This a review of the Godox v860ii speedlight or Ving 860 mark ii if we’re being completely accurate but the short version is just easier to type. This flash is the successor to the very popular Ving 860 flash which was I think the first speedlight to use li-on batteries instead of the traditional 4xAA batteries.
As regular readers know, I have quite the collection of Godox flashes now which I’ve always found to be very good for the price. As with previous reviews, I will be using the Nikon version of this flash although I understand it is available in Canon & Sony mounts too. My thoughts will be as a busy wedding photographer using flashes for a mix of on camera and off camera use. Not as a studio/hobbyist so just bear that in mind when you read my musings. Before we crack on, you may want to read my Godox TT685n review before you continue.
The original v860 wasn’t without controversy. Many people reported charging issues or losing charge quickly after being charged up. Godox rectified this on the later batches. The mk2 uses the new batteries so hopefully no issues will occur. If I have any problems I’ll update this review and let you all know.
The Godox v860ii has the same features as the TT685 and like all the new Godox flashes, the trigger is now built inside so you no longer have to clip the FT16s triggers to the side like the older model of Ving.
In many ways, this is simply a Godox TT685 flash with a li-on battery compartment instead. The size, interface, locking mechanism, plastics. They’re all identical. The v860 is slightly heavier due to the battery. So why did I buy one when I already have 2x TT685’s? Well firstly I wanted to see what the fuss was about. A few of my photography friends had one and was raving about them. Secondly I’m right in the middle of wedding season and I’m growing bored of charging AA’s all the time. More on this later. It is worth noting that you actually lose a feature when compared to its AA powered little brother. The ability to plug in an external battery pack. Now personally I have to wonder why you’d want to use an external pack when you are already using a Li-On battery that recharges so quickly but I’m sure someone will probably moan if I didn’t at least mention it.
As mentioned, identical to the TT685. Solid enough for professional work. The li-on battery stays inside until you open the cover and push a little button to release the battery. It uses the same hotshoe locking mechanism. Thankfully the V860ii-N has stayed firmly attached to my cameras and I’ve not had any come loose like the early TT685 flashes. As I keep saying though, I’d prefer to see the more modern lever type of lock that you can get on the Canon 600 series flash that even Yongnuo are starting to use now.
*Read my update in part 2 of this review. Since switching to Sony, the v860ii hotshoe has caused me a lot of problems.*
It has all the same features as the TT685. So it supports TTL and HSS. Using master mode you can control remote slave flashes. You still can’t adjust zoom on a remote flash from the LCD.
Which leads me to my first little gripe which in fairness is just like the TT685 too. Basically you can manually adjust the zoom head but when you cycle through the modes and return to the TTL menu for example, the flash has forgotten your last setting and defaults back to Manual zoom @ 24mm.
Just like in previous tests I have used my Sekonic lightmeter to measure the power of the Ving 860 flash and compared it to my TT685 & Nikon SB910 flashes. I’m not very surprised to find that the v860ii produces the same amount of power as the Godox TT685.
It is however fastest to recycle of the group by about 0.5 seconds. Which in percentage terms is significant but in practice it’s not a big deal. Below you can see a short video. Just for the record, both battery powered flashes had freshly charged Sanyo Eneloop Pro batteries.
IN THE FIELD
So here’s where we use the flash in the real world. In my case to photograph weddings in Nottingham. So far, I’ve used it at three weddings so I think I’ve got to know this flash quite well.
I’m going to sound like a stuck record soon but…..it’s just like the TT685! In fact I cannot tell which flash I am using unless I look at the marking on the flash itself.
The metering is exactly the same, I’ve found the Godox flashes tend to overexpose by 0.5-1 stop so I usually dial in -1 FEC to make sure I don’t accidentally blow the highlights. I have to admit that the SB-910 is far more consistent here. It’s a minor annoyance but not the end of the world for a flash that’s so much cheaper.
The master/slave mode works just works and is pretty uneventful if you’ve used other Godox flashes.
The biggest advantage though is that the battery easily lasts a wedding. In fact it’s still showing full bars on the display. OK so it’s summer and I haven’t punished the flash a lot since I do prioritise natural light when I can. But this is great! I no longer have to charge up before each wedding.
One thing I have found though and again it’s slightly disappointing. If you are shooting a burst of photographs, the SB910 seems to be able to keep up better than the V860ii. Even though the SB910 only uses AA’s whereas the v860ii uses the Li-On battery.
As you can see from this burst of 6 shots in Continuous High mode and all the same settings, that the SB910 does a much more consistent job and manages to get the first four frames albeit the power is dropping in between each frame. The v860 does not fire until it has completely recharged and as a result only 2 out of 6.
This is quite disappointing as like many other people, I would have expected the Li-On battery would give an advantage to the Godox and they could have designed a flash that fired faster.
However, putting it into context, it’s not often I shoot like that but it’s a nice to have though for those rare occasions I am gunning it. It’s not a big disadvantage though. Especially not compared to other third party speedlights who all fire at a similar rate to the Godox v860mk2.
VALUE FOR MONEY AND CONCLUSION
So at the time of writing, the Godox v860ii is £160ish on Amazon, the TT685n is £96ish and the Nikon SB5000 is £569! The eagle eyed may notice that the prices have gone up since my original review of the TT685 but that was done before Brexit and the prices in this review are current as of July 2016 post Brexit.
So which flash is THE best? I’d say if you don’t care about price then it has to be the Nikon. I don’t doubt that it will be the best built and last longer. But £569??? For that you can buy a v860ii and still have change left over to get the Godox AD200!
That’s a lot of money to pay for a speedlight and the SB5000 wireless features don’t even work on any Nikon older than the D500.
However, this is a review about the v860ii and here it gets a bit more complicated. In my opinion, if you are on a budget then quite simply get the TT685. The li-on battery raises the price significantly and for most, I think the TT685 would be enough.
But if you are shooting multiple events, back to back then I do think it would be worth upgrading to the v860ii. Not having to charge the speedlight again after each wedding has saved me a lot of time when I return home from a wedding and need to prepare for another the next day. That perk alone has made me upgrade from the TT685’s to the v860’s.
I hope you’ve found this review useful. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com and I’ll do my best to get back to you.
**UPDATE Godox v860ii-S**
In the past few months I’ve switched from using Nikon to Sony. As part of that move, I’ve invested in both a TT685S and also the v860ii-S which is my workhorse.
Unfortunately i’ve found that the hotshoe really is the weak part of the flash. The speedlight uses the wheel to tighten it onto the hotshoe. I think as a result, the neck seems to be a bit longer. This is made from plastic and I’ve found that over time, this snaps off.
I suspect this is as a result of the swaying motion if like me you use a Spider Holster or any strap system where your camera dangles upside down whilst you walk.
Right now I seem to have to replace the hotshoe every few weddings. To the point where I have made a video to help others having the same problem.
I’ve asked around and anecdotally I think this is worse for Sony users than Canon/Nikon but I’ve not done any deep research into this.
The ‘good news’ (if you can call it that) is replacement hotshoes can be purchased from eBay for around £10-£12 and as the above video shows, they are very easy to fit.
If you like the Godox v860ii but not convinced the battery is worth the extra money, check out my review of the Godox TT685n.
I’ve also recently created reviews for the innovative new Godox AD200 flash. Click here to read my review
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