D40 External Flash

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by HomeingPigeon, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. HomeingPigeon macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    #1
    I have a very limited budget. Lets start there. I would like the Sb-800 but I don't have quite that much money. I would be using this flash this winter for shooting skiing pictures on the mountain. Would the SB-600 work for that? It is about 200 dollars cheaper than the 800.

    http://www.adorama.com/NKSB600AFR.html

    That is the link from Adorama that I found. Are there any other options or have I found the best one?
     
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #2
    Light is light. The '600 has slightly less power but that is it. BTW I think the SB800 is now discontinued replaced by the SB900 but there are still many SB800s in retail stock.

    But if budget is really tight you can use almost any flash with your camera. Try an older Nikon SB25 (used for about $75) or even an older Vivitar 284 for about $40 on eBay. Neither of these will work in full automatic mode but if you know enough to know why you might need a powerful flash outdoors in bright light you likely can figure out manual flash.

    Even if you go with the SB600 do work out the exposure using the guide number and distance BEFOR you spend the $$ on the flash. Make sure it has the required power. Outdorr fill flash takes a lot of power because you are competing with the sun
     
  3. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #3
    If you are considering the SB600, look at the SB400 too. It's much smaller and lighter and half the price. Since the SB600 won't work as a wireless control unit (the 800 and 900 will, the 400 also won't) it's basically just bigger and heavier and more expensive (and puts out more light as well, so do the exposure math as suggested to see how much power you'll need).
     
  4. thomahawk macrumors 6502a

    thomahawk

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    Sep 3, 2008
    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
    #4
    I highly suggest the Nikon SB-400 its cheap and the best flash ever!
     
  5. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #5
    More power is better outdoors, I'd go with the 600 over the 400 for that reason alone. If you cover up the "extra" contacts on either unit, you can shoot with fill flash past the sync speed since the D40 doesn't do FP Sync by default.
     
  6. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #6
    Ditto, it's the perfect companion for the D40. If you're shooting indoors with friends for the most part, then it's plenty powerful, too.
     
  7. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Northern/Central VA
    #7
    GN 69 vs GN 98 @ ISO 100, outdoors? It's not quite twice the distance (though Nikon does rate the SB-400 at 98 @ ISO 200- so we'll call it a stop or twice the distance) plus almost 30% more flashes @68 degrees- meaning more flashes out in the snow plus a much shorter flash duration if you don't have to shoot at max power.

    I think that you have a strange idea of "best."

    Never seen an indoor mountain people ski on ;)
     
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Apr 14, 2001
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    Sendai, Japan
    #8
    From experience (I own one, went for the SB-400 because of size, not price), the power is plenty for distances up to 4, perhaps 5 m (depending on the lighting).

    There were only a few times when I really needed more power (wedding in a dark church after sunset was one of them).
    I was speaking only in general terms. Obviously it works just fine as a fill-in flash outside.
    (To be honest, I haven't used the SB-400 while skiing, but I've used the pop-up flash of my deceased Olympus E-20 (which is arguably weaker) as a fill-in flash. Worked just fine for a group shot or a portrait. Wouldn't have worked so well on an action shot, I guess.)

    @OP
    So what situations do you have in mind? Do you want to use it as a fill-in flash? Or for action shots?
     
  9. Nicholie macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2008
    Location:
    Huntsville, Al
    #9
    The SB400 is a great companion to the D40 I'd say.The only reason you'd want the more expensive big brother SB600 is for its slightly more powerful flash. S

    Since the D40's popup flash can't commander any flash what so ever, you really have no need to go any bigger than the SB400
     
  10. James L macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 14, 2004
    #10
    The SB400 is in no way the best flash.... but it does suffice for many people.

    It has three major shortcomings for me (someone can correct me if I am wrong):

    1) Tilt, but no swivel. This means you can bounce the flash off of a ceiling in landscape mode only... turn your camera to portrait mode and no ceiling bounce. Lame.

    2) No manual on flash controls. Many photographers work with their lights in manual mode (myself included).

    3) No wireless CLS capabilities (not as big an issue with the d40).

    Let's face it, the worst light possible comes from direct on camera flash. The SB400 will work fine for a little bit of fill flash, or bounced off a ceiling in landscape orientation.

    If you need anything beyond that however (bounced flash in portrait orientation, using the flash in manual mode, want to use the flash wirelessly, etc) you are very limited.

    The SB400 ain't bad, and for some people it is all they need. It does have many limitations though.
     
  11. HomeingPigeon thread starter macrumors regular

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    Aug 1, 2007
    #11
    Thanks for all of the replys. From the looks of it I will get the SB-400.

    Thanks
     
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #12
    You CAN bounce an SB400 in vertical compositions but it requires a flash bracket. I have a stroboframe that allows the camera to rotate while the flash stays put on top.

    If you want "ugly" try a direct aimed SB400 with the camera held vertically. What you get is a side shadow on the background. Flash bracket prevents this but the SB600 is more cost effective as the brackets run $60 to $100 and the required sync cord a bunch more over that.
     
  13. James L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #13
    Exactly. Direct flash as the primary light source is horrid at the best of times, but even more so when the flash throws a side shadow.

    The pivot and tilt of the SB600 makes it the minimum Nikon flash to purchase, imho.
     
  14. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #14
    Well, direct flash is OK when it's used in already bright sunlight to illuminate your subject (as you would do outside skiing). That is to say it is impossible to use a bounce flash outdoors (nothing to bounce off of). An external flash is good for "fill flash" to properly expose your subject while not overexposing your background (again, this describes skiing perfectly).

    So, for the stated purpose, the swivel options of the 400 vs 600 are pretty much moot. The ONLY advantage the 600 has over the 400 for outdoor use is its greater strength which may or may not be useful depending on what you think your shooting distances are going to be. Over maybe 12 or 15 ft. the SB600 is going to be noticeably better, I'd guesstimate. Since the snow is going to provide plenty of ambient light you only have to really worry about lighting your subjects faces, etc.

    (Well, and manual controls that I'm guessing MOST D40 users aren't going to care about and that you probably won't care about if you are trying to grab action shots - there's going to be enough to do keeping up with the camera settings and the skiers, I'll bet).

    Plus, it's maybe half the size of the 600 which could be a factor for lugging it around a mountain. Anyways, no argument that the 600 is the superior flash, but the 400's main drawbacks are at least partially mitigated by the stated use (outdoor winter photography - no bounce possible and shooting in an already very bright scene so only subject fill is needed). Plus, it's advantaged (size and price) could also be magnified by the state use (lugging around a smaller flash, and if you drop it in the snow and it breaks/gets lost forever you're only out $100 not $200).
     
  15. EugeneA macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    #15
    400 does not fire on manual

    A small correction. 400 will not fire with extra contacts covered.
    For some reason it needs iTTL protocol to fire at all. I agree with the rest of the comment.

     
  16. James L macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 14, 2004
    #16
    I totally agree. I said direct flash was horrid when it was used as the PRIMARY light source.

    I agree for the stated purpose, but what are the odds that one day the OP will want to use that flash somewhere besides the original intended place?

    I guess my philosophy is to buy big and grow into equipment, rather than buy small and be limited in the future.

    Can't disagree with that at all!
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #17
    Oh ugh, it's got to be the only Nikon flash that won't trigger off-camera with anything but an extended TTL cord then. In that case, I wouldn't touch one with a 15 ft. battle lance- the ability to go to optical or radio triggers and the ability to sync past the camera sync speed are important features for good lighting.

    But the brighter the ambient light, the more power you need on the fill to get a pleasing key to fill ratio, no?
     
  18. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    Feb 10, 2004
    #18
    Well, you need more power if you have lots of ambient light and lots of shadow to fill. So, if you're in a sunny field you'll need lots of light to fill the shadows on a person who is standing anywhere but facing the sun. If you're in a place with lots of ambient light coming from multiple directions then you'll need less power to fill the shadows (as there are less of them). Snow will reflect light all over the place so you should have decent light coming from all around. I think. My understanding of "flash theory" is limited at best, so maybe I'm wrong. But, that makes sense to me logically, and it's how I interpreted my readings about flashes.
     

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