Nikon's SB-400 flash

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Westside guy, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #1
    Hey all,

    I currently have the Nikon SB-600 flash. It's certainly a very nice flash; but it's kind of big for those times I want to walk around with just a camera and 1-2 lenses.

    The SB-400 was originally released as "a new flash for the D40" - but is there any reason it wouldn't work well on a larger camera, such as a D300 or a D3 (yeah, like I'm buying one)? Mainly I'm wondering if there are issues with shadows from a longer lens if I'm not bouncing the flash.

    Thanks!
     
  2. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000

    taylorwilsdon

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #2
    I use a SB-400 on the d300 once in a while and here's my take - its nice to have if you want to bounce off the ceiling, worthless if you don't. That's because the onboard (pop up) flash on the D300 is nearly as strong as the sb-400. I don't actually own the 400 (I have the sb-600) but my dad has the sb-400 and he uses it because you can tilt it up for bounce flash in family portraits. He uses it with a d300 as well. I do see a bit of shadow with bit lenses that have lens hoods.

    Edit - my dads favorite part about it (the real reason he uses it) is because he hooks it on an off-camera cord and uses it for off-camera lighting.

    My 2c - if its a weight issue preventing you from using the sb-600, I'd skip the sb-400 because your onboard flash is going to do just as well and save some more weight and $$$. With the d3, thats a different story because it has no pop up flash and you need something... the sb400 might be a good fit there.
     
  3. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #3
    No, I'm using it with my D80 and it performs flawlessly. It's much, much stronger than the built-in flash (I doubt the D300's pop-up flash is much stronger than Guide Number 12 (in metric units, of course)) and it is useful to bounce it.

    I haven't seen any shadows whatsoever from my 80-200 Nikkor (that qualifies as long, right ;)).

    It is very small (which is why I bought it despite having the money for an SB-600) and it is plenty strong for normal indoor photography. I was pushing it a lot when I was taking pictures of a wedding inside a church. But for parties or family gatherings, it's perfect. Even if you had a stronger flash, you would not need more power (and the exposure would be the same).

    It recycles quite quickly, I can usually take about four pictures in a row at normal working distances. I highly recommend it, it's is a lot better than any pop-up flash.
     
  4. Hmac macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    #4
    It's not on a par with the SB800 (or soon-to-be SB900, I'm sure), but it works fine on my D3. It's a nice flash to take along mainly because it's so small and light. I've not had shadowing on either my 17-35 f/2.8 or 28-70 f/2.8...never used it with the 70-200.

    It won't participate in CLS, but it has faster cycling, it's bounce-able, and won't shadow on most lenses where the pop-up will. And it's $110.
     

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  5. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000

    taylorwilsdon

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #5
    Quite wrong, the D300 pop up flash has a Guide number 17 when at full power :D

    By default, the d300 onboard flash is just as strong as the sb-400 but lacks the upwards tilt/bounce capability.
     
  6. Westside guy thread starter macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #6
    When comparing guide numbers you should be sure you're talking about the same ISO setting. For instance, my D70's built-in flash has a guide number of 11 at ISO 100 - but the base ISO for the camera is ISO 200 (and the guide number is 15 at that ISO). I think comparing guide numbers at ISO 100 is the standard practice.

    I appreciate all the responses so far. I must admit part of this is "what if" thinking on my part... at some point in the reasonably near future I'll be upgrading my camera, and the new one may or may not have a built-in flash. Plus as taylorwilsdon pointed out, the built-in flashes aren't tiltable.

    Addendum: The D80's guide number at ISO 100 is 13.
     
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #7
    GN 17@ISO 200, that sounds quite strong. It reduces to a normal GN 12 at ISO 100, though. The SB-400 has GN 21 at ISO 100 or GN 30 @ ISO 200, so it's stronger and recycles much faster than any pop-up flash I've used. Certainly worth the $100.
     
  8. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000

    taylorwilsdon

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #8
    Agreed. Like I said, I think its a good buy as a flash. I just think that if weight is a concern, the built in flash will do an adequate job.
     
  9. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #9
    The SB-400 is very small and not really heavy. The batteries should be about as heavy as the flash. It fits into an unused space in my camera bag -- which is why I've bought it. If I went for the SB-600, I'd either have to get a larger bag or leave my 80-200 zoom at home ;)
     
  10. Westside guy thread starter macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #10
    Yeah I think that qualifies. :D It's good to know; thanks.
     
  11. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #11
    I have never used the flash with bazooka zoom and lens hood, though ;)
     

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