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D40 with a SB-600, Should I get a SB800 or another SB600?

Davis Kiyonaga , Feb 22, 2009; 06:36 p.m.

Ok. I have a SB-600 that I use with my D40. I want to add another, off camera flash. I know I need to get a SB-800 to use as a commander if I want to use the SB600 wireless/off camera but... Here is my question. I would like to save money. What features will I lose if I just buy another SB-600 and get a 3rd party, flash sensitive wirelss slave to use with the off camera SB-600? I am very happy with the SB-600 and I would rather not pay the price for an 800 if I can get by with another 600. Thanks for your advice.

Responses


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Shun Cheung , Feb 22, 2009; 06:44 p.m.

May I suggest a different approach?

Since even new D80 bodies are very affordable nowadays, I would suggest upgrading the D40 to a D80, whose pop-up flash can be a Nikon CLS commander, and then you can use the D80 to command multiple SB-600 flashes. The D80 has plenty of other advantages over the D40.

If you don't use an i-TTL commander, you lose all advantages from Nikon CLS.

Davis Kiyonaga , Feb 22, 2009; 06:54 p.m.

Perfect. I can get a used d80 for about the same price as a new Sb-800! Thanks. Im getting a D80!

Tam Nguyen , Feb 22, 2009; 08:04 p.m.

Yup, I have the D80 and SB600. I cannot tell you how happy I am with the gear.

Tyler Willis , Feb 22, 2009; 10:53 p.m.

The D80 is certainly a good route. The only gotcha is that the D40 actually has better flash sync speed than any of the other Nikons (1/500th second). This can be helpful if you are trying to use flash to dial down the ambiant light on a bright day. You basicly shoot at a small aperture with a fast shutter speed, which makes the area not lit by the flash darker.
That's kind of spaciffic, but if you don't need the resolution of the D80, then a D40 w/ a SB800 on camera w/ a SB600 remote gives you more flexibility.

Frank Skomial , Feb 23, 2009; 12:43 a.m.

With D80 you have 1/200 s. sync and Auto remote flash FP sync at any speed.

With D40 you get 1/500 sync, but no FP mode. With D40 you can also get manual flash at full power at any shutter speed the camera shutter has, with some pins in the hot shoe isolation technique for Nikon brand flashes.

Not sure what the flashes will be used for, and if you have time to adjust flashes outputs and camera exposure settings in manual flash mode, when action shots are taken, and ambient lighting as well as shooting distance change fast. I would vote for D80 and the CLS system, but your application could require the other.

Frank Skomial , Feb 23, 2009; 12:53 a.m.

As Tyles noted, you can have CLS with SB-800 as a commander on D40, and SB-600 as remote CLS.
With D80 popup as commander you get use your SB-600 as remote CLS without the need to purchase a SB-800.

Rob Piontek , Feb 23, 2009; 04:44 a.m.

Here's an interesting trick... if you buy an SB-800 you can trigger it off camera with the built in flash of the D40 (or any camera) if the sb-800 is in SU-4 mode. The flash power must be set manually, at the flash, but It's still pretty nice. You could also add an optical slave to your SB-600 and do the same thing.

Personally I think off camera TTL CLS kind of sucks. Here's how it goes... TTL gets you close exposure wise, but it's never exactly what you want. You have to fine tune the flash exposure compensation. Not surprising, and not a big deal, but you might as well have been fine tuning the manual setting, but anyway now you've got the right exposure. Now you zoom in or out, or change the point of view, and your flash exposure is off again. In manual, you set it once, right, and it stays that way. The only good reason to use off camera TTL it is if you don't have time to adjust the flash power manually. And this doesn't happen very often.

That said, what is really nice, is being able to adjust the power, in manual, of the flashes at the camera, which you get with CLS. This only really matters if you need to get things done quickly. It saves the time of running back and forth to your flashes.

Also, I think (please check if you care) that on the D80 you only get control over one group. That is pretty limiting.

Whatever you decide, if you are interested in off camera flash, from this point on I would only buy flashes with a sync port. It makes life easier. It gives you more options with less gear and adaptors. I hate my SB-600 because it doesn't have a sync port. Sure you can add one, but this is a pain. Forget the SB-600. Also, I believe other older Nikon SBs, maybe the SB-26 has a built in optical slave. So you get wireless for free, and used it's under $100. Not bad. I have an SB-24, which has a sync port but no built in slave.

Rob Piontek , Feb 23, 2009; 04:53 a.m.

Also, I would much rather have the sync speed of the D40, and a 2nd flash, than CLS with the D80 and only 1 flash (and 1/200 sync speed). To me that is an easy decision. Just buy an optical slave for the SB-600 you already have, or hotshoe adaptors for the camera and flash and a sync cord to trigger the SB-600, and use the SB-800 in SU-4 wireless mode.

Elliot Bernstein , Feb 23, 2009; 06:17 a.m.

It might help to know some of the things you will be photographing with your wireless system and how many off-camera flashes you want/need. Additionally, I will offer you a couple more choices and things to consider.

First and possibly most important, especially when shooting portraits , the SB-800 and cameras with the built-in flash 'commander' emit a pre-flash which can be quite annoying during portrait sessions and cause some subject to close or partially close their eyes prior to the main flash. If you intend to shoot portraits, I suggest you shoot in manual mode or consider a Nikon SU-800 which triggers all the flash units in your setup with no pre-flash. (I believe there are covers you can put over your built-in flash that willl block the light from the flash but not the communication signal to the other flashes.) Another consideration is the distance between you and your subjects. When shooting subjects that will be a fair distance from the camera and/or when the flashes in your setup will be far the the camera, the SU-800 will give you significantly greater range. Another advantage of the SU-800 is you have full control of every flash in your setup at your fingertips (back of the SU-800) without having to go through the menu system of the camera. Adjustements in power output to each flash is quick and easy. Another issue... the built-in flash can also cause annoying shadows on your subject (depending on what you are shooting unless you cover it).

In your originall post, you state that you want to add another off camera flash and that you were on a tight budget. Keep in mind that even if your D40 had the pop-up flash that could act as a commander, you would still need another flash unit. Getting a body that has the 'commander' option built-in does not directly solve your problem.

You can buy 'slave' flashes for about $30 each that will trigger off any cameras flash, including the D40's. Keep in mind that you will be shooting in fully manual flash mode (which is not difficult) but if your shooting environment is static, it will be easy to set up (you only have to do it once) and will work extremely well for you, and most importantly, be highly affordable. The D40 must be used in manual mode, option 14, in the Custom Setting Menu when using digital slave flashes.

Adorama, Photo.nets partner, has several digtial slave flash units to choose from that will work perfectly with your D40. Here is a link:

(link)


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