Best External Flashes for the Nikon D5100

Are you looking to up your photography game with an external flash? With so many options on the market today, you may be wondering, “Which is the best external flash for my Nikon D5100?” We’ll examine some of the best Nikon D5100 compatible external flash units on the market today to help you make an informed purchase decision.

Today’s Best External Flashes for the Nikon D5100 DSLR

If you’re looking for an excellent quality, durable external flash for your Nikon D5100, we recommend one of the following options. Let’s examine each of these units in detail so you can decide which is most suited to your preferences, budget, and photography needs.

Best Nikon D5100 External Flash for Beginners: Nikon SB-600 Speedlight Flash

The Nikon SB-600 represents an ideal balance of functionality and value. It also offers an easy setup for entry-level flash photographers. Mount the flash on the hot shoe, input the required settings, and you’re good to go. The interface system is simpler than some higher-end models and can be learned quickly through a few minutes’ use. You can also tweak your flash settings using the LCD screen and six backlit buttons.

Unlike some other flashes in the low-to-mid-range prices, this model works well with either the Nikon TTL system or manual flash modes. This flash has been on the market for a number of years, and during that time, it has established and maintained a solid reputation among photographers. It supports the Nikon Creative Lighting System and can be used in conjunction with the SB-700, discussed below, if you decide to upgrade to Nikon’s higher-end model in the future.

Check current prices here.

Best Nikon D5100 External Flash for Photographers on a Budget: Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

If you’d like to experiment with an external flash without spending a fortune, the Neewer TT560 may be the flash for you. Like many of its more expensive counterparts, the Neewer has a fully adjustable flash head – 90 degrees of vertical rotation and 270 degrees of horizontal rotation.

You can set the unit output to eight degrees of flash intensity using plus and minus buttons; your selection is indicated by LED lights.

This model is bare-bones, of course, so it lacks some expected features. For example, it cannot communicate with the TTL system and must be controlled manually. There is no LCD screen.

This flash requires 4 AA batteries or a DC wall adapter, which are not included.

At less than $50 USD, this is one of the most affordable flashes for the Nikon D5100.

Check current prices here.

Best Overall External Flash for the Nikon D5100: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight

The Nikon SB-700 may be the “smartest” flash available for this camera. It utilizes Nikon’s Intelligent Through-the-Lens (i-TTL) flash control system to balance the flash’s light output with ambient light. Just before the flash fires, it emits a series of “pre-flashes” to monitor the scene’s lighting conditions.

A switch on the back of the unit allows you to easily switch between standard, center-weighted, or even light distribution patterns. You’re the master of all your settings thanks to the backlit LCD display.

It automatically adjusts “recycling time” – the minimum time between flash use – to prevent overheating damage. This flash also has a flexible head, allowing you complete freedom as to how you light your subject.

If you’re shooting professionally, this flash has a number of other features you may want to consider. It is compatible with other Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) products. This means that it can control additional Speedlights to achieve whatever lighting conditions you desire.

As you might expect, an external flash with all the bells and whistles doesn’t come cheap. The SB-700 is the most expensive of our selections.

Check current pricing here.

Best Macro External Flash for the Nikon D5100: Neewer 48 Macro Ring Flash

In the age of selfies and social media, ring lighting has become increasingly popular. The Neewer 48 Macro Ring Flash is a bit of a novelty, specially designed for macro shots, scientific and medical photography, and extreme closeups.

The flash plugs into the camera’s hot shoe as you would expect, but the ring light itself can be attached to the camera’s lens using one of several included mounting rings.

The LCD screen and button controls allow you to adjust between a continuous, stable light source, left-side only or right-side only ring lighting, or full standard flash. Yellow, blue, and white color filters are also included to achieve unique portrait effects.

One drawback of this product is that it can cause a vignetting effect under extreme low-light conditions or when the subject is more than 12 inches from the camera.

The good news is, this unusual flash setup remains on the lower end of the external flash price range.

Check current pricing here.

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Nikon D5100 External Flash

Do you still have questions about buying and using external flashes for the Nikon D5100? Consider the answers to some of these frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Why Should I Use an External Flash?

External flashes are superior to your Nikon D5100’s built-in flash. They produce more light and many models offer enhanced settings and controls. External flashes enable you to produce ideal photographs no matter the lighting conditions. They can also be used to create artistic effects or to “freeze” a fast-moving subject.

How Does the External Flash Connect to My Nikon D5100 Camera?

You will need to remove the hot shoe cover and insert the foot of the external flash. (If you’re new to external lighting, the hot shoe consists of two metal strips just above the eyepiece. Slide-out the plastic cover to reveal the slot for the flash).

Depending on the model you choose, the camera may be able to communicate your selected settings to the flash. Otherwise, you will use the keypad or screen of the flash to input settings.

How Will Using an External Flash Affect My Camera’s Battery Life?

External flash units utilize their own battery system. You’ll need to supply rechargeable AA batteries or appropriate battery packs depending on the model. This means that the flash won’t affect your camera’s battery life.

Is It Okay to Purchase a Used External Flash for my Nikon D5100?

Quality photography equipment is admittedly expensive, so you may be tempted to buy your external flashes for the Nikon D5100 second-hand. Fortunately, most photographers handle their equipment with care, making it possible to find high-quality used equipment for a fraction of the price. Here are some tips for doing so.

  1. Buy from a reputable dealer. Many used camera stores inspect, clean, and rank every item they sell. Look for “good” or “excellent” condition. Also, familiarize yourself with the seller’s return policy in case of a problem.
  2. If buying from an individual, whether in person or online, look for sellers who are willing to talk about their items. Why are they selling – is it because they’ve upgraded, or is it because the item was damaged? It is a good thing if the seller is willing to point out the item’s imperfections.

Final Thoughts

No matter your budget or skill level, using an external flash with your Nikon D5100 DSLR can help you take your photography to a whole new level. You’ll never miss that action shot or end up with a grainy photo due to low-light conditions.