Cheap But Impressive ESDDI PLF-650 Speedlight Flash

ESDDI PLF-650 Speedlight

ESDDI Direct has a very value-priced TTL speedlight for both Canon and Nikon that boasts wireless triggering, slave modes, and comes with an impressive set of accessories. But does it perform up to the promises of the marketing copy?

ESDDI PLF-650 Speedlight Overview

The ESDDI speedlight / flashgun for Canon and Nikon dSLRs offers a lot of advanced functionality for a very small sum ($69 USD). It’s got more functionality than most people will ever use, from fully automated to fully manual modes with several options in between the two extremes.

You can use it directly on your camera’s hot shoe alone or with other wireless flash guns / speelights via the built-in 2.4 Ghz transmitter. Or you can use the  standalone wireless trigger that comes with the speedlight on your camera and have the speedlight off camera. A single wireless controller can control up to three groups of wireless flash devices. Wow, right?!

Here’s a quick breakdown of the features,  capabilities, and specifications:

  • Guide No.: 58 (@ ISO 100, assuming 105mm focal length)
  • Flash Modes: E-TTL / Shutter Priority / Aperture Priority / Manual /  Slave
  • Max Sync Speed: 1/8000s
  • Flash Coverage: 18mm to 180mm
  • Tilt Head: 360 degrees horizontal; 90 degrees vertical
  • Triggering: Wireless 2.4 Ghz up to 100m; Optical transmission up to 30m
  • Communication Grouping: Three groups with four channels
  • Recycle Time: 0.1s – 2.9s
  • Color Temp: ~ 5500K
  • Compensation: +/- 3 EV in 0.3EV increments
  • Bracketing: 3 shots @ +/- 3EV in 0.3EV increments

Wireless Triggering of the ESDDI PLF-650 Speedlight

The PLF-650 has a built-in 2.4 Ghz wireless transmitter, so it can function as a master device that triggers other slave devices for very complex lighting arrangements. It can also function as a slave device and take commands from other master flash triggers.ESDDI PLF-650 SpeedlightGetting multiple lights set up in groups is beyond the scope of this article, but the PLF-650 comes with a decent manual explaining how the various multi-flash modes work and how they can be configured.

Additionally, included with the ESDDI PLF-650 Speedlight is a separate, dedicated wireless trigger that mounts in camera’s hot shoe. This unit, called G4 by ESDDI, has 16 channels and can be configure to control a wide host of wireless lighting setups. Out of the box, you could use the G4 on camera and have your PLF-650 set up on a tripod (or on the included plastic stand) for off-camera fill or bounce lighting.

What’s in the Box

I was very pleasantly surprised to find so many accessories included with the ESDII PLF-650 speedlight. Apart from the flash itself and the standalone G4 wireless trigger, there is a nice case (which holds everything included in the box and has a space for 4 batteries), a plastic diffuser cup, and a small table-top flash stand (which also has a tripod threaded mount on the bottom). There is also a surprisingly thick user manual for the flash and a quick-start guide for the G4 trigger.

Real-World Performance

I confined my testing to what can be done with what comes in the box. I tested the wireless functionality off-camera with the G4 on the camera, as well as the various exposure modes with the flash on the camera. I did not try to verify the specified Guide Number of 58, but I don’t see any reason to believe it’s not accurate.

Overall performance was quite good, and the PLF-650 functioned as described in all modes. Most of the time I shoot in manual mode, but I was pleased with the performance of the TTL with some minor flash exposure compensation. The shutter-priority mode can be very useful as well. The remote triggering via the G4 on the camera worked flawlessly.

For about $70 USD, this is a hard bit of gear to beat in the speedlight category. Even if you don’t intend to use the wireless functions often, the fact that you can opt to use them is a nice tool to have in your arsenal. I also have a few Yongnuo speedlights, and I would rate the ESDDI PLF-650 Speedlight as every bit as good as the Yongnuo offerings.