A while back I reviewed the Godox AD600 which I thought was going to be the all-in-one solution I was after. Even after comparing it to the Profoto B1, I was more impressed with the AD600, especially at its price point. It had a few construction issues, but overall was a flash to compete with the big boys. As I said, I thought it was going to be the solution I was looking for. Then Godox dropped the bomb: the Wistro AD200. This little flash promised to be less than half the weight and powerful enough for most of the work its big brother was made for. So, is it all it's said to be and how does it stack up against other options?
Size and Weight
When I took the AD200 out of the box for the first time, I was surprised by two things: the size and the weight. It was an odd feeling, because although it was a little larger than I had expected, it was lighter than I had expected. At just 880 grams with the speedlight head attached and battery inserted, the AD200 is 33 percent the weight of the AD600. This is a huge difference in weight if you're looking for something to just toss in your bag for every day on location use. As you can see in the picture below, it's quite a bit larger than a speedlight, but significantly smaller than the AD600. I took the light out into the field with my intern Jonne and a good pal of mine, Marco, for a run around the block. We put it through its paces for a good two hours, and at the end of it, we had still barely noticed it was on the end of the lightstand.
In this price range, we don't generally expect quality-built equipment, but Godox has been proving that assumption wrong time and time again. The AD200 is a standout, even among their well-built strobes. It is a solid package that feels like it can handle a few knocks while out in the field. They have upped the ante this time around with a beautiful new LCD panel for displaying the current status and a battery that fits flush to the body of the unit. All the dials and buttons are of a much higher standard than either the AD360 or AD600, giving the flash a polished, high-quality feel. The mounts on the sides of the flash are solid and don't give at all when the flash is mounted to a stand. Overall, this unit has the build quality we might expect from the bigger name brands in the industry.
The 2,900 mAh (41.76 Wh) battery promises 500 full power pops, just like the larger battery of the AD600. Does it live up to that? So far, I haven't been able to drain it in a full day of shooting. It has been fantastic, and recycles the flash to full power in just 2.1 seconds. Once the unit gets down to quarter power, however, that recycle is quick enough that you can just keep shooting.
The major benefit for me with this battery over the AD600 is for when I travel. Airports double check my bag without fail when I travel with the AD600 and its near-the-limit sized battery, but with the AD200, they haven't batted an eyelid yet. This is excellent news for us travelers.
TTL and HSS
As with the AD600, the AD200 has both TTL and HSS support through the Godox trigger system. Both work flawlessly with my Nikon D750 and the Godox X-1 trigger. TTL is accurate, and the unit switches automatically to HSS when the shutter gets over 1/160 (a bit of a pain, as the D750 can sync up to 1/250 without HSS). Godox has also promised to begin supporting other systems soon, including Fuji X. This is great news for me, as a lot of my work is now done with the Fuji X system.
The Two Heads
The aspect of the AD200 that caused the most stir at its release was unarguably the interchangeable flash heads it comes with. The ability to switch between a speedlight-style Fresnel head and a "bare-bulb"-style head was an industry first and sparked a lot of discussion. So what is the real difference?
In my experience, the Fresnel head has been most useful. With that head on, I can tuck the flash into a pocket on my bag and not worry about breaking the bulb. This is great for fast-paced location work. It's also great as it provides compatibility with your existing speedlight modifiers like cut sheet gels, the MagMod system, and Rogue products. A couple of things I did notice with the bare-bulb head is that it provides a better spread inside an umbrella or softbox. This gives a more even light throughout large modifiers, and a touch more power, as we will see below.
Now, the part you've all been waiting for. Just how much power does this little gem put out, and how does it stack up against other units? My main concern was how much more powerful it would be than a single speedlight. Second to that was how much power I would be losing by leaving the AD600 at home. Let's address those right away with some numbers from my flash meter. For this test, I decided to put the lights in my most commonly used modifier, the Photek Softlighter II. The flash meter was mounted on a tripod just one meter away from the front of the Softlighter and set to read ISO 100. Here are the numbers:
AD200 Bare-bulb: f/11
AD200 Speedlight: f/8 + 8/10
Nikon SB800: f/5.6 + 3/10
AD600: f/16 + 3/10
As you can see, the AD200 sits close to squarely in between the AD600 and a standard speedlight. Getting approximately 1 2/3 stops more light than an SB800 means that it is close to 3 speedlights in power. This is great news for anyone looking for just that extra pop of light on location. It doesn't quite have the versatility of a speedlight in terms of angling the head and zooming the light in and out, but it offers enough extra power to make it a great option for speedlight shooters. You'll also notice that it's only 1 1/3 stops less powerful than the much bigger and heavier AD600. By getting yourself two of these AD200 units, you would be only 1/3 stop short of an AD600 and have a much more portable bit.
What I Liked
- Powerful unit
- TTL and HSS Support
- Long lasting battery
- Full support of the Godox system
- Fresnel head
- Included carry case
What I Didn't Like
- Lack of articulating head
- Lack of zoom in Fresnel head
- System still only supports the Nikon, Canon, and Sony TTL systems
At approximately $300, this is such a fantastic option for location photographers. I cannot recommend this unit enough. It has flawlessly performed on every shoot I have taken it on for the past few weeks, and I'm already looking at getting another one. If you're on the fence about this flash, jump down and join me here in the light. They are available on Amazon, eBay, and rebranded through various online retailers.