Third-party flashguns seem to be getting bigger and bigger as they try to ape the designs of Nikon and Canon’s oversized Speedlight SB-910 and Speedlite 600EX. Bucking the trend is the new MK-300 from MeiKe. Just 66mm tall and 145 grams in weight, the diminutive flash unit packs a surprising number of features into its unassuming shell. For users just needing a more powerful replacement to a pop-up flash with a minimum of fuss, this $50–60 product could be a good contender.
The MeiKe MK-300 has i-TTL exposure control, 22 levels of manual power adjustment and a stroboscopic (multi-flash/repeat) function. The design draws inspiration from Nikon’s stripped-down SB-400 Speedlight, a small flashgun aimed at entry-level users and missing certain things like the ability to swivel horizontally. We haven’t been hands-on with the MeiKe unit but product images look like it can’t tilt vertically either.
Still, the MK-300 does benefit from a metal mounting foot, a micro-USB port (the purpose of which is unclear — either synchronisation or firmware updates) and an LCD screen. The top control panel means that this third-party unit actually has much more electronic adjustment available than the Nikon SB-400 (which can only be switched on or off from the device itself) while coming in around half the price.
The MK-300, like the SB-400, will not have been built with raw performance in mind. The recycle time is a sluggish six seconds at full power — with no option for external power to speed this up — and the guide number is a relatively mediocre 32. Moreover, you won’t find high-end features like wireless TTL or high speed sync here.
The unobtrusive size, simple design and wide range of control means that a photographer, particularly a hobbyist, looking for just a simple, cheap on-camera flashgun, should investigate the MeiKe MK-300. Could it become the go-to brand for cheap on-camera flashguns as Yongnuo has done for off-camera flash? Our experience with MeiKe products in the past has been somewhat mixed so we will reserve final judgment until we obtain a sample to try evaluate for ourselves.