With the introduction of the Nissin i40 Nissin showed they are able to build a Speedlight that is compact, powerful and has a lot of functionality (you can find my review of the Nissin i40 here). The i40 is a perfect Speedlight for smaller cameras with its compact body, but sometimes you just need a little more power. For people that are looking for a compact Speedlight with a little more power and functionality Nissin has introduced the i60A, with a higher guide number and the Nissin Air System for wireless flashing built in to the body.
The most important specifications of the Nissin i60A:
- Guide number 60 (ISO100 at 200mm);
- Compatible with the 2.4 GHz. Nissin Air System;
- Colour display to check the most important settings;
- Built-in video light;
- Optical wireless mode possible (the Nissin i60A reacts to flashes of the master Speedlight);
- Built-in reflector-card and wide-angle diffuser (up to 16mm wide angle);
- Powered by 4 AA-batteries and compatible with external battery packs;
- Supports High Speed Sync (HSS) up to 1/8000th of a second shutter speeds;
- Comes with a pouch, stand and softbox;
The Nissin i60A is available for Nikon, Canon, Sony and Micro Four Thirds. In this review I’ll tell you more about the Nissin i60A for Sony, and I’ve used it with my Sony A7. The Nissin i60A costs about 299 euro’s in the Netherlands, making it about 50 euro’s more expensive than the Nissin i40.
The Nissin i60A has got a bigger flash head than the Nissin i40, it is a little wider but quite a lot longer. That was necessary because the Nissin i60A has got a longer zoom-range, from 24 to 200mm (the i40’s zoom range goes from 24 to 105mm). The head’s mechanism is the same as with the Nissin i40, making it possible to adjust the head in all directions. The head can be adjusted up to 180 degrees to the left in 6 steps, 180 degrees to the right also in 6 steps. You can also adjust the head 90 degrees upwards in 4 steps. Of course you can combine adjustments in horizontal and vertical direction, making it possible to adjust it just right for just about every situation. With the flexible head, combined with the built in bouncecard you can bounce the light via the ceiling or walls, giving you a smooth and great looking lighting.
The heads mechanism is sturdier than it is on the Nissin i40, keeping it in place better when you put heavy accessories on it like a softbox. In general the Nissin i60A builds is a lot sturdier than the Nissin i40, making it better suited for (semi-) professional use.
The body of the Nissin i60A is about as big as the body of the Nissin i40, and it has got room for 4 standard AA-batteries. Because the Nissin i60A works with normal AA batteries it is easy to buy some spares when you run out. The Nissin i60A works fine with normal alkaline AA batteries, but for the best performance can use powerful rechargeable batteries.
New on the Nissin i60A is that it has a connection for external battery packs, something (semi-) professional users will love. You can use the Nissin i60A with Nissin’s own PS80 battery pack. The Sony version of the Nissin i60A is also compatible with Sony battery packs. When you use an external battery pack the charging times between flashes are shorter, and of course you have more power for longer shoots.
On the front of the Nissin i60A you’ll find the video light that has two powerful LED’s to add light when you shoot a video. You can adjust the intensity of the light in 9 steps. The video light is perfect for incidental video-use. For professional shoots you still have to buy an extra video light. Below the videolight is a small sensor the Nissin i60A uses for the wireless optical slave mode and a status LED. The LED can also be used for auto focus support, but unfortunately Sony doesn’t support external auto focus lights in their E-mount cameras.
The Nissin i60A is controlled with a few buttons and dials on the back of the Speedlight, and it has got a great little display that shows the most important settings. The display lights up when you use the Nissin i60A and dims when you don’t. Therefor it doesn’t blind, but is readable very well when you are changing the settings. Nissin has chosen a display with a black background and lighted numbers and symbols. Because the display has got a frosted glass-look the letters and symbols look really nice, I love those small details!
Right under the display you’ll find the controls like the on / off button and the status LED that doubles as a pilot button. The button can also be used to activate the HSS-mode in M, A or TTL mode by pressing and holding the button. In HSS-mode the display shows a small ‘H’ with a flash-symbol next to it.
The most important controls are the two round dials on the back. The left one controls the flash, mode, you have the following options:
- Video light
- Sf, optical slave mode for use with systems without pre-flash
- Sd, optical slave mode for use with systems with pre-flash (for instance, digital camera’s)
- A, camera controlled lighting without exposure compensation
- TTL, camera controlled lighting with exposure compensation
- Wireless channel A
- Wireless channel B
- Wireless channel C
With the right control dial you can adjust the flash brightness in manual mode or the exposure compensation in TTL mode. With the four-way controller inside the right control dial you can control some extra settings, like the manual zoom setting and activation of the HSS-mode (you can also activate HSS with the pilot button).
All in all the Nissin i60A has got a lot of functions. Because Nissin has used a smart set of controls combined with the display using all the functions of the Nissin i60A isn’t hard at all. Even without the manual at hand you will be able to use the most important functions of this Speedlight without a problem.
Day to day use
The Nissin i60A for Sony-systems works flawless with my Sony camera’s, just like the Nissin i40 by the way. The communication between Speedlight and camera is just a reliable as it is with a Sony-Speedlight. In A and TTL-mode you can rely on fully functional TTL exposure control by your camera. In TTL-mode you can still adjust the exposure with the control dial on the Nissin i60A. The camera also sends the zoom-setting to the Speedlight, and the i60A immediately adjusts to changes in focal length.
The Sony A7 sometimes overexposes your photos when you use the Speedlight in TTL-mode to light you subject directly, making the photo look a little flat and pale. With the Nissin i60A that isn’t a problem at all. With the right control dial you can adjust the exposure with just one click.
Despite the high power of the Nissin i60A it doesn’t overheat at all. The Speedlight does have protection against overheating, so even when you ask a lot of the i60A you don’t have to worry about damaging it. Because most users won’t use full power all the time they will probably never activate the overheating protection, but it is good to know the i60A does have it. I wasn’t able to activate it during my review, despite using it a lot and using maximum power a lot.
If you need continuous top performance from your Speedlight you might want to check out the Nissin PS 80 battery pack. With that external battery pack the Speedlight can recharge faster between flashes (ready to use after a full power flash in 1.6 seconds). Of course the external battery pack will last longer than normal rechargeable batteries.
When you have the Nissin i60A attached to your camera it stays active as long as your camera is turned on. When you turn the camera off or when it enters power save mode the i60A will stay active for 2 minutes, after that it also goes in sleep mode. When you reactivate your camera or when you press the shutter release button on your camera it instantly wakes up again.
The Nissin i60A supports High Speed Synchronisation (HSS) up to 1/8000th of a second. A great function when using the Speedlight to fill in photo’s in bright light, especially when using bright lenses.
New features of the Nissin i60A
The Nissin i60A is a lot more powerful than it’s small brother, the Nissin i40. The i40 has got a guide number of 40 meters (ISO 100 at 105mm), the Nissin i60A has got a guide number of 60 (ISO100 at 200mm). You can’t directly compare those guide numbers as the Nissin i60A’s guide number is measured at 200mm while the i40’s is at 105mm. But it still is clear the Nissin i60A is very powerful, especially when you take in consideration how small it is. The Nissin i60A is even more powerful than the much bigger Nissin Di700A, that has got a guide number of 54 meters (ISO 100 at 200mm)!
Of course power doesn’t say everything, but it does make the Nissin i60A more versatile. More power comes in handy when you want to take a photo of a big group or when you fill in a photo in bright light.
Besides the higher power the Nissin i60A is also compatible with the Nissin Air System (NAS). With NAS you can control up to 21 Speedlights wireless with full TTL support. The Nissin i60A has got the needed hardware built in, so to start using it for wireless strobist photography (off camera flash) you only need to add a Nissin Air 1 commander. The Air 1 commander is the part you mount to your camera that communicates the TTL-information of the camera to the paired Speedlights. It costs 70 euros. Using the Nissin i60A for wireless flashing with the Air 1 commander is easy. The controls on the Air 1 are very simple and I really like that the changes you make on the Air 1 are visible on the screen of the i60A in real time. So if you set a exposure compensation of -2 EV on the Air 1 the display of the Nissin i60A shows that immediately.
One extra advantage of the Nissin Air System is that is possible to mix and match flash units for different camera brands and you still have full TTL-functionality. So you can use your Nissin Air 1 controller for Sony to control a Nissin Di700A for Nikon. And if you add a Nissin Air R receiver you can even add a Canon Speedlight to the mix and also control that with your Sony camera with TTL. So you can start experimenting with wireless strobist photography without breaking the bank before you find out if you like it.
The new Nissin i60A is an impressive set of kit. It is very powerful with a guide number of 60 (ISO100 at 200mm). Despite being a lot smaller it is as powerful or even more powerful than most of its competitors. Nissin has managed to increase the power without adding to much in size compared to the tiny i40. The bigger flash head now supports longer zoom ranges up to 200mm, making it more versatile. Because the Nissin i60A is built sturdier than the Nissin i40 it is better equipped to cope with (semi-) professional use. It is also compatible with external battery packs, adding functionality for professionals.
Because the hardware for the Nissin Air System is built in the Nissin i60A is also perfect for users who want to use it for wireless strobist photography. When you add just the Air 1 commander you can start experimenting with strobist photography without spending too much money. If you don’t want to spend the money for experimenting with strobist photography it is good to know the Nissin i60A also supports wireless optical slave mode.
As we’ve come to expect from Nissin the Nissin i60A is delivered as a complete kit. In the box you’ll find the i60A itself, but also a small stand, a softbox and a pouch that fits the Speedlight with the supplied accessories. All in all Nissin has managed to build an impressive Speedlight that has a lot of functionality in a small package that will appeal to starters and advanced photographers for a reasonable price.
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