Should You Buy the Godox AD200 Pocket Flash? We Review

Should You Buy the Godox AD200 Pocket Flash? We Review

The Godox AD200 has been around for a few years now, and in 2019, Godox released the "Pro" version of the AD200. Is this small, lightweight, powerful flash the right choice for you in 2023? Why do so many photographers think so highly of this pocket flash?

When I first started to learn off-camera flash, I was using a Canon 7D and a pair of Nissin Di700 speedlights with a Nissin Air 1 wireless trigger. These little strobes were an accessible, inexpensive way to learn off-camera flash. There comes a point when flashguns just aren't powerful enough and you'll be looking for something bigger. There are plenty of options with far more power, but few as practical as the Godox AD200. I looked into high power studio strobes, which either required mains power or bulky battery packs. Then, in 2017, I got my first Godox AD200 and XPro wireless trigger, and I was sold on this perfect (for me) compromise of power and portability.

What's in the Box?

One of the major selling points of the AD200 is that for under $300, you get a flash with LCD screen and built-in wireless capabilities, battery charger, adjustable tripod mount with umbrella holder, bare bulb head, and fresnel head with built-in LED modelling light.

The whole kit comes in a handy carrying case which is probably a little bulky to take with you if you have multiple units, but it's perfect for storage. The foam compartments will definitely protect the bare bulb, which unfortunately doesn't come in a protective tube.

Build Quality

The unit is solidly built, with a plastic casing that feels substantial in your hand. The flash head is also well designed, with a sturdy locking mechanism and an easy-to-read LCD screen. The overall construction of the AD200 gives the impression that it is a high-quality product that is built to last. Sadly, that's not always the case, and I've managed to destroy two of these units since I started using them. The AD200 is certainly as durable as you'd expect at this price point. The two I have broken have both been the result of a fallen light stand: one fell onto a concrete floor which smashed the bare bulb and cracked the LCD screen. The other fell over during a beach shoot, apparently exposure to salt water for less than a second is enough to destroy one of these units.

On the rear of the unit is a perfectly functional LCD screen. The screen could do with being a little brighter to see in harsh sunlight, and the menu system isn't immediately obvious, with some features requiring a long press. The LCD has never caused me any issues, as I generally control the strobes from the wireless controller attached to the hot shoe of the camera. The LCD is pretty clear to show flash power and group number when using groups for your strobes.

Features

The AD200 is also highly portable, weighing in at just under 2.5 pounds. This makes it easy to carry around on location shoots or to set up in tight spaces. Despite its small size, the AD200 packs a powerful punch for its size with a maximum output of 200 watt-seconds. This is plenty of power to light most subjects in a range of situations, even when shooting outdoors in sunlight. The AD200 isn't quite powerful enough to claim that it will overpower the midday sun, but it does an excellent job when shooting outdoor on location.

With plenty of shooting modes from TTL to full manual and the ability to be triggered by a wireless transmitter or as a slave unit triggered from another flash, the AD200 is easy to use for a beginner, with enough options for a more experienced photographer to use. When used with the Godox X Pro wireless trigger, you can choose from eight channels, and place strobes in up to six groups, which can all be controlled from a single transmitter on your camera hot shoe. The groups will allow you to easily add and control more strobes as you grow your kit.

One of the standout features of the AD200 is its versatility. The flash unit comes with a fresnel head, which is a similar size to many traditional flashgun heads, making it compatible with a number of third-party accessories. The flash also comes with a bare bulb head, which is perfect for larger modifiers such as softboxes and strip boxes. As the unit is only slightly larger than a traditional flashgun, it fits into the popular Bowens S-mount speedlight bracket. Using the Bowens mount adaptor, I use my AD200s with a whole range of lighting modifiers, such as octaboxes, beauty dishes, and a spill-kill wide reflector.

The Fresnel head also includes an LED modelling light, which I've found to be barely bright enough in any kind of modifier or any well lit area. It's often handy as a flashlight when packing up, though.

Another key feature of the AD200 is its fast recycle time. The unit can recharge in around two seconds at full power, which means you won't have to wait long between shots. This is especially important if you are shooting a fast-paced event like a wedding or action sports where you need to be able to capture moment as it happens. You can adjust flash power from 1/1 down to 1/128 in 1/10 increments, which is ample for most situations. The AD200 allows high-speed sync up to shutter speeds of 1/8,000 s, also great for shooting action on location.

Reliability

This factor is pretty crucial to most photographers. Is this piece of kit going to function as expected when needed?
In my experience, I've had very few misfires in the past six years and no connection issues when shooting wirelessly with the XPro transmitter. The AD200 has an option to beep when a setting is changed so when you're using multiple strobes, you know which one is adjusted and there's an audible confirmation of the change. Such is my faith in these units, the beep got annoying, as it was so unnecessary considering the adjustments were always registered without fail.

Battery life is good, with up to 500 full-power flashes before a recharge is required. The battery indicator is accurate and gives plenty of warning of a low battery. The batteries are removable, rechargeable and the unit comes with a battery charger that gives an accurate indication of charge level. The batteries do take quite some time to charge from empty, I usually leave them overnight before a shoot.

The more recent AD200 Pro model claims improved consistent color accuracy, but this has never been an issue to me. If consistent and specific color temperature is absolutely crucial, I'd likely opt for something bigger than a $300 pocket flash. For weddings, events, outdoor portraits in pretty much any conditions, these little strobes are more than capable, lightweight, versatile enough, and incredibly reliable in my experience.

Pros and Cons

I have owned five AD200 units since 2017 and currently have three functioning units. It's safe to say that I am a big fan of these versatile little strobes, but they aren't perfect.

Pros

  • Size and weight are great, they'll fit into most camera bag flashgun pockets
  • More powerful than most flashguns
  • Very simple to set up and use
  • Versatile with fresnel and bare bulb heads included
  • Removable, rechargeable battery with no need for heavy battery packs
  • Solid battery life for the size, around 500 full-power shots on a full battery
  • Built-in LED modelling light
  • Compatible with a large selection of accessories
  • High-speed sync up to 1/8,000 s
  • Lots of wireless channels and options for multiple strobes
  • Easy to switch head using a single spring-loaded switch

Cons

  • Durability can be an issue, as I've broken two units simply by light stands falling over while on location
  • Menu isn't particularly intuitive
  • Battery takes a long time to recharge, so definitely invest in spares if you shoot for extended periods
  • Not as powerful as most studio strobes
  • Modeling light barely bright enough

Alternatives

In 2020, Godox released the AD200 Pro which currently retails for $350, which is around $50 more per strobe. There's some great quality of life improvements, such as a more pronounced power switch, more solid fixing for the included tripod mount, minimum power down to 1/256, and a claimed "more consistent color temperature," within 100 K. More helpful improvements are the slightly recessed LCD screen for increased durability and addition of two more buttons to reduce the need for long presses. Is it worth an extra $50 per unit? In my opinion, no. But if highly consistent color temperature is critical for you, then the Pro model may be for you.

Given the popularity of the Godox AD200, there have been the expected clones from other budget brands. A couple of notable clones are the Yongnuo YN200 for $190 and the GVM Speedlite for $300. Both boast similar power output and battery life as the AD200, but the Yongnuo has a fixed bare bulb and the GVM has a fixed fresnel head, so you'd need one of each to match the versatility of the Godox AD200.

Conclusion

In my opinion, the Godox AD200 is the most cost-effective, versatile, and practical small strobe available right now. If I'm in the studio on a commercial shoot and need something with a lot more punch, I'll rent the biggest studio setup I need. However, in my kit bag, I'll always have a few AD200 strobes.

If you're a hobbyist looking to learn off-camera flash, then these are a great starting point that will allow you to grow your kit as you learn, with strobes in up to six groups that can be controlled by a single XPro transmitter. Wedding and event photographers would also benefit from the long battery life, compact size, and enough power for shooting all day on location. The AD200 can absolutely be used by working professionals, but for color-critical work or large studio shoots, you'd be better off using something bigger.

Have you used the Godox AD200? What was your experience with this pocket flash system? Do you have any alternatives you prefer? Let me know in the comments.

All of the portraits in this article were taken using between one and three AD200 strobes using Bowens mount modifiers.

Brad Wendes's picture

Brad Wendes is a British photographer and travel lover.
He began photographing parkour and acrobatics in 2010 and has since taken to portraiture and fitness photography.
Brad is a self-confessed geek, Star Wars fan, tech enthusiast, cat lover and recently converted Apple Fanboy.

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80 Comments

I have the ad200pro and love it. It's more than enough for what I do. And, yeah, the menu does suck. But, it's one of those things I've only had to set once. I just needed to set the ID to help separate it from other similar devices so it doesn't get inadvertently triggered.

You’re right about the menu. After initial setup, there’s really no need to touch it again. They’re a great little strobe

If you're in the U.S., and trying to keep it cheap, I really do think Paul C Buff is a better product, if anything because of their service departments.

Otherwise if you're a working commercial shooter, it's really hard to argue against Profoto. If anything for your travel jobs where you're renting supplemental equipment and hiring crew who know how it all works and is plentiful to find.

But if you don't require a service department, rentals to supplement what you already have, or any specific modifiers (ProBox, Para), then yeah Godox is fine. If we were all portrait photographers in Eureka California, there would be no reason to use anything more high end than PCB or Godox.

For sure, the AD200 isn’t a top end pro studio setup, but they absolutely fit the needs of hobbyists, wedding photographers, event photographers, and a lot of social media creators.

100% agreed. It's the perfect light for that.

The biggest drawback to Paul C. Buff strobes is the lack of a Bowens mount -- I get why they do it, but man...universal mount design should be a given.

Buff has a portable light? In a similar form factor? I would like that

PCB is not really compact, right? Especially if you have to carry around a power pack.

Profoto? LOL. They are laughing their asses to the bank.

500WS, the size of a B10, can be powered off mains or battery: https://www.paulcbuff.com/Celestial-Flash-Unit.html

Still much much bulkier than a Godox ad200/pro. And over 3x the weight of 4.6 lb vs 1.3 lb. You know it's going to be heavy when it has a handle. :) . The extra weight also means you'll need sturdier stands and heavier bags, especially when shooting outdoors.

Plus, their remote triggers are a joke. If you go for the more expensive ones, you'll need a mobile app. Mobile apps may be fine if in studio, but, they are inconvenient and inefficient outdoors or on-location or anytime you're moving around. Imagine having to pull out your phone and go to the app every time you need to make adjustments.

If weight was an issue I would not have the clients I have but comes to think, the trend of no weight photography may trim down my competition to very few. I’m perfectly fine with this.

May be 200w is good enough for your $300.00 wedding photography, but your comment on Profoto (I don’t own any Profoto) and your apparent lack of use of power packs as a business indicates that you still don't get why as in why are "expensive" brands are still around. Of course I have no clue if you even shoot weddings and don’t care, but I’m sure get my point.

Patrick makes it clear in his video about the PB trigger (I don’t own any PB products) and suggests an alternative, may be not viable for cheap people (the video you didn't post the link to, just screen captures). From my experience in product photography, I would pick 500ws over the 200ws any day but when it comes to weddings, I have shot only one in the last 15 years and I hope they’d be mad at me if I ever wrote that the stuff they use is overpriced or dirt cheap crap.

The comments here definitely indicate that different photographers have different needs and different expectations from their kit.
It's hard to disagree that the AD200 is a good option for a lightweight, low budget, reliable strobe - if that's what you're looking for based on your own personal needs.

Probably, I don't own, I didn't criticize the product. I didn't see anything wrong with Jon's post. It was excellent at explaining why people should research what products are appropriate for their future needs. I think too many people jump on price first, think second and shelve when they realize they rushed a purchase. How many Alien Bees are collecting dust?

--- "If weight was an issue…"
--- "From my experience in product photography, I would pick 500ws over the 200ws any day"

Well, no duh. If you need the power which comes with more weight, that's the direction you go. No one is saying you should not. But for many, including me, 200ws is more than sufficient.

--- "Patrick makes it clear in his video about the PB trigger (I don’t own any PB products) and suggests an alternative, may be not viable for cheap people"

LOL! Oh, you mean the $429 trigger? That one? Oh, ok, baller.

It's hilarious how some of the elitists on here get so hot and bothered whenever Godox gets a favorable and recommended review. Then, they start with the apples to oranges comparison comparing it to kits that are twice or more powerful, expensive, heavier, and sometimes inconvenient.

Clearly I don't take down any brand, seems like your specialty. In fact, 75% of my lights are over 23+ years old and get used weekly. I just buy good stuff that last. If that makes me elitist good for you, you get a sticker but I don't see how 20+ year old equipment justify the name. Thanks anyway. You're the one tearing other brands but Jon made good points and... then you came... you trashed...

--- "Jon made good points"

Actually, no, he did not make good points because they weren't even comparable to a compact 200ws lightweight convenient inexpensive unit. Correct?

--- "... then you came... you trashed..."

No, this is what you people do.

He didn't trash Godox, you trashed Profoto.

--- "He didn't trash Godox"

Yeah, he did. I've already explained this to you.

--- "you trashed Profoto"

Yeah, I did. Don't go around disparaging other brands then play victim when you get back-handed.

Surely you didn't but what ever.

lol be more butt-hurt. You're the only one in this whole discussion who's been taking this personally, for -whatever- reason...

Nope, nothing personal, just responding to and correcting disinformation. Seems to have touched a nerve with some of you....for whatever reason.

I've used AD200's for years to shoot real estate. Great little lights, especially if you bump your ISO a bit. What's nice is that I can put a few of them in my roller bag with my camera and lenses. I use the AD200 Pro now, primarily for the recessed screen because sometimes I will stand one up on the edge of a door or shower frame to pop some light in a bathroom or whatever—now I don't worry I will inadvertently press any buttons doing so.

The recessed screen and more pronounced power button are the main features that make the Pro appeal to me.
For my uses, not worth the extra $50 per unit, but definitely great features

Nice—I haven't seen that accessory before!

"Great review! I've been considering the Godox AD200 for my on-location portrait sessions, and your detailed analysis has been really helpful in making an informed decision. I particularly appreciate the comparison with the Profoto B10. In my experience, power and portability are crucial for outdoor shoots, and it seems like the AD200 offers a great balance between these two factors. One question I have is about the battery life - have you encountered any issues with it during prolonged shoots? Thanks for sharing your insights!"

I've had two for about 2.5 years and I've never had an issue with the battery life. I'm actually extremely impressed with how long they last. I've never run out of power on a shoot. I've gone a full 4 shoots at around 2-4 hours per shoot before needing to recharge them.

Battery life has never been a concern. In fact, when I have a handful of short shoots I rarely even check the battery the night before because of how long these things last with moderate use.

I've had my AD200 for years with heavy use, and it's a nice companion to my 600. I use the AD200 for outdoor portraits with a small beauty dish, but the LCD screen can get very annoying outdoors. I would buy one again in a heartbeat!

Have four of them (two regular Ad200's, two Pro's) -- swear by them, Can't beat the price point and value they offer.

For product photography and food, is it enough power? or maybe for what kind of photography it is not enough power?

Oh yeah. It's way more than enough.

Absolutely more than enough power for food and product shots (unless your product is an automobile)
Absolutely superb strobe for the money, battery life is great, and they’re super reliable

--- "or maybe for what kind of photography it is not enough power?"

It may struggle if you are shooting outdoor midday trying to make noon look like 10 pm.

Also, if you are needing fast sequence of shots and you are 1/2 power or more. If you do this regularly, you may need to step up to a higher power model.

Jewelry, furniture...

I use 2 to photograph furniture at a store I work at and they work just fine. Now I will say if the furniture is a darker color it does tend to soak up a lot of the flash output. That is usually when I'll want a 600 watt strobe. I don't have one so i end up adding in my speed lights.

If you shoot for silo an open recliner or a sofa 3/4 you will need more power than 200ws for a sharp image front to back. Straight ons and room scenes do not require as small of an aperture.

Hmm. I dunno. I'm photographing sectionals at F8 iso 100 with both AD200's in separate 7' diffused umbrellas and they seem to do mostly fine. Of course like I said earlier, unless the furniture is darker in color then they tend to struggle.

I shoot a lot of those at different angles for silos. In a small room in a store with end tables, 5.6 will work fine since they can take so much space, aperture is not much a concern. I still wouldn't show up with only 200ws. For silo of a recliner closed f8 will work. Same recliner wide open, I need more light and smaller aperture. It won't show on the web but on displays or vinyl on trucks and vans it will. I don't take chance with silos, it's a big income. If I have a model in the chair, it's different, often, I won't care as much to not have the item totally sharp end to end, the distraction is like a room scene where pillows and cushions can be casually set. On a silo, one little weird thing, no lightly recreated shadow and the product can be less attractive.
Production wise, my assistant and I have shot over 15 items, some with multiple angles, a day quite a few times typically including a couple sectionals. Often we are out of state or there is a truck waiting to pack and ship as we shoot. There is no second chance, everything can be so unorganized when we show up and then we get mixed lights that cannot be turned off so we have to make it work fast. Coming with less equipment than needed and "good enough" won't reward us with the next call.

Re-reading your original post, I realize that you are saying that you shoot for your employer store. Are you saying you use your own equipment? That's crazy if you do (and it sounds like you do according to a post below), you give them a lot of money. If it's their equipment, that's a little different but with the saving they make they should have have much more equipment for you. If you do it for the store on your off time or something, you should have plenty of money saved for your inventory. According to your various posts, furniture, portrait and real estate I now understand more what you do. I can guaranty you that adding 400ws equipment would help you tremendously because you reach your max power instantly on some jobs and don't realize how more flexible extra power would be for your various tasks. You just need to charge more. And again, I don't care what brand you would invest in.

You raise some good points and have shared some solid knowledge so thanks! I'll take what you've said into consideration for future shoots! It sounds like you do WAY more demanding furniture work than I do. If what I shoot was as demanding I would definitely go for more power. I still would like more power though. The ad200's are pretty flexible but they do fall short in some instances and when they do it REALLY sucks.

You guessed right haha. I do shoot for my employer with my own equipment. I've been shooting for them as well as doing graphic design and some lower level IT work for about 9 years now. I only stayed with them because I couldn't stand working in the service industry and retail anymore as well as not having the experience/confidence to run my own business. Jobs that pay fairly for what the job is don't really exist in my area. Even with degrees. I tried looking for just an IT job but almost all of the companies around here that I found want senior level experience, degrees, and certs for a max of 18 an hour. My employer did take advantage of me quite a bit lol but it was also the only job I could get that payed my bills until I left back in July 2022 and then they realized how much I did for them when a bunch of stuff started breaking down and they didn't know how to fix it. The new job didn't really pan out so I started up my business back in December because like I said I can not go back to retail and the service industry. It's too soul sucking. A few weeks after I started working on getting clients the first job calls me up and asks if I'd be interested in coming back. I went and negotiated a much higher pay while detailing how much time and money I save them as well as negotiating for a 4 day work week so I can have a stable source of income while I continue to build my own business. So far it's working out pretty well for me. I actually have a local film festival I'll be shooting tomorrow and I've been able to shoot quite a few houses and portraits with another house coming up ready here in couple weeks. I'll also be photographing some artwork for a local artist as well on Saturday and doing some photos for a family that is adopting their child at the end of the month. I also shot BTS stills for a film set at the beginning of last month which was loads of fun. I know my work is kind of all over the place but I'm just trying to get as many gigs as I can right now to get my name out there and gain as much experience running a business as I can to reach the goal of working for my self full time. I'll definitely buy more powerful strobes when the money allows as only 2 AD200's won't cut it for some of the portrait work I'll be doing eventually. If you've got any tips for some one just starting their business I'm all ears haha. I'll take any wisdom I can get. It's not easy but there's no way forward in my life except working for my self so I'm going to make it work one way or the other hopefully!

If you are good at finding quick solutions to your problems on the go, you have right there your best tool. That’s why you want to figure out on your own what other tools you need and not what others need or use.

200ws is enough for food, definitely not bright enough for product photography.

If you're shooting tabletop, you'll struggle to get proper exposure at ISO 100 and f/11-f/16 if you're doing product work and trying to kill your ambient light. Food work can fall into that too unless you like alot of bokeh in your images, or are shooting overheads at f/5.6.

If tabletop product is your main jam though, I wouldn't consider anything under 500w/s, 1200-2400 is ideal, especially if you're shooting on something like a D800, D810, D850, Z7, Z9 where you're at a base ISO of 64...

I totally agree. Our job is not to assume every job will fall within a certain amount of light on regular basis. It's about recognizing the situation and bring in what is necessary to achieve what the client need or want. In fact even Godox now has power packs, but I am not even sure if 1/100 of the brand users even understand why or even know about those packs.

Agreed. I still use pack and heads all the time, I don't even know of a monohead that goes north of 1000w/s

They are great strobes. I have two of them and with the round head makes shooting real estate a breeze. I also use them for portraits. Mine have both toppled over and they do take hits pretty hard. had to solder in a new power switch after one of them fell over and it still works like a champ. Get the extension cable head (like $30 bucks) and a super clamp so you can place the body of the strobe at the base of the light stand which puts it in a much safer spot. If your stand falls over it won't hit the ground. Only your modifier will and the bulb will still be safe inside the modifier. No it's not as powerful as a studio strobe but it's not meant be. It's meant to give you plenty more power than a small speed light but on the go and not as big and heavy as 600 watt strobe. You can also get a double head so you can plug two of these in and get single 400 watt strobe. It works really well. The modeling lamp is indeed ass. It's absolutely useless.

The fresnel head has a very blue color temp. They tend to overheat fairly quickly if you push them hard. You can’t mix and match bare bulb and fresnel in anything color critical. But otherwise they are great little accent lights. I have 3 or 4 and they are extremely useful as little powerful lights. I run one on camera with the remote head and wireless control sometimes for extra power in an event setting.

The (square) fresnel head also has light-spillage from the openings on the side. No big deal if it's in a modifier, but I see it sometimes when I just bounce it off a ceiling.

Yeah the light pattern from the fresnel head fugly and harsh. Not a problem if you're bouncing light though. I highly recommend the round head. It's much better.

The AD200 has a very good feature set, though I still wonder why off camera flash makers aren't making any effort to increasing the output power of the more traditional flashes. The sizes are not too different from something like a Godox V1 or a V860. The more traditional flashes, even on super expensive units are still GN60/ 76Ws units.

Can't they at least push them to 100+ Ws?

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