Updated July 6th 2020
It’s hard to think that my original Godox AD200 review is already three years old. So I thought it was about time update my review and let you know how my experience has been. Have my feelings changed over time? Has the AD200 stood up to the demands of professional use?
I remember vividly when it was announced. I remember thinking “This looks like the perfect flash for wedding photography” In my first review I concluded that it was the best flash you never knew you needed. Since then a lot has changed. There are now quite a number of accessories available for the AD200 and Godox have built an entire ecosystem of flashes and add-ons you can buy.
As always, the aim of this review isn’t going to be full of stats and shooting test objects. I will be focussing on what I’ve found to be important (and what’s not) from using it a busy wedding photographer over the past few years.
Hopefully with the scene set, read on for my thoughts on the Godox AD200. Is it still the flash for me in 2020?
Background & History
If you’re not familiar with the Godox AD200 flash. Prior to the AD200, if you wanted a portable flash solution for location shooting. Your choices were extremely limited. Sure you could use a single speedlight but outdoors the humble speedlight was limiting. Combining them together was a cumbersome affair.
Pre-AD200. I was using the Godox AD360. This was a popular flash amongst wedding photographers. However, the was external bare bulb flash only. This meant I had to use a light modifier and usually large one like a softbox or beauty dish. In the field it wasn’t always the most practical solution. It was also quite an intimidating set up to hand to a bridesmaid or best man if you needed help during a wedding.
With the introduction of the AD200. Suddenly we had an all in one solution that used the Fresnel head. Suddenly we could use all the light modifiers designed for speedlights! Something us wedding photographers did a lot.
Top of the list for me was Magmod. Suddenly I could use their innovative lighting solutions and still pump out much more power than a single speedlight. But more on this later!
Three years on and competitors have tried to copy the AD200 but in my opinion. The Yongnuo YN200 and the Geekoto GT-200 are two that I remember. But none have been anywhere near as successful.
The Technical Stuff
As I said, I’m not going to ramble on about specs but for a review, it does make sense to at least list the most important features:
|Guide Number||52 (at 35mm)|
|Power Increments||8 steps (1/1 to 1/128)|
|High Speed Sync (HSS)||Yes|
|Recycle Time (Full Power)||2 secs (Approx)|
|Dimensions||168mm x 50mm x 75mm
(Without flash head)
|Compatibillity||Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Olympus|
There! Fill your boots! 🙂 It pretty much has all the features you’d expect from a modern flash.
The rear LCD screen is on the bottom of the flash. It’s small but functional and the buttons are logically placed. The buttons and dial feel nice and responsive.
You can change groups 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 compatible controller like the X1T or XPro. Unfortunately you can’t do this using 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.
To be honest the rear of the unit doesn’t really matter much. Because most of the time you will be using a remote trigger to fire the flash. The interface is far more important on your master flash or trigger.
So your interaction with the rear LCD will be limited to checking the power and pressing the test button occasionally.
The unit feels chunky and solid in your hands. With the battery and flash head, the AD200 is definitely heavier than a speedlight.
The flash head locks firmly into place with a nice click. One of my original worries was that the thin plastic diffusion panel on the Fresnel head which I assume is for heat dissipation would not stand the rigours of professional use. Well I am pleased to say that I haven’t broken any of them yet.
My strong advice is if you are using these on a light stand. Is to make sure you either have someone hold it or use a weight like a sandbag to stop the stand from toppling over.
It is worth noting that the AD200 Pro does have a recessed LCD screen which should help though I still remain sceptical it would survive a 2m drop.
Overall I have no complaints over the build quality at all.
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
|Godox AD200 – Bare Bulb Head
with Standard Reflector, no diffuser
|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.
Godox AD200 Accessories
As I mentioned at the start. A whole collection of compatible accessories are now available for the AD200. I’ll briefly talk about the ones I’ve used here but these are not intended to be exhaustive reviews. Call them mini reviews!
Godox BD-07 – Barn Doors, Grid & Gel
The first accessories I purchased. I bought two sets. Frankly they were awful. It wasn’t easy to get the grid in/out of the barn doors. Once clipped, it didn’t come off easily and the barn doors are practically useless. Avoid. Threw one set in the bin. The other is AWOL somewhere.
Godox AD-L LED Light
The very first LED light designed for the AD200. Being honest I was disappointed. There’s no ability to focus the light and there’s not many LED’s so the power output was also pretty poor. It made it wholly unsuitable for lighting speeches at weddings. Only times I used it was to find my car keys at the end of the evening in my camera bag.
Godox H200R – Round Head
Thanks to Profoto’s marketing campaign. There has been a rush to release round head flashes due to the ‘better’ lighting pattern. In practice it’s not a biggie unless you like to fire flash unmodified directly at your subjects. Using this head, the quality of light is indeed better compared to bare Fresnel head. The downside is you lose a bit of power. For weddings, I simply don’t use it.
Godox EC200 – Extender cable
The EC200 is an extension cable which allows you to mount the detachable head on top of a light stand and the head unit at the bottom. It’s takes more time to set up but having the weight at the bottom helps the stability if you use lightstands.
Technically not a Godox AD200 accessory but I think it’s fair to say that this is the light modifier of choice for most wedding photographers.
The Maggrip fits over the Fresnel head. Just make sure you take care and don’t cover the heat vents. The Maggrip does JUST about fit over the H200R head but it’s not recommended. I’ve seen plenty of people split the rubber this way.
My most commonly used combination is the Maggrid and the Magsphere for additional diffusion. More on this later.
Whilst technically Magmod did not design their softbox specifically for the AD200. They do work really well with it.
I now often use this combination for group photos and wedding portraits (time permitting) and corporate headshots.
For weddings I often prebuild the Magbox and leave it in the corner of the venue or failing that the car. That eliminates the time needed to set it up.
My only gripe with this combination is that it can get quite heavy for the person holding the Magbox. Especially if you are using 2xAD200’s. The smaller lightstands also struggle with the weight.
How I use the Godox AD200
The portability for me is key. With the fresnel head attached, it is the same size as a speedlight. This means it can fit in my camera bag. On my large roller case it fits upright but on smaller bags you have to store them horizontally. I usually put one on top of the other so I can carry two.
At weddings, the Godox AD200’s are my main flashes for pretty much everything. Outdoors for groups. Portraits. Indoors, I use them to light speeches, first dances and occasionally if the situation demands, wedding ceremonies.
The reason I use the AD200’s indoors rather than speedlights is simply because of the power. And by that I don’t mean I shoot at full power. No no! That’d be retina scorching after a while.
The reason is because they are much higher power. It means I can use a lower power setting like 1/32 and have almost unlimited flashes whereas with a speedlight I’d have to use something like ¼ power. This means if something unexpected happens. I don’t need to worry about the flash recycle time and I can capture the moment.
Of course having the integrated Li-On battery means I can get far more flash pop’s than speedlights using AA’s. It’s a shame the battery is square shaped. It makes inserting the battery in a dark environment (eg. evening disco) a bit more challenging. A simple curve on one side of the battery would have really helped here.
The WB29 battery is charged using a supplied mains charger. Battery life is excellent and I’ve yet to run out of power during a wedding. That said, I have turned up a couple of times to weddings with only one bar left after forgetting to charge them up!
As a rule I tend not to use High Speed Sync much. But on rare occasions I do. And at those times. Having 200Ws of power really helps since the drop off in power when in HSS mode for any flash is pretty extreme!
For portraits, my favourite combination is to modify the fresnel flash head with the Maggrid and magsphere. I do realise this will not give me the kind of soft light a large softbox would. But as I have said before, weddings are often a compromise between speed and portability.
It’s just much easier to carry the Godox AD200 with the Maggrid and Magsphere around. Than a giant softbox on a pole. I often work alone too. So for portraits where I need off camera flash. I often borrow a willing bridesmaid or groomsman to help me. In which case handing them the AD200 combo is far less daunting for them than handing them a giant softbox on a pole.
Can Godox AD200 overpower the sun?
I get asked this question a lot. The answer is “It depends”. Any light source can overpower the sun. It just depends on how far the subject is from the light source and the time of day.
What people generally mean is. Can the Godox AD200 overpower the sun on a REALLY sunny day at a certain distance? Again, it all depends on how far you are away and how bright the sun is. At high noon on a summer’s day? You could struggle, even if you’re a 3-4 meters away. Sunset with the golden sunlight then you should be fine. But you would have problems if you wanted to light them up from across the lake.
Whilst I do have lots of wedding photographs on my portfolio where I have used off camera flash (OCF). On a typical wedding day, I actually don’t use OCF a lot. Even for the bride & groom portraits, the vast majority will be done with natural light. Generally only for the ‘wow’ shots and sunset ‘dramatic sky’ photos which I am known for are lit with flash. Almost always, I will prefer to do those later in the evening.
The photo above was taken just before sunset with a single Godox AD200 using the Magmod & Maggrid/Magsphere from camera left. And single AD200 behind the bride & groom with fresnel head, no modifier.
Taking wedding photos in the middle of a sunny day is something I avoid if at all possible. And trying to overpower the sun, the results are rarely flattering.
Occasionally on a sunny day with little options. I will be forced to use the AD200 as a fill flash for group photos. In which case I put one of them into my Magbox and almost always it is enough power. On occasions I have used two. I don’t use high speed sync. If I wanted to keep the aperture shallow then I would have to go into HSS mode. In which case I don’t think one AD200 would be enough to overpower the sun due to the power loss inherent with HSS.
If you do find yourself often in these situations at a wedding then you may want to consider a more powerful flash. Godox have released a range of strobes with more power. From the AD300 right the way to the upcoming retina burning AD1200! As wedding photographers, we have to balance portability against speed. So in most days I’d move the wedding guests to a better location (eg. Open shade). Rather than introduce more power and lug around a bigger unit. My strong preference though is simple do the photos later in the day. Below is a photo that was taken around 4pm. As you can see, the sun is slightly lower but still out in force. The AD200 was more than enough to light up the couple.
When to use the Godox AD200 Bare Bulb
I no longer take the bare bulb head out to weddings with me. The only times I’ve used it in the last two years were for commercial headshots where I can put the barebulb head into a softbox. And more recently for a destination wedding where I opted to take the AD-S7 softbox due to its small, portable size.
Otherwise I literally never use it. Instead I prefer to put the AD200 with the Fresnel head into the Magmod Magbox for situations where I want a large softbox.
Godox AD200 Vs Godox AD200 Pro
In 2019, Godox announced a ‘pro’ version of the AD200. Leaving many wedding photographers in a dilemma. Do we stick with the original AD200? Or do we go for the pro?
I’ve had quite a few messages from people asking what the differences are between them and if the additional cost is worth it.
To be honest, there’s not a huge amount of difference. The design is almost identical. The rear LCD is now recessed which should give slightly better protection. I’m still not convinced the unit would survive a big drop though.
Flash power can now be controlled by 1/10 increments and minimum power is now 1/256 rather than 1/128 on the original Godox AD200.
The main addition is colour stability mode which keeps the colour temperature within 100 Kelvin. This is not really an issue wedding photographers will care about but if you are a studio/commercial photographer then this could be a feature you want to pay for.
The on/off switch at the side has been changed. The original AD200 switch was not easy to find if you don’t know what you are looking for. I’ve had assistants who have never used the AD200 be unable to find it. The Pro switch feels a bit better and more obvious. It’s a small improvement but hardly groundbreaking.
For me the most exciting change was really the flash holder/umbrella mount. That says a lot really! Godox have added a couple of small holes in the chassis which the flash holder now fits into when tightened up. The flash will no longer accidentally come loose and rotate around like with the non-pro version. This is a big improvement and had this been on the original AD200, I would have never have bought the Magshoe’s!
At time of writing, the original Godox AD200 is £267 from Amazon UK and the Godox AD200 Pro is £329. So the question is if it is worth paying an extra £62 for the pro version?
The answer for me is ‘no’. Not for wedding photography anyway. The changes are too small to justify the extra money. And the power adjustments for 0.1 instead of 0.3 is actually very annoying for weddings since it slows me down.
Warranty & Support
It is very important to understand how Godox warranty & support work. They don’t give you any. Not directly anyway. Godox have adopted a reseller model where they sell products to resellers. The units could be badged with Godox or rebadged with a totally different name.
For example. In the UK Lencarta sell Godox badged units. Whereas Essential Photo sell the AD200 under the Pika200 brand. In the US, Adorama have called their Godox range, Flashpoint.
It will be the seller you purchase from who is responsible for providing warranty services and technical support.
You can email Godox directly but you will not get a reply. They only work directly with dealers.
Amazon and eBay have a lot of keenly priced Godox products but the service can be variable. However with Amazon, I have learned that as long as the product was ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ then the shopping giant will deal with any returns issues on behalf of the dealer. Just don’t expect technical support!
In the UK both Lencarta and Essential Photo offer a two year warranty for your peace of mind. So whilst you can buy things quicker and maybe cheaper from eBay / Amazon UK. You want to also consider who will help you if something goes wrong further down the line when deciding where you will buy from.
Summary & Final Thoughts
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the Godox AD200’s. In fact I own three now with one AD200 pro. The latter I only bought since it was at a really good price. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done so.
Three years after their release, there are imitators but no-one close to competing with this innovative flash. The Godox AD200’s really are the perfect mix of flexibility, portability as well as being great value for money.
The speedlight, fresnel head is by far the most useful for weddings due to the plethora of light modifiers available already.
The extra power you get from this pocket strobe helps a lot more than the humble speedlight. Especially for portraits and allowing you to use a lower power so you have the option to burst fire shots, if you need it. (eg. Wedding breakfast speeches).
The only gripe I have about them is that sometimes you get misfires in situations where you shouldn’t. For example if I put an AD200 behind a bride and groom. Then the signal can sometimes be blocked. Even if the distance isn’t far. It’s not always. I wouldn’t say it is even regular. Just very occasionally. This could be wireless interference. I noticed on the newer flashes/triggers, Godox have introduced wireless channel scanning for the best available channel. I’ve not conducted any controlled testing to try it though. I can only tell you that sometimes you will get misfires.
I know some leading wedding photographers have used that to justify using Profoto B10’s but for all the other reasons listed above and factoring the cost. I will put up with the occasional misfire and stick to the Godox AD200’s for some time to come.
Even with the introduction of the Godox AD300 which are much more like the Profoto B10’s, I am not remotely tempted to switch. The fact they fit neatly into my camera bag. Slip into my think tank pouch so I can carry one on my hip when I am walking to take photos. It’s just perfect for a wedding photographer on the move.
So if you still wondering if you should buy the Godox AD200 for weddings then I would have to say without any hesitation. YES! Absolutely! In fact don’t just buy one, buy two!
A Small favour…..
If you have any questions I haven’t covered, feel free to drop me an email at [email protected] Please don’t use my enquiry form. That’s for bride and groom’s only 🙂
Lastly, if you are in the UK and found this post useful. Please consider using the link below to purchase your Godox AD200. This affiliate link won’t cost you any extra and encourages me to keep writing posts which I hope others find informative and helpful.