Nikon Wireless Close-up Speedlight Commander Kit R1C1 Review

This is a quick review of the Nikon Wireless Close-up Speedlight Commander Kit R1C1, which has been kindly provided by B&H – the largest photo reseller in the world that we use more than any other to buy our photography gear.

Nikon Wireless Close-up Speedlight Commander Kit R1C1

If close-up or macro photography is your passion then this lighting system is an accessory you may wish to consider. The set-up (camera body and lens not included) offers flexibility to explore and maximize your creative talents so let’s take a closer look at the Nikon Close-up Speedlight Commander Kit R1C1.

1. What’s Included in the Kit

• (2) SB-R200 Wireless Remote Speedlights
• SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander
• SX-1 Attachment Ring
• SS-MS1 Close-Up Speedlight Kit Case
• (2) SS-R200 Soft Case
• SS-SU800 Soft Case
• SS-SX1 Soft Case
• SG-31R IR Panel for Built-In Flash
• SW-C1 Flexible Arm Clip
• (2) SW-11 Extreme Close-Up Positioning Adapter
• SW-12 Diffuser
• (2) SZ-1 Color Filter Holder
• (2) SJ-R200 Color Filter Set
• (2) Speedlight Stand
• SY-1-52 52mm Adapter Ring
• SY-1-62 62mm Adapter Ring
• SY-1-67 67mm Adapter Ring
• SY-1-72 72mm Adapter Ring
• SY-1-77 77mm Adapter Ring

You can store everything in the SS-MS1 Kit Case shown below.
Kit Case

And here is all that is included in the kit, all of which fits in the case with the exception of the individual soft cases for the strobes:
Contents of the Nikon R1C1 Lighting Kit

2. Handling or “Some Assembly Required”

When you first open the box and look inside the kit case, it is a bit intimidating with so many parts, but as soon as you start to put it together, it becomes very straightforward.

There are 5 different adapters according to the filter size of your lens. These adapters screw on to the end of the lens like any filter and the SX-1 Attachment Ring then pinch clamps onto the Adapter ring. With the SX-1 Attachment ring on the end of the lens, you are ready to place the SB-R200 wireless remote speedlights by inserting them into a track on the SX-1 attachment ring. Finally, the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander is attached to the camera’s hot shoe and you are ready to go!

I just described the basic set-up but the beauty of this system lies within the multitude of ways in which you can utilize the kit. The SX-1 attachment ring will hold up to 4 SB-R200 lights while on the camera and up to 8 off camera. The attachment ring easily rotates around the end of the lens to switch from landscape to vertical orientation. Each individual light can be moved around the ring for multiple positions and moreover, each SB-R200 can pivot down 60º and up 45º to further customize your lighting.

The system is part of the Nikon Creative Lighting system and thus you can add any number of other compatible speedlights or use one of the supplied speedlights for top, side or backlighting, should you desire. Lights can be handheld or placed (two stands are supplied) in varying positions so as to create different effects. If these combinations and possibilities are not enough, throw in the color filters (color filters are supplied or you can make your own gel filters) and you have endless possibilities.

The SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander is a non-strobe unit that controls the entire system. However, according to the Nikon website, for those who want to use an SB-910/900/800/700 or a built-in flash of D700/D300 -series/D200/D7000/D90/D80/D70-series cameras as a commander, there is also the Nikon Close-up Speedlight Remote Kit R1, which comes without the SU-800.
The SU-800 Commander’s LCD interface is intuitive and straightforward and allows you to command up to 3 groups of lights. By naming the groups of lights, you can vary the flash output as you desire by a simple adjustment on the back of the unit. Assigning an SB-R200 to a group is an easy switch found on the top of each light. There are also 4 channels to choose from in case you are operating in an area where other photographers might be using the same system.

3. Build Quality and Value
Here is where it gets a bit crazy because as much as the system works well, you equally get a distinct feeling of “cheap”. Most everything is light plastic and it just doesn’t convey a feeling that normally would be reflected by the price of $719 which isn’t cheap. In the short time that I have used the kit, nothing has broken, but at times you get the feeling that it could. That said, there are no wires getting in the way, there is incredible flexibility and one obvious trade off with light plastic is that it isn’t heavy. Thus, in considering the price to functionality ratio, the value is still good for a system that is this simple to use and yet offers so much in terms of creativity and expandability.

4. A few quick examples of lighting the same object with different set-ups.
I have used ring lights in the past but one problem with a ring light is that it tends to give a flat feel to the image. With this kit, you can vary the lighting to give the image some depth and so here are some examples:

First a shot with both the right and left flashes firing equally:
Right/Left on ring flash, no diffuser

Second, with just the right flash firing:
R1C1 right flash firing with no diffuser
In this second shot, you can see the depth that the shadows add to the image. The shadows are harsh in this image and ideally, I would have used two flashes and dialed back the left flash but I have left it so as to maximize the effect.

Finally, in this example the left flash is removed from the attachment ring and hand held to the side of the flower to illustrate the flexibility that the easily detached SB-R200 lights bring to the kit. Notice that the side lighting has eliminated some of the harsh shadows.
Nikon R1C1 with the right flash on the attachment ring and the left strobe handheld

There are 4 different gel filters supplied in the kit but you can cut any gel filter of any color and fit it to the system for a more dramatic effect. The first image was with an orange filter while the second was with the supplied green filter
Orange Gel Filter Effect when used with the R1C1Nikon R1C1 Speedlight kit with a yellow gel filter

Next are some examples of a vase taken with the flashes positioned differently.

Both flashes on the attachment ring:
2 flash no diffuser

Three flashes, two on the ring and one SB-700 (not included in the kit) placed behind the vase:
Nikon SB-700 behind, 2 attached to the ring on the camera

Three flashes, all off camera one centered behind and the other two behind and off to the sides slightly behind the vase:
3 flashes off camera behind, behind rt and left (1)

SB-700 (not included) behind the vase, one SB-R200 in the vase and one on the camera:
Three flash set-up with one behind, on in the vase and on camera

One flash shooting from behind and one shooting from the attachment ring on the bottom of the ring below the lens and shooting angled up:
2 strobe set up with Nikon R1C1

5. Conclusions
While close-up flash photography is not my expertise, I have included these examples just to illustrate its flexibility and now it is up to you to create. Those of you who do a lot of close-up photography will enjoy this kit. As stated, the Nikon R1C1 Close-up Speedlight Commander Kit isn’t inexpensive but if you are seriously into close-up or macro work then the kit is well worth the investment for the variety and flexibility it offers.

If you have the R1C1 Kit, feel free to share your experiences with us.

6. Where to Buy
B&H Photo currently sells the Nikon Wireless Close-up Speedlight Commander Kit R1C1 for $719.00 (as of 4/28/12)

Nikon Wireless Close-up Speedlight Commander Kit R1C1
  • Features
  • Build Quality
  • Handling
  • Value
  • Size and Weight
  • Packaging and Manual

Photography Life Overall Rating

4.3

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Tim
    April 28, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Nice article. Thank you for the learning!!

    • April 28, 2012 at 8:15 am

      Thank you Tim for visiting Mansurovs.com and for the comment.

  2. 2
    ) John Richardson
    April 28, 2012 at 2:30 am

    I also have this unit, I did however order a third SB-R200 (and all of the needed accessories for it). I found that the third light give more flexibility as well, as fills the empty slots provided for the light and accessories.

    The R1C1 kit is excellent.

    • April 28, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Thank you John, buying an extra light is a very good idea, I am glad you enjoy your kit.

  3. April 28, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Tom; your creativity with lighting is really appreciable I liked the most the one with “SB-700 behind the vase, one SB-R200 in the vase and one on the camera”. Others of course are nice ideas.

    These creative kits from Nikon like one above are really awesome.. already mouth watering even when I am just like starting with DSLRs.

    • April 28, 2012 at 8:18 am

      Khurram, thank you and have fun shooting.

      • April 28, 2012 at 9:49 am

        Tom, can you please suggest on my comments over following threads? that will be much appreciated and so be a great help while shooting :)

        http://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-d5100#comment-19936
        http://photographylife.com/nikon-35mm-f1-8g-vs-50mm-f1-4g#comment-20056

        Thank you anyway for such a great resource…

        • April 28, 2012 at 10:44 am

          Khurram, after reading your posts, I believe the answers for you are:

          I would not buy the SB-400, save your money until you can buy the SB-700 which will give you far more flexibility and room for growth.

          From your comments it sounds as if the best lens for you will be the 50mm f/1.8 which is an outstanding lens for the money.

          I hope this helps.

          • April 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

            Thank you very much Tom, it’s been great having you answered my queries. So I’ll be buying 50mm f/1.8G being prime on my D5100. Leaving SB-400, will buy SB-700 later some time as you suggested.

            Do you think it’s worth buying SU-800 (commander) with the cameras having no built-in commander mode (like D5100) or instead one should buy a camera having built-in commander mode? specially when some one like me having no plans of upgrading the DSLR in near future as I’ll be mostly using it as my hobby. Not professionally.

            Second, I wanted your opinion for my first DSLR gear D5100 kit w/ 18-55mm VR plus additional 55-300mm VR all for $1000. Do you think it’s a good buy? Also adding 50mm f/1.8G for more $220, what opinion would you have for that gear for totalling around $1220?

            I actually don’t listen to the people after once I’ve bought something as it’s already been done, so no use of arguing later. Because I don’t want to regret for what I’ve purchased and prefer to enjoy with what I have purchased. But since I’ve found a great resource over here, I will break my rule and will ask you for your kind opinion about what I’ve purchased :)

            Third, I mentioned about macro photography, that I have interest in. But I didn’t want to go for expensive ‘Micro’ line-up from Nikon. During my search over the internet I found about extension tubes (I did never hear about such a thing if it existed :D) and many positive reviews about them as they could be used with zoom lenses as well as with prime ones. Do you think it will be a nice start having Zeikos extension tubes (found them good and cheaper but sure not up to the quality of Kenko’s). Do you think they could be useful and can these tubes work with my current gear above?

            Thanks again for your kind opinion :)

            • April 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

              The SU-800 is a commander and has no flash, therefore you will need at least a SB-R-200 and the cost will be about $400 total. Compared to the SB-700 which is $329. There are differences and advantages of both. You will have to decide what suits your desires.

              The kit you bought is a nice kit at a good price and since you own it, now you should go use it. If you find that you outgrow it and desire more in a camera body, then you can upgrade.

              To address the 35 or 50mm question once more, the 35mm is a DX lens and will give you the equivalent of a 50mm on a FX body. You stated that you will use it for portraits and not so much wide angle. Therefore, based on your words, the 50mm might be a better fit and it is good to use on both the DX and FX format, thus it will not be “outgrown” if you switch to FX in the future. Most photographers will tell you to put your money in the lens.

              As for the extension tubes, I do not have an opinion.

  4. 4
    ) Che Ibarra
    April 28, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I been wanting this kit for months….I don’t do enough close-up and macro that’s what’s stopped me from buying it. But I do have a creative mind and I do place my SB900 all over the places in hidden areas (reading Joe McNally’s books was the best thing I’ve ever done to learn lighting). What I love about these small SB-200s is that I don’t think they are just for close-up or Macro….I can easily see where I can stuff one of theses small lights in hats, underneath umbrellas (rain ones), behind shelfs, etc etc…places where the bigger speed lights don’t fit or stick out. So I am again now considering after reading this on buying it to use in conjunction with my two SB-900s even if I only do closeup once in a while. I use Pocket Wizards so I was wondering if it would just be best to buy the SB-200 and not the entire kit? Do the SB-200 have SU-4 optical slave mode?

    • April 28, 2012 at 8:50 am

      Che, I do not believe the Pocket wizard is compatible with the SB-R200. However, your SB-900 can command a SB-R200. Your camera body may also command the SB-R200 without buying the whole kit or the SB-800. I hope that helps.

  5. 10
    ) Bob Gobeille
    April 28, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Thanks for the article Tom. Your readers that have cameras with commander mode (like the D7000, D700, D300, D300S and D90) might be interested in the less expensive R1 version ($459). It is the same as the R1 C1 but without the SU-800 commander unit.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/410484-USA/Nikon_4804_4804_R1_Wireless_Close_Up.html

    I’ve been using the R1 for a couple of months now and I love it.

    • April 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

      Thank you Bob, I did mention the R1 version in Section 2 of the article, but I didn’t spend much time on it so it is easy to overlook.

      I appreciate you bringing it up so that the readers will be clear about that. Thanks for visiting and for sharing.

  6. 15
    ) Jonathan K
    April 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you for another well-written review. May I know what’s the maximum frame rate at which the SU-800 can fire before it needs to pause and recycle? Can the SU-800 commander keep up with the 5fps rate of the D700? This is important for me to know as I’m planning to use the SU-800 commander with a Radiopopper to trigger remote flashes and need to know the commander’s recycling speed and continuous firing ability – sadly, such info is very difficult to find. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  7. April 30, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Jonathan, the flash recycle time, not the commander, will be the limiting factor and none of the Nikon speedlights have a recycle time that will keep up with 5fps. Thank you for visiting and the comment.

  8. 17
    ) Maja
    May 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    I had this kit without SU800 for one year and sold it. I am doing macro insect photography.

    (-) cheap china feeling plastic
    (-) ring with two R200 is about 400 grams attached to filter ring – need macro lens with IF and not good to handheld
    (-) for insects need to be attached difusers and still not good soft light source
    (-) kit case is not good to carry with another bag with body/lens
    (-) flexible arm clip is super idea but in this case have weak construction

    I sold it and now I am getting better results with SB900 and diffuser like SW12 but a little bigger …

    • 20
      ) Celidh
      August 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Agreed, compared to previous Nikon flash kits, this set can appear plastic & flimsy.

      However with extended use, it has lasted fineand I now appreciate the flexibility this setup allows

  9. 18
    ) Zan
    May 30, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Have it. Love it!
    Without it a photo like this would not be possible:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/84487367@N00/6279165097/in/set-72157627084958621

    • August 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you Zan for your feedback!

  10. 19
    ) Celidh
    August 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I bought the base (R1) kit.
    Whilst my D300 has a commander mode, I eventually found it much more convenient to have the SU800 (I.e. the full R1C1 kit)

    • August 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      Celidh, thank you for your feedback on your experience with this kit.

  11. 23
    ) Eric
    September 10, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for the review Tom!

    I’ve been trying to figure out whether or not to shell out the money for the R1C1. I buy all my gear used and I’m wondering if this is one of those pieces of gear that should only be bought new. It seems every article I read makes note of the flimsy construction.

    I should add that I’m less interested in the R1C1 as an accessory to mount on a lens than I am in using the strobes off camera. Would I, perhaps, be better off buying a SU-800 and investing in a couple SB-600s or SB-800s? It sounds like the R200 speedlights don’t mount readily to anything other than the flimsy stands or lens rings they come with.

  12. September 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Eric, thanks for reading. From the sound of it, you would be happier with the speed lights and stands as they would give you more flexibility in the long run.

  13. 25
    ) Eric
    September 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks a lot for the advice Tom! I really appreciate it!

  14. 26
    ) Celidh
    September 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Hi Eric, I would say that the full R1C1 bag is made up of lots of different items. If you’ve seen one advertised, check what they’re actually including as I suspect some items could easily get mislaid.

    I have recently tried using the two R200 lights alongside an SB800 and they didn’t have much coverage (after all they are designed for close working). What i *have* found useful is the SU800 controller. Despite my D300 having a flash commander mode, it’s much easier to dial in adjustments on the SU800 than on the camera. I got my SU800 used and it was flawless and save me 30% of the new cost.

    so in summary, if you want to do macro or small product shots, the R1C1 kit has some merit. If it’s more general flash over greater distances, get the bigger guns.

    • September 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Celidh – well said! Thanks.

    • 28
      ) Eric
      September 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks a lot Celidh! I really appreciate you weighing in. The R1C1 that I’m looking at IS the complete package with a couple extra doodads thrown in … for $500.

      I do like shooting macro so I’ll always have a use for the lights, but my main motivation was getting the SU800 and I can’t find one for under $220 used, $250 new. I figured the complete set for $500 was worth considering.

      Thanks again Celidh and Tom! I really, really appreciate your help on this!

      Best wishes,
      Eric

  15. 29
    ) george
    October 23, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I just got the SB 900 speed light. I want to use the wireless unit SU-4. Have you done a review on this? Or a video how to use?

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