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Godox V1 offers high speed and power in round flash head

For the past couple years, I’ve utilized the Nissin line of flashes — specifically the Di700A and i60A — for my on-camera flash photography. While these can also be used off-camera, as an event photographer my primary goal with flashes is to work the room, meaning I needed my speedlight directly on my camera in most cases.

During that time, I’ve also utilized the MagMod system of different modifiers and diffusers, not only for my speedlights, but for my Godox AD200 strobes as well.

So when I was offered the chance to review the Godox V1, I was intrigued. I had never photographed with a round flash head. Would it provide a similar look and feel as to what I was getting with my Nissin flashes? Would it give me more options to really get creative with my lighting?

Specs

The Godox V1 offers a 76Ws output and zoom range up to 105mm. The head rotates 330 degrees, and tilts from -7 to 120 degrees. It also has a magnetic surface, compatible with Godox’s line of accessory light modifiers. It has an approximate 1.5-second recycle time.

The V1 also supports high-speed sync up to 1/8000s. It can control up to four wireless groups in a master/slave configuration with its 2.4 wireless X-system transmitter. Other features include an AF assist lamp, a 3200K LED modeling lamp and a 2.5mm port for cable triggers.

Initial impressions

When I took the Godox V1 out of the box, I was immediately impressed. This was very well-made, and screamed “professional.” The round head was larger than I expected, but the 330-degree rotation was very nice.

Better yet, it was virtually silent, not making any clicks at all when I rotated it — which is a big deal for event photographers photographing in quiet spaces. The hot shoe lock to put the flash on my camera was very intuitive, meaning I didn’t have to twist a dial to lock it into place.

The flash comes with a rechargeable battery, which is rated for up to 480 full-power flashes. The thought of not having to pack a ton of AA batteries for each photoshoot I go to was certainly appealing.

Controls and menu

On the back of the V1 you’ll find a large LCD panel, which displays information like zoom, mode, flash power, exposure compensation, high-speed sync and distance. There are also a number of settings that appear when you turn the flash into master or slave mode.

Below the LCD are a series of buttons, as well as a control wheel and On/Off switch. Everything is laid out very nicely, and is pretty straightforward.

The menu is also very easy to understand. If you go with this, the first thing you’ll want to do is turn off the beep. One thing that was a head-scratcher, though, was the LCD light settings. You either have the option to have the light on for 12 seconds, completely on or completely off. As an event photographer, I’d love to set this to something around six seconds, to be less disturbing in low-light settings.

The other thing I found somewhat cumbersome is changing the flash output. This is something I do regularly, and something I’m very easily able to do on my Nissins by just scrolling with the control wheel.

With the V1, though, you have to click the left part of the control wheel (where the +/- is located) and then either use the control wheel (which changes the power by a tenth-stop increment), or click on the top or bottom part of the control wheel to change by a full stop. While this is an extra step and somewhat cumbersome, it prevents any accidental power level changes.

A word about modifiers …

For the longest time, I’ve used the MagMod system to diffuse and modify my light. While Godox offers its own competing modifying system specifically made for its round flash heads, I was intrigued whether I’d be able to make MagMod work with the V1.

The V1 is slightly larger overall than my Nissin flashes, and has a round flash head that’s obviously larger. I knew it would be a challenge to get the MagGrip on the flash, but after some pre-stretching, I was able to secure it to the flash. To me this was a must if I want to switch permanently to the V1.

Real-world usage

I was able to test the V1 at an event for Project 1 by ArtPrize, as well as a few other photoshoots, and it was impressive. The recycle time was quicker than my Nissins (which have an up to 4-second recycle time), and I found myself using the tenth-stop incremental power steps from time to time. With my Nissins, I frequently found myself either overpowered or slightly underpowered, meaning I would have to adjust my exposure in post-processing. With the V1, this problem has disappeared, as I was able to control the flash output much more.

Using the Godox V1 with a MagBounce. Shot at 1/16 power.

The round flash head also proved for a more even and softer light. This made for a more appealing and natural look in the end photograph.

As for when I put it on TTL mode, I found it to be very accurate, and very quick to recycle as well. Flash compensation also worked well here and was very easy to change. With a few exceptions due to my positioning and focus, nearly every photograph was exposed correctly, with the subject(s) being very well-lit.

Shot with TTL and +1.0 flash compensation due to there not being much light in the room. The Godox V1 made for a very appealing light that made for a very natural look.

The verdict

For me, going with the Godox V1 makes sense, especially if you’re already embedded in the Godox system. And, I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of having one battery to charge instead of having to deal with four AA batteries that constantly die (though I’d buy one or two extra). Finally, despite MagMod’s MagGrip not fitting perfectly, they still work well with the V1, meaning the V1 fits into my workflow perfectly.

The Godox V1 retails for $259 and is available for Olympus/Panasonic, Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Pentax and Sony.

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