The Godox Thinklite TTL i-TTL HSS Camera Flash was kindly provided to me by Godox free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. No additional compensation was given in exchange for posting this article on my blog.
The Godox TT685N is available in the UK from LeaTure UK Fulfilled by Amazon.co.uk at a cost of £90 with free P&P. In the US the TT685N is available from a number of different suppliers with varying accessories, the closest to the one reviewed here is sold by VIPPHOTO DEAL Fulfilled by Amazon.com at a cost of $119 with free delivery which includes everything listed in this review plus a memory card case (Prices correct at time of posting).
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PACKAGING & CONTENTS.
The Godox Thinklite TT685N is supplied in retail style cardboard packaging that is a little on the thin side and with my particular sample a little squashed.
Inside you will find the box literally crammed full with the following contents…
Loose within the box you will find a large illustrated instruction booklet in Chinese and English (a PDF containing the TT685N manual can be found HERE), a quality control certificate, a warranty leaflet, a “Canpis” branded glasses cleaning cloth and a fabric diffuser hood wrapped in clear plastic.
There is also a black canvas carry case that contains the Godox Thinklite TT685N flash, a black plastic stand and a clear resealable plastic bag holding a colour filter system. This comprises of a pack of thin plastic colour filters, a Velcro strap and a plastic filter holder, all of which will be described in detail shortly.
Firstly is the weight, with 4 AA batteries installed the Godox Thinklite TT685N weighs 513g and the removable diffuser adds a further 13g.
The TT685N stood upright measures 18.8cm long (high), 7.6cm wide and 6cm deep (taken at the greatest points). Measurements of the Speedlight setup on the supplied stand at a right angle are 14.5cm high (including the stand), 7.69cm wide and the length measures 12cm.
The head of the TT685N rotates 180 degrees left, 180 degrees right and 97 degrees forwards. This allows the flash head to be pointed at a right angle to the left, right, forwards, backwards, or pointing straight up or at any conceivable angle between.
FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS.
COMPATIBILITY: The manual notes the TT685N is compatible with the following cameras… D800, D700, D7100, D7000, D5200, D5100, D5000, D300, D300S, D3200, D3100, D3000, D200, D70S, D810, D610 and D90 (although there is no reason I am aware of that it wouldn’t be compatible with other Nikon cameras from the current range such as the D3300 or D5500 etc).
GUIDE NUMBER: 60 (m ISO 100 @105mm).
There is a bit of grey area relating to flash guide numbers in that it can be very difficult to compare one flash to another. Nikon advise a guide number based on ISO100 @ 35mm, where Godox have advised a guide number of ISO100 @ 105mm.
In terms so that an idiot such as myself can understand my Zomei ZM560T or Neewer NW-660 III flashes are perfectly fine for product photography and can be used together to banish shadows.
When I was taking pictures of family members during Christmas while stood in the corner of a 4m x 4m x 2.4m room, even used together my old flashes were merely able to provide a satisfactory level of lighting requiring a little post production tweaking. Taking sample pictures with the TT685N it proved to be more than capable of filling the same room to an excellent level of light and flanked with my old flashes in the corners shadows had no where to hide.
POWER SUPPLY: 4x AA batteries or external power source such as the Godox PB960. 2500mAh AA batteries provide enough power for 230 Full power flashes.(If you do not use rechargeable batteries expect to be bankrupt within a year).
RECYCLE TIME: 0.1 to 2.6s seconds.
AUTO POWER OFF: 90 seconds as master or 30 minutes or 60 minutes as slave.
HIGH SPEED SYNC: To 1/8000th, 1st Curtain Sync and 2nd Curtain Sync.
FLASH MODES: i-TTL / M / Multi / S1 / S2 / RPT (Stroboscopic flash).
FLASH EXPOSURE COMPENSATION (FEC): Manual, FEB +/- 3 stops in 1/3 stop increments. (Manual FEC and FEB can be combined).
MANUAL FLASH: 22 steps of power output (1/1 ~ 1/128).
COLOUR TEMPERATURE: 5600k +/-200k.
FLASH ZOOM: 20mm to 200mm (Manual / Auto).
FLASH DURATION: 1/300 to 1/20000 seconds
WIRELESS OPTIC & 2.4G RADIO TRNSMISSION: Master / Slave (3 slave groups A, B and C). Optic transmission range up to 15m with 4 channels or built in Godox 2.4GHz X series radio transceiver range of up to 100m with 32 channels. (The TT685N works fine as a slave or master with my Zomei ZM560T and Neewer NW-660 III flashes).
DISPLAY: 4.7cm x 3.2cm Dot Matrix LCD display with green backlight.
AUTO FOCUS ASSIST RANGE: 0.6m to 10m (centre) and 0.6m to 5m (periphery).
All controls on the TT685N are on the back of the flash below the display screen.
POWER SWITCH: This is a two pole switch found in the bottom right. Flick it up to turn the device on and down to turn it off. There is no power button indicator, but there are “on” and “off” position indexers.
In the event that the TT685N enters power saving mode, simply pressing any button on the device will bring it back to life and if you switch it off you will have to wait at least 2 seconds before switching it back on again. Be warned that if you do switch it off you will lose and user made settings changes.
MODE BUTTON: This button is the centre left edge button. Tap to cycle through the various different modes. (i-TTL, M, RPT). This button can also be held down to lock all settings preventing and changes and another 2 second long hold down will unlock the settings.
TEST BUTTON: This button is located in the bottom left and when the flash is ready to fire the button lights up red and pressing the button will fire the flash.
FUNCTION BUTTONS (1,2,3 and 4): These buttons are located just below the display and their function varies depending on which menu / settings screen you are currently at. To see which function they operate at any given time just look at the bottom edge of the display and there will be an indexer just above each button.
The second and third buttons (the centre two) act as a means to reset all of the TT685N’s settings. Simply hold both down together for 2 seconds and the screen will display “Reset” once all of the settings have been restored to factory default.
Holding down the top left button (marked as Zm/C.Fn on the display) for 3 seconds accesses the settings menu (holding down the same button for 3 seconds will exit the menu). Settings on offer are as follows…
- Switch between meter and feet distance measurements.
- APO (Auto Power Off), this setting enables or disabled the TT685N power saving feature. Settings on offer are On or Off
- AF (Auto Focus), settings on offer are On or Off.
- Sv APOT, I can find no reference to this in the manual, but given, the default power saving feature time of the TT685N in slave mode is 60 minutes I can only assume this option relates to that feature. Settings on offer are 60minuites or 30 minutes.
- Beep, this setting provides or disables audio feedback when the flash is ready to fire. Options on offer are On or Off.
- Light, this setting affects the display backlight, by default, pressing any button activates the backlight for 12 seconds, it should be noted that leaving it active constantly will be a significant drain on the batteries. Settings on offer are On, Off or 12 Seconds.
- LCD, this setting changes the brightness of the backlight with “0” being the brightness and “9” being the dimmest setting. The difference between 0 and 9 is noticeable, but each individual increment is subtle.
WIRELESS SELECTION BUTTON: The first press of this button enters the 2.4G radio master settings, a second tap enters the 2.4G radio slave settings, the third enters the optical transmission master settings, a fourth tap enters the optical transmission slave settings and a fifth returns you to the main default display.
DIAL & SET BUTTON: The dial is used for making any changes to settings and the select button is used for confirming any changes that you have made to the settings.
Sadly the TT685N does not remember any user changes made to the settings and so every time it is switched on it resets itself to factory default. Sadly, this includes even settings made to the power saving and display backlight settings as well, which is annoying.
THE CARRY CASE.
The carry case is made from a black canvas on the exterior and a faux velvet effect material on the inside with a thin layer of padding between. The exterior canvas appears to be waterproof in that when run under the tap water does not penetrate inside. That said the flap isn’t exactly secured against water ingress with just a single, centrally located Velcro tab to keep it secure.
Inside not only is there room for the TT685N but also on the back edge is a small open edge pocket designed to house the off camera stand accessory or the filter system.
Sadly however, this pocket proves too small for the removable diffuser cover and when the cover is attached to the TT685N the flash proves too bulky to fit in the case.
Yet another point of minor disappointment is the lack of any belt loops or Velcro straps on the back of the case. While I predominantly take product images at home, I do venture out with my camera on occasion conducting product testing and when I do, I take a small sling bag for my camera and attach my flash to the bag strap (a good thing I have a few spare cases more suited to my needs that fit the TT685N).
THE OFF CAMERA STAND.
The off camera stand accessory is (as much as anyone can get excited by such a thing) very good. The quality of plastics is good, the stability is good, it’s very rigid with no noticeable flex (not going to get bent out of shape of broken easily) and on the underside is a 1/4″ brass mounting thread.
THE REMOVABLE DIFFUSER.
My Zomei ZM560T and Neewer NW-660 III came with frosted plastic diffuser caps, which are easy to install, easy to remove and if used on the go just as easy to lose. The TN685N however, comes with a fabric diffuser cap that secures onto the camera thanks to an elastic open edge (it’s just a shame the flash does not fit in its carry case with the diffuser attached).
The diffuser is made from two layers of white nylon on the front and a further two layers that form the top and sides with a black PVC reinforced tubing covering the seam that helps the diffuser maintain its shape. (I have to admit I had concerns this might create a shadow, but it has thus far no done so in any images that I have taken).
The back of the diffuser is made from a layer of black PU leather on the outside and a silver textured foil bonded to it on the inside. Again, there is a reinforced PVC tubing to help the diffuser retain its shape around the seam and running along the open edge at the bottom is a band of elastic which keeps the diffuser secured to the flash.
Overall quality is ok, there’s a few loose threads and it does look a little rushed in its construction, more than anything I’m curious as to how long it will retain its whiter than white finish and whether it will yellow and how that will affect images. (For those interested the plastic diffuser caps that came with my Zomei ZM560T and Neewer NW-660 III both fit the TT685N perfectly).
The diffuser should be mounted on the TT685N as if were a chefs hat and not a beanie hat, what I mean is there should be a void between the diffuser and the flash and it should not be fitted snugly.
Sample shots with and without the diffuser…
THE COLOUR FILTER SYSTEM.
The system comprises of a plastic gel like retainer that is attached to the flash using the supplied Velcro strap.
There is one pocket on the retainer for a filter to cover the flash head and another larger pocket to retain the filters that are not in use.
The filters are made from thin plastic measuring 7.5cm x 4.7cm and the colours on offer are… Orange, green, purple, lime green, mid blue, blood red, yellowy orange, dark blue, reddish orange, light blue, yellow and dark purple.
The main purpose of such filters is as a means of lighting, colour correction, they can also be used if you simply wish to experiment or be creative with your shots. Clearly this is a better solution to simply taping a coloured film over the flash head, but personally on the rare occasion I use one I do prefer a plastic cap that ensures that all light from the flash passes through the filter.
Sample shots using the coloured filters…
The build quality of the TTN685N casing is most defiantly one of its fortes, it feels solid, well engineered and made from high quality plastics and compared to my Zomei ZM560T and Neewer NW-660 III it defiantly feels like a more premium product.
The flash foot is a good quality flat metal plate with 4 pins in the Nikon configuration. As the foot plate foot is flat it allows the flash to be mounted in reverse on an accessory shoe. (Some are slightly bent upwards at the back preventing you from doing this).
The hotshoe locking mechanism is a plastic dial with 6 crescent shaped finger grips which is a nice idea, but my Zomei ZM560T and Newer NW-660 III both have vanilla circular dials without such grips and they are simply easier to use. On camera, it’s a little fiddly but when trying to attach to a stand it’s just downright annoying. For the price its a shame it doesn’t have an easier to use quick release lock like that on the Yongnuo YN685.
Of all the buttons on the rear of the TT685N the test button is the only one with a dedicated backlight (lights up red when the flash is ready to fire). When the display backlight is active the green light from the screen bleeds faintly lighting up the four function and the wireless selection button (although not the mode button).
All the buttons are very responsive, offering a tactile clicky feedback and the dial gives good resistance, allowing for accurate use even in the dark. (The set in the centre of the dial button doesn’t freely rotate).
The Dot Matrix LCD panel is a generous size of 4.7cm x 3.2cm with a reasonably sized font used for most indexers. The information provided on the display is far too complex to articulate with words and also changes depending on the current mode selected and so please refer to my video for this information.
The green backlight illumination can be switched off or set to activate for 12 seconds after a button press or set to be on constantly. This lighting is evenly distributed and the screen is easy to read regardless if there is no light or when used outdoors. There is a little light bleed on the bottom edge when looking at the screen from above (I actually suspect the screen is edge lit by two LEDs on the bottom edge).
The flash head articulates 180 degrees to the left, 180 degrees to the right and 97 degrees on the vertical plane (although not backwards). This sadly does not have a locking mechanism, although it is relatively stiff to the point that its absence is not an issue, it’s stiffness however does pose an issue all of its own.
When the TT685N is mounted on camera and your camera is not mounted on a tripod the camera is held in one hand and the other hand manipulates the flash head. Due to the stiffness of the flash head articulation this does put a slightly concerning amount of pressure or strain on your camera hotshoe.
When your camera is mounted on a tripod you can obviously hold the bottom section of the flash as you twist the head preventing any strain and the same applies when the flash is being used off camera.
Given that the TT685N has replaced my Neewer NW-660 III as my primary flash I have ordered a can of silicone lubricant to see if I can loosen it up (without making too much of a mess), if it works I’ll report back and let you know.
The flash head is also fitted with an extending bounce card and wide angle reflector (that are non removable).
When the wide angle reflector is pulled out it usually also pulls the bounce card out with it, although not always and sadly if it does not you have to push the reflector back in and pull it out again hoping that the second time it pulls the bounce card out with it.
It is a little frustrating, but I have not thus far had to try more than twice when I wanted to use it. Again I have added some images to my video demonstrating both the bounce card and the wide angle reflector.
The TT685N has a large selection of interface ports, most of which you will not find on a budget Nikon flash. On the front below the red plastic cover is a three pin DC input / charging port (that allows the flash to be powered via an external power pack) with a non removable rubber bung protecting it from moisture, dirt and debris.
On the right side of the flash is the battery compartment door (push down with your thumb to open or push the cover against the flash and up with your thumb to secure it).
On the left side of the flash is another non removable rubber bung covering a USB 5 pin Micro B port which is used for firmware updates, a 3.5mm sync port (the TT685N does not have a PC sync port) and a four terminal wireless control port.
My TT685N which was ordered in September 2016 has a firmware version of 2.7 and at the time of writing there is no update available. To check the firmware version hold down the top left button (function button 1 marked as Zm/C.Fn on the display) for 3 seconds to access the settings menu and the firmware version will be displayed in the top right corner.
For the first test the flash was set to 1/1 and a fully charged set of 1900mAh Panasonic Eneloops were used as a power source. The shutter button on my D3200 was held down for exactly 10 seconds and in this time the flash fired 5 times.
For the second test the flash was set to 1/32 and a different set of fully charged 1900mAh Eneloops were used. This time in 10 seconds the flash fired a total of 32 times.
This is a significant improvement over my Zomei ZM560T and Neewer NW-660 III flashes which more often than not, only fire twice in ten seconds at 1/1.
Thankfully, this feature is now fairly common on modern flashes and it is something that has likely saved my Neewer NW-660 III from an early death.
To test the overheat protection on the TT685N it was taken off camera set to 1/1 and manually fired using the test button. As soon as the red light indicated it was ready to fire, it was fired and this was repeated.
After about 15 flashes it was becoming evident that the recycle time was fractionally becoming slower (and I do mean fractionally) and by the 28th sequential firing it was clear that the overheat protection was starting to kick in with recycle times taking a second or two longer.
Interestingly, at this point, neither the casing of the TT685N nor the batteries were anywhere near what I would even call Luke warm. In comparison after an identical test session with my Neewer NW-660 III it started to slow down much sooner taking much, much longer to recycle and by the end the case was very warm and the batteries were just about bearable to hold.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review, I hope it has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please post a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.
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