The 8 Best Camera Flashes for DSLR in 2021

You won't be left in the dark with these top camera flashes

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The Rundown
This flash bounces light evenly, creating beautiful light for portraiture, however it’s a great choice for many types of photography.
Best Budget Flash for Canon/Nikon:
Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite at Amazon
It’s an effective, basic flash with no frills for an affordable price, making it a great entry-level model.
Best Flash for Nikon DSLR:
Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash at Amazon
Combined with a great recycling time and durable, high-quality build, the SB-700 is the perfect addition to your camera bag.
Best Budget Flash for All:
YONGNUO YN560 IV at Amazon
The YONGNUO YN560-TX is fast, versatile, and lightweight, but still rugged, so it offers good value for money in terms of longevity.
Best Features:
Nikon SB-5000 at Amazon
This flash can tilt from -7 to 90 degrees and covers a zoom span of 24 to 200 millimeters, giving you lots of versatility.
Best Flash for Beginners:
Neewer NW-561 Flash at Amazon
This affordable, entry-level flash is simple to learn but still offers enough great features to help you take beautiful photos.
Best Flash for Sony DSLR:
Sony HVL-F32M at Amazon
It’s a powerful flash packed with plenty of features, all in a dust and moisture-resistant build.
Best Recycling Time:
Profoto A1X at Amazon
The standout feature of this flash is its recycling—at full power, the A1X can cycle at 1-second intervals.

Experienced photographers know that the right external camera flash can be a game-changer when shooting. They’re a must for studio shooting too, as the best camera flashes can evenly diffuse light, removing unwanted shadows to create a beautiful, bright subject.

While they’re not necessarily essential for casual photographers, camera flashes do provide some worthwhile advantages—the right flash can reduce "red-eye" when taking portraits and they can also extend your camera’s battery life, since you won’t be dependent on your camera’s flash for lighting. 

If you’re in the market for a new flash, or want to try one out for the first time, here are the best camera flashes currently on the market for both experienced and amateur photographers. We've taken into account factors such as price, size, ease of use, functionality, and compatibility— but keep in mind that not every flash will work with every DSLR or mirrorless camera. 

If you're looking for more ways to get the most out of your new flash, make sure to dive into our guide to taking awesome flash pictures. Here are the best camera flashes on the market from top brands including Canon, Neewer, and Nikon.

Best Overall: Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash
What We Like
  • Compact size is great for travel

  • Easy to use, thanks to the inclusion of an on-screen menu

  • Quality build will last for years

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Not weather-sealed

If you’re in the market for a professional-grade flash, one of the best out there is the Canon Speedlite 430EX III-R. Although it commands a premium price, Canon photographers are rewarded with a durable and solid quality flash for versatile shooting in just about any environment. With an on-screen menu, it’s easy to set up your controls and take the perfect shot.

The Speedlite 430EX gives users a compact, portable product that can cover a range between 24 and 105 millimeters, with a maximum guide number of 141 feet/43 meters at ISO 100 and a quick recycling time. Thanks to radio transmission, you can also remotely control it to use as an off-camera flash.

The Speedlite 430EX is a smaller, more lightweight and portable version of Canon’s Speedlite 600EX II-RT. If you don’t need such a large range, you might find that the 430EX is more than enough for your needs. It’s a durable, reliable product that can swivel, tilt, and be adjusted so you set up the ideal lighting conditions. 

This flash bounces light evenly, creating beautiful light for portraiture, however it’s a great choice for many types of photography. With a higher price point, this flash is designed to appeal to professionals and experienced amateurs who will appreciate everything it’s capable of.

Guide Number: 141 (ISO 100) | Zoom Flash Range: 24 to 105mm | Recycling Time: Approximately 0.1 to 3.5 seconds

"The Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash is a full-featured speedlight that will cover just about all the bases most users will want in a camera-mounted flash." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Best Budget Flash for Canon/Nikon: Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly price makes this flash easily accessible

  • Compatible with a wide range of cameras

  • Includes slave flash feature, not often seen on inexpensive models

What We Don't Like
  • Build quality isn't as high as other flashes

  • No LCD display

It’s no secret that photography gear can cost a small fortune, so the inexpensive and high-quality Neewer TT560 is a pleasant surprise. It’s an effective, basic flash with no frills for an affordable price—this makes it a great entry-level model for photographers looking to try an external flash for the first time.

Even better, it’s compatible with a wide range of DSLRs, including Canon and Nikon. While you don’t have an LCD screen or wireless capabilities, you do have a built-in bounce card and a wide-angle diffuser. Slave mode, another cool feature, lets you automatically set off your flash when it senses another flash go off, giving you additional light and creating more brightness. This is usually seen only on more expensive models, so it’s a top inclusion in the TT560.

However, because the range of features is smaller, this means photographers can quickly master the use of external flashes. Overall, it’s an affordable and basic flash that can take your photography to the next level, especially for portraits and indoor studio shooting. While it might not have enough pizazz to impress the pros, the TT560 is aimed at beginner and intermediate shooters who want to improve their abilities.

Guide Number: 38 (ISO 100) | Zoom Flash Range: Not specified | Recycling Time: Approximately 0.1 to 5 seconds

"This flash will provide fantastic value to anyone looking for additional light and without a lot of advanced control." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

Lifewire 

Best Flash for Nikon DSLR: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash

Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash
What We Like
  • Impressive recycling time

  • Flash can be positioned both vertically and horizontally

  • Durable build quality

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Has a lower guide number

For Nikon users, the brand's SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash is a top option. This flash is quite the investment, so it's probably not suited for beginners. Experienced photographers will find it to be a solid wireless flash for both indoor and outdoor use.

It’s compatible with most modern Nikon DSLRs, and while it may not have the highest guide number, it’s still effective, thanks to i-TTL Flash Control. "i-TTL" stands for intelligent through-the-lens metering and means the flash will automatically communicate with the camera and work out the right lighting. This is a great feature to have at events or when shooting in varying conditions, as the set-up work is done for you.

We also like the the SB-700's flexibility, with both 360-degree rotation and 90-degree tilting. It makes the flash ideal for both portrait and landscape shots, since you can easily position the flash just as you need it. Combined with a great recycling time and durable, high-quality build, the SB-700 is the perfect addition to your camera bag, if you shoot with Nikon.

Guide Number: 92 (ISO 100) | Zoom Flash Range: 24 to 120mm | Recycling Time: Approximately 2.5 to 3.5 seconds

"One area where the Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash excels in its recycling time, or the time it takes for the flash to be ready to use again after firing." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash

Lifewire 

Best Budget Flash for All: YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master

YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash
What We Like
  • Great price point

  • Wireless

  • Plenty of options for manual control

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't offer TTL metering

  • Controls aren't always intuitive

Looking for a flash on a small budget? The YONGNUO YN560-TX is worth checking out, as long as you plan to shoot with manual controls. This solid flash is compatible with most DSLRs and can be found for less than $70.

It includes built-in wireless and can also be used as a transmitter, controlling up to three lighting devices. It’s fast, versatile, and lightweight, but still rugged, so it offers good value for money in terms of longevity. Once you master the controls (some of the buttons aren’t very intuitive), it’s easy to use. 

If this flash has caught your eye, note that it shoots only in manual, as it doesn’t offer TTL. This makes it great for shoots with consistent lighting, such as studio or real estate shots, but might not be great for events or travel. However, as long as manual mode is what you need, you’ll find the YN560-TX to be a powerful flash, great for beginners or those with basic flash needs.

Guide Number: 19 (ISO 100) | Zoom Flash Range: 24 to 105mm | Recycling Time: Approximately 3 seconds

"The Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master features a robust design that doesn’t feel like the manufacturer skimped on build quality — one of our biggest concerns with budget-minded flashes like this." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash

Lifewire 

Best Features: Nikon SB-5000

What We Like
  • Lightning-fast continuous shooting, thanks to the addition of a cooling system

  • Lots of controls and features not found in other flashes

  • Advanced Wireless Lighting system lets you control up to six lighting groups

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Menu system and controls aren't straightforward

Looking for one of the best camera flashes money can buy? If you’re willing to open your wallet, the Nikon SB-500 has a seriously impressive list of features. One of its best is the addition of a cooling system, which Nikon claims allows users to fire off up to 100 flashes in a single burst, reducing downtime. Photographers also have use of the SB-500’s Radio-Controlled Advanced Wireless Lighting system, making it easy to shoot with multiple devices, even in challenging conditions. 

This flash can tilt from -7 to 90 degrees and covers a zoom span of 24 to 200 millimeters, giving you lots of versatility. The SB-500 came onto the market after Nikon discontinued one of its most popular flashes, the SB-910, making the SB-500 the first Nikon flash with advanced wireless technology.

However, many users report that the SB-500’s menu system is overly complex, so it may take some time to learn all of its acronyms and controls. But once you’ve wrapped your head around the flash’s functionalities, experienced photographers are sure to appreciate the SB-500's innovative features.

Guide Number: 113 (ISO 100) | Zoom Flash Range: 24 to 200mm | Recycling Time: 4 seconds of recycling gives users 100 shots

Best Flash for Beginners: Neewer NW-561 Flash

What We Like
  • Powerful flash compatible with most DSLRs

  • Beginners can learn how to use it quickly

  • Built-in slave mode

What We Don't Like
  • Flimsy build

  • Manual only, not TTL

It can be challenging to make the leap from using your camera’s flash to using an external flash, but the Neewer NW-561 Flash makes the process easier. This affordable, entry-level flash is simple to learn but still offers enough great features to help you take beautiful photos. It’s compatible with a range of DSLR cameras and it can help you learn the basics, letting you decide if you want to upgrade to a higher-end flash. 

While there’s no LCD screen and the flash can operate only as a manual flash, this is to be expected in flashes at a lower price point. However, it’s still an easy-to-use flash that also offers a power-saving mode, great for longer shooting sessions, and temperature protection for heating control.

You can also rotate the flash horizontally and vertically, making it possible to nail the shot. It also offers the very useful slave feature, so new flash users can learn how to maximize this feature. Try out the Neewer NW-561 if you’re after a basic flash at a fair price.

Guide Number: 35 (ISO 100) | Zoom Flash Range: Fixed zoom | Recycling Time: Approximately 2.9 seconds

Best Flash for Sony DSLR: Sony HVL-F32M

What We Like
  • Dust and moisture-resistant

  • Manual and TTL controls

  • Compact and easy to use

What We Don't Like
  • Battery life isn't the longest

  • Higher price

The Sony HVL-F32M is a multi-interface flash, making it easy to use with a variety of Sony options, from DSLRs all the way to the Alpha line. It’s a powerful flash packed with plenty of features, all in a dust and moisture-resistant build. A wireless remote control is included and the compact, lightweight flash offers both manual and TTL modes.

A high-speed shutter synchronization and Advanced Distance Integration tech automatically adjust the flash response, depending on how far away the subject is. The LCD display is small and unassuming, but it does contain most of the info you’ll want in an external flash unit. You can tilt the flash from -8 to 90 degrees, with a 270-degree, side-to-side swivel for versatile control and unique shadow bouncing techniques.

While the HVL-F32M's brightness isn’t as high as Nikon or Canon options, you really can’t beat a Sony-branded accessory meant to pair perfectly with your Sony camera. Photographers find it an effective flash for both indoor and outdoor use.

Guide Number: 31.5 (ISO 100) | Zoom Flash Range: 24 to 105mm | Recycling Time: Approximately 0.1 to 5 seconds

Best Recycling Time: Profoto A1X AirTTL-N Studio Light for Nikon

What We Like
  • Powerful flash with a recycling time of 1 second

  • Beautiful small and compact design

  • High-Speed Sync gives you full control of your shot

What We Don't Like
  • Price means this is a serious investment

  • Battery life

Squarely aimed at professionals with advanced abilities (and budgets), the Profoto A1X is an excellent, rapid-fire flash for anyone using a DSLR in a high-speed environment. The standout feature of this flash is its recycling—at full power, the A1X can cycle at 1-second intervals, making sure you never miss a once-in-a-lifetime shot. While this will eat into your battery, it’s an impressive feature that you can use when needed.

That being said, the battery life has been increased from the previous model, now at 450 full-power flashes instead of the previous 350. This flash is AirTTL compatible with Nikon, Sony, and Canon DSLR cameras, plus a 2.4Ghz wireless receiver to coordinate multiple flashes off-camera.

The A1X is also small and stylish, in a lightweight design that takes up a small amount of space in your camera bag. There’s no getting around the fact that this flash is seriously pricey, but with advanced features such as quick recycling, High-Speed Sync, and autofocus assist, it’s ideal for photographers who need a powerful, fast flash.

Guide Number: Not specified | Zoom Flash Range: 32 to 105mm | Recycling Time: Approximately 1 second

The Profoto A1X is in a league above the rest, thanks to its tiny size and fast recycling time—it’s worth the investment.” — Katie Dundas, Tech Writer

Final Verdict

The Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash (view at Amazon) is one of the best external flashes, with a quality build, powerful lighting abilities, and all the functionalities a professional is likely to need. For a more budget and beginner-friendly option, the Neewer NW-561 Flash (view at Amazon) is compatible with most DSLRs and is easy to learn on, with key features like slave mode.

About Our Trusted Experts

Katie Dundas is a freelance writer and journalist who frequently covers photography, cameras, drones, and camera accessories. She’s also an avid travel photographer. 

Jonno Hill is a writer and digital camera expert who covers tech such as computers, gaming equipment, and cameras for Lifewire and publications including AskMen.com and PCMag.com.

FAQs

If your camera comes with a built-in flash, do you need an external flash too?
While the built-in flash that you’ll find on the majority of DSLR cameras is sufficient for most scenarios, they don’t have much in the way of adjustment options. Investing in a dedicated flash option will give you the versatility that professional photographers use.

These are pretty expensive, how long can you expect an external flash to last?
This largely depends on how much use your flash gets, and can also be influenced by other factors such as the intensity of the flash, what bulb you’re using, or weather conditions. As a general rule, however, you can expect your external flash to provide anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 flashes before giving up the ghost.

If you're using a flash, but now your subject appears too light or washed out, what should you do?
Odds are you need something to bounce or diffuse your flash before it gets to your subject. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The easiest way is to not point the flash directly at your subject, instead bouncing the light off a nearby surface. There are also covers that will help soften the flash while also providing adequate light to whatever it is you’re shooting.

Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

 Lifewire

What to Look For in a Camera Flash for DSLR

Camera System

Most flashes can be used interchangeably with different camera systems if you don’t mind setting the flash power manually. However, if you’re looking for a flash that can automatically adjust its output depending on the scene, you’ll need to make sure the unit offers TTL compatibility for your camera brand.

Flash Output

How bright do you need your flash to be when shooting? Keep an eye out for a flash’s guide number which tells you how far a flash can reach. Typical budget flashes will have a guide number of around 35 to 45, meaning they can reach 35 to 45 feet at ISO 100, while more expensive and powerful flashes can easily have guide numbers that surpass 100.

Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash

Lifewire

Recycle Time

How long will your model need to wait before you can use your flash again, or will your flash recharge fast enough for you to capture sports? Some high-end flash gear can take up to 100 photos without having to recharge, but others will need a few seconds after each shot—this is generally referred to as recycling time.

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