Nisin MF18 Macro Flash


The Nissin MF18 macro flash mounted on a Sony A7R and Sigma 105mm f2.8 comination.


Before we get going I’m going to be a little bit pedantic. The Nissan MF18 Macro flash is not and I repeat NOT a ring flash. A ring flash such as the Profoto ProRing2 Plus UV has a continuous light tube that forms a circle. The MF18 has two separate flash heads (A + B) in two semicircular diffusers.


The Nissin MF18 macro flash mounted on a Sony A7R and Sigma 105mm f2.8 comination.with the flash heads positioned at their widest setting.This also shows that the head is comprised of two separate flash tubes in their own semi-circular diffusers.


What I’m looking at in this review is the Nissan MF18 for Sony cameras. This is important because the features and the included accessories vary somewhat depending on whether you have the Sony, Canon or Nikon models. Also while this unit is capable of wireless control I didn’t have the where withal to test that as I don’t own a suitable controller.





The MF18 is compatible with the following flash protocols:-

Canon ETTL and ETTL ii

Nikon i-TTL


Having said that some cameras from Sony, Canon and Nikon aren’t compatible.


1dx mk ii, 5d mk iv, 6d mk ii, 80d, 900d, 1d, 1ds, and all the EOS M series of cameras.


D2Hs, D2H, D100, D1H, D1. Firmware updates are required to ensure compatibility with the Z series cameras, the D6 and the Zfc.


RX100 mk ii

For Sony cameras the wireless strobe will not fire unless the flash mode is set to [WL(wireless)] in the camera menu or the wireless flash function is set to [ON].

Guide Number (GN) 16/53 (ISO 100 m/ft)
Flash output 83 Ws at full power
Power Source Internal – 4 x AA alkaline/Ni-MH batteries


Nisin PS300 battery pack

Nikon SD-8a or SD-9 battery pack

Canon CP-E4 battery pack

Battery Life (approx.) AA batteries 120-800 flashes

Nisin PS300 500 flashes

Nikon Sd-8a or SD-9 200 flashes

Canon CP-E4 260 flashes

Recycling time 0.1-5.5 seconds with AA batteries

0.7 sec with the Nisin PS300

1.5 sec with the Nikon SD-8a/SD-9

1.5 sec with the Canon CP-E4

Colour Temperature  5600 K at full power
Flash duration 1/700 sec at full power when using both flash heads and 1/300 sec when using one.
Wireless flash Optical system relying of line of sight only
Sync Hot shoe or PC sync
Modes of operation Auto, TTL, full manual (power ranges from full to 1/64 in 1/6th increments) and fine macro (1/128 to 1/1024 in 1/6th increments).

1st curtain sync

2nd curtain sync

High speed flash sync (dependent on whether the camera allows this).

Dimensions Body 115 x 65 x 85mm

Head 120 x 134 x 41mm

Weight 446g without batteries
Included accessories Adapter rings to mount the flash head to the lens.

For Canon and Nikon 52, 58, 62, 67, 72, and 77mm.

For Sony 49, 55, 62, 67, 72, and 77mm. 

It is possible to buy adapter rings individually in all sizes from 49mm to 82mm.

First Impressions

The box the Nissin MF18 comes in.


The contents of the box. The flash body and head plus 6 adapter rings. The sizes of the included rings depends upon on whether your camera is Sony, or Canon/Nikon.


The quick start guide printed on the inside of the box lid.


I don’t normally talk about packaging but in this case I’ll make an acceptation. The box and its overall presentation were very nice – almost “Applesque” – and showed nice attention to detail which I thought boded well for the flash itself. Overall the MF18 feels very well made. Like all flashguns/speedlights it is of a plastic construction. There is no mention of any weather sealing on the Nisin website so I’ll assume there is none. The body is connected to the head via a chunky coiled cable that feels nice and secure at both ends. In the case of problems with the cord it doesn’t look user replaceable but this is not unusual. The batteries are held in a magazine that slides out of the side. It is a very neat arrangement and spares are available (Nisin BM-01) for those who want a fast reload capability. The flash body is held in the camera hot shoe via blue anodised knurled ring. Not as fast as a lever that is sometimes found on other brands but perfectly satisfactory. On the rear of the body you’ll find a 3cm square colour LCD panel which is sadly not touch compatible. I really like the touch capabilities on my Metz flashes and it is a shame Nisin didn’t include it. Underneath the screen you’ll find an on/off/lock switch, a four way ‘D’ pad with central button, and a combined pilot and status indicator light/button. On the flash head are four buttons – the two vertical ones release the head from the adapter runs, and the two horizontal  allow the flash tubes to positioned further out. This prevents vignetting and also allows more even lighting over some larger subjects.


The rear of the MF18. The A and B buttons allow the flash head to open up to prevent vignetting and provide a wider coverage.



Overall everything is very confidence inspiring.



Nissin claim that the MF18 has a Guide Number of 16 (ISO 100 in metres). Here the subject is 1m from the camera sensor, the power has been set 1/64 and the aperture set to f2. As we can see the photo is approx two stops under exposed. Also Nissin claim that the white balance of the flash is 5600K. The camera white balance was set to 5600K and this resulted in warm cast.


Nisin quote a Guide Number (GN) 16 (ISO100 m) but my testing has found this to rather fanciful as you can see from the table below:

Power setting GN per Nisin Measured
full 16 6.9
1/2 11.3 4.9
1/4 8 3.6
1/8 5.6 2.7
1/16 4 1.9
1/32 2.8 1.5
1/64 2 1.4
1/128 1.4 N/A

The measured guide numbers are between 2 and 21/3 of a stop lower than Nisin’s figures which is quite disappointing. The only positive I can say about it is that running the test 3 times the measured results were very consistent. 

I measured the colour temperature using a grey card and setting the camera’s white balance to 5600K and found that the actual colour temperature was 4750K.

Checking recycling times using a fresh set of AA Ni-MH batteries saw recycle times average out at 8.9 sec when shooting at full power and 4.55 sec at 1/2 power. This falls short of Nisin’s claimed figures.

In Use


York Sun Orchid by Paul Amyes on
York Sun Orchid, Thelymitra yorkensis. Wandoo National Park, Western Australia. Using high speed synchronisation means I can overpower the sun and render backgrounds dark while illuminating the flower.

OK testing is one thing how does real world performance stack up. I’ve been using the MF18 since August 2021 on a Sony A7r2. The only manual shooting I’ve done with it is just testing it for this review. The rest of the time I use it in TTL mode for photographing flowers. More often than not I use it in high speed sync mode as well so I can have the flash as my key light and the ambient light as my fill. For this it has worked extremely well.


York Golf Course by Paul Amyes on
Shy sun orchid, Thelymitra graminea. York Golf Course, Western Australia.


Operating the MF18 is simplicity itself. The basic functions are controlled by the camera. The only time I have to go into the menu is select high speed sync. You can also select 1st or 2nd curtain flash there as well. It is so easy to use that I really don’t have to think about it


The MF18 control menu.


The menu for selecting advanced features such as second curtain sync power saving modes etc.



Pros Cons
  • High speed flash synch
  • Simple to use
  • Fine macro mode allows power output down to 1/1024 power
  • A spare battery magazine is available (Nisin BM-01 and it costs approx $20 USD
  • Can be powered from the mains
  • Can be powered by Canon and Nikon external battery packs
  • Firmware can upgraded via a USB port
  • No case provided – other brands I’ve used provided a case
  • Only a limited range of adapter rings supplied in the box and while the rings are available as separate items they are quite pricey at $30 USD each.
  • Compatibility issues with certain models of camera
  • No weather sealing
  • GN not accurate
  • Colour temperature not accurate


The Nissin MF18 macro flash mounted on a Sony A7R and Sigma 105mm f2.8 comination.viewed in profile.


I bought the Nisin MF18 with my own money. At the time it was the only macro speedlight compatible with Sony that had high speed flash synchronisation. While some of the performance issues such as the GN, recycling times and colour temperature are a bit disappointing they have had no impact on how I use the flash. 


The Nissin MF18 macro flash mounted on a Sony A7R and Sigma 105mm f2.8 comination.viewed from the rear.


In terms of value for money, compared to the Olympus and Metz equivalents it seems quite keenly priced. It is better specified than the Metz unit but doesn’t have the overall flexibility and the weather sealing of the Olympus. 


Blue China Orchid by Paul Amyes on
Blue China Orchid, Cyanicula gemmata. Wandoo National Park, Western Australia.


Would I recommend it? Well if you are just going to use it as I do and are happy with the compatibility issues then yes I would. But if you are still using cameras such as the Canon 5d vi or the 6d ii then I would look elsewhere.