While the touchscreen is intuitive, it sometimes lacks responsiveness, needing repeated prodding. Some simple adjustments, such as applying flash exposure compensation, are also a little long-winded. The rotary dials featured on Nikon flashguns are rather faster in operation.
Our main concern with the Metz is that, during our tests, it usually gave significantly underexposed results in TTL and TTL-BL modes, of around -0.7EV. Recycling speed from a full-power flash is fairly average at 4.5 seconds. Considering that this Nissin model costs the same as the Metz 52 AF-1 in the UK, pricing loses something in the translation to the American market, where it’s comparatively expensive. The Nissin lacks the Metz’s touchscreen panel, instead favouring a colour LCD which is clear, bright and very informative. The display also rotates automatically when shooting in portrait orientation.
Advanced features are wideranging, including HSS and strobe modes, full wireless master and slave functions, and there’s even a secondary sub-flash tube for adding a little direct illumination in bounce and swivel modes. There’s a socket for attaching an optional external power pack, and the same AA battery caddy as in the Nissin MG8000. You can stow batteries in additional caddies, which you can buy as optional extras, for quick swapping. The down side is that the design has a habit of tearing the plastic coverings around the base of AA batteries when you insert or remove them from the caddy.
Despite its promising feature set, the Di866 needs coaxing with the basics. There’s a tendency to underexposure in TTL mode, similar to the Metz 52, and the maximum power output is quite a lot lower than that claimed. Lighting isn’t particularly even across the whole frame and recycling is quite pedestrian at up to 5.2 seconds.