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 usi ng 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.