Godox V1 Review
It's been a long time since Godox released the V1. I've tried several times to write a Godox V1 review. But somehow I could never find the right words to write. It's probably not a bad thing that I've waited. I've had plenty of time to put this speedlight through it's paces. I have used it as my primary flash at weddings for over a year now. So I can honestly say I am writing about the advantages/disadvantages from experience.
I was so excited to get this flash but perhaps not for the reason you might first think. You see, one of my biggest criticisms of the Godox flashes for Sony is the hotshoe. You see, with the v860ii, I just seem to be regularly breaking the hotshoe. Replacing them had become a running joke within my wedding photographer pals. I know many of them had similar issues but I seemed to break the most. To be clear, this seemed to only affect Sony users. I used to own the Nikon v860ii and never broke any. But it seemed almost every other wedding, I would at some point break the hotshoe and need to use my spare.
I put this down to the fact I use a spider holster. When walking, the speedlight dangles upside down and as I walk, the flash waggles on my waist. I guess over time the hotshoe just breaks.
So when Godox first announced the V1, I was convinced that they would fix this one problem. I didn't care about any other issue. I would be happy if all they did was fix this one problem! It would save me buying hotshoes in bulk from eBay and taking a screwdriver to every wedding in case I broke it during the day.
It is no conincidence that my 'How to replace the hotshoe on a Godox flash' is my most watched video on YouTube!
As always, this review is based on my own opinions using this speedlight at dozens of weddings. I have not been paid or sponsored for this review though if you do use my affiliate links below to buy this flash then it will help me out.
This Godox V1 review isn't going to be about stats or shooting into bare walls and talking about lighting patterns. It is going to be based wholly on real world use.
Also, it is going to be pretty hard to write about this flash, without comparing it to it's brother, the Godox v860ii. I suspect most readers will be reading this review to decide if they should buy the V1 or v860ii. So I hope my comparisons won't be an issue.
Of course it goes without saying that the V1 is fully compatible as both a master and a slave with all Godox products made in the last four years. This is one of the core strengths for Godox so it would be unthinkable that their flagship speedlight would not be compatible!
OK so I’ll start out by quickly go over the main features. Originally I planned on going through every single feature of the Godox V1 but the review would be very long & boring. So I’m just going to hit the highlights.
So the biggest feature of the Godox V1 is of course is the round head. This is instead of the more traditional rectangular fresnel head. The ‘advantage’ of the round head is that the lighting pattern is improved with no hot spot in the middle which is normal for a Fresnel head speedlight.
The rear interface is better than previous Godox flashes. Gone are the optical modes (YAY!). Only radio master & slave now. The engineers have clearly put some thought into this part of the flash since it no longer possible to activate slave mode whilst the flash is mounted on the camera.
In master mode, individual groups can be turned on/off by pressing the group button repeatedly rather than having to press multiple buttons in previous flashes.
This is a small but important point. So bear with me. The sequence is TTL ->M -> OFF. Each time you press the group button, it moves along one. Typically at a wedding, I would use manual (M) power. So to turn my flash off. I press the group button once. Done. Unfortunately to turn it back on, i have to press the group twice. Since the first press sends me to TTL.
What I have found is in the heat of battle, I am found mashing the button and accidentally going round and around.
I REALLY wish that Godox had implemented the same system as found on the Adorama Flashpoint R2 Pro Mk2 and now the Godox XT-2 transmitter. On those triggers, you just double press the group button and the power goes on/off. It's just so much simpler.
It's not the end of the world but Godox...if you are reading this would be a HUGE win! Please consider it! You managed to add this feature to the XT-2 via firmware (hint hint)!
Quick Lock Hotshoe
Godox have finally added a lever lock onto the V1 flash. To lock onto your camera, just turn the lever until it clicks. The old twist lock is gone! Another yay! I hated that.
The V1 uses a new battery, the VB26. This is a 7.2volt 2600mAh battery. This is compared to the v860ii VB18 battery which has a capacity of 2000mAh
Charging is via a supplied USB-C charger. I like the fact that it is much smaller than the V860ii one. But this only has one LED which is red for charging and green for finished. The v860 one had flashing LED's which I found nicer. That said, the compact size means I can chuck it easily in my bag if I am travelling.
I've not tested how many pop's each flash can do. But I do know that I could usually cover three weddings on a single charge on the v860 whilst with the V1, after my second. The battery life indicator would be left on one bar. So I'd be charging up before the third wedding, just in case.
Whether this is because the V1 needs more power to flash. Or if it is just poor battery life indicator (like on the XPro's when using rechargeable batteries), I do not know. It just seems worse.
All I can say is that when I see I have one bar left. I will recharge. I won't push it since sod's law means I will run out of power at THE pivotal moment.
The rim of the round flash head has built in magnets and designed to work in conjunction with the Godox AK-R1 kit. Godox’s answer to Magmod. I’ll cover this in more detail later.
The Godox AK-R1 is an accessory kit designed specifically for the V1 and H200R round head flashes that Godox produce. The accessories are magnetic and attach very easily. Just like Magmod you can stack them if you want to.
It is a relatively inexpensive kit coming in at £53 on Amazon UK. Mine arrived in a nifty little box. Inside you get the following light modifiers:
- Honeycomb Grid
- Diffusion Dome
- Bounce card
- Barn Doors
Being honest, the only ones I use are the grid and the dome. I don't even take the rest with me now to a wedding. They just sit in the box at home. You can read more about my experiences below.
Top Tip - Gels
I can't remember who gave me this tip. So unfortunately I cannot credit them. It was one of those things I read on a Facebook group.
The gels included with the AK-R1 are quite basic and when I am at a wedding, I need a way to tell them apart quickly. Especially as often I will be trying to gel my flash in a dimly lit disco. Without markings, I am left trying to guess "Is this a half CTO....or a quarter?"
Rogue produce a Flash Gel kit which is designed for their grid system but happens to fit incredibly well on the round head:
These are labelled so you can find exactly which gel is which. I use the Rogue gels for my v860ii and AD200's rather than the Maggels just because buying so many gets very expensive. I love the Rogue set! One day I might be rich enough tho to buy the Magmod gels!
Real World Use and experience
Let’s get one thing cleared up straight away. The round head is practically of no benefit to me. Well by that I mean the shape. I almost never fire flash directly at people. So having a nicer lighting pattern is a moot point. 99.9% of the time I will modify the flash. Either by using a softbox, Magmod or simply bouncing off a nearby wall/ceiling. Therefore the round head itself isn’t really giving me any advantages.
I like what Godox have tried to do with the magnetic rim. Ie. To try and compete with Magmod. However, I’ve found in the real world that the AK-R1 kit falls well short of the well designed and well thought out Magmod system. For example, the grid doesn’t narrow the beam well enough. The AK-R1 white card makes up for the fact the V1 doesn’t have a white card built in. But in practice it's a pain to have to carry it around and it then falls off constantly in the bag. The best tool is the dome which I love using instead of the Magsphere. So much lighter and more convenient. The Snoot....gels, barn doors, I never use them
It is worth mentioning that the magnets are nowhere near as strong as the Magmod. So I’ve ended up losing a grid and dome diffuser at different weddings. The only way to replace them is to buy a complete AK-R1 kit! You can’t buy the accessories separately. Thankfully the kit isn’t overly expensive but it is a lot of waste just to get one part. If you are environmentally conscious then this will annoy you.
The battery is a smaller capacity than the ever popular v860ii. I’ve found in practice I’m able to shoot two weddings per charge. Whereas the v860ii, I could easily get through three weddings before having to charge the battery.
The interface is indeed much easier to use and a clear improvement. As mentioned earlier, I’d love to see Godox add the ability to toggle on/off but it’s a minor thing. Indeed the interface is one of the main reasons I use the V1 now over the v860ii.
Godox V1 vs Godox v860ii
A common question I get asked is which one would I choose? Which do I prefer?
The Godox v860ii is a regular sized speedlight with the best battery life and is compatible with a lot more accessories (eg. Magmod) than the V1. It's significantly cheaper too. At time of writing, the v860ii is £161 vs £229 for the V1.
On the other hand, the V1 has a better user interface, no optical mode which just gets in your way. And a small LED modelling light which occasionally comes in handy. Oh and the locking lever is a big improvement over the twist lock on the v860ii.
There's no difference in power. I've measured both using my trusty Sekonic light meter and the results are the same.
In practice I always reach for the V1 first. Mainly because of the better UI. To the point that I no longer even take my Godox v860ii with me anymore to weddings. Out of the two, the V1 is the better flash.
That being said. If I had to make my decision all over again. I'd probably stick to the v860ii and save my money.
The reason is that I simply don't think the Godox V1 is worth the extra £68. That is an extra 40% of the overall cost but the benefits are marginal.
The V1 was clearly inspired by the Profoto A1. Profoto did an amazing job in convincing photographers that the round head is better. So I guess Godox decided to join the party!
The lighting pattern is definitely better. The light falloff is nicer and there's no centre hotspot as is common with a fresnel head speedlight. However, as mentioned. This is really only useful if you go around firing the flash directly at your subjects.
Now you may have a particular use case where the round head is an advantage for you. If that's the case then the V1 is for you. But as a wedding photographer, I don't fire bare flash unless I'm desperate.
If you remember, at the start I said the main reason I rushed out to buy the V1 was because I was hopeful that Godox would fix the weak hotshoe issue that plagued the Godox v860ii for Sony.
Well Godox did change the hotshoe slightly. The plastic on the foot now runs the entire length of the hotshoe. This should improve durability. HOWEVER. What they did not seem to do is improve the strength of the neck. Ie. from the hotshoe to the body. That bit continues to be the weak point and I've had to replace a few of those too! To make matters worse, they are harder to buy on eBay and cost a bit more!
As a result, I find that the only reason I could recommend the Godox V1 is if you will be regularly controlling slave flashes AND you need a speedlight on top of your camera too. In that case, the better user interface could be the reason you buy this over the Godox v860ii.
If you are using Magmod, want the longest lasting battery and/or just want to save a few pennies then I would recommend you consider the Godox v860ii. You can read my review on that flash here: Godox v860ii Review
I hope you have enjoyed reading my Godox V1 review. If you are hoping to buy this flash then I hope my thoughts will help you make up your mind.
If you have any questions about this speedlight then feel free to drop me an email. Respectfully I ask that you don't use my contact form to ask questions. A regular email would be much preferred. Thank you!
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