Nissin Di622 Mark II Review (available for Nikon and Canon)
After releasing the first Nissin Di622 flash gun (click to see the review), the Nissin Di622 has been a popular first flash unit for many DSLR owners due to its high performance and value, full E-TTL/i-TTL compatibility, good build quality, and most of all, affordability. However, one major issue that forced buyers, particularly strobists to think twice is its inability to be triggered by standard radio triggers due to its non-standard contact pins on its hotshoe.
While Nissin released a firmware upgrade for the Nikon variant about six months after its release, the Canon version never had an official workaround for this problem. The availability of cheap China alternatives such as the YongNuo 560 ETTL flash unit also made budget-conscious users think twice before considering the Nissin, despite the Nissin’s better build, warranty, and value.
Now, the Di622 finally received an upgrade – the Nissin Di622 Mark II.
The Nissin Di622 Mark II version may look similar to the original version at first glance, but look closer and you’ll find some subtle changes that solved many of the previous version’s shortcomings. Let’s look at the specifications as published by Nissin Japan.
Nissin Di622 Mark II Specifications
- Usable camera : CANON digital camera, NIKON digital camera
- Guide Number : 44m, 145ft. (ISO 100), 62m, 205ft. (ISO 200)
- Illumination coverage : 24-105mm (16mm wide angle diffuser)
- Turning head : 90 degree upward, 90 degree to left, 180 degree to right
- Power source : 4 X AA or equivalent Mi-MH, lithium
- Number of flashes : 200-1500 flashes by fresh alkaline batteries
- Energy saving system : 2 minutes to stand-by mode, 30 minutes to shut down after the power on or the last use of flash unit
- Recycling time : 5 sec., with fresh alkaline batteries.
- Flash exposure control :
- E-TTL and E-TTL II for Canon cameras
- i-TTL for Nikon cameras
- Manual(Variable power) :
- 6 levels : Full – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 powers
- Wireless mode :
- SD: Slave Digital (with 6 level)
- SF: Slave Film (with 6 level)
- Wireless TTL remote Channel 1 Group A (Controlled by master flash)
- Flash Power Lock:
- FE lock (for Canon) / FV lock (for Nikon)
- My TTL Setting
- AF Assist light : Infrared LED for distance of 0.7 to 6 meter.
- Color temperature : 5,600K (same as daylight)
- Flash duration : 1/800sec. to 1/20,000sec.
- Camera contact : Hotshoe , X-contact, External Synchro socket
- Accessories included : Shoe stand, pouch
- Dimensions : 77(W) x 130(D) x103(H) mm / 30(W) x 51(D) x 40(H) inches
- Weight : 315g (without battery) / 11oz
The box looks almost exactly like the old Di622, with an addition of “Mark II” and a blue ribboned area near the bottom. Nothing flashy here (pun intended).
Inside the box, you’ll find the flash unit, a stand, a velour pouch, a mini-CD containing the PDF user manual, and a quick guide. You’ll be happy to discover that both the printed quick guide and the PDF manual are quite useful. Incidentally, you can also download the user guide on Nissin’s website.
Nissin does not supply batteries with the flash unit.
Exterior Details and Functions
The exterior of the Nissin Di622 Mark II looks very similar to the first version, however, you’ll notice a few differences right-off-the-bat if you’ve owned/used the first one:
- The red plastic lens is now an inverted trapezoid with some beveled edges
- Visible side port cover which houses a mini-jack and a PC-sync port.
- New rear panel featuring a small Mode button and power adjustment switches (more on this later).
The weight and size is identical to the first version.
The flash head zooms with any compatible zoom lens and covers the range from 24mm to 105mm. For wider cover, the flip-down wide-panel diffuser offers 16mm coverage.
Note that the Nissin Di622 Mark II doesn’t calculate for sensor size differences, so when you zoom your lens to 24mm with a crop sensor, the light beam will cover a 24mm (35mm full-frame equivalent) area, not 15mm (24mm / 1.6 crop factor).
The head also tilts up 90-degrees, and swivels 180-degrees to the right, and 90-degrees to the left. It does not offer a negative angle tilt. I still like the non-button approach of Nissin when it comes to tilting/swiveling compared to the OEM brands. When mounted off-camera or when tilted/swiveled, the flash head zooms to 50mm automatically.
You cannot manually change the zoom of the flash.
The hotshoe mount is made of sturdy plastic and doesn’t seem to be fragile. It also glides in VERY smoothly compared to Canon units (regardless of metal or plastic shoes).
Nissin supplied a flash stand as well for off-camera use.
The battery compartment still feels a bit thin compared to Canon/Nikon’s offerings, but snaps in tight and doesn’t accidentally open when you’re gripping the flash carelessly.
Naturally, the main difference between the first version and the Nissin Di622 Mark II would be the additional slave options available and the ability to use the flash off-camera with normal triggering devices.
Power and Recycling
The Nissin Di622 Mark II is rated at Gn44 at ISO 100, however, the zoom coverage isn’t specified with this guide number, I’d assume it is measured at 50mm coverage. Through an incident flash meter, the Nissin Di622 Mark II has roughly the same power output as the Canon 580EX II and the Nikon SB-900.
Here are full 1/1 output comparison between the Nissin Di622 Mark II and the Canon 550EX.
Recycling at full power drain takes about 4-5 seconds with fully charged, high-performance NiMh batteries. Recycling is fast under normal (non-full power) shooting.
Finally, Nissin has improved the power management of the Nissin Di622 Mark II. In the previous version, the flash annoyingly shuts down (enters stand-by mode) rather quickly (in 5 seconds!) in slave mode and you have to press the power button to wake it up.
The Nissin Di622 Mark II waits for a full 120 seconds (2-minutes) of non-usage before entering stand-by mode, and even if it did, it can be reactivated using the camera’s shutter button. No more need to physically press the power button on the flash! The flash completely shuts down after 30-minutes of non-usage.
Out of the box, the Nissin Di622 Mark II tends to underexpose slightly, about 1/3 of a stop (0.3EV), here are the comparisons between the Nissin and the Canon flash, camera settings are identical, flash compensation set to 0EV.
Fortunately, the Nissin Di622 Mark II offers ‘hard-coded’ calibration called MY TTL adjustment, if necessary. You can compensate for any flash metering discrepancies on the flash unit itself and set it as default so you won’t have to manually compensate every time you turn on the flash. You can recalibrate the flash’s 0EV metering output by +/- 0.75EV (3/4 stops) in 0.25 (1/4) stop increments.
The instructions are in the manual, but I’ll just mention it here as well.
With the Nissin Di622 Mark II still off, hold the pilot button and the power button simultaneously for 2 seconds or until the flash turns on. From there, you can nudge the power adjustment switch either to the left (reduce output) or to the right (increase output). Each light indicator reflects a 0.25EV adjustment.
When you’re done, just turn off the flash and turn it back on again. Your flash will now default to that new calibrated value.
My unit underexposes between 1/3 to 1/2 of a stop, but since the Nissin Di622 Mark II can only adjust in 1/4 (0.25) stop increments, I set it to +0.25 as it’s a closer to the accurate flash exposure than the next increment (+0.5).
You can see that it’s still slightly underexposed compared to the previous Canon-exposed image, but it’s much closer than the original.
Once you properly meter your flash exposure (in this case, the flash should have a +3/4 flash exposure compensation due to the light background), the exposures on both flashes are less pronounced.
Rear-curtain (slow-sync) mode is available as well.
This is the part of the review most strobists are waiting for, whether the Nissin Di622 Mark II can be triggered using standard radio triggers such as a Pocket Wizard.
The Nissin Di622 Mark II offers FOUR (4) slave modes to choose from, and as mentioned, sync ports are now supplied on the side of the flash’s body, allowing you to trigger the flashes with PC-sync or mini line-in cables.
You can select the flash modes using the small round button above the power level indicator. By default, it should be unlit, meaning, it’s on full auto TTL, on-cam mode. Succeeding presses will toggle you between:
- Full Manual Mode – Red indicator light. Use this mode when using a sync cord, IR trigger, or radio trigger. I’ve tested it to work with standard sync cables, YongNuo RF602, CTR-301, Cactus PT-04, Flashwaves, and Elinchrom Skyports.
- Slave Digital (SD) Mode – Green indicator light. Use this mode when you’re using your pop-up flash or other TTL flash as a trigger device. The Nissin will ignore the pre-flash emitted by the triggering flash. The Nissin’s flash output needs to me manually set using the power adjustment controls on the flash itself.
- Slave Film (SF) Mode – Blue indicator light. In this mode, the Nissin will trigger as long as a light pulse is detected, just like a plain optical slaved flash. Use this mode when matched with non-TTL, non-pre-flash main lights such as studio strobes or other full-manual flash units. Do not use this mode when you want to trigger using your pop-up flash as most pop-up flashes emit a pre-flash and the Nissin will fire before the exposure is taken. The Nissin’s flash output needs to me manually set using the power adjustment controls on the flash itself.
- Wireless Mode – Purple indicator light. Use this if you have a Canon/Nikon master/commander flash unit. Your master flash sends out TTL signals to obtain the proper flash exposure and sends the signal to the Nissin wirelessly. The exposure will always be consistent regardless of flash-to-subject distance.You cannot adjust the power of the Nissin in this mode as the flash computes for the exposure automatically at 0EV. The Nissin is hard-coded to use Channel 1, Group A.
Wireless Mode In Practice
The Nissin Di622 Mark II’s Wireless Mode defaults to exposing for midtones, and since you cannot adjust the exposure of the flash in Wireless mode, you can only change the flash output of your other flash units (including the main flash). In the following example, a Canon flash is mounted on-cam as a master flash device and the Nissin is placed off-cam, right side of the frame lighting up the edge of the subject’s face.
You can see that the side light from the Nissin gives you identical/consistent exposures regardless of main flash setting.
If you have multiple Nissin units, you can place one as your main light and place other units as rim lights. However, they will all have identical exposures so you can’t set one as a subtle fill while the other as a main, for example.
Last important note, the Nissin tends to underexpose (or not expose at all) when you set your camera’s flash metering mode as “AVERAGE” instead of the default “EVALUATIVE”. I don’t know the exact reason why at this point, but if I use the flash with a portable softbox, for example, the flash underexposes severely in AVERAGE metering mode, or not even register an exposure (but it fires). In Evaluative flash exposure mode, the flash works just fine.
Optical/Wireless Mode Sensitivity
Having optical and wireless slave modes may be great, but it’s useless if it’s not sensitive enough to use in real-life situations. Fortunately, the Nissin Di622 Mark II slave sensors are EXCELLENT in this regard. All the samples below are shot using the SD (Slave Digital) mode, which should be the least reliable among all modes since it only relies on pre-flash/pop-up light to trigger.
Note that all of these examples are taken indoors, so there are other surfaces for the main trigger light’s output can bounce off. While some may complain that it’s not that useful outdoors, there are no known optical system that works equally well indoors and out anyway. When outdoors, it’s always better to use radio triggers especially if you’re working with distances beyond 10-15 feet anyway.
Here are some more challenging scenarios. The distance between the camera and the flash is approximately 40-50ft (about half a basketball court), except for the last shot (flash in light receptacle). Note that there are a lot of obstacles in between, particularly those shot inside the bedroom as the trigger light (just a pop-up flash at -2FEC!).
As you can see, that’s pretty impressive especially if you consider the fact that we rarely shoot subjects with:
1) A pop-up flash over a long distance,
2) Indoors 40-50ft away
3) Using only a weak (lowest power) trigger
4) With the slave flash not within line-of-sight.
It’s a very flexible and sensitive system especially if you don’t need to buy anything additional to trigger it. It fires reliably as well.
Here are some images shot using the Nissin Di622 Mark II either as a main light or as an auxiliary light.
The Nissin Di622 Mark II isn’t perfect however, there are some issues that are still not resolved and should be improved, and I believe it wouldn’t cost too much for Nissin to implement these changes.
1) Better AF-assist coverage. Like the first version, the AF assist light of the Nissin is just a single bulb with no pattern, worse yet, the emitted light is quite small, covering only the upper-center part of most DSLR AF sensors. The AF assist light is almost useless in pitch-dark conditions and not using the upper AF point. This is a big deal for event photographer.
This is the biggest disappointment of the Nissin Di622 Mark II.
2) Sensor-size detection. Most buyers of the Nissin Di622 Mark II will not be full-frame DSLR users, so why not design the flash to cover APS-C field-of-view in its zoom head?
3) Retain mode and power selection when turned off. I find it quite annoying to re-enter any of the slave modes and set power all over again every time the flash is turned off. It’ll be easier if it just retain whatever previous settings you’ve made instead of resetting to full-auto TLL everytime you turn on the flash.
4) Manual zoom head control.
5) High-speed sync. I’m not sure how difficult this inclusion is compared to the other issues above, but it’d be nice to have HSS as well.
That’s not a lot to criticize, apart from the AF-assist light issue, the rest are rather minor and not really critical for a flash to do well.
The Nissin Di622 Mark II flash is a well-built flash with very good light output and recycling time. The price is cheap compared to OEM and other 3rd party offering sans China branded units and the wealth of off-camera triggering modes make this one of the most flexible flash system you can buy if you like off-camera lighting.
While Canon and Nikon units will offer more wireless TTL control when used off-camera (such as multi-channel grouping and power adjustments), they do cost twice as much, if not more.
You’ll have a hard time finding a Nikon/Canon flash in the used market that can match the price of a brand new Nissin Di622 Mark II, not to mention most low/mid-end flashes do not offer sync ports and optical slave triggering as well.
Apart from the nearly-useless AF-assist light, the Nissin Di622 Mark II is an excellent flash unit for first-time flash buyers as it allows you to keep using the flash as your skills improve.
When you’ve moved past using the flash on-camera, the off-camera modes allow this flash to exist in your camera bag until it finally breaks down.
The main point is, the Nissin Di622 Mark II is a good buy because it does what all basic flashes can do (manual power, variable sync triggering options) but still offer modern flexibility such as ignoring pre-flash slave modes and wireless TTL modes.
As I’ve mentioned in my Comprehensive Flash Buying Guide, the Nissin Di622 Mark II meets most of my criteria as a good flash unit. I do not hesitate recommending the Nissin Di622 Mark II to anyone.
Nissin Di622 Mark II Options
|Nissin ND622MKII-N Speedlite Di 622 Mark II Flash System for Nikon (Black)|
|Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce OM-C Flash Diffuser for Nissin Di622 Flashes|
|Phottix Strato 2.4 GHz Wireless 4 in 1 Trigger Set for Canon|
|HonlPhoto Sample Starter Color Correction Gel Kit|
I’d like to thank Nissin’s Singapore distributor, for providing the flash.