Nikon Flash Comparison

Technically, the article is supposed to be called “Nikon Speedlight Comparison”, because Nikon calls their flash units “Speedlights”. This article is written as an introduction to the current and older line of Nikon Speedlights, specifically the Nikon SB-300, SB-400, SB-500, SB-600, SB-700, SB-800 (discontinued), SB-900 (discontinued) and SB-910. In addition to some basic information on each Speedlight, I will provide a comparison chart on the bottom of this article as well, to make it simpler for our readers to understand the differences.

1) Nikon SB-300

Nikon SB-300 Speedlight The most basic of all Nikon Speedlights, the Nikon SB-300 is also the lightest and the most compact one. It is designed to be used only on top of the camera and cannot work in master/commander or slave/remote modes. Certainly more powerful than the on-camera pop-up flash, the SB-300 flash head can only be tilted upwards up to 120 degrees for bouncing light. Unlike all other Nikon speedlights, the SB-300 cannot rotate from left to right and vice versa, limiting options for bouncing light off various lighting accessories. While it fully supports Nikon’s i-TTL and various sync modes, it does not support some of the Nikon CLS (Creative Lighting System) features such as High Speed Sync and Autofocus Assist. The SB-300 is a very lightweight flash that takes only two AAA Alkaline or Ni-MH batteries. The Nikon SB-300 costs around $150 USD brand new.

2) Nikon SB-400

Nikon SB-400 The Nikon SB-400 is another very basic flash unit. It is very similar to the SB-300, except it only allows the head to be tilted 90 degrees upwards (which is pretty limiting). It also won’t work in master/commander or slave/remote modes. Just like the SB-300, it cannot rotate side to side either, making it impossible to bounce the light off walls and other vertical surfaces, unless the camera is positioned in a vertical orientation. The SB-400 has a faster recycle time than the SB-300, lasts longer and is slightly larger in size. Nikon’s i-TTL is also fully supported, except for High Speed Sync and AF Assist. The Nikon SB-400 costs around $120 USD brand new.

3) Nikon SB-500

Nikon SB-500 The newly announced SB-500 is the first Nikon speedlight to come with built-in LED lights for use as continuous / video light (the LED light can function independently from the main flash). With a guide number of 24m, it might not be as powerful as the higher-end speedlights, but it is still a pretty capable flash that can be used as a commander to trigger other flashes, or as a slave. Its head is quite flexible and can be either tilted up to 90° or rotated from 0° to 180°, just like the higher-end models. Due to its limited power comprising of 2 AA size batteries, the recycling time is quite poor at 3.5 seconds. Not a bad flash to get into flash photography with and could be fairly useful as a slave in combination with the camera pop-up flash operating as a master. Fully compatible with the Nikon CLS system. Can be purchased new for $246.95.

4) Nikon SB-600

Nikon SB-600 Discontinued a couple of years ago, the Nikon SB-600 is a very capable flash that has a flexible head for both tilting (up and down) and rotating (left and right). It can only be used either on-camera or off-camera as a slave (no master / commander mode). The Nikon SB-600 supports most Nikon CLS features and uses four AA batteries with a good recycle time. Unlike the Nikon SB-300, SB-400 and SB-500, it has an LCD screen on the back of the flash for flash setup options. When compared to the higher-end SB-700, the SB-600 does not come with a diffusion dome (useful for indoors shots) and color gels. It does come with a stand though, which can be put on a flat surface or mounted on a tripod when used as a slave unit (off-camera flash). The Nikon SB-600 will automatically zoom in/out for focal lengths between 24-85mm. It has no sync port, which means that you cannot use it with triggers like PocketWizard Plus II / III (a separate adapter for the sync cord would have to be purchased). New PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 units can be used with this flash. Although you cannot buy these new, they can be found used in very good condition under $200.

5) Nikon SB-700

Nikon SB-700 The new Nikon SB-700 is a major step-up from the Nikon SB-600 with a completely redesigned user interface, which is much more intuitive and easier to use than the one on the Nikon SB-600. It fully supports all Nikon CLS features and in addition, can be used as a master/commander to trigger other slave flashes. Compared to the Nikon SB-800/SB-900, the commander mode is somewhat limited, with support of only up to two groups of flashes (Group A and Group B). Its recycle time is fast and the flash can automatically zoom in and out for focal lengths of 24-120mm. It comes with a bunch of accessories such as diffusion dome, colors gels and flash stand. Similar to the Nikon SB-600, the SB-700 also does not come with a sync port, so only the newer PocketWizard triggers like MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 can be used with it without any additional adapters. The Nikon SB-700 sells for approximately $325 new.

6) Nikon SB-800

Nikon SB-800 The Nikon SB-800 was discontinued in 2008 after Nikon SB-900 was introduced to the market. It is a great flash that also fully supports all Nikon CLS features such as i-TTL, High Speed Sync and much more. A heavy duty flash that was designed to be used for demanding professionals. The head is very flexible and can be tilted and rotated for bouncing the light off ceilings, walls and other surfaces. It is a fully-featured master/commander and a slave that supports up to three wireless groups (Group A, Group B and Group C). Thanks to the sync port, the Nikon SB-800 can be used with all radio triggers/transmitters, including the traditional PocketWizard models. The nice thing about the SB-800, is that it comes with an extra battery compartment for the fifth battery, which significantly helps in reducing the recycle time and it can take external battery packs for continuous flash shooting. The SB-800 also comes with plenty of accessories such as the diffuser dome, color gels and a stand for off-camera use. Nikon SB-800 goes for around $250-$300 for a used model in good condition.

7) Nikon SB-900

Nikon SB-900 Before the updated SB-910, the best and the most expensive Nikon speedlight was the Nikon SB-900 – a high-end flash unit that replaced the SB-800. The Nikon SB-900 is a very flexible device that can be used both as a master and a slave and fully supports all current Nikon CLS features. The SB-900 has a similar intuitive user interface as the SB-700 and also comes with all accessories for on-camera and off-camera shooting. The flash zoom feature covers 17-200mm, which means that you can cover a very wide area or zoom in and cover a much smaller area for a more defined flash look, similar to a mini-snoot. The PC/sync port is included and just like the SB-800, the SB-900 can also work with external battery packs like SD-9. In terms of recycle time, although the SB-900 can only take 4 batteries maximum, it outperforms the Nikon SB-800 with the extra battery option. The Nikon SB-900 used to sell for approximately $460 before it was discontinued and you can still find it in good condition online for a bit less.

8) Nikon SB-910

Nikon SB-910 When the Nikon SB-900 came out, it had an issue where it would shut down and refuse to work when it overheated. While this was not an issue for me, since I never abuse my flashes and try to keep them cool by firing at lower power (prefer to stay at 1/2-1/4 max), many photographers started to complain about it. There was no way to fix the overheating issue with a firmware update, so Nikon updated the model with the newer SB-910. In addition to this hardware modification, Nikon made a few other changes to the SB-910. It made slight modifications to the body and control layout, brightened up the LCD, replaced the soft plastic gels with hard plastic ones and made some tweaks to the speedlight menu. Everything else remained the same. Nikon SB-910 is currently selling for approximately $546.

Nikon Speedlight Comparison Chart

Speedlight FeatureSB-300SB-400*SB-500SB-600*SB-700SB-800*SB-900*SB-910
* Nikon SB-400 was discontinued in 2013
* Nikon SB-600 was discontinued in 2012
* Nikon SB-800 was discontinued in 2008
* Nikon SB-900 was discontinued in 2011
Guide Number (ISO 100)18m21m24m30m28m38m34m34m
Bounce Head TiltYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Bounce Head RotateNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Master/Commander ModeNoNoYesNoYesYesYesYes
Slave/Remote ModeNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Total Wireless ChannelsN/AN/A444444
Total Wireless GroupsN/AN/A2 (A/B)N/A2 (A/B)3 (A/B/C)3 (A/B/C)3 (A/B/C)
Easy Master/Remote SwitchN/AN/AYesNoYesNoYesYes
i-TTLYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Monitor Pre-FlashesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Modeling IlluminatorNoNoYesNoYesYesYesYes
Repeating FlashNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
Manual ModeNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Autofocus AssistNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
PC/Sync SocketNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
Power Source2 AAA2 AA2 AA4 AA4 AA4/5 AA4 AA4 AA
Recycle Time (Ni-MH)3.5 Sec2.5 Sec3.5 Sec2.5 Sec2.5 Sec2.7 Sec2.3 Sec2.3 Sec
Recycle Time (Alcaline)4.0 Sec3.9 Sec4.0 Sec3.5 Sec2.5 Sec6.0/4.0 Sec4.0 Sec4.0 Sec
Flash Duration (Full Power)1/1650 Sec1/1300 Sec1/1100 Sec1/900 Sec1/1042 Sec1/1050 Sec1/880 Sec1/880 Sec
Flash Duration (Half Power)N/AN/AN/A1/1600 Sec1/1136 Sec1/1100 Sec1/1100 Sec1/1100 Sec
Minimum Number of Flashes (Alkaline)70140100200160130110110
Minimum Number of Flashes (Ni-MH)110210140220230150165165
High Speed SyncNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Rear-Curtain SyncYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Slow SyncYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
LCD ScreenNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Lens Coverage/Zoom18/27-200mm27mm24mm24-85mm24-120mm24-105mm17-200mm17-200mm
FV (Flash Value) LockYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Flash CompensationN/AN/ACamera Only-3.0 to +3.0-3.0 to +3.0-3.0 to +3.0-3.0 to +3.0-3.0 to +3.0
Flash Color CommunicationYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Firmware UpdateYesNoYesNoYesNoYesYes
Diffusion Dome IncludedNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYes
Color Gels IncludedNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYes
Color Gel TypeN/AN/AN/AN/AHard PlasticSoft PlasticSoft PlasticHard Plastic
Flash Stand IncludedNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Can use External Battery PacksNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
Weight97g128g226g300g360g350g415g420g
Dimensions57.4 x 65.4 x 62.3mm66 x 56.5 x 80mm67 x 114.5 x 70.8mm68 x 123.5 x 90mm71 x 126 x 104.5mm70.6 x 127.4 x 91.7mm78 x 146 x 118.5mm78.5 x 145 x 113mm

Comments

  1. December 16, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Sb-900 is a monster flash!! I have worked with lot’s of different flashes including Canon’s 580EXII.. No flash is really comparable to the monster sb-900!! I tend not to use flash at all, but if it’s necessary, sb-900 is the ultimate tool!

  2. December 16, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Hi,

    First of all, thanks for the review and info.
    I own a SB900 which I find very nice, but having had a 580EXII Canon (before my switch) I cannot tell the difference really. I have to say that I use the SB900 at it’s basic settings, and I’m sure it can deliver if needed, but my experience is basic and I need to try different things through it’s menu.
    But saying it’s a monster flash (?) what will this mean ? Does it do things that no other flash can do ?
    I’d like to know so I can improve my knowledge of the flash technique, and maybe who knows improve tha quality of my pictures.

    Michel

    • January 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      Michel, SB-900 and 580 EXII are both similar-class flashes in terms of features. The SB-900 is the most advanced Nikon speedlight. It is a very versatile flash that can do things no other flashes can, like ability to zoom in all the way to 200mm with your lens, or manually zoom the flash head for a narrow stream of light. There is all kinds of stuff you can do with the SB-900…

      • 58
        ) CHRIS NGUYEN
        September 15, 2014 at 4:03 pm

        I own SB900 580EX II and I and 600EX, and have some experience with SB910. In my opinion, SB900 is a little bit better than 580EX II in ergonomic and functionality (especially 200 mm zoom). For me, 580 EX II is just a system compatibility update from 580 EX (in camera flash control). However, 600 EX can be a major revolution for canon and it is better than EX 580 II and SB 900 in many aspects ( radio control, slave flash control, menu,…). It is a major break through for canon put it a little bit ahead Nikon in flash. For cheaper flash lines, SB700 is much better than 430 EX II, yet more expensive as well. In my opinion, if you are a bouncer, maximum power are essential, for direct flash user, lower lines work just fine.

  3. 3
    ) Pasquier
    December 16, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Very useful comparison Nasim – especially the table. The SB-900 is a terrific flash and widely used by pro’s.
    Looks like the SB-700 may be a good alternative. Have you ever sued the Nikon R1C1 system?
    Thanks, P:)

    • January 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      Pasquier, thank you! I have not tried the R1C1 – not much into macro photography :)

      • 55
        ) Jason
        September 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm

        Speaking of macro….have you ever reviewed the Nikon105mm macro. I don’t see it in your list and am surprised as you have reviewed most current Nikon lens. I have always been interested in how this stacks up as a portrait lens as well as macro. Just wondering. Thanks for a great site.

        • September 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm

          Jason, I have owned that lens forever and still have not reviewed it – shame on me! Will work on a review as soon as time frees up a little :(

  4. 4
    ) Mark
    December 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

    This is a great comparison, thanks. Not doing much flash photography I was thinking SB600 but I’d totally missed the SB 700 launch and you may have even talked me into the SB900 :-)

    • January 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      Mark, both SB-700 and SB-900 are great flashes! I will be testing an SB-700 during the next few weeks, so hopefully will put up a review soon.

      • Profile photo of DavidL
        73
        ) DavidL
        September 15, 2014 at 10:11 pm

        Really looking forward to this review Nasim. Been tossing up which flash to buy for a little while now. I can afford the SB-910 if it’s head and shoulders above the SB-700. But if there’s things the 910 does that I don’t require I’d rather save a little and but the SB-700.

        DavidL

  5. December 16, 2010 at 11:49 am

    SB-700 don’t have TTL in matrix and center weight mattering modes.; only TTL-BL. If you want ttl simple you will have to set the camera in spot mattering mode. ;(

    • January 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      I believe SB-600 has the same problem…but it is not too big of an issue, to be honest :)

      • 56
        ) Art
        September 15, 2014 at 3:28 pm

        The SB-600 can be put in the i-ttl mode by pressing the Mode button on the flash and is independent of what metering mode the camera is in. This IMHO is really important because I get more consistent and repeatable results with the flash in the i-ttl mode then in the i-ttl-BL mode. This is the one thing I really do not like about the SB-700; it requires the camera to be in the spot metering mode to turn off the balanced fill flash option. Also the SB-600 takes the same soft plastic gels as the SB-800.

        Mahalo
        Art

  6. 6
    ) Edi
    December 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Awesome article really usefull. thanks a lot! saludos

  7. 7
    ) Jeanne
    December 16, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Mr Nasim, SB-700 just release in Singapore (this week). I dont know very much about speedlights since i am new to DSLR. From your comparison, SB-700 do not hv PC/Sync Socket as compared with SB-900 is this function important? SB-700 compliments D7000. Can D7000 work with SB-900? IF, you are me what would your choice be SB-700 or SB-900? I would like to get 1 before our BBQ on 1/1/2011 so your reply would very much help me to put my mind at rest. Thank you in advance.

    Jeanne/Singapore/D7000

    • January 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      Jeanne, PC Sync Socket is only important if you will be using the older PocketWizard triggers or other triggers that use the PC cord. PocketWizard has a new product line that works without cables, so the PC sync socket will be eventually phased out (hopefully)…

      All current Nikon speedlights, including the SB-900 will work with all modern Nikon cameras (and most older Nikon cameras).

      I apologize for a late response! If budget is an issue, get the SB-700.

      • 25
        ) Jeanne
        January 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm

        Thank you Mr Nasim for your reply. :D Actually, since the deadline was so close, I eventually bought the SB-900 and now LEARNING how to use it.

        Thank you
        Jeanne/D7000/Singapore

  8. December 17, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Nice reviews! Here comes two more pieces of info about the SB-900, worth mentioning I think.

    For some reason it’s got a slighty larger foot than normal. It goes straight into a Nikon body’s hotshoe, but is often JUST too big for the shoe on top of your typical lightstand or other helpful lighting tool. Some determined but careful brushing of those external shoes is likely to be needed.

    I don’t think you mentioned it, Nasim, but a dedicated battery pack can be added to the SB-900. It’s called the Nikon SD-9. It holds 8 AA batteries. It increases capacity and lowers recycling times. Great stuff!

    I’ve got 4 SB-900s, making my mobile studio possible. Love them!

    • January 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      Terje, thank you, that’s great info! I knew about the larger hotshoe (had to replace my flash cold shoe because of it), but I totally forgot to put it into the article :)

      And I will definitely add some info about the dedicated battery pack. Not sure how I missed that one!

  9. December 18, 2010 at 10:21 am

    One (very) important thing for those who still shoot film, the SB-600 and the SB-800 are the only ones that support “basic/regular” TTL for F series Nikon cameras (FA, FE2, FM2, FM3a, F100, etc.).

    The newer SB-400, SB-700 and SB-900 only work in i-TTL auto. The (still) expensive F6 is the only Nikon film camera that support i-TTL.

    So… if you shoot film… go get an SB-600 or an SB-800 before it’s too late !

  10. December 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Hi,

    Do you have any comments on the Nikon SU-800 commander module? (Note, this is not the SB-800 speedlight.) Is there any advantage to using something like this over the onboard flash (if your body supports commander mode)? Or is it specifically for those cameras that don’t have a commander mode?

    http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Flashes/4794/SU-800-Wireless-Speedlight-Commander.html#tab-ProductDetail.ProductTabs.TechSpecs

    Thanks,

    -ben

    • January 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      Ben, the SU-800 was specifically designed for i-TTL use for cameras with or without built-in flashes. The nice thing about the SU-800, is that it does not fire flash, so there is no light spill coming from the camera. I believe the SU-800 also has a slightly better range when triggering other flash units, but it is not significant. However, given the cost of the unit, I would personally get another SB-700/SB-800/SB-900 instead, which all can work great as commanders. Plus, you could buy remote triggers (like PocketWizard) in the future and use more flashes. With SU-800, you are left with only an infrared transmitter…

  11. 11
    ) Joe Farrell
    December 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I have th SB-700 and cannot figure out how to get repeating flash to work. Can anyone help me please?

    Joe

    • January 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Joe, I will have an SB-700 next week and I will let you know if I figure it out…

      • 54
        ) Agri
        July 31, 2014 at 11:23 am

        Dear Nasim

        Further to Joe’s inquiry about repeating flash on SB-700: any idea as to the steps required to do so …?

        Camera Nikon D7100
        Flash SB-700

        Looking forward to your help soon….

        Best regards

        Agri

    • 63
      ) Art
      September 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      The SB-700 does not have a repeating flash mode. Only the built in flash on some cameras, SB-900/910 and the SB-800 have this mode. I have heard there may be a way to get this to work using the SB-700 as a slave but I am unfimilar with the method. I would try to search using Google to see if there are any solutions.

      Mahalo
      Art

      • September 15, 2014 at 5:02 pm

        Thanks for the info Art! I looked it up and could not find any info on repeating flash on the SB-700. Not sure where I originally got that info from, that was back in 2010 and I might have been misread something… I have just updated the article and removed the reference to repeating flash on the SB-700.

        • 71
          ) Art
          September 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm

          With all the flashes and options to choose from it does get confusing on which flash has what options. By the way thanks to you and your contributors for all the great information you graciously share with us.
          In reading through the comments I was wondering if your site has an article on flash for beginners that you could reference which may answer some of their questions.
          Flash has always been one of the hardest concepts to grasp about photography which is a shame because that lack of understanding makes some shy away from using it. A good beginner’s article might open a new door for some.

          Mahalo
          Art

          • September 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm

            Thank you for your feedback Art, we appreciate it!

            We have a section on Flash Photography, but I am ashamed of it, since it is very old, outdated and has quite poor videos that I shot in my early days of running the website: http://photographylife.com/flash-photography-tips

            I have plans to completely refresh that area later this year or early next year. Lots of work to do :)

      • September 15, 2014 at 5:03 pm

        Looks like it can be set as a slave, but there is not much info out there about how to actually do it.

  12. 12
    ) Karl
    January 2, 2011 at 3:52 am

    Hi Nasim,
    just one question …
    I want to extend my flash capabilities to use 3 groups, only the current SB-900 supports to master 3 groups;
    Now I already have a Sb-900 and there are 2 combinations possible for me;

    A) One SB-900 as Master and three SB-700 as slaves
    B) One SB-900 as Master and three SB-900 as slaves

    The first setup would be a little bit cheaper;
    but which configuration would you choose?

    /Karl

    • January 6, 2011 at 3:50 pm

      Karl, if cost is not an issue, go with three SB-900 units, because you can easily interchange between master/slave units and use any of them as masters or slaves (convenience). The SB-900 also has a couple of features SB-700 does not have…

      If budget is an issue, get SB-700 units as slaves – they will also work great.

      • 24
        ) Karl
        January 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm

        Thank you Nasim for feedback – I will decide for the SB-900’s setup
        /Karl

  13. 26
    ) LOU
    February 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    My quick thoughts:

    SB-400: I plan on getting one for outdoor fill flash at events. A good 1-2 punch with the 28-300. Enough power for virtually any fill situation, and it is carry-all-day proportions.
    SB-600: Powerful, but archaic interface. Don’t buy used.
    SB-700: It’s on the CLS shopping list to “replace” the SB-900’s I sold. Could be a little more powerful, otherwise the integrated gels & user interface superb. Big price jump, but the SB-900 set a new level.
    SB-800: Loved the [relatively] compact size & seemingly unlimited power, but the two-handed interface eluded memorization & generally frustrated. Some will never sell theirs, and you can sell them your used units for better-than-new prices.
    SB-900: It’s all the good things you’ve heard, and some of the bad. It is huge, and this obviates true portability. It heats up WAY too fast, and this forced me to sell my two units, despite the obvious interface positives. The SB-700 largely avoids the 900’s faults, though less powerful.

    I think Nikon builds a nicer flash unit & flash system than Canon. This matters if you use flash a lot. I think Nikon’s system engenders more avid flash use/experimentation.

    • February 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Lou, thank you for your feedback, I am sure other readers will find it useful.

  14. 27
    ) Yonathan
    February 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Dear Nasim,

    I heard D90 can connect to SB600 without trigger. Is it true? Which connection do they use? I read that article somewhere, I forgot. And what’s the different between using 3rd party flash and Nikon it self. Thanks

    • February 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      Yonathan, that’s right – it is called a “Commander Mode”. Check out some of my articles and videos on using a commander mode and you can trigger your SB-600 without any problems! And you do not need any connections – everything works wirelessly :)

      • 30
        ) Yonathan
        February 26, 2011 at 4:04 am

        Thanks a lot Nasim

  15. 31
    ) Vincent
    August 31, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Dear Nasim,

    I’m currently using a D5100 wanted to purchase speedlight for my camera.
    A friend of mine told me that there might be limitation on the angle of the head rotate for up/down/left and right. Just want to confirm if it’s true as I wanted to purchase a SB-700 for my oversea trip soon.
    Thanks!

  16. 32
    ) Chilly
    December 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I am wondering if you have any encounter / experience with the new SB910. I was debating between the SB700 and SB900 and discovered Nikon has released the 910.

    Thanks much,

  17. 33
    ) Joginder Singh
    December 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Dear Nasim,

    First I would like to thank you for making a wonderful site and giving laudable reviews on different topics… your site is full of photography knowledge… but for few days, I am not finding anything new here…

    I kindly request you to please keep on posting, new things regularly.

    Some years back somebody told me that flash burns the pics, but after using NIKON SB-700.. it was only myth. SB 700 is amazing….. you can do a lot with it… and the results are ultimate… I just love my SB-700. I do like SB 900 but is bulky and having heat problem….

    but SB 700 is ultimate..

    One thing I would like to ask you, regarding FX Camera should i buy D700 or wait for some new model to be launched by NIKON. Please advise..

    Thank you…

    With regards,

    Joginder Singh

  18. 34
    ) Phil Wells
    January 2, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks for the well written help you provide for us beginners and intermediate-level hobby photographers.

    I have a D5000. I am not much interested in studio work – mostly outdoors where I may need some fill light. I wanted a mid-level flash. Local dealer sold me a Promaster 7500EDF for about $200 (after rebate). Within a week the poorly molded base had busted. Also, I am planning on spending maybe $30 for some gels so I can match flash color to ambient white level. I am wondering if I should take it back and pay the extra $130 f0r an SB-700 since it has the gels (and transmits this info to the camera when on the hot shoe).

    I have read comments that one of the “features” the dealer touted, the fill-flash, may just be a a marketing ploy and could create red-eye when not expected.

    What do you think? Keep it or blow the cash on the SB-700? SB-900 is too expensive, and I get the impression that the SB-800 is just more things for me to remember.

    Thanks greatly.

    Phil Wells
    San Diego

    • 37
      ) Phil Wells
      January 26, 2012 at 1:07 am

      Also, I know that the Promaster 7500EDF can be triggered by the built-in flash in the D5000. I assume that the SB-700. What’s the difference between being triggered by simply a flash and working in commander-mode?

      Thanks again

      Phil

  19. 35
    ) Manny
    January 25, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Any comparison between SB900 and SB910?

  20. 36
    ) Manny
    January 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    whats choice should i pick…SB900 or SB910?

  21. 38
    ) Jatin Gandhi
    May 3, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Dear Nasim,

    Thanks for such a useful information.

    I have Nikon D5100 camera and would like to know, if I increase or decrease the aperture or shutter speed, in SB-700 is there any feature that will also increase or decrease the intensity of the flash light.

    Thanks and Regards
    Jatin

  22. May 3, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Thans for the great comparison of Nikon Speedlights. I’m thinking of getting the SB-400, which I heard is a great step up from trying to use the hopeless onboard flash!

    I definitely want to get rechargeable batteries, as I’ve heard they work better in flashes and also I don’t want to keep having to pay for disposable batteries all the time. Which NiMH rechargeables do you recommend, that would work the best? Thanks for you help

  23. 40
    ) Donna
    June 26, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Thank you so much for your very impressive and informative site! I am a new dslr user and purchased the D5100 – 2 weeks ago and have stumbled on very happily to this site in which I have learnt so very much. I had no photography knowledge at all! I just had a point and shoot but used my iphone mostly. Now I find I want to get my 5100 out all of the time! I am playing around with the A mode changing my apertures and iso according to the scene and learning all the time what works as a take a whole series of shots, I am loving it so much! I bought the D5100 with the 18-105mm lens and I am very happy with that, however after all this reading I bought the 35mm 1.8g lens to get the amazing boekh it too is fantastic and produces such quality shots…. then I thought that I would purchase a speedlight and I am so happy I did this seriously makes the biggest difference to my shots at night I have been experimenting taking the same shot with the camera flash then with the SB-400 and the photo is 1000 times better. As you say lighting is the key. The SB-400 is so compact and easy to use and works so well, definitely get one I highly recommend especially for newbies…. ENJOY and THANKYOU for all your incredible work!!

  24. 41
    ) Robin Groenevelt
    September 30, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Thank you for this overview.

    It may be worth mentioning that the SB-900 can have serious overheating problem (this happens regularly to me when shooting weddings in the middle of the summer).

    The SB-910 is not yet on this list so you could add it. It’s also worth noting that the SB-910 doesn’t overheat.

    Finally a last thing, the SB-600 is quite awkward to put into CLS mode. This is easy to do on the SB-900 and SB-910. Just for this reason alone I switched my flashes to the SB-900s (I shoot wedding where speed is essential).

    • November 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      Robin, I updated the above article with the SB-910 information. Thanks for letting me know!

  25. December 9, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Nasim,

    You are one great soul! Only you on your site can offer such great comparisons! However, I wonder if you ever wrote SB-700 review? I searched on google and your website and couldn’t find it. I wonder if it is enough for my beginner needs…
    1) I am wondering if their power output is different? Perhaps it is reflected in the zoom range coverage?
    2) What does it mean – groups of flashes? Does it mean that with SB-700, I can control 4 slaves in 2 groups?

    I am really keen on SB-700 and want to avoid spending on SB-910 if I can.

    Thanks in advance.

    Kumar

  26. 44
    ) Massey Jones
    December 19, 2012 at 1:02 am

    I am a retired miltary photogrpher whose photographic career started in 1953.
    In other words, I used the very early strobes professionally and owned some as personal property.
    Presently, I use the SB700 woth a D90 as my personal equipment.
    Well suited to more professional equipment, it doesn’t suit my purpose as well.

    I tend to shoot in either the Program mode but frequently switch to manual mode and shoot “synchro flash”
    (Started with Speed Graphics and #5 flashbulbs, so manual is no problem.

    I find the SB700 an excellent unit and use it both on and off camera (with a synch cord plugged into the flash connection atop the camera).

    I volunteer in a small museum (which didn’t provide for a photo department but made me a small studio) and have photographed hundreds of their artifacts, using off-camera flash as the main source to compliment the room’s ambient light. I find that using flash gives the artifact the extra highlight that it needs. The main feature that I like is the ability of the flash to go into the standby mode while I am doing an artifact setup.

    The SB700 (with NiMH batteries) has lots of staying power and I am usually able to complete a whole afternoon’s artifact shooting without having to turn the flash on and off (except for long periods of setup) and I find that it is as good as any flash that I have ever used (which easily number 25 different strobes), starting with the Braun Hobby and through the professional wet cell heavy duty type (not including studio types).

    I researched the SB700 before purchasing and it’s been an absolutely gorgeous investment, well suited to an old professional like myself, who demands a lot out of his equipment. And I don’t baby it either.

    I know that, if required, the SB700 will fill the bill for any event that I will subject to, whether “flash only” or “flash fill” and other tasks that will test the lighting knowledge of any advanced amateur.

    While there are a lot more powerful NIKON flash units, the SB700 and they have slightly more features,
    I find that the SB7000 measured quite well professionally with any of the big ones.

  27. 45
    ) Mark Spencer
    December 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I am new to the Nikon family. Just a weekend photographer…everything from family to sports to birthday parties and fishing pictures. I have a D5100 and would like to get a good all purpose speed light. Any recommendations?

    • December 24, 2012 at 6:12 am

      Hi Mark, for general purposes, I found that Nikon built-in flash is quite good, especially slow sync and red eye reduction modes. The limitation of these modes that I have faced so far with my D5100 and even with prime lenses is slow shutter speed. But if it is anything less than 1/30th of a second, the results are pretty good (see this example: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=466165156769151&set=a.450099611709039.121670.450089268376740&type=3&theater).

      I have just bought a speed light but after a few tests, I found that it will come handy only in a few cases:
      1) When bigger range is required (I am thinking of an upcoming wedding of a friend in a church).
      2) Off the camera (but that means more expense such as pocket wizard, stand, umbrella etc.)
      3) Landscape shots looking into sun/source of light and you want a good capture of the subject/foreground.

      I am just an amateur so more knowledgeable guys can add/correct me.

  28. 47
    ) Pranay
    January 23, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Hi Nasim,
    Will SB400 work out with Youngnou remote triggers, off the camera, placing 50 metres or so away from camera.

  29. 48
    ) Raghavendra
    June 20, 2013 at 5:35 am

    VERY GOOD COMPARISON. I LIKED VERY MUCH. ALREADY I AM HAVING SB 600 AND RECENTLY I PURCHASED NIKON SB 910. REALLY SB 910 IS AWESOME AND I AM ENJOYING VERY MUCH.

    THE REVIEW IS VERY USEFUL TO NIKON USERS

  30. 49
    ) fikrim
    September 19, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Tesekurler abi!

  31. 50
    ) dina
    October 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Hi, I have an SB700 and am trying to buy various accessories for it, only to find that so far, all advertised snoots, grids, etc are listed to fit every model BUT never mention compatibility with the 700. From your experience, is the 700’s head the same same size and shape as the 600, 800 and 900/910? Thanks!

  32. November 1, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Just letting you know I have the Nikon SB 600 and I use commander mode all the time. It says in the chart that it won’t work. Ps Thanks for the flash review it is helpful!

    • November 2, 2013 at 12:47 am

      Jaclyn, you can use the SB-600 as a slave only – it cannot command other slaves (meaning it cannot serve as a master). I think what you are referring to is commander mode in your camera – in that case, you set your camera to command the SB-600, which acts as a slave.

  33. 53
    ) Darren
    June 21, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Which one is better the SB800 or the SB910?

    As I keep getting told it is the SB800 as it is just as good, also can the SB800 be used wirelessly?

    • September 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Darren, both are same-class speedlights, just different generation. The SB-800 has been discontinued a while ago, but you can still buy it used.

  34. 57
    ) Bruce
    September 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Great article Nasim, never seen it before – gonna bookmark it :-). I have an old SB-800 but this table just goes to show you, even thought it was discontinued some 6 years agao, it’s still a brilliant flash, with great features.

    • September 15, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Bruce, I still have an SB-800 and I will use it until it dies. One of the best Nikon speedlights ever! Mine even partially melted and it is still working great :)

  35. 62
    ) Joe
    September 15, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    It was my understanding that the SB-500 could only be used as a commander, on camera, if the camera itself had a commander mode?

    • September 15, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Joe, I don’t think so. Looking at the back of the SB-500, it looks like there is a separate commander mode right on the flash.

  36. 64
    ) Pete
    September 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Nasim:

    Good comparison of Nikon flashes. I have owned most of the flashes, including some that go clear back to the 1970’s (they still work). I have given my smaller ones away to relatives. I gave my SB-400 to a son-in law. I consider the SB-400 most useful as an on camera fill-flash. I recently gave my SB-600 to my daughter-in -law along with my complete D70 camera system. I now only have an SB-800 and two SB-910’s that I use with the Mini and Flex Pocket Wizards. They can put out plenty of light when you need it. Currently I’m using a Nikon D800 camera with a D200 as a backup to mostly photograph flowers and critters (animals).

    I like SB-R200 flashes from the R1C1 System for macro photography. The SB-R200 flashes also have a table stand and may be used as a fill flash in some instances with Nikon’s CLS System. One can use either the SU-800 or the pop-up on camera flash as a commander.

    I am enjoying seeing how your WEB site has evolved into the best photography site on the internet. Keep up the great work. I learn some interesting things from you, like recently how to configure a flash to make autofocus work in very low light. I had no idea that option existed. I tried it out in an almost completely dark room and it works!

    • September 15, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Pete, thank you for sharing!

      And big thanks for your warm feedback, we all appreciate it here at PL :) Looks like you have a great speedlight setup there. I personally have two SB-900’s and an SB-800 from back in the day. Have had these for years and they work like a charm! Speedlights are great for a quick setup…we use them quite a bit at weddings.

  37. September 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I was about to answer a few questions/comments/concerns from some readers, until I noticed that some of the comments date back to December, 2012 (and others, earlier in 2013 and 2014). Is this a glitch on my end?

    For those interesting in acquiring flashes to be used off camera and who are feeling the need to purchase three or four SB910s to accomplish this (YIKE$!), don’t forget to consider using less expensive flashes and buying radio triggers instead. While the older PWs won’t work without PC cables, there are lots of other options from Phottix, Radio Poppers, etc., that will allow you to move your flashes off camera and still retain total control over them from your camera–on both iTTL and manual modes. And you won’t require line-of-sight, either. That’s what I’ve been doing with my SB600, SB700 and SB800 units (but I have also used some really old, 1990s-era flashes in the same way, which can be had for about $60.00 used). Food for thought…

    -Brian

    • September 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Brian, it is not a glitch – I updated an old article with the newest information and republished it with today’s date. That’s why you see comments dating back to 2010 :)

      As for other options, I totally agree. Lots of options out there, lots of third party flashes that can be bought at half or third of the price of Nikon speedlights…

      • September 15, 2014 at 10:37 pm

        Right! I should have assumed the article had been updated; I recall reading it long ago, actually, along with one of your old articles on using flash indoors (complete with videos). I remember finding that tutorial very helpful.

        You know, I feel I need to say I’m very pleased that so many talented photographers are keen to impart their specific knowledge to others for free these days. I cannot begin to tell you how much I’ve learned from Photograph Life’s articles, and also so many other sites, with articles ranging from lighting to post-production tasks. I know some photographers prefer to keep their particular workflow a secret, and I think there is some validity in doing so. But the free exchange of information coming from so many talented photographers is a welcomed mentality, in my mind. I k now I gladly give my experiences and tips (when I have them!) to others, because I really want to contribute to others achieving their photographic goals. It’s refreshing to have Photography Life and others promoting similar goals.

        Thanks for the article, Nasim!

        -Brian

        • September 18, 2014 at 12:10 am

          Brian, thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate it and I know others in our team do too!

          That’s why we do this – because we love sharing everything we know. There is nothing that I would ever hide as a “secret” from our readers. Sharing knowledge is the way of the future in my opinion. That’s not to say that we will never sell content – we certainly are planning to release premium content and do more workshops to grow our site, but it will be different and tailored for specific needs. Everything else will stay free as usual.

          What’s awesome is having great readers like you. Many new readers stay with us, because they see the positive atmosphere and great discussions flowing constantly between others. This encourages participation, which is a very positive thing. Yes, we do have occasional readers with bad temper or negative attitude, but if we all stay positive, those people will either become nice or will leave us alone. In my experience, the first solution works 99% of the time.

          • September 18, 2014 at 10:45 pm

            Well, Nasim, I’ll be excited to see Photography Life continue to grow, and to hopefully take part in some of these upcoming workshops and premium offers you will be providing!

            As for those negative readers, I try my best to be informative and kind in every comment I write… I’m not always overtly kind, however, especially when trolled upon. But I try to never be offensive or the like. Please accept my apologies if any of my (recent) replies to those negative comments crossed any lines. I hope they didn’t. I’m not that much of an aggressive guy, especially given the absurdity of getting upset over what a stranger on the Internet might have to say to me or others. Again, it’s what I appreciate most about Photography Life: it’s here to help and inform, and I try to contribute to that ethic with everything I write on here. I just hope some of what I write is in fact valuable to some of your readers.

            Best,

            Brian

            • September 18, 2014 at 11:55 pm

              Brian, I was not trying to criticize your behavior in any way. You are very well respected and your opinion is highly valued at PL. I cannot recall ever seeing a negative comment from you!

  38. Profile photo of DavidL
    75
    ) DavidL
    September 15, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks for the updated article. The funny thing is, that I only re-read this about 6 weeks ago. Just a thought, on the odd occasion that you do update an article, would it be hard for you to leave the original and put the updates in another text or a text box or distinguish from the original in some form. I know some sites that do it that way and I find it interesting to see or compare the changes as they occur.

    Thank you

    • September 18, 2014 at 12:04 am

      David, thank you for your feedback! I thought about noting changes, but it was not turning out pretty, especially with all the cluttered information in the table :(

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