Speedlite flashes are getting more popular. They are available for any budget and can have a lot of nice features like zoom, PC Sync port, wide angle diffuser etc. There are a lot of used Canon and Nikon flashes out there that are affordable and very well built. There are good Chinese units with built in lithium batteries, optical slaves and other features as well.
But are cheap speedlites suitable for professional work? Many photographers believe that one of the biggest disadvantages of speedlites is the variable color temperature.
If you are using one light source, no matter what color temperature it has, but if you are using two and more, then different temperatures most probably will be visible. And, if different color temperature lights were mixed up, it is almost impossible to fix in post production.
But how much does the color temperature differ? Is it critical for professional photography or not?
Lets analyze this question based on two speedlites: Canon 430 EX II and Nikon SB 28.
Let’s keep in mind that the Canon unit is much newer, the Nikon one was designed a long time ago for film cameras.
Color Temperature Shift With Different Power Level
For this test, the camera’s white balance was set to “Flash” (5900K, tint +6). Manual mode was used. The flash with zoom 24mm was placed on about the same high level as the objects: white, gray and black cards. These cards are cheap and was included as a bonus with another purchase, so I believe these are not very accurate. But this is okay as we are going to analyze the difference in color temperature only.
Let’s see how color temperature differs on power level from 1/64 to 1/1 on both units.