Nissin Digital MF18 Macro Ring Flash Macro Ring Flash Review

According provided by  Nissin Digital Flash MF18 Macro Flash for Nikon cameras, many thanks to Vladimir Tarasyuk.

Nissin Digital MF18 Macro Ring Flash

Nissin Digital MF18 Macro Ring Flash

In short

Nissin Digital Flash MF18 Macro Flash is one of the most expensive non-original ring flash units for macro photography. The flash works well in automatic i-TTL mode and has a LED pilot light. Its power is sufficient for comfortable work. Unfortunately, this Chinese man has several not obvious disadvantages.

Nissin Digital Flash Controller MF18 Macro Ring Flash

Nissin Digital Flash Controller MF18 Macro Ring Flash

Key features and capabilities:

  • Flash power (guide number) is 16 m. For comparison: the original set for macro photography Nikon R1/Nikon R1C1 (based on two flashes Nikon Wireless Remote Speedlight SB-R200) has a guide number of 20 m (the more the better).
  • Nissin MF18 supports automatic I-TTL, with the ability to amend exposure 1/3 steps.
  • The set includes mounting rings for lenses with a thread of a light filter 52, 58, 62, 67, 72, 77 mm. Additionally, you can buy a set of rings for 49, 55, 82 mm. Such a ring is screwed onto the lens with one side instead of a light filter, and a ring flash is worn on the second side with two convenient clips. Unfortunately, ring flash on the lens can rotate spontaneously under the weight of the control cable.
  • Nissin MF18 can remotely control other flashes using Nikon CLS... True, there are limitations. For remote control, remote flash units must be set to group A or C. Compensation is a maximum of 3 stops in 1/3-stop increments. Slave flash units can operate in high-speed sync mode. The remote control setting is not intuitive. Who wants to see all the horror of organizing remote control - please read it instructions.
  • There is a mini-USB connector for updating the flash software.
  • There is a standard PC-sync port for syncing with studio flashes.
  • There is a connector for an external power supply. The flash can work both from the native Nissin Power Pack PS300, and from Canon CP-E4 or Nikon SD-8A, SD-9.
  • Flash works with 4 AA batteries or rechargeable batteries. Batteries are installed in a special store, which is completely removed from the flash. You can buy an additional store for quick battery replacement. In the store, all batteries are installed in the same direction of their polarity (a trifle, but nice).
  • MF18 supports high speed sync mode Nikon FP (I tried on shutter speed 1/8000 second - everything worked well).
  • It is possible to synchronize the rear curtain. The function is enabled in the camera menu.
  • Color temperature 5600 K (during shooting at full power).
  • The MF18 kit weighs 446 grams and comes in a special bag or case for easy transportation. A flash in my naked form, without a bag, boxes and instructions, came to my review.
  • The control module is attached to the hot shoe of the camera with a screw clamp. Flash leg - metal.
  • The flash consists of two lamps - left (A) and right (B), arched. Two arcs make up a ring, from which the flash is called 'annular'.
  • There are wonderful 'Fine Macro' mode (red icon in the menu) where you can set the flash output from 1/128 to 1/1024 in increments of 1/6 step. The power of the left and right flashes can be adjusted separately. In fact, this is a manual flash power control mode, with a wider range of powers in the range from 1/128 to 1/1024.
  • There is a manual flash control mode in which you can set the output for the left and right flash in 1/3 stop increments (from full power 1/1 to 1/64 - 2/3 ev, actually up to 1/128). You can turn the right or left flash on or off.
  • In TTL auto mode you can set the power ratio for the left and right flashes (A and B). The range is from 1: 8 to 1: 1, and from 8: 1 to 1: 1. Additionally, a general power correction of + -3 ev can be made in increments of 1/3 of the step. Independent control of left and right flashes allows you to create larger image.
  • 4 LEDs for modeling light. This function is great for focusing. The backlight is turned on by holding the 'Set' button for a few seconds. The power level for the left and right illumination can be adjusted separately from each other.
  • MF18 uses small color display, which can rotate the image while tilting the control unit. The rotation function can be disabled. The display is very simple, while scrolling through the menu, it is noticeable how slowly it reacts to changes. The display automatically turns off to save power.
  • There is a flash lock function. You can install the 'lock' with a short press on the power button.
  • The flash has good build quality.
  • When the flash is turned on, there are 6 icons on the display to select the operation mode and flash settings.

My experience

The Nissin MF18 is an interesting device, but I am always confused by Chinese crafts. There is always something wrong. In this model, I really did not like the menu and the remote control setting for other external flash units using Nikon CLS. The implementation of the remote control is not obvious and is crooked. To understand all the possibilities and limitations of this function, you need to spend a lot of precious nerves.

The flash menu is very slow or completely buggy, for example, when you enter the 'Setting' -> 'Firmware Version' section, some of the numbers from the firmware version continues to remain during subsequent menu navigation (see).

Also, for me the mystery remained unsolved what kind of receiver is located at the top of the control unit with the inscription WIRELESS TRANSCEIVER (see) My guess is that this is most likely just a decorative insert. Although it looks like an infrared port or backlight, with a grid to improve auto focus.

Nissin Digital MF18 Macro Ring Flash

Nissin Digital MF18 Macro Ring Flash on the camera Nikon D70 with lens Nikon Zoom-Nikkor 35-135mm 1: 3.5-4.5


Real prices for this model in existing online stores can look at this link or in the price block below:

All Nissin MF18 prices


Unfortunately, during testing the Nissin MF18, I didn’t have a macro lens at hand, because I used a flash with a fifty-fifty Nikon 50mm 1: 1.8 AF Nikkor (NJ, MKII) and old Nikon Zoom-Nikkor 35-135mm 1: 3.5-4.5having a pseudo macro mode.


The Nissin MF18 is by and large a functional macro set. Can replace the original system Nikon R1 (based on two flashes SB-R200) Or Nikon R1C1 (based on two flashes SB-R200 and SU-800 module). In automatic modes, the Nissin MF18 works correctly, there is a very useful TTL mode with independent power separation along the left and right of the ring flash for creating three-dimensional images. But the flash also has its own, not entirely obvious flaws, such as the truncated remote control functionality of the remote flash units, a buggy menu and other little things that are hard to notice in the first days of use.

Thank you for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 10, on the topic: A review of the ring flash for macro photography Nissin Digital MF18 Macro Ring Flash

  • B.R.P.

    Useful Vesch. And the portrait can be used. Thanks, Arkady.

  • Yarkiy

    From experience I’ll say don’t buy ring flashes, a useless thing. For macro in the field, and everywhere else, the best system is two small, well, or standard flashes on flexible mounts

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Thanks. Remembering your praying mantises, many will take advantage of this advice.

  • zengarden

    Everything glitters and sparkles ... IMHO, the constant soft diffused light for these purposes will be better.
    Although if you need to emphasize the relief of the subject with deep shadows, then you can.

  • Gnus

    Right now, the Lynx will come and tell everyone about the flash.

  • Vladimir

    I use different Chinese ring flashes. Everything works well and reliably. BUT !!!!! In all flashes, the cable in the loop is very bad, the wires break either at the lamp unit or at the flash itself, even with the most careful use. The flash rotates on its ring under its weight due to the hard loop. Three times in the workshop they cut the train and restored contact. Guys, and Kenonov’s native, for three years, does not have this. Think about it.
    My last happiness is MK-14XT (T-shirts), though it lasted a year and a half and withstood hundreds of three flashes. And the moment came, the restoration of contact.

    • Artem

      In such cases I always say: Avaricious pays twice, stupid pays three times, sucker always pays! :)
      I usually try not to go to the second level myself :)

  • andrei2911

    Actually, Nissin is a Japanese company. With the same success, you can call Nikon or Canon products manufactured in Chinese factories "Chinese crafts".

  • Victor Drozd

    Arkady, forgive generously, but I draw your attention to the inadmissibility of designating the LEADING NUMBER of flashes in meters. The flash guide number (GN) is simply a number that can be used to calculate, if necessary, using the formula: 1. Distance of shooting with flash, dividing the guide number by the aperture value set on the lens; 2.The f-number of the lens by dividing the guide number of the flash by the shooting distance.

  • Beaver

    “Also, for me there was an unsolved mystery what kind of receiver it is, located on the top of the control unit with the inscription WIRELESS TRANSCEIVER”.
    I think that the answer can simply be found on page 15 of the instruction, which talks about using this burst wirelessly with other bursts. So it's more of a transmitter than a receiver ...
    And so this burst in our case (a dental office, works in twin with Nikon 5200 and Nikkor 85mm Micro) is a real workhorse - every week about 150-200 pictures of dental patients. And so for 7 months. And, we can say - without a single mistake of the exposure - we won't talk about other mistakes of photography now ...
    The only thing I should note, so as not to hide the shadow sides, is that an incomprehensible glitch happened twice in 7 months of work - the burst for no reason began to give an impulse to the wrong place - out of sync with respect to the operation of the shutter. This was somehow easy, but strange - changing the operating modes several times and resetting all the settings to the factory settings. In general - a strange glitch of electronic control - the flash lamp itself did not stop issuing, but somehow out of place ...
    And so - it turned out to be a really convenient kit. It's hard to say, maybe Nikon's own R1C1 flash would have given a better result - but: firstly, this is already other money, and, secondly, it seems less convenient (compact) kit both in storage and in use when working with children who are not always so obedient and calm with their hands ... Simply, in hay sensations, Nissin is a comfortable and very reliable workhorse for documenting the patient's condition and work results. The most important thing is really simple, clear, and precise control to get acceptable results.

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