Welcome to our ultimate Nissin MF18 review that we have decided to publish after seeing a number of people reaching out for advice on this great little macro ring flash. Most of the Nissin products we have previously featured have been poor quickly and overpriced but we feel that they have managed to get the MF18 just right.
Not only does it offer some excellent performance and functionality but the MF18 also has a great build quality too. This coupled with its fair price tag has lead to the ring flash earning itself an excellent reputation within the community that only shows the signs of steady growth over the coming years.
Before getting into our review, we just want to say that we are fully aware that there are a number of photography niches that the Nissin MF18 can be used in but we will be focusing on the macro photography aspect of the flash. This is due to the majority of people who have reached out about adding it to their collection of camera accessories have done so with the specific goal of using it to bolster their macro photography kit.
User Interface And Control System
Thankfully, unlike some other popular ring flashes on the market right now, Nissin has ensured that the control unit for the flash unit is as easy to use as possible. You can get a rough idea of how the control unit works from the image above but it sticks to the tried and tested directional pad and supplement buttons system.
This makes the Nissin MF18 very easy to use, even if this is your first ring flash as many photographers who will be looking to pick up a ring flash at this price point will likely have used similar systems in the past. If this is your first ring flash, fear not as Nissin have made the system very easy to pick up and if you are able to work your way around a modern smartphone you should be able to use the MF18.
The assorted adapter rings provided with this flash make it very easy to mount the ring flash on all popular macro photography lenses on the market right now. The four mounting tabs on the actual ring allow you to quickly and easily switch out the adapter ring that you have mounted on the flash unit to swap it between multiple lenses if you use a multi-lens rig.
The left and right ring extention buttons allow you to stretch the ring out wider as shown in the image above. This allows you to adapt the ring to both your current lens in use as well as manipulate the light output from the flash unit. The Nissin MF18 comes with the following adaptor rings as standard when purchased although additional sizes (49mm, 55mm, and 82mm officially from Nissin, others available from third parties) are available too:-
The Nissin MF18 uses a regular standard hot shoe mount for its actual power pack/control system so you can mount it to your camera body without any issues. Even if you use a Sony camera body that uses the Mi Shoe mounting system you will get a standard hot shoe mount attachment with your Sony camera that will let you mount this ring flash onto your camera body.
Performance And Functionality
As we mentioned earlier, the Nissin MF18 has been specifically designed to be used as a macro flash so most of our examples regarding its performance and functionality will be based around macro photography. That said, we have seen reports from people using it in the food photography, portrait photography, and event photography niches without issue too while reporting excellent performance too.
The example photograph below was captured using the Nissin MF18 as the primary lighting source for the image. As you can see, it has done an excellent job of providing lighting to for the photograph resulting in an excellent image with great color and detail capturing.
- GN 16 at ISO 100
- Focal length coverage 80° x 80°
- LED modeling lamps
- Expandable flash head
- Rear curtain sync
- FE / FV lock & Wireless TTL / slave
- External power pack socket (for PS 300 or Canon / Nikon originals)
- X-socket for external flash synchronization
Although some other competing ring flashes at this price point in the market also provide these features, combining them with the excellent performance and build quality of the MF18 help to push the flash unit ahead in our opinion.
The photograph below was also captured using the Nissin MF18 as the primary lighting source and we feel that it does an excellent job of showing the level of detail it can allow you to capture in great lighting. If you are trying to build your macro photography portfolio or do any type of paid client work then you can see the level of image quality it can help you achieve.
There is no denying that the Nissin MF18 is an excellent ring flash for macro photography and it is not hard to see why it has such an excellent reputation within the community. From what we can tell, the user base of the MF18 is only going to keep on increasing at the steady rate it has been due to no real competition as well as its reputation spreading in the community.
Build Quality And Design
Nissin has done an excellent job when it comes to the build quality of the MF18 but this is to be expected of a ring flash with this price tag. The majority of the body and case of the flash unit is made from high quality, robust, lightweight plastics that ensure that you can hold your camera with the flash unit mounted on it for extended periods of time without getting a cramp.
Additionally, the robust plastics used to build the flash ensure that it can easily take any bumps or knocks coming its way during use preventing it from taking any easy damage. The excellent build quality of the adaptor rings also ensure that you can mount the ring flash on the vast majority of popular macro lenses and digital cameras on the market right now.
Although it is expected at this price point in the ring flash market, we just wanted to confirm that the Nissin MF18 comes with a case metal hot shoe mount. A small number of the cheaper ring flashes on the market have plastic based hot shoe mounts that can warp in shape and get jammed on your camera causing a bunch of problems.
Question – Will the Nissin MF18 fit my lens?
Answer – As we have mentioned, the adaptor rings and ring extension buttons on the ring flash allow you to mount it to the vast majority of popular macro lenses out there. Additionally, there are also a number of official Nissin and third-party adaptor rings to allow you to mount it on the remaining lenses.
Question – Does the Nissin MF18 have a continuous light option?
Answer – Yes it does but keep in mind that using the continuous light option will drain its battery life quicker.
Question – I have a specific question about the technical side of the Nissin MF18.
Answer – Ask for Steve on 1-800-221-2253 with any specific technical questions.
Third Party Reports
Our regular readers will know that we always like to share some third-party, independent reviews from photographers who are using any product that we feature on our blog. You can click here to read some other third party reports and reviews of the Nissin MF18 from photographers who use it as their go-to ring flash of choice.
That brings our Nissin Mf18 review to an end and we feel that the MF18 is an excellent quality ring flash that will help improve your macro photography image quality while also offering some excellent performance in other photography niches too. Although it is on the pricey side, we feel that it will make an excellent addition to your collection of camera accessories and help bolster your kit.