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Do All Flashes Work On Any Camera?

While it can be tempting to make a blanket statement and say that all cameras work on every flash, it’s not completely accurate.

There are some features that you can use and some that you can’t.

In this article, when we mention flashes we are talking about speedlights/speedlites like the following: 

Do All Flashes FIT All Cameras? 

Whether you are using a DSLR or a mirrorless camera the first thing to consider when using an off camera flash is whether they physically fit on the camera itself.

The main thing for this is to know whether the camera has a hot shoe as this is how they mount and connect to cameras (this relates to any transmitters that you use with the flashes too). 

The hot shoe is a metal mount with pins which is normally on the top of the camera body and it is normally centered.

Luckily, nearly all modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have a hot shoe mount which is universal so they slot into flashes quite easily.

The main exception to this are some branded products since they’ve had some non universal hot shoe mounts which can be a little bit awkward.

Do All Cameras WORK With All Hot Shoe Flashes? 

So now you know that most will fit on your camera if it has a hot shoe but will it WORK effectively? 

Manual flash

When it comes to manual flash then you shouldn’t have a problem as the camera will communicate through the hot shoe with the flash to fire when the camera fires. 

For a lot of people, this is enough as they may prefer to manually set all of their flash settings anyways. 

So in this case you can use a Nikon flash with a Canon camera and not have any issues or vice versa.

You could also use popular third party flashes such as those made by Yongnuo and Godox with your camera and use it perfectly fine. 

What features could you be missing by only being able to shoot in manual mode flash? 

Automatic Features

While you will be able to trigger the flash whenever you take an exposure, you may be losing out on some features. 

TTL stands for ‘through the lens’ and it is likely you won’t be able to access these features if you are using a non proprietary flash, unless it is a third party flash which is specifically designed for that body. 

For example, a Nikon flash on a Canon body would let you shoot with manual flash, but probably won’t allow you to use TTL features. 

On the other hand, a Yongnuo flash which is specifically made for Canon bodies should let you use TTL features as Yongnuo makes specific off camera flashes for different brands.

But that same Yongnuo flash for the Canon body may only have manual capabilities on a Nikon body.

Here are the features that you could potentially be missing out on:

  • High speed sync (FP)

  • Flash exposure compensation

  • Automatically matching flash zoom to lens’s focal length

  • Commanding the flash settings through the camera menu

  • Flash exposure compensation

  • Wake up from sleep/standby

  • 2nd curtain flash

  • Auto zooming the flash to match focal length of the lens

As you can see there are quite a few things that can be lost by using a flash which isn’t designed for a certain camera.

Can I Use Third Party Flash like Yongnuo/Godox Flash On Any Brand ? E.g Canon, Nikon, Pentax.

While most cameras will have the same hot shoe fitting you may have some issues.

The main camera brand you may have issues with is Sony since they created hot shoes that did not follow the universal ISO hot shoe design that everybody else used. 

So if you want to use a Yongnuo or Godox (or any other third party brand) you can comfortably use it with manual features on popular camera brands like Canon, Nikon and Pentax.

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

Can I Use Canon Flashes On Nikon Cameras And Vice Versa? 

Just like third party brands, you can comfortably use Canon flashes on other branded cameras like Nikon, Pentax or Fuji with manual features.

This works any way you arrange the flash/ camera brand. The main thing to check is that the hot shoe fitting is the same.

Again, just remember you have to be careful with Sony branded products so it would be worth double checking the hot shoe on your particular Sony camera. 

Are Third Party Flashes Any Good? 

Some people will be purists and only ever use branded flashes that are the same brand as their cameras.

But this can be more expensive than using third party brands, especially if you are just doing photography for fun.

In some cases, speedlights from third party brands can end up being much cheaper than their Canon or Nikon branded counterparts.

While there may be some quality differences, a lot of people swear by these third party branded flashes.

Even if there are some slight quality differences, for the price difference you can easily have a few spares or buy replacements and still have spent less money than if you bought a Canon or Nikon branded flash.

For the average user and even for pros, Yongnuo flashes are a great cost effective solution to off camera flash.

Of course, if you have the budget and like to rely on the main camera brands for peace of mind then go for it. 

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