In recent years, Godox has become the go-to brand for many photographers looking for competitively-priced lighting products that are packed with features.
As an avid user of products such as the TT685 and AD400 Pro, I was excited to hear about the launch of the Godox V860 Mark III. This third iteration in the line promised all the features of the first two models with some new goodies added, including a new battery and a modeling lamp.
Although the new features sound impressive, when it went on sale in August 2021, it came with a price tag that was $50 higher than the previous version. I was keen to find out if the new features made this flash worth the extra money.
Same Flash, Multiple Names
The version of the product I have is labeled as "Godox V860 III" but it’s worth noting that it’s also sold under the names "Godox VING V860 III" and "Flashpoint Zoom Li-on III R2 TTL". All three names will give you the same product. Just make sure it has the number III after it, otherwise you could be buying the first or second version of the flash.
Also take note of which letter comes after the main part of the model name, as different versions of the flash are available depending on which system you shoot with.
The "F" on my model denotes it’s compatible with Fujifilm X series cameras. The folks at Godox are very accommodating with their products, with other versions available for Sony (S), Canon (C), Nikon (N), Olympus / Panasonic (O), and Pentax (P).
What’s in the Box?
Like other Godox products, the branding and quality of the packaging is excellent as you’d expect. As well as the flash itself and the Lithium ION battery, there are a few other things inside the box.
Firstly, there’s a manual in Chinese and English. The manual gives a fairly good rundown of all the features, though the text is too small for my liking — even with my reading glasses on I struggled to view it.
Secondly, there’s a nice soft pouch for the flash. I particularly like that they’ve used the Godox brand colors for this — black on the outside and orange on the inside.
Thirdly, there’s the AC charging cable and charging plate for the battery. Finally, there’s the hot shoe plate quarter-inch plate adapter for attaching the flash to lighting stands.
First Impressions and Build Quality
My first impression of the Godox V860 III flash was very positive. Taking the flash out of the box, I did notice that it was slightly larger and heavier than some other Godox flashes I’ve used. The extra weight is probably due to the new rechargeable Lithium ION battery: the V860 III weighs in at 18.7oz (530g).
The build quality of the Godox V860 III is excellent. The flash feels sturdy and more durable in the hand than some smaller flashes. Having said that, I’ve never had any issues with the build quality of any Godox equipment.
The V860 III has an impressive list of specifications, here are the highlights:
- 76 watt output
- High-performance Li-ion battery offering 480 full power shots on full charge
- Flash duration from 1/300 second to 1/20,000 second
- Flash zooms from 20mm to 200mm
- 1.5 seconds recycle time
- TTL and manual flash settings
- High-speed sync up to 1/8000th
- Compatible as both a transmitter and receiver with the Godox 2.4Ghz wireless X system
- Front modeling lamp with variable output (1-10)
Using the New Features of the V860 III
As well as all the features you’d expect from this line of flashes, such as TTL and HSS, Godox has added new and improved features into this third version.
The most talked-about feature is the front-facing 2W modeling light which can be adjusted in intensity from 1 to 10. Perhaps the only disappointment with this feature is the position of the lamp — it is on the flash body above the Godox logo, not on the flash head itself.
While some will find the modeling lamp useful, others will not. For example, if you’re bouncing your flash off the ceiling, you could rightly ask what practical use is a modeling lamp on the body of the flash facing your subject? Nevertheless, I find the lamp a welcome addition as it could be used as a continuous light source or for video. One thing I will say about the modeling lamp — it is very bright even when on lower levels of power.
The V860III also comes with a new battery for this line, the VB26A. This is a higher-capacity battery with a faster recycle time, boasting over 480 full-power flashes per charge. In my tests, I found the flash recycle to be excellent: the V860 III just kept going and going.
On one shoot, I took over 70 images in quick succession and the V860 III didn’t miss a beat. I know that some of my older AA battery-powered flashes would be struggling to keep up in a similar test.
Another new feature is the footswitch to lock the flash in place on your camera’s hot shoe. Although it might save a little time compared to the rotation method of older flashes, I must admit I didn’t find the footswitch super quick to use, but perhaps that’s just me.
The last new feature I’ll single out is the manual switch on the flash to change between manual flash and TTL. Although this switch is a good idea, it wasn’t actually that hard to switch between manual and TTL in previous versions of the flash.
While all the new features are welcome, I’d suggest they are more incremental improvements, especially given similar features already exist in other Godox products.
I’ve concentrated on the new features for this review, as all of the standard features are just as you’d expect from Godox. All versions of the V860 III come with TTL, manual flash, high-speed sync up to 1/8000 second, rear-curtain sync, stroboscopic flash, flash exposure compensation, and autofocus assist beam for low lighting situations.
In my tests, the V860III was reliable and packed a punch with its power and performance. I do however have two very minor gripes regarding usability.
Firstly, although the flash head of the V860III moves forwards and backwards quite smoothly, rotating the flash head does take a little more muscle. Secondly, when I did have questions, the instructions in the manual were quite good. It's just a shame that the text is so small and I wasn't able to find the manual online.
Godox Wireless System
One of the things I love about Godox flashes is the ease with which you can set up transmitters and receivers. Using one flash or commander to trigger another off-camera flash is simple and takes seconds.
Using the V860 III with the Godox XPro F trigger was straightforward: within a couple of seconds they effortlessly synced and I was using the flash off-camera. For the images of Lucy Lumen I held the flash in my left hand while taking images with my Fujifilm X-T4 in my right hand.
The V860III can be used as a controller for three other groups of flashes - even if it’s not being used as a flash itself. As a transmitter, the V860III can trigger the V1, the AS200 Pro, and the AD 300 Pro. As a receiver, the V860III can be triggered by the X1, X2, Xpro, and the V1.
Another feature I like in this model is channel scan — this gives more reliable results in crowded places where other equipment might be using Wi-Fi. The flash scans all channels and chooses one that no one else is using - very clever.
V860 III Versus V1
If you think these specifications and features of the V860 III sound familiar, you’re right. The V860 III shares a lot of similarities with Godox’s V1 flash. The biggest differences between the V860 III and the V1 is the shape of the flash head (rectangular versus round) and the position of the modeling light (on the flash body versus on the flash head).
They share the same battery which is fantastic for those wishing to build a complete lighting system with this brand. Even the menu design of the V860 III is similar to the V1, breaking away from the menu system on older Godox hardware.
Value for Money
The V860 III is more expensive than the previous version in this line, but I believe the new battery system bringing it in line with other Godox products is a welcome development.
At the increased price, it does force a comparison with the round head Godox V1 flash which sells for $259, but overall, I think the V860 III is excellent value for money.
If you’re looking for a workhorse flash with a ton of features and a battery that just seems to keep going and going, the Godox V860 III is an excellent choice.
The flash packs a powerful punch, with a feature set that includes TTL and HSS as standard, along with the build quality of the flash and the other contents in the box are very good. The only suggestion for improvement is increasing the size of the text in the manual.
Although this third model in the line does come with a higher price tag than previous versions, the new features, and excellent battery more than makeup for this. Photographers can start to build a kit with Godox products around this long-lasting VB26A battery — hopefully more products will use it in the future.
Godox V860 III Pros
- Excellent build quality
- Very good value for money
- Upgraded battery now compatible with other Godox flashes
- Powerful flash with long-lasting charge and fast recycle time
- Modeling lamp may prove useful to some
Godox V860 III Cons
- Higher price point than previous models
- At this price, forces comparison with more expensive flashes
--- "On one shoot, I took over 70 images in quick succession and the V860 III didn’t miss a beat."
It'd be interesting to know what power was this at. With the previous version, at 1/2 or even 1/4, thermal protection would kick in at about 20 consecutive shots.
Good point, that was with the flash on TTL. Last night I put the flash on full power in manual and after perhaps 25 flashes the recycle time slowed a fraction, but it kept going.
That's really good. The previous would slow down about 8 seconds recycle time. It drove me nuts. I would pop the battery in and out to reset faster and get another 20 shots. If it melts, that'll give me a reason to pickup the AD200Pro. :)
The older V860 and V860ii are my goto speedlights for weddings and portraits, only bring out the AD200 when more power is required. I used the Sony Flashes before and they lack in functionality and connectivity. Tried the cheaper Yongnuo 560s and moved up to godox. The lights have not failed me yet, plus they are so easy to use.
Great to hear!
Blows my mind canon and nikon are still charging what they do for their flash systems when godox is kickin ass with their gear at great prices.
Yes, I was hesitant to move to a third party flash years ago, but I'm glad I did :)
i was too haha. I had nikon flashes but wanted reliable wireless support without having to buy pocket wizards so i tried the yongnuo stuff and while they did somewhat work I had a lot of miss fires. Then godox happened and i've been a happy camper since!
I must dissent. I use the FJ80, more money, but. I had godox and had issues. Tech support is
non·existent. When I switch to FJWewtcott, world-class support on the phone. Mind you not a geek head and I don't shoot on a regular basis. So the extra bucks for FJ80 are a killer. I am now buying only Westcott gear. I don't want to "bad mouth" Godox as a product. I just have had a nice experience with Wescott. Support is key for me
There's multiple variables about what makes a good product, customer service is certainly a key one :)
The modelling light on the front of the flash and not on the flash head -- yeah at first that puzzled me too. I thought it was wrong.
But then when I looked at it again today, I suddenly though, well it probably does make sense, actually.
The flash is meant to be used on-camera.
So when the flash is on-camera, the modelling light will point in the same direction as the lens.
Whereas the flash head might be pointed away in some other direction, at a wall or ceiling for instance, so the light bounces off and is softer.
The modelling light will then still light up your subject so it helps you focus.
And weak as the modelling light is compared to the actual flash, if the flash should bounce off a wall or ceiling, the modelling light will likely anyway not give you enough light to recreate that light for you to "see that light" in advance of the flash firing.
What do you think of this reasoning?
Pretty good thinking :)
While the product is a great buy, they have no service, warrenty. My bare tube flash broke after 2 years.
Can you do a more in depth comparison with the V1?