A few years ago when I picked up my first speedlight, I was confused and daunted. I couldn’t seem to get things to work as I wanted to — so much so I didn’t really use it very much.

Jump ahead a few years and I finally sort of worked things out. Then I bought my Godox AD200Pro. It is so easy to use and so intuitive; it made my world a whole lot easier. I now use it ALL the time, especially for product photography and still life, or as a rim light with my Godox 400Pro studio strobes. So I put together a little introduction video on how speedlights work, using the affordable Godox AD200Pro.

What I struggled with

The biggest thing I struggled with when I first started using a speedlight was the settings. That is, until it was pointed out to me that 1/1 is full power and everything down from that was a fraction. So 1/2 is half power, 1/4 is quarter power and so on. That might be quite simple but I didn’t figure it out at first.

The two basic settings you need are also Manual and TTL (my Godox has other settings, but I am just going to cover those). TTL means through the lens and it uses your camera’s light meter to work out the power setting required. Handy, but not great in all situations. Manual means just that you manually adjust the settings. A light meter can help with that.

I also use the Godox X1 trigger for my Sony a7R III camera. I adore HOW I can change the speedlight settings from the X1 as well.

Here’s a little video I put together

The other thing nobody told me is that often you still need light modifiers when working with speedlights. I love using a nice big diffuser, and I also have a little one which I can hold in front of the speedlight with a plamp attached to my light stand, which is pretty handy too. A lightbox or light tent is a great tool, too.

Dark and moody with a scrim

So if you are thinking about getting a speedlight, or you have one in the cupboard you rarely use, perhaps it’s time to dig it out, do a few YouTube tutorials and start creating some magic. The best thing about artificial light? You can do it anywhere at any time, and create just the right light you are looking for.