Flash for Nikon DSLRs

When it comes to choosing flash units for Nikon cameras, there are plenty of great choices available on the market – from cheap flashes with limited functionality for beginners, to advanced speedlights with complex features for demanding professionals. Choosing the right flash can be an overwhelming task for beginners, especially for those who are just getting into flash photography. In this article, I will go through different options (both low-budget and high-demand) that are available today and provide my recommendations.

1) Why you need an external flash

I remember when I purchased my first DSLR, I expected it to be a world better than my old point and shoot that I used for years. It certainly was much better when taking pictures on a sunny day outside, but not that great for taking pictures indoors with flash. To my disappointment, the images from my DSLR looked almost as flat as images from my point and shoot camera and I could not figure out if it was me doing something wrong or the camera that had limitations for taking pictures indoors. Next, I read about low-light photography and using on-camera pop-up flash and while my images did get a little better overtime, they still looked flat due to the harsh direct light. The shadows on my subjects looked even worse.

Indoors professional flash photography

NIKON D3S + 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm, ISO 1600, 1/50, f/8.0

Does this sound familiar to you? Are you relating to this story? If you have only been using your on-camera pop-up flash, I am sure you feel exactly the same way I felt back then. And now you are looking for a solution to the problem and don’t know where to start.

If you want your indoors pictures to look better, you will need something more capable and more powerful than your pop-up flash. You need to invest in a dedicated external flash, also known as a “speedlight” in the Nikon world. A speedlight will help you overcome your problems with indoors portraits and will open up new opportunities to take great professional-looking pictures with your DSLR. Let me show you why external flashes are so much better than pop-up flash:

  1. External flashes are much more powerful. With more power, you get more range, so you can can illuminate a larger area and reach your subjects. More power also means that you can diffuse the light without worrying much about losing power, to get a much softer, more natural-looking light.
  2. External flashes do not drain your camera battery. Pop-up flashes operate off your camera battery and external flashes rely on a different set of batteries that are used just for flash operation.
  3. They are a larger source of light. Compare the size of the flash area on your pop-up flash with the flash area on an external flash and you will quickly realize that the latter is much bigger. Bigger light always means softer light in photography.
  4. They are versatile. Many of the external flashes allow you to tilt the flash head in many different directions in order for you to be able to bounce the light off different surfaces.
  5. They recycle faster. Whether you are firing very little light or plenty of it, external flashes recycle and recover quickly for you to be able to take many pictures sequentially.
  6. They can be used off-camera. Some of the more-advanced flashes allow you to take them off-camera for creative flash photography.
  7. They reduce red-eye. Red eye happens when flash fires from a very close distance to the camera lens. External flashes are typically tall, which helps with reducing the effect of red eye. You can even get special accessories/holders that lift external flashes even higher, which will completely eliminate red eye.
  8. They can be grouped with other flashes. Some of the more expensive external flashes can be grouped with other flashes for more power or be used in different configurations.
  9. Lots of accessories for external flashes. You can get lots of different accessories for an external flash, from various gels, bounce cards and light shaping tools to battery packs and radio control units.

As you can see, external flashes have a lot of great advantages. I am sure I missed some other advantages, but you get the idea…

2) Which flash is right for you?

Now that you know that you need an external flash for your Nikon DSLR, you are probably wondering about which one you should go with. Well you opened a can of worms, because there is no easy answer! There are a couple of questions to consider when choosing a flash. Let’s go over those one by one:

  1. What is your budget? Budget is certainly the biggest factor when choosing a flash. With flash units, you almost always get what you pay for. If you cannot spend more than $100 on a flash, expect to buy a third party unit from companies like Vivitar, Bower, Nissin and Sunpak that all have external flashes for under $100. If you do not have budget limitations, then the best flashes are going to be the most expensive ones from Nikon and Quantum.
  2. i-TTL or Manual? Unless you have taken pictures with a strobe before and know what you are doing, I highly recommend getting a flash unit that can use Nikon’s i-TTL (intelligent Through The Lens) system. Think of i-TTL as an “Auto” mode for flash that lets you shoot pictures without worrying about underexposing or overexposing your images – a great way to get started.
  3. Do you want to use your flash off-camera? I personally would not buy a flash that does not let me shoot off-camera. Unless you are absolutely positive that you would always shoot flash on top of your camera, you should try to get one that at least allows you to use it as a slave. Watch the third video on my “how to get the best out of your pop-up flash” article on using a speedlight as a slave together with pop-up camera flash as a commander.

Don’t worry about all other questions for now – the above three are the most important ones to start with. In terms of the budget, I know that some people are ready to pay for a good flash, as long as it gives them great results. If you are in such a situation, then simply skip over to questions #2 and #3 about whether you want to have TTL (and you do) and whether you want to be able to use flash as a slave for off-camera flash.

Oh and what about that slave mode and off-camera flash? Wondering what it is and why you might possibly need it? Let me give you a couple of examples. Here is a shot of Lola that was taken with an external flash mounted on top of the camera:

Flash bounced off ceiling

I used a Nikon external flash (speedlight) and bounced the light off the ceiling. If you look at the catch-light in Lola’s eyes, you can see that the source of light is the ceiling. The light quality is pretty good and the shadows are soft and nice. When you bounce the light like that, it illuminates the whole room and your subject from all angles. Now let’s take a look at another shot of Lola, except this time I moved the speedlight off the camera to a stand, shooting through an umbrella:

Off-camera flash through umbrella

Pay close attention to the light in this second image – it is coming from the side and the shadows look even more natural and soft. The catch-light in Lola’s eyes is round and beautiful. She is lit only from the direction of the light and the right side of her (left arm) is only getting a very limited amount of reflected light. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get a similar look with the flash mounted on top of the camera. If you like the way the second image came out, then you certainly want a flash unit that can be used off-camera.

3) External flash recommendations

So, which flashes would I recommend? Unless your budget is the limiting factor, I would highly recommend to buy the Nikon speedlights. Not only because they are of high quality, but because they are designed to work with Nikon cameras and therefore have many features specific to Nikon cameras. Nikon’s flash system is called CLS (Creative Lighting System) and all Nikon cameras and speedlights are optimized to work with each other. For example, you could increase or decrease the flash power, feature known as “flash exposure compensation” by simply using the camera button instead of touching the flash. When the flash power is good, you could lock the flash exposure by also pressing a button on your camera. You could trigger a Nikon speedlight through the camera, or if you have multiple speedlights, you could set them up in a master and slave configuration. In addition, Nikon CLS comes with other extra features such as “high speed synchronization” to be used in situations where you need to shoot flash at faster than 1/250th of a second (for example in broad daylight). Unfortunately, you cannot do all of the above with a cheap third party flash.

If cost is the biggest dilemma for you, then here are some third party flashes that fully support i-TTL under $100:

  1. Bower SFD728N – the cheapest external flash under $50, with a flexible head to bounce light. Don’t expect much out of this unit, since you get what you pay for. It does not come with a diffuser dome and cannot be used as a slave.
  2. Bower SFD35N – a better version than the above SFD728N, comes with an Auto Focus assist function, which will help you focus better in low-light environments. Cannot be used as a slave.
  3. Vivitar DF350Z – similar to Bower SFD35N, the Vivitar DF350Z is a good overall flash with a flexible head. Also comes with AF assist for focusing in low-light and cannot be used as a slave.
  4. Vivitar DF400MZ – at $99, it is a very capable flash that comes with a built-in flip-out diffuser. The nice thing about the DF400MZ, is that it can be used as a slave.
  5. Bower SFD926N – just a few dollars more than the Vivitar DF400MZ, the Bower SFD926N is a nice flash with plenty of features such as flash zoom based on camera focal length. It also comes with a built-in diffuser and also supports slave mode for off-camera setup.

There are plenty of other flashes at similar price range from various companies.

If you can spend more than $100 on a flash, but want to stay at around $200 price range, then here is what I recommend:

  1. Nikon SB-600 – if you do not care about using flash as a master, the Nikon SB-600 is your best buy. It comes packed with all kinds of great features such as Auto Focus assist, high-speed sync, full i-TTL support and it works great with all Nikon DSLRs. It can only be used as a slave.

Why am I recommending just one flash? Because at this price range, I believe you would be better off with a Nikon speedlight. While other flashes might sound like a good deal, Nikon’s flashes fully support all CLS features and are designed to work best on Nikon DSLRs. On top of that, if you purchase another flash unit from Nikon in the future, the SB-600 would be fully compatible with it. If you are not scared to buy used equipment, then you can get an older Nikon SB-600 for less than $200. If you are not afraid to shoot in manual mode without TTL, the older Nikon speedlights such as SB-26 and SB-28 are also of great value and you can snatch those used for less than $100.

If budget is not a big issue for you and you just want to get a good flash, the list of flashes to recommend is based on features they offer:

  1. Nikon SB-600 – once again, a great value for the money for those who need a single flash to go on camera or to be used in an off-camera setup. If you do not care about triggering other flashes (master mode), then the SB-600 is your best bet.
  2. Nikon SB-700 – the newly released SB-700 is around $100 more than the SB-600, but has a bunch of new features the SB-600 does not have. It can work as a master and a slave, has a newly designed user interface that is very intuitive when compared to the SB-600, comes with a very useful diffusion dome plus two filters/gels for indoors shots and much more. It will certainly be a very popular flash among photo enthusiasts.
  3. Nikon SB-910 – the Mercedes-Benz of Nikon speedlights, the SB-910 is a high-end speedlight designed for enthusiasts and professionals that need the most features for demanding applications. Priced at $550, the SB-910 can be used both as a master and a slave, has a similar intuitive user interface as the SB-700, comes with plenty of accessories such as diffuser dome, filter set and flash stand, has an automatic flash zoom head that can zoom in and out based on the focal length you are using and more. The biggest two advantages of the Nikon SB-910 over SB-700 is that it has a PC/sync cord for connecting external flash units such as PocketWizard and ability to use powerful battery packs.
  4. Quantum Qflash TRIO QF8N – an expensive top-of-the-line flash that has an ultra-fast recycle time and lots of power. Unlike Nikon speedlights, it has a large reflector on the front which diffuses the light coming out of the flash for better quality images and softer shadows. It can work as a master or a slave with additional modules.

Another flash that did not make it to the list because it is now discontinued, is the Nikon SB-800. If you can find it new in a local camera store or get it used, the Nikon SB-800 is a superb flash that can do almost everything SB-910 can.

So, which one should you buy? As you can see, it all depends on how much you are willing to spend and what you will be using it for. If you shoot corporate events and weddings, you certainly want to get SB-800, SB-910 or the Quantum Qflash. You will need all the power and reliability these flashes can provide. If you are going to be using a flash occasionally on-camera or off-camera, then I would go either with the SB-600 or SB-700, depending on your budget. If you are shooting with an entry-level Nikon DSLR such as Nikon D3100/D5000 or older cameras like D40/D40x/D60/D3000 that do not have a commander mode to trigger slave flashes, then you will need to get two flashes – one that could be used as a master and one that could be used as a slave. You can get an SB-700 to serve as a master and a Nikon SB-600 as a slave for those situations.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions. My next article is going to be specifically about Nikon Speedlights and differences between them.


  1. 1) Mon Montero
    December 11, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks Nasim for this very helpful article, now i know what the next flash will i buy, i have a SB-600 already and i will buy the high end SB-900 flash to do more creative lighting setup because i always shoot indoors..thanks again and more power to your site..By the way beautiful sample shot especially the second shot with lola..:)

    • December 16, 2010 at 2:58 am

      Thank you Mon!

      The Nikon SB-900 is excellent – you won’t be disappointed!

    • 1.2) Kevin
      March 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      Hi Nasim,

      I was advised from my friend to buy the new Metz flash AF58-2 model for my new nikon d7000, would you have any feedback for this flash, your advise are very helpful and much appreciated. Thanks



  2. 2) Tom
    December 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Nasim- thanks for this series of very helpful articles. I will look forward to the next in the series. I am waiting for the SB-700 to become available, I am pretty sure that is the one I want.

    • December 16, 2010 at 2:59 am

      Tom, yes the SB-700 is an excellent choice. I believe you can already preorder it with B&H, but it is not yet available. Will let you know when it becomes available.

  3. 3) Jaime
    December 12, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Thank you! Great article. I have started using my (at first intimidating) sb-600 for indoor family shots and the results can be amazing! There are still plenty of questions I have on it- looking forward to future articles. :)

    • December 16, 2010 at 3:00 am

      Thank you Jaime!

      We will post another video hopefully tomorrow!

  4. 4) victor
    December 12, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Thanks man! very comprehensive. I am a light weight maniac, do you have any suggestions on flashes using only 2-AA batteries? SB-400 is a choice but it can only swing the light up, any flashes with the ability to swivel?

    • December 16, 2010 at 3:02 am

      Victor, unfortunately, all flashes I know of with rotatable heads use 4 AA batteries…

  5. December 12, 2010 at 8:10 am

    I need to start photographing interiors with my D80. Does the sb-600, 700 or 800 work on a stand and with the d80? I am a little confused about that. I find the on camera flash makes an awful picture as you said… directing the light at an angle to the camera is ideal. As always, thanks so much for your information. I want to rent the lights if I can to see what is best for me. Is the 700 much better than the 600???

    • December 16, 2010 at 3:05 am

      Dean, yes, SB-600, SB-700, SB-800 and SB-900 all work as remote flashes in an off-camera configuration with the D80 as a commander. And yes, the SB-700 is much better than the SB-600 in my opinion.

      • 5.1.1) SALEEM SHAIKH
        March 5, 2013 at 5:17 am

        thanks Mr. Nasim Mansurov… even my query was the same.. i’m your great FAN i follow all most all tutorials of yours thanks for your great work… May Allah bless you and your Family

  6. 6) Rahul
    December 12, 2010 at 8:17 am

    hi Nasim,
    for off camera use, you would need some kind of stand to hold the flash at a desired height and angle, right ? What can one use for this – not a tripod , I suppose. In the 3rd shot where the flash is at the side – what does this setup look like ? I can imagine it looks like a white umbrella used to diffuse the flash’s light ..but how large ?

    I’d say all this gets very bulky for an enthusiast/amateur – the size and weight of all the gear. And if you have to travel, airline regulations are ever so stingy :( . Good photography tools are largely becoming a niche only for professionals who must have this gear and get paid to carry it around (including airline baggage ! ) , else image an amateur with a D700 and , 24-70, 70-200 and 400mm lens , SB900 and tripodat airport checkin , out on African safari hoping to get good shots on the masai mara.

    With so much to setup before you capture, I don’t think I’d get candid , spontaneous shots.
    Considering my need for weight/compactness and budget, an SB600 at most. What about the SB400 , you haven’t mentioned it anywhere.

    • 6.1) Rahul
      December 12, 2010 at 8:42 am

      Whoops, on Nikon’s domestic website, SB900 costs $650 and SB600 costs around $299 , SB700 price is not announced but i can estimate around $430. The D7000 body is $1650 and $1999 with 18-105mm VR kit.

      Street prices maybe 5-8% lower, but Nikon is selling to our 3rd world market at higher prices than US, Europe prices are likely closer ( a bit lesser I guess) than here !

    • 6.2) Karl
      December 12, 2010 at 11:02 am

      in future if I take photos for a wedding or anything else in this direction;
      I would take all that stuff with me.
      to get better results – that’s what counts.
      And even outdoor a good flash setup could boost your pictures
      from normal to outstanding.
      That why I will invest more in flashing :-)

      • 6.2.1) Rahul
        December 13, 2010 at 7:46 am

        certainly, if it’s a paid job , you must carry the best gear you can. For the enthusiasts not making money off their gear , it’s overkill to carry 20lbs of gear wherever you go. It’s fine if you’re on a car trip, but for vacations with flight rules , or bike rides or picnics , plain overkill, you couldn’t enjoy the trip with all that weight and the worry if it gets lost/stolen.

        • Karl
          December 13, 2010 at 8:17 am

          Hi Rahul,
          it depends …
          In my case : I love it and so I would take as much equipment as needed. Even if it’s heavy;
          I think this is a personal thing how mad you want to be :-)


          • Rahul
            December 14, 2010 at 8:58 am

            hi Karl,

            yes, totally depends on how crazy about you’re about getting it ‘right’ !
            I bow to practicality , carrying only my 18-105 and 50mm lenses with spare battery and card in a small bag, the 55-300 only when I expect to use the long focals.

    • December 16, 2010 at 3:08 am

      Rahul, I will post a video explaining the off-camera set up this week. It is actually very compact and very easy to set up for a beginner!

  7. 7) Karl
    December 12, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Very good Intro Nasim!
    I think about in future to enhance my flash capabilities,
    there is a lot of creative power behind;

    The first one-flash pictures is amazing!

  8. 8) Eric
    December 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Nasim, Once again, a great article!

    I have an old nikon D3 and it doesn’t have a built-in flash. Usually, I’m fine not using flash at all but once a while, I wonder if my pictures would have come out better with a flash. Thinking about sb-400 for $120. It is less powerful than sb-600 or above but it’s small, 2 AA-batteries and its head can be tilted upward and light can be bounced off the ceiling or piece of paper (fold in a way so it can bound the flash light).

    Do you think it would be worth just because of the size or should I just suck it up and get sb-700 ?

    Just wondering.

    • December 16, 2010 at 3:10 am

      Eric, don’t buy the SB-400 – you will certainly regret it later. I would just get the SB-700 or the older SB-600, which is $100 cheaper.

      • 8.1.1) Eric
        December 20, 2010 at 2:42 pm

        Thank you very much for the advice Nasim. I have an old film camera F100. Would SB-600 or SB-700 work on F100 as well as my D3? Although I don’t use F100 much at all, it would be nice to know if those flashes work on both bodies. Eric

  9. 9) farid
    December 13, 2010 at 2:00 am

    thanks for a great article….

  10. 10) Michael
    December 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Good overall review.

    I have a question: do you know if the SU-800 fires and controls the Quantum Qflash Trio QF8N in the same way that it controls the sb 800 and SB 900 Nikon units. QF8N has a built in FreeeXwire and uses Radio Wireless TTL. The Nikon SU 800 Commander uses line of sight and not Radio TTL. So in order to use the Qflash, would one have to purchase a radio transmitter for Qflash as well, in which case the price will be quite high?

    Thank you,


    • December 16, 2010 at 2:54 am

      Michael, the SU-800 uses infrared (line of sight) to wirelessly communicate with other flashes. QF8N uses radio with a built-in receiver, so you would need to get a FreeXwire transmitter for your camera. You only need one for your camera though…

      Hope this helps!

  11. 11) Lisa Sellge Pachuta
    December 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    i’m confused about how to use off camera flash with a D3s since there is no built in commander mode/pop up flash. I read about an SU-800 but mixed reviews. Is there any other way to use infrared with the D3s?

    • January 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      Lisa, don’t bother buying the SU-800. Either get another SB-900 or buy two flash triggers like PocketWizard.

  12. December 21, 2010 at 9:39 pm


    Thanks for the article. I am looking to buy a flash bracket that won’t cost me more than $100. Do you have any recommendations?

    Liju Augustine

    • January 5, 2011 at 5:25 pm

      Liju, I personally don’t use a flash bracket, so I don’t think I would be able to give you a good recommendation. The problem with flash brackets, is that you also have to buy a long cord for the flash…

  13. 13) Karl
    December 22, 2010 at 4:11 am

    As my attention draws nearer to flash technology – I am appreciating your flash blog series – I look at pictures with different eyes now;

    just a little example : A picture of Nicole Kidman : http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-62918-11.html

    A harsh flash from the left side; and some diffuse light from the right background.
    first I thought : a second flash, but it’s the one flash throwing it’s light also to the background wall paper;
    Amazing : just another decoupled One-Flash-Example

    • January 5, 2011 at 5:27 pm

      Karl, nice observation! There might not be a flash on the right side – if the shutter speed was slow, the light on the right side might be ambient :)

  14. 14) Milo
    January 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Hi there! Great website and very informative. I have recently bought an SB 600 but am having trouble finding info on the net specific to it. I have read the manual but find it difficult to understand. Perhaps you would be so kind as to do a post explaining how the different levels are set – ie when you would use for example 1/64 -0.7 or 1/32 +0.5 etc. Also, I am using them in conjunction with some Yongnuo 602s but only seem to be able to use the flash in M mode (not TTL) when it is off camera.

    Any help would be much appreciated!

    • January 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

      Milo, I recommend to set your flash to “TTL” mode instead of trying to figure out what to do with manual exposure settings. We will soon be posting more info on shooting in manual mode, so please check back.

  15. 15) Milo
    January 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    ah I just read your other post -M is the only setting I can use off camera with my 602s!

    • January 10, 2011 at 11:52 am

      Oh, I see…in that case you will have to learn how to use manual flash. Start off at ISO 100 and set your flash power to 1/4th and see how it works. If it is too much flash, decrease the number to 1/8th, 1/16th, etc. If you don’t have enough, increase to 1/2. Try not to shoot at 1 (full power) – if you must, then do not shoot frequently, as you can burn your flash.

  16. 16) Wesley
    February 3, 2011 at 8:02 pm


    I’m on a tight budget, but I would like the sb600. Would you recommend buying used? Do they keep their value like lenses do?

    Your blog has been so helpful.



    • 16.1) Rahul
      February 4, 2011 at 10:22 am

      I don’t know about holding value of flashes, my guess is they don’t hold much used . Flash uses electronic components some of which see very high voltages and get hot in the process, so depending on its use, would lose its operative life quicker compared to lenses (which now use motors and electronics as opposed to purely mechanical ones earlier . Anyway, lenses don’t quite see voltages/temperatures like flashes do, to be fair and thus should last much longer). Thus , I’d say buying used flash is riskier, as you don’t know easily how much service life it has left in it.

      Should you get SB600 – the SB600 is more powerful than the SB400 and can rotate the head left-right as well as move it up for bounce. The Sb400 can only move the head up for bounce flash and can only be used on the camera, not off-camera as the SB600.

      So if you need the off-camera use and/or need to use directional bounce (of the wall rather than ceiling), the Sb600, else the SB400 should be adequate.

    • February 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      Wesley, I do not see any problems with buying a used SB-600, as long as it works and is not heavily used/damaged. Flashes do not keep their value as lenses though…

  17. 17) Ding Guingab
    July 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    Thanks for the informative flash blog. I have a D3 and SB 800. I want to shoot with the SB 800 off camera. Should I buy another SB 800 or get a pocket wizard? I am a fan of yours and frequent your website when I can.

    • July 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Ding, I would get a pair of pocket wizards (you will need two), since you can use them with other devices and you do not really need another SB-800, unless you are planning to add some other light in your scene.

  18. 18) sharon
    July 25, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Hello Nasim,

    My name is Sharon and i am just new in photography. Any suggestions for the flash i should buy for 5100?
    Really, i learn a lot from your site. Hoping you will continue giving tips and advices for us.

  19. 19) George
    August 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Dear Nasim

    I am considering buying a Nissin Di866 to go with my Nikon D5000 as the reviews I have read have been very positive. any thoughts.

  20. 20) Robin
    August 29, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Nice summary. It may be worth pointing out that Nikon flashes (unfortunately) suffer from overheating if used very often!!!!

    I live in a fairly warm region (south of France) and have the Nikon SB-900 overheat on me about 1 out of every 3 weddings I shoot. It always happens outdoors as the flashes try to compensate for the harsh sun we have here, in particular during the group shots in the afternoon. I use one on camera Sb-900 flash that triggers two remote SB-900 and Sb-600 flashes (CLS). I can’t put the people into the sun (hot & they end up squinting their eyes), so they usually have to be moved to the shadows. So having backup flashes, firing multiple flashes at 1/2 power, or possible investing in the expensive Quantum models are the only options here.

    If you’re not shooting many images per minute away from harsh sunlight there is no problem as the speedlights can cool off enough or you can compensate by upping your ISO and using low aperatures with fast lenses.

  21. 21) Daniel Haaf
    September 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm


    And many thanks for this great blogpost which really was pleasing to read. After searching for a good and affordable flash I settled with a Metz 50 AF-1 for my Nikon D7000. Sure, its not an original Nikon or top of the line, but I find it very usable and way better then the built-in flash.

    Have you tried any flash from Metz and if so – what did you think about it?

  22. 22) Priscilla
    November 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Hi, very good articule. Thank you soo much for all that information. I have a question. I have a SB-700 and i wolud like to buy the SB-900 but, i want yo play with the external flashes using a wireless control for both flashes SB700 and SB900 and use them on diferents positions and tripode. Can you give a brand or a recomendation of a good control wireless for them?

  23. 23) Raul
    December 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    hi, i wonder why / how Yongnuo is not in the list flashes under $100, never the less, i am using Yongnuo YN560 with my Nikon D7000 & Nikon D40X, was waiting for YN560EX but its released for CANON & i wonder when they are going to release for Nikon.

    i basically do all types of photography or lets say my options are open, was looking for a good auto flash under or around $100, would you please recommend me one ????

    • 23.1) olayinka
      March 13, 2013 at 4:59 am

      Hi Raul,I dont know if you have experience this problem with When ever I switched to Auto mode the on my camera and in built flash will open when the external flash is plug.Any suggestion to this issue.

    • 23.2) olayinka
      March 13, 2013 at 5:24 am

      Hi Raul,
      I don’t know if you help me with this challenge. Whenever I switched my Camera to Auto while the external flash is on the camera in the process of taking a shot the inbuilt flash will open. Affect the external flash not to work.

      • 23.2.1) Raul
        March 13, 2013 at 8:32 am

        hi olayinka, actually i never saw this as a problem, whenever i attached my external flash, i always used to turn off my inbuilt flash & always repeated this process whenever I changed my mode or turned my DSLR off and on.

  24. 24) J.R.
    January 26, 2012 at 11:00 am

    I have started to use the SB700 and it is a lot easier than SB800 due the majority of its functions that are implemented by switches. Operating these two speedlights is like night and day.

  25. 25) Kathleen
    February 1, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Would the SB900 be compatible with my Nikon D3100? I was a little confused in the last paragraph, where you said I would need to get two flashes. Could you explain this? I’m just starting to delve into learning about external flashes. Thanks!

    • 25.1) Raul
      February 1, 2012 at 8:46 am

      You can go for Yongnuo YN565EX which is of same build as SB900 & will serve you the same way.

  26. 26) Kathleen
    February 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Thank you! I will look into it. Why is there such a price difference between the Yongnuo and SB900? I am thinking of getting into shooting weddings possibly, so I would rather start off with good equipment if I am going to end up buying it anyway. Do you have an opinion on this/quality difference between the two?

    • 26.1) Raul
      February 1, 2012 at 9:11 am

      i have SB900, Yongnuo YN560 & Yongnuo YN565EX, apart from YN560 which is manual flash, the build quality & Functions of SB900 & YN565EX are the same, if YN565EX would have released before SB900 i would have opted for that.

    • 26.2) Raul
      February 1, 2012 at 9:13 am

      Sorry one more thing, the difference between the two is the price factor which is confusing you, then better got for SB910.

  27. 27) Kathleen
    February 1, 2012 at 11:55 am

    thanks! could I use the Yongnuo YN565EX as the slave and SB910 as the master? as SB600 slave is just pricey for me right now, if I were to get the SB910 as well

  28. 28) BRIAN
    February 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    which flash is best for my nikon D40, the SB 600 or the SB700?

  29. 29) Tanker10a
    February 2, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I have initially purchased the SB800 as my primary. After reading about having Secondary Light, I have decided to purchase the SB700. The significant difference between these two gems is the way Nikon has simplified the primary menu functions to switch functions.
    It’s much lighter than the SB800.

  30. 30) Luis
    February 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Hi I am a beginner and I got the Nikon D7000 with 18-105mm. I will get Nikon Nikkor Lens – 35 mm – F/1.8 from bestbuy soon. I am thinking to get an external flash also. Should I get the sb-700 or sb-900 ? I searched on the web and I found that the price are similar.

  31. 31) DDP
    April 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Really enjoyed this article. I’m a newbie also diving into photography. I have had my D5000 over a year now…wish I would have opted for another but can’t afford D7000 body just yet. I understand that my cam doesn’t have commander mode to trigger slave and I will need 2 flashes but is it necessary to buy them at the same time. Am I able to buy one now to use on camera????

    And which would you suggest initially???? been looking into sb 700…but I would love the power of 800 or 900..but now out with the 910… I have lots to learn I know.

  32. 32) Phil R
    May 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Nice article but I bought a Metz flash and I think you’re wrong to ignore this maker they’ve some great units and a pro end model too.
    Saying “just buy Nikon” is not only predictable, but it’s also incorrect to state you don’t get the full monty with the CLS..you do with most of the higher end other makers

  33. 33) Val
    May 6, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Mr. Nasim,

    I really really appreciate all your articles and it really helps me a lot as as beginner.. More Power to your site and keep up the good work on photography.. God Bless

  34. 34) Randy
    May 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Great artical as I am just now wanting to dabble with speedlights. I had a buddy give me an old sb-28. My question is if that older flash is safe to use on my d5000? I know I will have to do things manually as far as the settings go, but have heard of voltage issues with older flashes and new cameras. What are your thoughts?

  35. 35) glen uy
    May 9, 2012 at 7:27 am

    hi nasim!

    what can you say about the Nissin Di622 Mark II speedlite….im considering to buy it because Nikons are very expensive. im from philippines and the flash guns you recommended above are not offered here in my country, in my city. the only ones available here are nikon, canon, nissin and yongnuo flashes.

    for the price of the nikon sb 700 i could already buy 2 Nissin flashes i mentioned above…

    hoping for your response….


  36. 36) Acis
    May 12, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Thanks you great article! most helpful!! and straight forward than other reviews!

  37. 37) Christine
    May 21, 2012 at 4:56 am


    This blog answered alot of my questions. I have a D3000, what would you recommend for an external flash for this camera??


  38. 38) Sameer
    June 12, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Greetings Mr. Nasim:

    I would appreciate if you could help me out in finalizing another flash gun for my CLS set up. I currently own a D7000 and a SB 700. I’m looking forward to buy another flash gun to be used together with my current set up of D7000 and SB700. I enjoy doing portraits both, outdoors and indoors. However, I enjoy outdoors more due to interesting backgrounds and playing with the ambient light at golden hours.

    Now, coming to the question. Can you please help me decide which second flash gun should I buy? *as i said i already own a SB 700* Should U go for SB-910 OR another SB 700? Later on, probably after 6-8 months I’ll add on the third flash gun too but right now which one should i go for?

    Please post me your answer and if possible backed up by some reasoning.

    Thank you and have a great day! :)


  39. 39) PaoVM
    June 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Mr Nasim,

    I want to purchase a flash for my Nikon d3100, since I’ve been increasing the amount of indoor pictures recently and getting more jobs on photography. I now this is an entry level DSLR and I have come to the decision of saving up to buy a Nikon d800.
    I want a flash that I can use a lot with my d3100 whilst I save for the d800. Do you recommend the SB600 for both of them, or the SB700? I will like to keep the flash for both bodies.

    thanks in advance!

  40. 40) Hrvoje
    July 11, 2012 at 3:35 am


    some great guides and tips. I keep coming back to this one, i feel it needs an update since the SB600 is discontinued and really hard to find these days. SB700 is way above that 200$ price range in Europe, it’s close to 400$ with tax, so i could use some recommendations which one to get. I’d like a kinda serious unit, but not really 400$ serious :)

  41. 41) Ahsan Saeed
    August 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I was using SB600 and was quit satisfied with it as well but now i have upgraded to SB700 and now facing a problem as the default mode on it in TTL is TTL-BL. So my concern is does it make any difference as i use matrix metering mode with TTL previously and normally bounce the flash. So does it fine if i now use TTL-BL with matrix metering and bounce the flash. Plz help me i am really confused. I have also read it somewhere that nikon has advanced the TTL flash system so it doesn’t make any difference now as TTL OR TTL-BL as flash now sense it accordingly. My camera is Nikon D3100

  42. September 4, 2012 at 3:51 am

    okay, sir you have made my day. Simply by writing this article . I really did need this kind of help and extra information and some actual clarification on the flash issue, I knew the pop-up flash is horrible and needed a flash unit but had no idea what to look for, or what i needed. Thank you.

  43. 43) Tawan
    October 18, 2012 at 3:01 am

    Wonderful article, thank you! Been taking photos my whole life but only starting to do events. I’ve been shooting parties without flash with my D3 and the 50 1.4 which has served me amazingly. But i’m getting a bit tired and would love to try flash even though i do not like the outcome. I’m not interested in investing on an amazing flash yet, so your Vivitar recommendation fits the bill. I’d like to try to hold the flash in my left hand to get a different perspective. Would you be keen to share some of the settings and tips please?

  44. November 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Great information, special thanks. I got a new ‘n cheap strobist setup recently. All these information is helpful.

    I am working on Yongnuo flashes, and getting great results..

    Turkiyeden selamlar..

  45. 45) Ripon Halder
    January 29, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Hello Mr. Nasim,
    Thanks to you

  46. 46) Ripon Halder
    January 29, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Hello Mr. Nasim,
    Thanks to you for your aritcle. I am sure that this article will help lots of bigginers and those who doing some proffessinal jobs like me. I am a marrige cerimony photographer, not so populer, wants to stay in my profession for long time and do some good jobs. I have nikon D3000 camera, don’t have any dedicated external flash till now but will go for it. I need your suggession. Is SB-910 will adjust with my camera? or I have to go for SB-700/800. Please also suggest me, how i will be better in my professional photography?
    Thanks and Regards,

    • 46.1) Sameer
      January 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Hi Ripon:
      Qoute: “Is SB-910 will adjust with my camera? or I have to go for SB-700/800”

      Any of the above flash guns you mentioned above will fit in your Nikon D3000 and will work absolutely fine TTL and Manual purpose as well. However, I would NOT receommed the SB 900 – as it has some serious overheating/cut off problems. You may buy its upgraded version of SB 910 and this is the top of the line flash gun of Nikon. SB 700 is a very nice flash gun size wise and has MOST of the things with the SB 910 has except for pc-sync ports (which is important to some photogrpahers).

  47. 47) Anand Risbud
    February 17, 2013 at 1:13 am


    Which is the best external Flash option for Nikon D80

  48. 48) justin
    February 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Hi. Im using a NikonD3000 but I want to upgrade to a better Nikon. Which model do you think would be best? I want to spend less than 500. Thanks



  49. 49) Marek Kaczmarek
    March 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    Thanks God that people like you still are on our world :) and they share their knowledge and experience with others :)
    Your article is very helpful, gave me a lots of new tricks and advises how to use a flash :)
    I have found this web page while researching for my new flash gun :) unfortunately I cannot afford none of Nikon flashes and I have to look for a much cheaper one :( I don’t know if I could ask you for any advice about my choice, but I appreciate if you could give me any idea about.
    Yongnuo Speedlite YN-565EX I know is designed for Canon but I have heard is also works fine on Nikon. Do you have any experience with this flash ? Looking forward hearing from you :)

  50. 50) Mohammad Raza
    March 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Excellent information and recommendations. I was confused about selecting a right one for my Nikon DSLR. I have some direction here. Thanks again for putting together this information.

  51. 51) Cristian V
    April 5, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Ok, you convinced me! SB-910 as a master. What do you recommend as a slave?

  52. 52) Johnnel Abalaka
    April 17, 2013 at 7:53 am

    I just stumble into your article now, found it very educative, i bought SP 680 for Nikon D40, i need more information about SP680. Thank you.

  53. 53) Boyd
    May 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I shoot events quite often, with a D90 with a SB600 flash. I’m thinking of buying another (3th party) flash, not sure about brands though. (not sure about Nissin or Yongnuo, anyone knows more about them?)

    I would like to try some (wireless, pocketwizard) strobist shooting in the near future. Help would be greatly appreciated, as I’m on a budget.

  54. 54) Boyd
    May 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I shoot events quite often, with a D90 with a SB600 flash. I’m thinking of buying another (3th party) flash, not sure about brands though. (not sure about Nissin or Yongnuo, anyone knows more about them?)

    I would like to try some (wireless, pocketwizard) strobist shooting in the near future. Help would be greatly appreciated, as I’m on a budget.

  55. 55) Motti
    May 31, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I am going for the YONGNUO 560 II. At around $80 and with 190gn it is more powerful than many flashes. Another great plus is the generic battery pack that is made for it that goes for around $30. Many great reviews on this flash.

    Can’t wait to receive the two I ordered and try them on my next event.

  56. 56) tatan
    July 22, 2013 at 2:34 am

    hello nasim… do you have any recommended wireless flash trigger for SB-600..? I am using a D90 which uses the pop-up flash for triggering the the SB-600 in wireless mode.. thanks…

  57. 57) Amy
    August 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Hi. I am very new to indoor photography. I have an uncle that sent me some lights and light stands. I currently use a Nikon D3100 camera, which I recently bought. It is my first DSLR camera. Question. The lights he sent me I believe work with an external flash, which I don’t have. The lights are interfit colorflash 300i lights. I have two of them. What is the most cost efficient flash I can buy that will work with these lights? I am eager to learn and grow and you seem extremely knowledgeable. Thanks.

  58. 58) lucius
    September 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    please i have nikon 3100d and i want to buy speedligt flash and zoom lence please which one should i go for

  59. 59) Valerie
    September 9, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I have a D3200, I Loveee it, I want to help a friend shoot weddings, and I was wondering what Flash you would recommend? Im on a budget. Please help. Your article is awesome!

  60. 60) Betsy
    September 13, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Great article, thanks! I’m a beginner and I have a D5000. I’d like to shoot better indoor pictures of my kids and family so I need my first flash. In the last paragraph you mention a D5000 being one of the cameras that needs two flashes. Does that mean no matter which one I get, I’ll need two? Can any of them be used alone? Thanks!

  61. 61) john
    October 14, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Conceder Phottix Mitros TTL for Nikon or wait for “+” ,you will be very surprised !


  62. 62) Matt
    February 26, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Looks like the SB-600 is also discontinued. I looked at the link and it showed discontinued with only the SB-700 available at $326.00. Does anyone know of a middle ground between that and what the SB-600 was priced at?

  63. 63) Tracy
    April 25, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Do you have any recommendations for a flash bracket, using a Nikon D600 and SB-910 flash?


  64. 64) Maame Afua Nyame-Kyeh
    August 18, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Thanks a dozen. This advise has been great….it seems as if you were reading me like a book. Didn’t understand when my photography lecturer told me the camera is a house. Now i do get it… but this is an expensive hobby that I aim to keep up. Definitely going for the NISB-700..just have to work towards it.

  65. 65) Sana
    September 7, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Hi thanks for the great article, Ive been doing my own research on buying a flash. I am an amateur right now at dslr photography. I have started with the basic D3200 and was looking for a good flash. Would you recommend SB 700 or 600?

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