Light is everything for a photographer, even in food photography! There is nothing worse than having distracting and hard shadows in a food picture nor one that have not enough light on the subject. Natural sunlight is indeed pure and appealing and if you manage to do your food photography while the sun is shining and there are no clouds, then go ahead! That’s what I’ve been doing until now, but frankly, it’s not easy to manage food photography depending on the hours of the sun. It’s both challenging and demanding. This
Nissin Flash i60A and Commander Air 1
I’ve always thought learning how to manage flashes would be a nightmare. But what do you not do for beautiful food photos?
After reading various reviews and tests on the web I stumbled over Nissin, a Japanese brand I had never heard of before but that caught my attention. Nissin is in fact a Japanese leading manufacturer of flash units and was founded already back in 1969. Their 60 years of experience in this market let me gain trust in their brand and products. For this review I got to try two different products, two flashes and one commander. Powerful AND compact, Nissin Flash i60A was made for mirrorless camera users who need powerful flashes but compact sizes in order to adapt to the lightweight of mirrorless cameras. Thanks to the Nissin Commander Air 1 you can control 3 groups of Nissin flashes, it comes with an LCD panel that is very inutiative to use.
The flashes are equipped with a Quick Release and a flash stand is included in the package.
Let’s have a look on the technical side of the Nissin Flash i60A and the Nissin Commander Air 1.
|Type||Compatible with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Four Thirds and Fujifilm Systems|
|Guide no. (at ISO 100)||GN60 (at 200mm zoom head position)|
|Focal length coverage||24-200mm (16mm when using built-in diffuser)|
|Power source||4 AA-size batteries|
|Recycling time||0.1-5.5 seconds|
|Number of flashes (approx.)||220-1500 flashes|
|LED video light operation time||3.5 hours|
|Flash duration||1/800- 1/20,000 second|
|Operation panel||Color LCD with dial control|
|Mode||Auto, Manual, SD, SF, Wireless with A, B, C & channel selection (2.4Ghz Nissin Air system & optical) (*4)|
|Dimensions||112(H) x 73(W) x 98(D)mm/ 4.4(H) x 2.9(W) x 3.6(D) inches|
Nissin Commander Air 1
|Type||For Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, (Micro) Four Thirds system|
|Wireless system||Radio category|
|Channel||8 channels (channel setting in Air 1)|
|Flash Groups||A, B, C (3 Groups) (Group control and a specific group can stop transmitting)|
|Power Source||2 x AAA batteries|
|Function mode||TTL, Manual and Manual zoom|
|Continuous shooting speed||10 shots/sec|
|Number of flashes per charge||Approx. 3,000 flashes|
|Transmission distant||Max. 30m (Depending on the enviroment)|
|Manual zoom||Manual adjustment (24/ 35/ 50/ 70/ 85/ 105/ 135/ 200 mm)|
|Operation panel||LED color panel and select dial|
|High-speed synchronization||1/8,000 sec|
|Dimensions||65(L) x 60 (W) x 50 (H)mm/ 2.6(L) x 2.4(W) x 2 (H) inch|
|Weight||55g / 1.9oz (without batteries)|
Pairing the Flash i60A with the commander Air 1
There is a manual, but you will barely need it. That is how simple the Nissin Flash i60A is to pair with the Nissin Commander Air 1.
- Attach the commander Air 1 on to your cameras hotshoe
- Turn on the flash i60A by pressing on the power button and the control wheel button simultaneously for about 3 seconds until you hear it beeping.
- Turn on the commander Air 1 by pressing on the power button and the S-button simultaneously for 3 seconds and you will hear that the flash will stop beeping when they have been paired.
- You are good to go!
Nissin Flash equipped with fill-in reflector, soft box and light diffusing panel
The Nissin Flash i60A has an integrated fill-in reflector and a
The photos above where taken :
- without flash
- with flash
- with a
- with a
light diffusingpanel + soft box
- with a fill-in reflector
Benefits of using two flashes with food photography
How many flashes would you need for food photography? Everything depends on your personal taste and what can of the scene you wish to create. Personally, I prefer working with up to two flashes. One flash to use as backlight and the second to use as a
In the set-up, I diffused both light sources with white sheets as I wanted the light to be distributed evenly on the subject. I also used a white foam board as a reflector to bounce back the sidelight.
Diffuser – purpose is to obtain a more flattering and soft light and to avoid hard shadows
Reflector – purpose is to bounce back the light, it fills up the shadow and also adds more light to the subject
In the photos below you’ll see the difference between using two flashes vs one flash and how adding a reflector can help filling the shadow. The two photos below shows a photo with two sidelights, one on left and one on right side. If you slide the slider you will see the result when using only one sidelight and the shadow that it leaves. The following photo shows how a foamboard can be used as a reflector to fill the shadow.
Thanks to a reflector, in this case I used a white foam board, you can fill in the hard shadow and bounce back the light on the subject. As you can see in the photo below the raspberries to the left are more defined and has more light and the hard shadow on the table has decreased in size and strength.
Set-up of the lights
1 flash and reflector:
Below is another example of using two flashes. The set up is the following, one backlight and one sidelight in the right, diffusers in front of both lights and a reflector on the left side.
Below you’ll see the setup for the photos above with one backlight and one sidelight and a reflector:
Food photography with one flash
As mentioned above, two flashes can be very useful in food photography. But you could even use only one and thanks to reflectors create a beautiful light in the scene. To illustrate this, you will find a photo below where I aimed for a less lit up
The set-up for the photo with the fig: I put one side light in the right and one foam board on the left side to bounce back the light on the fig:
From have beeing a person who preferred the natural sunlight when doing food photography, I must admit that I rather choose the freedom of working any time of the day thanks to artificial light sources. Working in a small studio and also the fact that I wish to travel light when going to restaurants etc for photography assignments I have to say that the Nissin i60A flashes have fulfilled all my requirements. They are powerful and compact, the radio transmission is very reliable and the flashes are extremely easy to work with and thanks to them I have been able to produce photos with excellent results.
Before trying these flashes, the flash universe was a complete jungle for me. I didn’t want to spend a fortune on light equipment, but I didn’t want to compromise on the quality either. Nissin products has high quality and prices are mid-range. I can truly recommend these flashes and the commander, they are definitely an investment whether if you are new to food photography or want to upgrade your equipment.