Meike MK-910 iTTL – Review
On paper, both flashes offer features I require as a photographer, and those are
– Nikon CLS Compatibility
– Hight Speed Sync (HSS)
I am able to buy 5x Meike MK-910 iTTL Flashes for the price of one Nikon, and that to me seems like a no brainer!
However, real-world shooting suggests you might want to consider opting for the Nikon flash, even at the extra cost!
Now I’ve shot properties full-time for over 3.5yrs, and up until 4months ago I was running around with 2x SB700’s, which replaced my Nikon SB910 and SB900. Note, I had to replace my Nikon SB910 and SB900.
Over the years, shooting an average of 100 flash pops a day, plus using them on weddings on the weekends, I wouldn’t be able to count accurately how many flash pops these flashes went through over the years. However, I am certain they have gone through a lot of use!
Some of my flashes have simply worn out, some have been dropped etc. but needless to say, things happen where these tools inevitably have to be replaced.
I needed to look into cheaper options and I came across the Meike MK-910 iTTL flashes and thought I would give them a chance.
The Meike MK-910 iTTL look almost identical to the Nikon SB-910/SB900 flashes. Button layouts are basically the same and the biggest physical determining factors for each flash is the make and model number printed on the plastic shell. However it’s worth mentioning the print does fade on both, so many one day they will be identical.
My experience with the flashes have been mixed. To get to the point, they use much more battery power than the Nikon flashes which means you are replacing batteries more often than you would with the Nikon SB-910. If you are using re-chargeable batteries, I cannot do the math to work out whether it’s more worth it long-term to go with Meike MK-910 iTTL instead of Nikon SB-910. But what I can tell you for sure is that it is a nuisance having to change batteries more or less daily. With the Nikon SB-910’s I could comfortably shoot for 2-3 days without charging my Energizer Rechargeable AA 2400mAh Batteries , however with the Meike MK-910 iTTL’s I’m charging daily.
In addition, the Nikon CLS is somewhat unreliable with the Meike MK-910 iTTL. I have found that if I place a flash in the next room, the flash sometimes does not fire and there must be a clear line of sight. With the Nikon SB-910 it’s almost magical how it can pick up your flash settings and knows when to fire even when the line of sight is lost. Even if the flash is in my hand with direct line of sight to the flashes sensor on the Meike MK-910 iTTL it sometimes does not fire. I would have to squeeze the flash near the sensor for it to work. There is a possibility I have a bad copy by the sounds of things, however I carry two Meike MK-910 iTTL’s and both of them act the same.
HSS works surprisingly well and naturally there is a power loss when entering the faster shutter speeds, however it works very well for my property photography work.
Overall the recycle times are noticeably slower than the Nikon’s, but for my property photography work, I can deal with the slower recycles.
Using these flashes for portraiture however, total nightmare!
I must clarify with that I did not use these for a paid professional job and that I attempted to use these flashes on a shoot for some friends of mine whilst photographing their 2yr old son. Because you do have to shoot continuously as kids are very unpredictable, the flash recycle time was showing its limitations quite clearly where the flash pops were very inconsistent in terms of power, and in some cases simply not firing at all.
In short, because of their relatively low cost, I will for the moment continue using them for my property photography work as they are relatively replaceable. However for my portrait and wedding work, no chance! In fact I am considering buying the Godox AD600B TTL, however this is another blog topic.
I simply cannot deal with the inconsistent light output when firing rapidly for portraits, and the inconsistent CLS functionality.
Even using the flash on-camera, you notice the lag with recycle and it’s pretty frustrating in a professional situation.
However, if you’re just getting started in off-camera lighting, or flash photography in general, for its price, it’s a steal! You will definitely learn with this flash and it’s a great starter due to its functionality and price. At the recent shoot with my friends 2yr old son, you can still achieve great results and although the lighting was inconsistent, you can get good shots if you shoot a little slower allowing the flashes to fully recycle, or you can fix it in post-production.
But for a fast paced professional situation, I would encourage you opt for your designated camera manufacturers flash for consistency and reliability.
Potentially I would recommend a third party studio flash, like the Godox AD600BM I mentioned earlier, but without personally testing myself, I’ll have to come back to you all with regards to that decision.