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I'm trying to find out the simplest of answers - is this a workable system?
Will it do what I think it does?

If I mount the X1N to the D5500 shoe & set up the two V860ii remotely on stands, do I then have a full wireless remote commander setup?

I'm assuming it will work, but just need confirmation before putting hand in pocket.
My technical expertise is still on the lower slopes of the learning curve right now, so I have been unable to extract that most basic of answers by reading the spec.

My main confusion arises because the Nikon has a remote commander mode, so does it need the X1N to enable this & send slave signals to the two remotes, or is it capable of doing that by itself?

From the manual -

Commander Mode
When an optional SB-500 flash unit is mounted on the accessory shoe, select Commander mode to use the SB-500 as a master flash controlling one or more remote optional flash units in up to two groups (A and B) using advanced wireless lighting.

That makes me think that the X1N is needed as a "flashless" flash to enable the actual commands & the system would not work without it.

Even though these speedlights are probably above my requirements right now, I thought it better to aim at something to grow into rather than something I will need to replace in 6 months - which is exactly what I'm doing with my cheap manual slave right now, which won't work without the camera's pop-up flash to trigger it.

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If I mount the X1N to the D5500 shoe & set up the two V860ii remotely on stands, do I then have a full wireless remote commander setup?

You have a remote RF triggering system, but it is not the same as Nikon's CLS commander/slave setup. It will, however, be able to do most of the same things, such as communicating FP/HSS and TTL signals to a remote flash from the camera.

... My main confusion arises because the Nikon has a remote commander mode, so does it need the X1N to enable this & send slave signals to the two remotes, or is it capable of doing that by itself?

It depends on whether you want to use Nikon's CLS optical-based triggering system, or use the Godox X1 radio triggering system. The V860II can use both systems. To use Nikon's optical (light-based) system, you do not need an X1T-N, but you do need a CLS master unit on the camera--the lower-end Nikon bodies don't have this, but the mid- and high-end bodies use the pop-up flash as a CLS commander unit. However, if you use the pop-up flash as your commander, rather than another speedlight (e.g, an SB-910), you cannot have remote FP/HSS flash.

To use the built-in X1 radio receivers in the V860IIs, you do need an X1T-N transmitter on the camera hotshoe. And the X1 system allows for remote FP/HSS flash, as long as your camera body supports it (3x00 and 5x00 bodies do not).

The advantages of using a radio system over an optical one are that you don't have line-of-sight requirements (i.e., the commander's light-signals need to reach the sensor plate of the flash), and better range and reliability outdoors in bright light without any bounce surfaces around. Optical systems, like CLS, tend to work adequately in studio locations, but become more frustrating on location outside.

  • After a lot of consideration, because both answers are equally useful, I went with this as it hit me with the essential point that the Godox can use both wifi or optical. – Tetsujin Feb 28 '17 at 17:58
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What you are conflating is the mechanism by which each system operates. One uses optical pulses, the other uses radio signals.

The Nikon CLS system (more properly called the Advanced Wireless Lighting (AWL) when referring to the wireless aspects of the CLS system which also encompasses all of the Nikon flash system including the hard wired uses of flash) uses optical pulses to communicate with the off camera flashes. The source of the optical pulses is either an on-camera flash or on camera near-infrared controller. In either case the on camera unit must be a "Commander" in the CLS/AWL system.

The Godox X1 system uses radio signals to communicate. So do most other third party wireless flash systems.

Canon has moved from an optical system to a radio system for wireless flash control which they call the "RT" system. Some of their flash equipment can operate via either radio or optical protocols so they can be (at least partially) compatible with the older optical wireless flash control.

Nikon recently introduced a radio controlled flash that is only compatible in radio mode with a couple of the latest camera models. It is also compatible with Nikon's optical wireless system.

Even when everything is radio operated, different systems won't usually work with each other.

Sometimes third party systems will reverse engineer a primary manufacturer's protocol. The Yongnuo RT system mimics the Canon RT system and most Canon and Yongnuo RT devices are cross-compatible. After a new release by Canon a firmware revision is sometimes needed by Yongnuo to maintain that compatibility.

Sometimes a third party maker will have more than one system that is either not compatible, or only partially compatible, with their other systems. Yongnuo's rf602/rf603/rf605/YN560 system is for control of manual flashes. Yongnuo's YN622 system is for control of TTL flashes. Older pieces of each system won't work with each other. But since late 2014 the YN622 pieces can be controlled in manual mode by the YN560 system.

Godox is relatively new to the wireless flash scene. Like others, they've also had a couple of different wireless radio systems in the past. Like all of the other third party suppliers, they've experienced their share of growing pains.

With their X1 series they are building a system that allows manual flashes, TTL flashes, and studio flashes to all be controlled via the same wireless radio system. Obviously the manual flashes don't magically become TTL flashes when controlled with the X1 system, but the X1 system does allow the same controller mounted on the camera to control the different types of strobes.

With an X1 controller you can control all of the Godox flashes with X1 receivers built in, such as the TT600, TT685, V850II, V860II, AD360II, or AD/XR600 series. With an XTR16 or XTR16s receiver you can also use an X1 to control older Godox flashes such as the V850, V860, AD180, AD360, AR400, RS600, and various Godox AC powered studio lights.

What you can't do with the Godox X1 system is control flashes from the Yongnuo, Canon, or Nikon radio systems without using an X1 receiver attached to the flashes in question. You may or may not get full usability in such an arrangement.

  • Thank you for the info - & the link, which i had read a while ago, but had dropped off my radar in my recent searches. Also, apologies, I had the number wrong in my question, which I hadn't realised. 860ii rather than 560ii. I'm now confident I'm getting a system that can function as one on-camera, one off, or both off with the X1N; & also be relatively future-proof & expandable. – Tetsujin Feb 18 '17 at 12:38
  • It arrived today & is everything I needed & more. I'm using the 2.4GHz so I don't need line of sight & I can hide them away in softboxes. – Tetsujin Feb 23 '17 at 14:08
  • Sure - I've been sitting on it a few days trying to decide which was the better answer, as both answer my question, but in different ways. Both have a single upvote [mine] so the community hasn't made any decision either. [btw, I'm 65k rep over the SE network, only new to Photography; so my hesitancy is over 'subjective correctness' rather than actual procedure] – Tetsujin Feb 24 '17 at 9:03

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