The Godox V860 II was a hit with photographers around the globe thanks to its feature-set and accessible price point. Now, the Godox V860 III has landed and it’s hoping to have the same impact.
The Godox V860 III looks pretty similar to the V860 II, but it has a couple of new features that should delight fans of Godox lights. We’ve had our hands on the Godox V860 III for a short while now and we’re ready to give our thoughts on it.
- Control layout
- Modeling light
- Battery life
- Consistent light/color output
- High speed sync
- Recycle times
- Available for all major systems
- The quick release doesn’t inspire confidence
- The menu system needs work
Godox V860 III — Technical specifications
All of the technical specifications listed here have been taken from the product listing page at B&H Photo:
- Built-in X wireless radio system
- Guide number: 197′ at ISO 100
- Flash coverage: 20-200mm
- Recycling: 1.5 sec full power
- 480 full-power flashes
- Wireless Master/Slave TTL functionality
- Modeling light
- Hi-Speed Sync, Second-Curtain Sync
- Dimensions: 7.7 x 3 x 2.3 inches / 195 x 75 x 59 mm
- Weight: 1.16lbs /18.7 oz / 530 g (with Battery)
Godox V860 III ergonomics and build quality
Overall, the build quality of the Godox V860 III does not match that of first-party flashes or some more expensive offerings from the likes of Profoto and Nissin. However, the Godox V860 III still sports a robust build that feels solid.
The all-plastic build feels nice. The rotating head has some nice resistance to it and the tilt mechanism clicks into position nicely. The buttons offer nice feedback when pushed. The control dial is much improved over the V1, which had some quality control issues. However, the quick-release mechanism is a cause for concern.
The Godox V860 III feels tight when in the hot shoe. However, the locking mechanism feels cheap. I can’t help but feel that one bash to that area would break it. At such a critical point on the flash, I would have thought higher-quality parts would have been used. Hopefully, future models will sport a more robust quick lock.
It looks the part
Godox has done a nice job with the button layout and overall ergonomics. The large LCD is clear and easy to read and the controls are well-positioned. The flash weighs 1.16lbs and measures 7.7-by-3-by-2.3 inches. The rechargeable battery slides into the side of the unit and is released via a button that sits under a cover that houses a USB-C port.
The front of the flash is home to the new modeling light and the focus assist beam. The flash head features a hideaway diffuser and a pop out bounce card. The V860 III might not match the build quality of a more expensive unit, but it certainly looks the part.
Godox V860 III — In the field
I have always been impressed with how Godox lights perform out in the field. The V860 III continues this trend. Once you become familiar with the controls and the menus you’ll find that the V860 III is a very capable light.
The rotating and tilting head makes it easy to position the flash so that you can bounce the light off of a ceiling or nearby wall. The head tilts from 105 degrees to 45 degrees and the head spins 360 degrees. The small bounce card comes in handy if you don’t have a modifier as you can still direct some light on your subject without blowing them out.
Using this flash on camera is fine. However, you can create magic when you get it off-camera. The Godox V860 III can be used with the excellent Godox wireless X system, which is fantastic. The flash worked flawlessly for me when being used with an X System transmitter (not included). I didn’t notice any misfires.
Quality of light
The Godox V860 III is a good performer when it comes to light quality. In the past, non-pro models of Godox lights tended to fluctuate a few hundred Kelvin between shots. However, the Godox V860 III has been consistent. I haven’t seen any swings in light temperatures. The quality of the light is nice.
The V860 III is also High-Speed Sync compatible up to 1/8000s as well. This will add another layer of creativity to your arsenal if you know how to use it correctly. If this is your first flash, and you’re still getting used to flash photography, the TTL system works well. The V860 III has been consistent and I feel like I can rely on it to perform.
The modeling lighting adds another layer of versatility to the Godox V860 III. You can use it to cast light on a poorly lit subject, which will help your camera find focus. You can also use it as a constant light so you can see how the light will fall on your subject. I left the modeling light on for over five minutes and the V860 III didn’t overheat or shut down. The modeling LED is a nice addition.
Control layout and display
The control layout of the Godox V860 III hasn’t changed much from the V860 II. Most of the physical controls are in the same place. The biggest change is that the V860 III adopts the Godox V1 controls that are placed inside the jog dial. So, you have quick access to flash zoom, mode, flash power and the modeling light controls.
This is great, however, those with fat thumbs will have issues pressing in on the control wheel to activate the controls. Overall, the controls are well laid out. All of the buttons and the control dial are reachable with just your thumb, which makes for a pleasant user experience.
One complaint is about the LCD backlight. Godox, why do we still only have the option to change the backlight from 12 seconds, on, or off? There needs to be more flexibility here. When in a dark room I don’t want the LCD to stay on for 12 seconds. There needs to be an option to change from 12 seconds to 10, eight, six and so on. Otherwise, the controls and LCD are fine.
While Godox’s menus have improved over the years, unfortunately, they still aren’t as refined as some other brands. However, with a little bit of time, you can learn the system and can find your way around fairly quickly. I can’t help but feel that Godox could do better, though.
Hitting the menu key will bring up a basic list of options. From here you can control things like the AF assist beam, changing metering from ft to meters, receiver channels, the LCD backlight and the beep. Hint, just turn the beep off. It’s obnoxious. Spend time with the Godox V860 III manual to learn about the menu abbreviations and what the options do and you should be OK.
Recycle times and battery life
Battery life is stellar. I charged the battery before using the flash and I haven’t been able to run it down. I have taken hundreds of shots at full power and there’s still half a battery left. As an event photographer, I would feel comfortable getting through an entire multi-hour event with just one battery.
In terms of flash recycle times, you can expect to wait for a second or two between full-power flashes. This time does increase slightly as the heat inside the unit builds. Still, recycling times are very good. Stop the power down and the recycle times become near-instant. The V860 III is a solid performer.
Is the Godox V860 III a good buy?
Aside from quick-release concerns and the cumbersome menus, the Godox V860 III is a great flash. Compared to first-party flashes and some third-party offerings, this flash is a bargain. You’re not going to get the same levels of build quality. However, you’re going to get 95% of the performance of the more expensive flashes.
Overall build quality is fine. The controls are well laid out, it works flawlessly off camera with an X system transmitter and the output is consistent. At under $230, the Godox V860 III is perfect for those who are looking for their first flash, and even for more seasoned flash photographers.
Godox V860 III
The Godox V860 III is a powerful flash that offers a great feature set at a bargain price. The inclusion of a modeling light makes this flash more versatile than previous models, and the jog dial makes the flash easy to use. The Godox V860 III is available for Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm, Pentax, Olympus, and Panasonic cameras for less than $230.