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.
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.
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:
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:
Second, with just the right flash firing:
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.
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
Next are some examples of a vase taken with the flashes positioned differently.
Both flashes on the attachment ring:
Three flashes, two on the ring and one SB-700 (not included in the kit) placed behind the vase:
Three flashes, all off camera one centered behind and the other two behind and off to the sides slightly behind the vase:
SB-700 (not included) behind the vase, one SB-R200 in the vase and one on the 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:
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
- Build Quality
- Size and Weight
- Packaging and Manual
Photography Life Overall Rating
Want to avoid those CR123 batteries that are impossible to find? Order just the R1 system without the SB-800 commander. Then use your SB-700 flash as the commander. Don’t have one? Get the flash, it’s a great commander for this system and it’s a great flash unit in all other uses! The very best part? The SB-700 uses AA batteries. No more CR123 searches!
My error. I thought the SB-800 was the only unit using those CR123 batteries. On further reading I see both flash units use the same hard-to-find CR123 batteries. That’s a problem. My order is still shipping but I’ll be ordering backups for those batteries.
This article is very helpful, I really struggled to find stock in the UK, but I managed to find supplier have it in stock.
I was surprised when I received the package, the box was massive but this would make since with 2 flashes and the accessories.
If any UK buyer is looking for it here is the link and hope this help any UK based buyer looking for R1C1:
I bought this kit, as TTL on my Nikon ringflashes – SB29 and SB21B (dedicated for F3 – but adaptable to normal SLR hotshoe) no longer worked on DSLRs. Infuriating…. and Nikon has failed to upgrade their ringflashes. And I have supported Nikon since 1984, and both my ringflashes did years of work. This kit is expensive as it stands without the exorbitant costs of the CR123 batteries. I am surprised this problem is not mentioned. According to who you ask the rechargeable CR123s do or do not work on R300 flashes. Environmental costs of batteries underscores the antiquity of the R1C1
And it also needs not only the commander unit (on pro cameras with no built-in flash)and a 3rd R300 light to work properly. I decided not to be a guinea pig.
Nikon has forced me with no other option but to invest in Hahnel speedlights – with their excellent rechargeable system. I use lastolite add ons for macro. And I have the Kaiser LED ring light for simpler macro shooting. My take is the Nikon R1C1 is inferior, obsolete and overpriced – despite all the accessories.
Can the flash heads be used for other than macro photography i.e., as remote flashes set on a table or somewhere else?
Hi, I’m thinking about getting this flash system to use with the D800 and both the 105 & 60mm AF-D micro nikkors. I’ve read that you have to use the 60mm lens with the Nikon UR5 adapter. Is this true? Can’t you just mount the SX-1 attachment ring using the supplied 62mm adapter ring?
This is great article on the Nikon R1/R1C1 flash kit! I was just wondering if anyone using SB 200 off camera has had issues with wireless firing of the flashes, ’cause I just happen to remember to have read somewhere that the D7100 built-in flash popped up has to have direct eye sight of the SB-200s to make them fire off. Could anyone chime in?
Just bought this R1 kit and use my D800E as commander. With some testing I did I was hiding 1 of flash units out of sight but it fired without a problem. My first impressions that it’s real nice stuff. The flash units are a bit bigger than expected and with both of them on the lens a bit heavy. The bag is something I will discard because it’s big and heavy. However, I think it’s a good buy. The loose units go for 164$ each but when you have to buy all the adapters etc it will add up. Just wonder where the heck I left the bags of the flash units…….
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?
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.
Celidh – well said! Thanks.
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!
Thanks a lot for the advice Tom! I really appreciate it!
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.