GODOX AD200 REVIEW


Introduction

Those who follow my videos on YouTube and my website will not be surprised to see a Godox AD200 review from myself. The only surprise is that I have taken a little more time than usual. This is because I wanted to get to grips with this new flash in real world situations rather than just in controlled situations and quote lightmeter readings etc.

As a Nottingham wedding photographer, I often find myself having to move quick and travel light. I know the lighting theory. I should use large diffusers to project soft light. However, for weddings, photographer’s must balance speed versus practicality. We cannot keep the bride & groom waiting for ten minutes whilst we set up a 120cm softbox. Nor can we drag around boxes of kit. For me personally the less I carry, the better.

I’ll admit, when Godox first announced the AD200, I didn’t see the point of it. Why bring out a flash which was less powerful than the AD360?  However, the more I thought about it. The more it started making sense! As time went on, I started realising just how useful it would be for wedding photographers. By the time it came out I was desperate for not one but two!

For my review of the Godox AD200, I’m going to focus on what I wanted to replace and then cover how I found them in the field to use.  Lastly I’ll cover briefly the power and recycling times but this is not intended to be a technical review but what I found good or bad when shooting weddings and engagement shoots with them.

Build Quality

It feels chunky and solid. The head clicks firmly into place with a nice feel. My only worry is there is a gap between the front plastic panel on the flash head which I assume is to let heat escape from the higher powered bulb. However, I do wonder how this will cope with the rigours of professional life since that is the only part which does look a little flimsy.  So far so good though.


The whole package is literally a tiny bit larger than your average speedlight and crucially for me fits in the same space.

Here is a photo of the AD200 compared to the size of the Godox V860ii and it's bigger brother the AD360Mk2


Features

For over two years now I’ve been faithfully using my Godox AD360 as my main flash for family formals as well as bride & groom portraits.  I love the AD360 since it packs a powerful punch for the size and I can use lighting modifiers which are fairly practical to lug around at a wedding such as the 30cm beauty dish with grid. When the mark 2 came out, I rushed out to buy it and never regretted it.

However, as portable as it is. The AD360 is still a bit of a faff.  The battery is large and separate. It needs connecting using a curly cable and then you really need to purchase the Y adapter to speed up the recycle times.

I attach both to a pole and my assistant usually carries it around.  Where I don’t have an assistant, I usually end up deputising the best man, a passing usher or on occasion even a bridesmaid!

It can be quite an intimidating set up and it is certainly not discrete.

Conversely, the AD200 has a built in battery so no more dangling cables. it's far less threatening to a non-photographer.


The recycle time is quoted at two seconds for full power and I would say in practice that’s about right.  It is very quick. My only minor gripe is the battery is almost a square shape meaning that in low light situations such as the evening wedding reception, it can be hard to tell which way to insert the battery.

The Fresnel head includes a very small LED modelling lamp which is activated by pressing the button. It’s useful for low lighting situations and also for helping me find stuff when I’m packing my bag. But that’s it. It’s certainly not powerful enough to use as a regular spotlight to light up bride & groom’s. I understand Godox are planning on a proper LED head which would be a great addition.

The on off switch slides up & down on the side which is an improvement over the TT685/V860 speedlights were I sometimes accidentally turn them on when putting them in my bag.



The LCD panel is on the bottom of the flash and is small but functional.  The desired group can be selected by pressing the GR/CH button and change to a different channel by holding down the same button for two seconds then using the dial to choose which channel you would like.

The mode button allows you to flip between TTL & manual mode but I suspect most users will be controlling this from a master controller rather than the back of the unit.  On the bottom right there is the modeling light on/off and long press to switch HSS on/off.  You can also remotely turn the modeling light on using a X1T unit by double pressing the CH button.  Unfortunately this doesn't work with a speedlight in master mode.

To get into the custom menu, long press the C.Fn button which is also the test fire button.  One of the first things I recommend you do if like me you will be using this for weddings is switch off the beep.  This is F01 and it should be set to OFF.

If you would like to manually set the power then use the dial.  If in TTL mode then you will need to press the centre button first before using the dial to adjust flash exposure compensation.


Overall the LCD is perfectly usable.  My only minor quibble is I'd like to have seen the rear LCD to be a little brighter but it's not a big deal.

Flash Power Output

The fresnel head is fixed at 35mm and cannot be zoomed.  The official GN number is 52 whilst the bare bulb head using the standard AD-S2 reflector is rated at 60 at 28mm.  For those thinking ‘wow, a normal speedlight has a similar GN number’, just bear in mind that the ratings on speedlights are usually taken at 200mm zoom and in my experience at least are let’s say ‘optimistic’ 

Using my Sekonic light meter I have tested the Godox AD200 against its bigger brother and v860ii. For the bare bulb test I have used the same 5” standard reflector. For the Fresnel head I did not use any modifier. Testing was done from a distance of 3m.


Godox V860ii @ 35mm f/8
Godox V860ii @ 200mm f/11
Godox AD200 - Fresnel Head f/16
Godox AD200 - Bare Bulb Head
with Standard Reflector & diffuser
f/13
Godox AD200 - Bare Bulb Head
with Standard Reflector, no diffuser
f/16
Godox AD360ii with Standard Reflector & diffuser f/14
Godox AD360ii with Standard Reflector, no diffuser f/18


So no real surprises. The AD200 is less powerful than the AD360 but more than the normal speedlight. However, It may surprise some that there is only a 1/3 stop difference between the AD200 and the AD360.  Whilst in percentage terms that seems a lot (ie. 33%), the AD200 of course is much more portable with the integrated battery.

With the zoom head of the V860ii set to 35mm we're getting two stops more light and with the zoom set to 200mm on the speedlight, we're still getting a whole stop more light.  Of course the spread pattern will be different and not a good 'trick' if you are planning to use the speedlight with a light modifier like a softbox.

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