While most 3rd party manufacturers make Speedlights that are i-TTL compatible, some models have wireless CLS compatibility to varing degrees, other models are not wireless CLS compatible. In other words look closely at the specs of each specific model to narrow down your search. Then post specific questions about the specific models that you are considering. If you want 100% compatibility guaranteed get a Nikon Speedlight.
Fri 19-Jul-13 05:15 AM | edited Fri 19-Jul-13 05:15 AM by Antero52
Before buying my SB-900, I bought a Sigma model (I think it was a ST 530 Super). It was said to operate wirelessly, which it did, sort of. But it had to be physically mounted on the camera to configure it. Apparently Nikon has some patents that Sigma could not design around otherwise.
In addition to the inconvenient configuration, the user manual was a disaster too. It was a paper sheet the size of a tablecloth, with instructions for 30-plus languages. In any language the info was laconic at best. It told me which buttons to press to activate BL mode but it didnt bother to tell me what BL mode is or why Id want to use it. I know it now but I didnt know then. I returned the Sigma and bought the SB-900.
In a nutshell, the Sigma speedlights are probably good for people who change configurations (eg from master to slave) either regularly, so they remember how to do it, or never, in which case the clumsy operation doesnt matter. For someone like me, who changes the configuration occasionally, it was too much hassle.
I agree with the criticism of the Sigma manuals - I'd forgotten, but Antero is quite correct. I did know enough to make it work, but those manuals were very little help.
If you're going to get a Nikon, do look at the SB-700/900/910, as their controls are VASTLY easier to use than the SB-600/800. I have a 900 and three 600's, and I try to change the 600 configs as little as possible, preferring to do it all from the 900. One thing I can't handle that way is flipping the 600's into and out of remote mode, which I need to do to use my RF triggers and to use a 600 as a standalone flash. But all the rest is way easier if set from the commander.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
Thanks for sharing your experience with the Sigma 530 Super. As I wrote a above, different models within the same line provide different levels of compatibility. The same is true for Metz. While most of the newer models are compatible with wireless CLS, most of the older models are limited to Metz's proprietary version of wireless flash control. While it will work with other Metz Speedlights, it won't work with Nikon Speedlights.