavy material and use them to weight down the stands so they don’t fall over.

So be safe and get some sand bags. Here’s where you can pick some up…

Click below to compare prices and check availability…

Intermediate Kit (Turn Up The Power and Control)

This kit adds to the previous kit with flashes that have more power and modifiers that will give you more control.

This list is for the photographer that has some experience with flash photography and is looking to level up their flash game. The kit here is enough to get professional-looking results and easily handle paid client work.

KIt List (Total Cost Under $900)

  • Everything in the beginner kit, PLUS…
  • 2 Godox AD200
  • 36” Octobox
  • Air Cushioned Light Stand(s)
View On Amazon
Godox AD200

36″ Octobox

Godox S2 Flash Bracket

Air-Cushioned Light Stands

Portable Strobe | Godox AD200

The AD200 is a pretty impressive little device. It is part speedlight and part studio strobe. It packs a lot of power in a small package.

It is fairly unique in the world of flash photography. For those of you that shoot on location, it is a great way to get the power and sync speed of a studio strobe without the bulk of heavier lights.

Click below to compare prices and check availability…

Keep in mind that you cannot attach these to the camera hot shoe, so you need to have a trigger to fire them like the one I mentioned above.

You also need some way to attach them to your light stand. I use the Godox S2 brackets that will let you attach these lights and a modifier to a light stand or even have them handheld if necessary.

Click below to compare prices and check availability…


Octabox | Glow 36″ Octobox

Starting with a shoot-through umbrella as your first modifier is great because it spreads the light very well and is easy to use. However, as your skills improve, you’ll want to have more control.

Click below to compare prices and check availability…


Air-Cushioned Light Stand

Like tripods, flash stands are always going to be a balance between cost and durability.

Air-cushioned stands are a must when you have expensive equipment on them. When you loosen them, they won’t slam down fast. That little feature can save your flash and your fingers! Don’t get a stand without air cusioning.

You also want a light stand that can handle some heavier modifiers like the octoboxes described above.

Click below to compare prices and check availability…

Professional Additions

If you’re already a professional, then you probably already have a good kit.

So this last section is less of a full kit and more a list of recommendations for anything that wants to take their flash photography to the next level with some key additions to the kits above.

Just remember that you don’t need to take a second mortgage on your home just to get the pro-level flash gear that everyone else says you need. I would recommend saving money and sticking with the powerful but affordable Godox system. These options are reliable, high quality, and will get the job done for most pros.

Quick Note: Neither I nor Photography Goals is sponsored by any manufacturer. We do get a small commission when you buy using the links here. So we could make more money recommending the more expensive flash gear out there. But that’s not how we do things here. I recommend the Godox system because it has everything that 99% of photographers need at a relatively affordable cost.

View On Amazon
Godox AD600 Pro

C-stand

Strip Softboxes

Godox AD600 Pro/Flashpoint XPLOR 600 Pro

The AD600 Pro is a high powered but portable flash that you can use in studio as well as on location for a variety of shoots. It has all the power and features to compete with high-end flashes that often sell for 3 times the price.

Click below to compare prices and check availability…

It is powerful enough to overpower the sun in many instances which is incredibly useful for outdoor portraits and gives you total control over the exposure of your subject and the background.


C-Stands

C-stands (short for century stands) are the next level up when it comes to light stands (and they can hold a lot more than lights too).

Click below to compare prices and check availability…

These are heavy-duty, very strong, stands that can handle large lights and modifiers as well as allow you to hang them off to the side of the stand (using the boom arm) for more flexibility in placement.

One thing you should keep in mind though…

These things are heavy. So if you don’t have people helping you, they aren’t always ideal for shooting on location if you are moving around a lot.

They are more suited for a studio setup.

That being said, plenty of photographers out there bring them on location as well. You just have to be prepared to carry them (or hire an assistant!).


Strip Boxes

A strip box is more of a specialty modifier that is tall and narrow. They come in different sizes and height/width ratios. A good size to start with is this 16″ x 48″ softbox shown below.

The most common use for a strip box is to add rim or side lighting to a subject. The height helps you cover more of the person from head to toe if you are shooting a full-body portrait.

Click below to compare prices and check availability…

Pete LaGregor

Pete LaGregor

Pete is a photographer in New Jersey and specializes in portraits and commercial photography, but loves shooting landscapes and video for fun. You can check out his work on his website.
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