In this article, we are going to be taking a look at a number of what we feel are the best external flashes for Nikon d5300 cameras currently available on the market right now. We have seen a steady number of photographers reaching out for advice on their Nikon d5300 in particular with their flash.
We have decided to research the various flashes on the market right now and publish this article in an attempt to help as many of our readers who find themselves in this same situation as possible. We have tried to choose flashes from a range of budgets to try and include products for our readers who are either beginner or entry-level photographers and hope this article can help you.
Table of Contents
The Nikon SB-700 AF
Since its release, the Nikon SB-700 has gone from strength to strength due to both its excellent functionality and its high build quality. This has resulted in the flash earning itself an excellent reputation within the photography community for both amateurs and professionals alike.
We feel that the Nikon SB-700 makes an ideal external flash for Nikon d5300 cameras and can be an excellent investment if you have the spare money available to pick it up. The interface for the flash as well as the control system has been massively updated when compared to older generations of Nikon cameras making it much quicker and easier to use.
Nikon has made it as easy as possible to quickly and easily switch between the three main modes of the camera via the control switch shown in the top left of the image to the left.
It can allow you to switch between through the lens, manual, and guide number modes within a second to get the type of flash that you need for your photograph.
The improved control system also makes it much easier to switch between the various flash settings when used in manual mode too. Although you would usually pre-program your guide number settings when possible with the distance between your subject and your camera flash, you can quickly and easily tweak it.
The zoom settings of the camera flash can also quickly and easily be adjusted as required by pressing the zoom button shown to the top right of the main dial in the image above. You then simply adjust it as required via the main control dial.
Another improvement of the Nikon SB-700 is much better angle rotations available of the flash head. There are also now a number of angle rotation markers added to the top of the flash system to make it easier to track your flash rotation if needed. Thankfully, the head of the Nikon SB-700 can do a full three hundred and sixty-degree rotation whereas the older flash systems could not.
One of our favorite improvements of the Nikon SB-700 is the improved flash filter system. Thankfully, the days of needing to use gel-based inserts are gone when using this flash as it uses solid plastic filters as shown in the image to the right.
This can help you like the old style gel based inserts would often rip and be unusable or could easily be misplaced and lost. The new solid plastic system is solid and robust while also being very effective.
Another feature of the SB-700 when using the solid flash filters is that it is able to automatically detect the color of the filter that you have attached. The flash will then auto adjust its settings to what will perform best with this type of filter although you can customize these presets if you like. We would like to point out that if you choose to use some additional third-party filters they may not work with the auto-detection feature but all of the official Nikon ones are picked up by it.
Another auto detection function that we like about the Nikon SB-700 is its ability to automatically detect if your camera is an FX or DX-format camera and adjust its settings as needed. For example, the Nikon D5300 uses a DX sensor so the flash will automatically switch to a preset that has been designed to work well with a DX sensor but you are able to customize these presets if you wish or disable the feature completely.
The recycling time of the Nikon SB-700 depends on the type of batteries that you are using with it. A set of alkaline batteries will usually give you a recycling time of around two and a half seconds and be usable for one hundred and sixty flash activations before needing to be swapped out. If you are using lithium-based batteries with the flash then the recycling time will be around three and a half seconds while being used for around two hundred and fifty flash activations before needing to be swapped out.
Another improvement of the Nikon SB-700 over previous generations of the flash is its overheating system. Instead of turning itself off and preventing you from using the flash unit, the Nikon SB-700 will simply increase the recycling time to allow you to still use the unit while also giving it time to cool down. If you are a wedding photographer then this can be a massive selling point as you could be snapping away in quick succession leading to your flash heating up quickly.
The video below offers an additional third-party, independent review for the Nikon SB-700 to offer our readers an independent opinion of the product.
The Nikon SB-500 AF
As you would expect for being half the price of the SB-700, the SB-500 does drop some functionality but we feel it is still a good external flash for Nikon d5300 cameras. The flash is made from high-quality plastics with a metal foot and locking pin included. Some people see this as a drawback but the plastic is very resilient and robust while also being very light compared to the metal and plastic hybrids.
The Nikon SB-500 comes with Nikon’s intelligent-Through-The-Lens (iTTL) technology to try and tailor the flashes performance to each photograph you take to get you optimal results with each photograph. Although it is considering an older technology by the standards of what the more modern flashes provide it is actually surprisingly effective while also requiring minimal effort.
The interface and control panel on the Nikon SB-500 is very basic when compared to the Nikon SB-700 covered above as shown in the image to the left but some people seem to prefer it. You can quickly and easily switch between various modes and tweak settings but on the flip side, the customizations of the interface are limited.
The head of the Nikon SB-500 also offers users a one hundred and eighty-degree horizontal rotation with a ninety-degree tilt. Although slightly limited to what higher price camera flashes can offer you, we feel this will still be able to meet the requirements of the majority of our user base.
Again the base recycles time of the flash depends on the type of battery that you use to power the system. A standard alkaline battery will give a four second recycle rate and provide around one hundred flash uses before needing to be changed out. A lithium battery will provide around a three and a half second recycle time and power the flash unit for around one hundred and forty uses.
That said, you are able to fully customize your recycle times and make them almost instant but be advised, doing so will run your batteries down quicker as well as cause the flash unit to warm up quicker. Unfortunately, the Nikon SB-500 has the older Nikon overheating system and will simply power off until it cools down rather than increase the recycle rate as the Nikon SB-7500 would.
The Meike MK910
Our readers with a keen eye may have noticed that the Meike MK910 looks extremely similar to the Nikon SB-910 (Click here to check for product prices and availability). This is due to the Meike MK910 essentially being a cheap clone of the Nikon flash that has almost exactly been replicated.
Although this Meike MK910 does offer a decent amount of functionality, make no mistake that you get what you pay for and in our opinion at least, it does not even compare to the performance of the Nikon.
The Meike MK910 is often used as a cheap solution for a remote flash to be attached to lighting stands in studios due to them costing almost a third of the price of the Nikon SB-910. This helps to lower the costs when an accident occurs and the lighting stand gets knocked over or falls during the photography session. That said, this still makes a great recommended external flash for Nikon d5300 cameras for entry-level photographers who want to pick up an inexpensive camera flash for their Nikon d5300 but don’t want to break the bank.
The image to the left shows the user interface and controls for the flash. As you can see, it is almost identical to the Nikon SB-910 and actually works in a very similar way.
That means if you have used a modern Nikon flash then you should be able to pick up the user interface of this flash quickly with minimal effort required. If you are not familiar with the interface then you should be able to pick it up quickly as it is easy to use and very intuitive.
All of the control buttons on the flash are easy to reach and activate while the flash is mounted on your d5300. That said, the buttons do feel a little cheap to use and can sometimes be a little stiff when pressing them.
The flash also supports the following common modes:-
Each of these modes has been tried and tested and actually work very well considering the price of the flash unit. The reliability of the modes on the flash is actually one of the main reasons that it is used as a slave flash so much in professional studios.
The build quality of the flash is pretty good for the price and its built-in water and dust proofing systems are also effective and help offer an additional layer of protection for your camera flash while using it outdoors or in dusty locations.
We feel that the Meike MK910 would be able to meet the vast majority of needs of most of our readers while also helping them keep their costs down when first getting started in photography. As we mentioned earlier, you get what you pay for so we would expect most people using this flash to eventually upgrade to either the Nikon SB-700 (Click here to check for product prices and availability) or Nikon SB-910 (Click here to check for product prices and availability) in time but for an initial basic flash, this will easily do the job.