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I’m going to start with a small admission… I’ve always been about brand-name stuff. There, I said it…
I have had Canon cameras since the a5 (it was the small, boxy predecessor of the Ixus range) and before that, Nikon film cameras (and during, come to think of it) and have always had the mindset that I should purchase Canon lenses for my Canon cameras, always thought that I should buy well known lights and tripods and… (the list, it goes on and on)
More recently though, I’ve had less disposable cash (kids! yay) and when you add that to getting increasingly more creative through experience and needing different gear to try the ideas in your head, well, you hit walls. One of those walls I’ve found a way to work with – that’s the “but it costs so much” wall, there are a couple of non-big-brand products that do what you need and, in this case, do it quite well.
Below is the Voeloon V58 camera flash, it’s a flash unit with a guide number of 58, it can high-speed sync up to 1/8000th of a second, and it comes in at just under half the price of a name brand unit. Should you buy one?
Looking for alternatives to big brands, ones with more affordable price tags, the question that was frequently popping up in my mind was “but if I only spend $200 on a flash rather than $499, will it simply fail and be thrown away?” Or there was the “but, the more expensive flash does more things, will I regret my choice?” and, honestly, for some people the answer will be yes, you will regret your choice – but that’s life I suppose.
The answer to my first question “will it simply fail and be thrown away” well, I’ve only had the flash unit for a bit over a month and I’ve had my Canon 580EX for almost 10 years – so I guess the answer to that is “ask me in 10 years”. To be fair, the Voeloon unit has an almost identical build to the 580EX, with a few differences in the battery door and a couple of other small bits and pieces, but it feels sturdy and each button feels good under thumb, all of the features work exactly as described, etc.
The V58 is HSS capable (High-Speed Sync – that basically means that you can use the flash over 1/200th of a second, and not get half of your frame all black – more on HSS here). The Voeloon V58 that I have is a Canon version, I have also used it on my Sony a7 in manual mode (clunky, but it worked). It’s a 24mm to 200mm zoomable hotshoe mounted flash that does everything my Canon flash does, and hasn’t limited me in anything I wanted to do. The guide number is similar to the 580EXII.
I did something very unlike me and wandered through the instructions manual! There are a couple of sensible warnings in there, like don’t use stroboscopic more than 10 times in a row without letting your flash have a little rest. There are also helpful tips right throughout the manual, which I found quite sweet – basic stuff, but helpful.
Anyways, stats and rhetoric aside – the bottom line for me when I decided to have a go at reviewing this Voeloon V58 was “Will it perform like a brand-name unit” and “will it allow me to do what I need to do for my clients, if I have a gig where I use a flash”
Yes, it does perform just like my Canon 580EXII, though I prefer the menu on the Canon, but as I mentioned, I’ve used that for 10 years, so that’s really just personal preference. It has enough power, recycles quickly and hasn’t broken – we’re certainly off to a good start.
I’ve not had a shoot where I’ve needed a flash unit in the last month and a bit, so I’ve recreated a few scenarios myself (mostly tested running around the house after my kids, isn’t that punishment enough!) with the Voeloon performing as it should each time with no obvious downsides to my Canon flash.
The bottom line is “would I recommend this flash to people looking for a cost effective way to get into flash photography?” – Yes, I absolutely would… I see this as a good sturdy unit with all the features a photographer would need from a single, portable flash unit.
Budget Tip: If you can’t afford a flash ($200 is still a wad of cash, I get it!) there’s a great array of desk lamps on eBay that you can buy for under $30, and sure – some of them might be a weird color temp, they might be flimsy and annoying, but they’re going to help you understand direction of light and help you learn how to control light – start making light modifiers from things you find around the house!
I award the Voeloon V58 five stars – Cost and functionality deserve these stars.