We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.
We’ve been asking you to show up and pepper us with questions through Instagram, Facebook, email, and live’s and you certainly haven’t disappointed! We’ve been so excited to share what we’ve learned on our entrepreneurial journey with you and hope that it is making a positive impact in your life.
One of the most common questions we receive happens to be around a somewhat tricky and often ‘scary’ subject – off-camera lighting.
I say ‘scary’ but it really shouldn’t be, even though we can relate – it used to feel that way for us as well. Then we realized the source of our fear wasn’t the subject itself, but our own lack of knowledge. The only fix for that was learning!
As we’ve worked more and more with light we quickly realized that the speed lights we had were not going to cut it much longer. We had a mismatched group of Canon speed lights (seriously – like one of every model but no two alike!) and Pocket Wizard triggers that constantly failed us.
On top of that, we needed solutions that could go beyond what we expect from a typical speed light. Often, we find ourselves shooting in ‘run and gun’ scenarios where we need powerful light but can’t slow down to set up even the most portable of strobes and modifiers.
That’s when we were introduced to new products that changed everything.
Nissin Digital hasn’t been the most well-known name in the US, but its impact in other countries has been cemented with over 60 years in the business as a leading innovator in off-camera flashes. When the parent company of our favorite tool, the ExpoDisc White Balance Filter, obtained the distribution rights for Nissin flashes in the US, we knew we wanted to learn more.
We quickly realized that the lighting tools Nissin manufactures had the potential to be exactly what we were looking for – a versatile line up of professional-grade flashes and controls that would fit perfectly into our workflow.
We’re outlining our favorite features of the Nissin product line up below, but just in case you’ve read this far and want to know what us being an ambassador has anything to do with helping you – well we’ll just jump straight to that point! As product ambassadors, we’ve received exclusive permission to offer you a special discount on all Nissin, ExpoDisc and Rogue Design products! Use the code ‘ERICAANDJON’ at checkout on any of the websites and receive 5% OFF your order at checkout!
Ok, now back to the reasons we fell in love with Nissin Flash!
Nissin has a nice lineup of tools from standard speed lights that look and feel similar to others to compact speed lights that pack a serious punch for our mirrorless camera friends. Their macro ring light is sure to be another crowd favorite.
For our purposes, we found the best products for us to be their latest editions – the MG80 Pro, The MG10, and the Air10s Wireless Controller system.
The MG80 pro was an instant winner for us. The first time we powered it up we knew that this flash was something special. We’re not going to list out the full specs for the MG80 Pro here – those can be found here if you want to see them – but we will highlight some of our favorite features.
The MG80 Pro has a power guide number of 60 at ISO 100, similar to a Canon 600EX-RT. It has a magnetic zoom head that runs the full range from 24mm-200mm and the metal lock ring above the hot shoe is easy to tighten down ensuring a great connection with your camera.
The MG80 Pro is capable of 10 shots/second of continuous flash and has a ridiculous recycle time when paired with Li-on batteries of 1.2 seconds from a full discharge. It also has full TTL functionality and is capable of HSS (high-speed sync) up to 1/8000 shutter speed.
Some of the most unique features are the built-in modeling light that allows you to see how your speed light will be shaping your subject before you shoot! We use this often when shooting products at our home studio. It makes for a much quicker process when setting up lights and allows us to be more intentional while ‘guessing’ a lot less.
When we shoot with multiple lights in the studio, we love the ability we have with most studio strobes to control them from a single controller on top of our camera hot shoe. Nissin has brought this functionality to their speed lights and we absolutely LOVE it! Gone are the days of walking around the home studio independently changing each light. With the Nissin Air10s system, we can control all of the lights from the back of the MG80 Pro! It’s capable of grouping up to 8 channels and 8 groups.
To make that feature extra special, Nissin built in an ‘open’ mode to their system which allows more than one controller to trigger the flash. This is especially useful for wedding and event photographers. For example, at a wedding reception, both photographers can have a camera mounted flash to light their subjects and those camera mounted flashes can both trigger the same background fill light! That ‘open’ mode can be operated with a mix of TTL and manual to make this an even more valuable feature.
Want more information on the MG80 Pro? Click here!
One of the biggest selling points for us with Nissin Flash was the monster of a workhorse flash called the MG10! This tool has been revolutionary for us! Admittedly, it looks a little different than your standard speed light, but that’s because this isn’t your standard speed light!
We were looking for a lighting system that not only gave us great speed lights for event coverage, but could also take things a step further for those shoots that required more light than a speed light could offer but in a small and compact format. The MG10 is their answer.
The MG10 has a ridiculous power guide number of 80 at ISO 100 and a 165 watt/second rating when the zoom head is removed and used as a strobe. That’s 33% more flash power than a Canon 600 EX-RT! And did you catch what I said about the zoom head? The magnetic zoom head design allows it to be removed and you now hold in your hands a small, powerful strobe!
This is exactly what we were looking for when we set out to find a lighting solution for our business. That kind of portability and flexibility is invaluable to us with the different scenarios we work in.
The MG10 is different in design – it sports a hammerhead style design and can also be used flat with the included ball head mount. Nissin also includes a magnesium bracket with the MG10 so that you can use it mounted to your camera and while this is a good option if you only want the MG10 in your arsenal and need to use it on camera, it’s admittedly heavy and would cause some fatigue on a long wedding day. Still, it’s nice to have the option!
The MG10 has no onboard controls and has to be used with the Air10s controller or controlled by an MG80 Pro (which has the Air10s controller built-in). For that reason, its role for event/wedding photographers is probably best suited as a fill light used off-camera and controlled by an MG80 Pro mounted on-camera. Our application is a little different and we primarily use the MG10’s as portable strobes when we shoot products at our home studio or when we need a more powerful light source outdoors.
Want more information on the MG10? Click here!
Guys – this is one of our favorite things about the Nissin Flash product line! We mentioned the Air10s controller when we talked about the MG80 Pro and MG10, but here’s the full scoop.
The Nissin Air System (NAS) is integrated into each of their speed lights. This means gone are the days of using pocket wizards and other radio triggers to *hopefully* fire your speed lights! The Air10s is the latest and greatest controller for the Nissin Air System and allows full grouping and control of Nissin flashes from the single controller. Best part? It’s NOT complicated. You can turn lights on and off, turn modeling lights on and off, adjust flash power, adjust zoom, cycle between manual and TTL, assign channels and turn on HSS all from the back of the controller. And all of this WITHOUT going through multiple layers of pages to get to the features you need.
Nissin also makes the Air 1 controller which has some of the same control features but maxes out at 3 groups for those without the need for the full capabilities of the Air10s. And if you have existing flashes from other manufacturers that you want to be able to integrate into the Nissin ecosystem, the Air-R Receiver works with non-Nissin flashes and allows you to control them with either the Air10s or Air 1 controller with up to 8 channels and 3 groups you can assign them to.
We couldn’t be more happy with our Nissin flash systems and we’re ecstatic to be Product Ambassadors for them – mainly because we get to offer YOU such a great deal! Remember to use code ‘ERICAANDJON’ at checkout on Nissin’s website (also works for all ExpoDisc and Rogue Design products as well) to get 5% OFF your order!
Not sure if they are right for you? Shoot us your questions – we’d love to help you determine if Nissin products might be a good fit for you! Just click here to shoot us a message and we’ll do our best to answer.
**We’ve provided links to some of the gear we used for your benefit. We are affiliates for some of the products you see listed which means we get a small commission when a purchase is made using one of the links included in this guide. It doesn’t cost you a dime more and in some cases even costs you less because of a special bundle or discount we’ve been able to snag for your benefit! We would never endorse products we didn’t use ourselves, so rest assured knowing these are our true recommendations!