In recent years, Godox has become the brand of choice for many photographers who are looking for competitively priced and feature-packed lighting products.
As an avid user of products like the TT685 and AD400 Pro, I was excited to hear the news of the launch of the Godox V860 Mark III. This third iteration in the line promised all the features of the first two models while also adding some new goodies, including a new battery and modeling lamp.
While the new features look great, when it went on sale in August 2021, it came at a $50 higher price tag than the previous version. I was eager to see if the new features make this flash worth the extra money.
Same flash, multiple names
The version of the product I’m using is labeled “Godox V860 III” but it’s worth noting that it’s also sold under the names “Godox VING V860 III” and “Flashpoint Zoom Li-on III R2 TTL”. All three names will give you the same product. Just make sure it has the number III after it, or else you can buy the first or second flash version.
Also note the letter that comes after the main part of the model name, as different versions of flash are available depending on the system you’re shooting with.
The letter “F” on my model indicates that it is compatible with Fujifilm X series cameras. The folks at Godox adapt their products, other versions available from Sony (S), Canon (C), Nikon (N), Olympus / Panasonic ( O) and Pentax (P).
What’s in the box?
Like other Godox products, the brand and packaging quality is as excellent as you would expect. In addition to the flash itself and the lithium-ion battery, there are a few other things inside the case.
First, there is a manual in Chinese and English. The guide gives a good summary of all the features, although the text is too small for me – even with my reading glasses, I struggled to view it.
Second, there is a nice soft case for the flash. I especially like that they used the Godox brand colors for this – black on the outside and orange on the inside.
Third, there is the AC charging cable and the battery charging pad. Finally, there is a quarter inch hot shoe plate adapter for attaching the flash to the light mounts.
First impressions and build quality
My first impression of the Godox V860 III flash was very positive. Taking the flash out of the box, I noticed that it was a bit larger and heavier than some of the other Godox flashes I’ve used. The extra weight is probably due to the new rechargeable lithium-ion battery: the V860 III weighs 18.7 ounces (530 grams).
The build quality of Godox V860 III is excellent. The flash feels powerful and more durable in the hand than some of the smaller flashes. Having said that, I haven’t had any issues with the build quality of any of the Godox gear.
The V860 III engine has an impressive list of specs, and here are the highlights:
- output 76 watts
- High-performance lithium-ion battery provides 480 shots of full power when fully charged
- Flash duration 1/300sec to 1/20,000sec
- Flash magnification from 20mm to 200mm
- 1.5 seconds recycling time
- TTL and manual flash settings
- High speed sync up to 1/8000
- Compatible as a transceiver with Godox Wireless X 2.4GHz System
- Front modeling lamp with variable output (1-10)
Using the new features of the V860 III
In addition to all the features you would expect from this type of flash, such as TTL and HSS, Godox has added new and improved features to this third version.
The most common feature is the 2W front modeling light whose intensity can be adjusted from 1 to 10. Perhaps the only disappointment with this feature is the position of the lamp – it is located on the flash body above the Godox logo, not on the flash head itself.
While some will find a modeling lamp useful, others will not. For example, if you’re bouncing the flash off the ceiling, you might ask about the practical use of a modeling lamp on the body of the flash facing your subject? However, I find the lamp a welcome addition as it can be used as a continuous light source or for video. One thing I will say about the modeling lamp – it is very bright even at low power levels.
The V860III also comes with a new battery for this line, the VB26A. This is a higher capacity battery with a faster recycle time, and has more than 480 full power flashes per charge. In my tests, I found the flash recycle to be excellent: the V860 III kept working and working.
In one shoot, I took over 70 photos in quick succession and the V860 III didn’t miss a moment. I know that some older AA battery powered flashes will struggle to keep up with a similar test.
Another new feature is the foot button to lock the flash in place on the camera’s hot shoe. While it might save a bit of time compared to the rotating method of old flashes, I have to admit I didn’t find the footswitch to be very quick to use, but maybe that’s just me.
The last new feature I would single out is the manual switch on the flash to change between manual flash and TTL. Although this switch is a good idea, it wasn’t actually that difficult to switch between manual and TTL in previous versions of flash.
While all new features are welcome, I would suggest that there are more incremental improvements, especially considering similar features already found in other Godox products.
I focused on the new features for this review, as all the standard features are just as you’d expect from Godox. All V860 III versions come with TTL, manual flash, high-speed sync up to 1/8000 seconds, rear-curtain sync, stroboscopic flash, flash exposure compensation and beam-assist autofocus for low-light situations.
In my tests, the V860III engine was reliable, packed with power and performance. However, I have two very slight gripes regarding usability.
First, although the V860III’s flash head moves forward and backward quite smoothly, rotating the flash head requires more muscle. Second, when I had questions, the instructions in the manual were very good. It’s a shame the text is so small I couldn’t find the manual online.
Godox Wireless System
One of the things I love about Godox flashes is the ease with which you can set up the transceivers. Using a flash or remote to trigger another flash away from the camera is simple and takes seconds.
Using the V860 III with the Godox XPro F trigger was simple: within a few seconds they synced easily and I was using the off-camera flash. For Lucy Lumen’s photos, I held the flash in my left hand while taking pictures with my Fujifilm X-T4 in my right hand.
The V860III can be used as a controller for three more sets of flashes – even if it is not used as a flash by itself. As a transmitter, the V860III can power V1, AS200 Pro and AD 300 Pro. As a receiver, the V860III can be powered by X1, X2, Xpro and V1.
Another feature I like about this model is channel scanning – this gives more reliable results in crowded places where other equipment might be using Wi-Fi. The flash scans all channels and picks one that no one else is using – very smart.
V860 III vs. V1
If you thought these specs and features of the V860 III sound familiar, you’re right. The V860 III shares many similarities with Godox’s V1 flash. The biggest differences between the V860 III and the V1 are the shape of the flash head (rectangular vs. round) and the placement of the modeling light (on the flash body vs. the flash head).
They share the same battery which is great for those who want to build a complete lighting system with this brand. Even the V860 III’s menu design is similar to the V1, apart from the menu system on older Godox hardware.
The V860 III is more expensive than the previous version in this line, but I think the new battery system that puts it in line with other Godox products is a welcome development.
Overpriced, it commands a comparison to the Godox V1 circular flash that sells for $259, but overall, I think the V860 III is excellent value for money.
If you’re looking for a workhorse flash with plenty of features and a battery that seems to last, the Godox V860 III is an excellent choice.
Flash has a powerful package, with a feature set that includes TTL and HSS as standard, along with the build quality of flash and other content in the box is very good. The only suggestion for improvement is to increase the text size in the directory.
Although this third model in the line comes at a higher price than the previous versions, the new features and an excellent battery more than make up for this. Photographers can start building a lineup with Godox products around the long lasting VB26A battery – hopefully more products will use it in the future.
Godox V860 III Pros
- Excellent build quality
- Very good value for money
- Upgraded battery now compatible with other Godox flashes
- Powerful flash with long lasting charge and fast recycle time
- A modeling lamp may be useful for some
Godox V860 III Disadvantages
- Higher price point than previous models
- At this price, it forces a comparison with more expensive flashes