We've rounded up six of the best mid-price flashguns

Not only do external flashguns provide more power for flash photography, but they can open up a world of creative photography triggered remotely for really stunning shots.

Canon 430 EX II £205

Designed to offer an ideal balance between power and portability, the Canon 430 EX II flashgun offers a Guide Number of 43 at 105mm that’s equivalent to a Guide Number of 32 at 35mm. With a power zoom coverage of 24-105mm, it sports a 14mm wide-panel diffuser to make it suitable for a wide range of shooting situations.

The flash head can’t be angled downwards as on some of the other models, but can be tilted upwards by 45°, 60°, 75° and 90°, locking into each position with a reassuring click. Rotate the head anti-clockwise and it’ll spin around by 180°, however it’ll only rotate by 90° in a clockwise direction.

The Canon 430 EX II flashgun can emit an infrared focusing beam to help provide contrast for the lens to focus on in extremely dark conditions, and as for the 
layout, all the control buttons are clearly arranged.

The flashgun can act as a master or slave for wireless flash, making the Canon 430 EX II a versatile flashgun that’ll cater for the needs of most Canon users very well, except those looking for even more power.

Guide Number: 32
Power zoom: 24-105mm
Wireless flash: Yes
Size: 72 x 122 x 101mm
Weight: 320g
Compatibility: Canon


Metz 52 AF-1 £199

While a Guide Number of 52 at first appears to be impressive, this is at the maximum zoom. For a more realistic idea of the power, the Metz 52 AF-1 delivers a Guide Number of 38 at 35mm – still a powerful output, but probably not quite as impressive as they’d have you believe.

The Metz 52 AF-1’s claim to fame is that it’s the world’s first compact flashgun unit to feature an illuminated touchscreen display. The flashgun is pretty easy to navigate, allowing you to control the flash with a couple of presses, including wireless flash control, and the display will rotate through 90° when shooting in portrait format. Whether this type of touchscreen interface will appeal or not will ultimately come down to personal preference.

The flashgun head can be tilted vertically 90° and horizontally by 300°. There’s a modelling light that makes it possible to evaluate the effect of the light before you shoot, while there’s an integrated wide-panel diffuser and white reflector card, but no diffusion dome that can be attached.

Guide Number:   38
Power zoom:   24-105mm
Wireless flash:   Yes
Size:   73 x 134 x 90mm
Weight:   346g
Compatibility:   Canon, Nikon, Micro Four Thirds, Pentax and Sony


Nikon SB-700 £229

It might not be the most powerful flashgun here with a moderate guide number of 28, but the Nikon SB-700 has a lot going for it.

Featuring a multi-step power zoom coverage of 24-120mm, it comes with three illumination patterns (Centre-weighted, Standard and Even) to sculpt the light how you want, while the Nikon SB-700 also has a built-in wide-panel diffuser and white reflector card. As well as this, the Nikon SB-700 flashgun is bundled with a Diffusion Dome to soften the light, and Incandescent and Fluorescent plastic filters that snap on to the front.

The model delivers plenty of control, including advanced remote flash options, allowing it to be used as a remote flash or Master control for additional lights, while the Nikon SB-700’s interface is well laid out. The scroll wheel dial makes it quick to toggle through settings quickly, which is supplemented with exterior switches that limit the need to go into the menu.

It’s a shame it’s not more powerful, but the Nikon SB-700 is a great performer that delivers plenty of features.

Guide Number: 28
Power zoom: 24-120mm
Wireless flash: Yes
Size: 71 x 126 x 104.5mm
Weight: 360g
Compatibility: Nikon


Nissin Di866 Mark II £199

The Nissin Di866 offers a Guide Number of 40 at 35mm, making it the most powerful out of the six models here.

At the rear there’s a square-shaped LCD panel, beneath which lies a simple arrangement of buttons. The panel has a clear breakdown of six options, all of them colour coded to make navigation a breeze. The flash head can be tilted vertically by 45°, 60°, 75° and 90° and spins 90° to the left or alternatively 180° to the right should you wish to bounce some flash off a
surface or subject that’s behind the camera.

In order to help disperse the intensity of the flash there’s a pull-out diffuser, as well as a white reflector card. In operation it’s an easy flashgun to set up, though the LCD could benefit from having a higher resolution to make the menu settings clearer and easier to read.

It has a fairly basic build quality too, but we like the way the menu switches orientation based on whether you’re shooting in the landscape or portrait format.

Guide Number: 40
Power zoom:   24-105mm
Wireless flash:   Yes
Size:   134 x 74 x 110mm
Weight:   320g
Compatibility:   Canon, Nikon, Sony


Sigma EF-610 DG Super £159

While one of the most affordable flashguns here, the Sigma EF-610 DG Super is also one of the most powerful, with a Guide Number of 36 at 35mm. The flashgun head can be swivelled to the left through 180°, but only 90° to the right, while the head can be directed upwards by 90° for bounce flash. There’s a wide-panel diffuser that’s built into the gun that can be pulled down and a white reflector card too, though no diffusion dome to soften light.

The Sigma EF-610 DG Super offers a modelling light and wireless flash control, allowing you to set the flashgun as either a master or slave unit. The interface at the rear is completely button based, with a mode button to toggle through the EF-610 DG Super’s flash modes. It’s probably not the quickest to use and alter settings, while the interface possibly isn’t the most intuitive for first-time users. The overall build quality is pretty good, though the plastic foot is not ideal – with an increased risk of wear if used on a regular basis. Overall, the Sigma EF-610 DG Super is a decent flashgun at a relatively risk-free price.

Guide Number:   36
Power zoom:   24-105mm
Wireless flash:   Yes
Size:   77 x 139 x 117mm
Weight:   330g
Compatibility:   Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma and Sony


Sunpak PZ42X £109

Sunpak’s PZ42X is the lightest and cheapest flashgun in this round-up. The flash head can be tilted upwards by 45°, 60°, 75° and 90° and rotated by up to 180°; however unlike all of its rivals here, there’s no white card to bounce flash and the diffuser at the front is extremely small.

At the rear there’s an arrangement of just two buttons – mode and select. It’s not as clear or as simple to set up as flashguns with more dedicated buttons and the multi-step power zoom makes a fairly loud whirring noise in operation. When the flashgun is idle and waiting to be fired it also gives off a high-frequency beep every few seconds that soon becomes infuriating when you’re shooting.
In order to aid shooting in low-light conditions, the rear LCD illuminates red when the mode button is depressed. The plastic hotshoe isn’t as robust as metal alternatives, however.

For those who are on a budget, the Sunpak PZ42X will do the job, but there are other alternatives out there that are better made and offer wireless functionality too.

Guide Number: 42
Power zoom: 24-105mm
Wireless flash:   No
Size: 116 x 64 x 102mm
Weight: 260g
Compatibility: Canon, Nikon, Sony