The best flashgun in 2024: the best strobe units for Canon cameras, Nikon and more

The best flashgun for your camera will put the built-in pop-up unit to shame, if it even has one. An external flashgun, Speedlite, Speedlight, or strobe (to name but a few catchwords) gives you massively more power and control.

So what features do you need? Automatic TTL (Through The Lens) flash metering enables easy use in all sorts of conditions. Bounce and swivel heads give you the option of reflecting light off ceilings and walls for a softer effect. Motorized zooms automatically track the focal length of your lens to extend your flash's reach when shooting at longer focal lengths. To varying extents, most flashguns also offer wireless connectivity, simplifying off-camera flash.

Pricier flashguns generally offer additional operating modes. You can expect slow-speed-sync and high-speed-sync as standard, as well as rear-curtain flash is also pretty much standard. More advanced options include a programmable stroboscopic mode, so you can capture the motion of an object at different steps throughout a long exposure.

Bear in mind, flashguns are not the only way to shine a light on your subject. You might like to consider the best LED panels too. These certainly don't match the raw power of a flashgun, especially when you’re competing with outdoor sunlight, but they do provide continuous ‘what you see is what you get’ lighting. At the other end of the scale, you may need more flash power than any of these flashguns can provide, so you’d need to look at some of the best lighting kits for professional studio or location photography.

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.