Does the SB-800 work with the D40?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by franklin_t, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. Hi guys....

    Some beginner questions here.....

    1. Can the SB-800 speedlight work with the D40 SLR?
    2. Can the on-camera flash of the D40 wirelessly trigger the SB-800? If not, what do I do if I want to use the SB-800 off camera?
    3. How do I create professional-quality images with the SB-800 on the camera? Do I just bounce it off the ceiling and use the diffuser? Any other tips?
  2. 1. Yes.
    2. No. You can get another SB-800 or SB-900 flash or invest an an SU-800.
    3. Get some good books on flash photography, but yes, in general bouce flash will produce superior results to not bouncing. Diffuser use varies with subject matter and distance.
  3. 1: Yes
    2: Yes, SU-4 mode. No TTL, though. The SB-800 will act as a slave flash, if there's any other flashes going on, it'll flash too.
    3: *waits for someone else to answer this*
  4. To confirm, yes the SB-800 works quite well with the D40. I use one with my D40 regularly. As David mentioned, yes you can trigger the SB-800 with the D40 flash but this means no CLS, no TTL. The SB-800 must be in SU-4 optical slave mode and power must be set manually on it. However, this still gives you lots of creative options. Alternately you can get the SB-800 off the camera with a TTL cord like the SC-28 or SC-29, which will still allow full iTTL mode just like if it was in the hot shoe.
    No doubt you can get MUCH better/nicer looking photos when you can bounce the flash instead straight ahead direct flash. But getting the flash OFF the camera opens up a new world of possibilities. :)
    PS- if you trigger the SB-800 off camera with the D40's flash you MUST change the on board flash to manual mode, not iTTL. If you leave it in iTTL the pre flashes will trigger the SB-800 before the shutter opens. Having the D40 in manual mode also means you can set the power as low as possible so that it contributes very little to your exposure.
  5. Thanks a lot for the responses guys...I'm a more enlightened person now... =)
    Chris, you mentioned that the D40 does have the ability to wirelessly trigger the SB-800, although in such case we'll lose the iTTL functionality. So what does the iTTL do actually? I guess it allows the speedlight to automatically "communicate" with the camera to determine the correct exposure...? Am I right? In this case, will I be able to at least manually control the exposure?
  6. Yes Franklin, that is exactly right. In iTTL mode the flash sends out a series of quick pre flashes which reflect off the scence and come back Through The Lens of the camera (that is what TTL stands for) and is metered by the camera. The camera uses this info to set the appropriate power level for the flash automatically.

    That won't be available if you trigger it with the D40 flash. The D70, D80, D90 and up cameras all have a built in commander mode. Those cameras CAN remotely command the SB-600, 800, or 900 and still have TTL ability. That is Nikon's CLS system. But yes, you can still set the power manually on the SB-800, and as long as the SB-800 is in SU-4 mode is will trigger whener it sees ANY flash. So in fact any camera with a flash or even other flash units going off will trigger it in this mode.
  7. Quick question: Does the SB-600 have the same wireless non-TTL slave capability with the D40?
  8. Thanks Chris....
    Another (silly) newbie question: when manually controlling the exposure, is it really just a matter of trial and errors, or is there a more intelligent way to do that?! =)
  9. Franklin,
    To a certain extent, yes it's trial and error. But over time you can get a feel for the flash power setting as it relates to your working aperture, ISO, and the flash distance to subject. I am still gaining experience with this myself, but with experience you will be able to "guess" the settings you need pretty close on the first try. And with a few test shots you can get it dialed in.
    Really it's more than just guessing though. For example: Lets just say you do some tests with an SB-800 and your camera and you figure out that with the flash 5ft from your subject, at F/5.6, and ISO 200 you need 1/4 power on the flash to give you a good exposure. Once you know that you will be able to calculate changes pretty easily. Lets say you want to use F/8 instead and keep all else the same? That is one stop less light, thus you need 1 stop more flash power...change the flash from 1/4 to 1/2 power and your back to the same exposure. Or lets say you decide to increase your ISO from 200 to 400, that’s one stop MORE sensitive to light...thus you need to drop your flash power from 1/4 to 1/8 to keep the same exposure. And if you make multiple changes just add them up: Lets say you move the flash from 5ft away to 10ft away (1 stop less light from the distance increase), you change your aperture from F/5.6 to F/2.8 (2 stops more light), and you change your ISO to 400 (1 stop more light). You have +3 stops and -1 stop for +2 stops more light total...therefore drop your flash power from 1/4 to 1/16 (2 stops less) and you end up with the same exposure as when you started. See? So even though you are manually setting your exposure and flash power, once you get the feel of it you can make pretty good estimations of what you need, even without a flash meter!
    Now of course there is a lot more to this. For example...note that I do not mention shutter speed changes above. That is because your shutter speed has no effect on flash exposure! But shutter speed WILL affect how much ambient light/continuous light you get, which adds another dimension to your lighting possibilities. There is also the effect the distance between light source and subject has on the quality of the light...not just its intensity. Moving light closer increases it's apparent size, and makes the light softer while moving farther away does the opposite.
    My single biggest suggestion to you, if you have not yet done it, is go to the Strobist blog, and read every single thing in the Lighting 101 series. I learned a LOT from that and had a number of epiphanies along the way. Once a lot of those basics sink in using flash will become much easier and more intuitive, even working all manually!
  10. Lol, Just noticed that thiasthread is 10 years old ! All the same in 2019 it has been invaluable as I've just bought a SB-800 for my trusty old D40.

    The quesion(s) asked are exactly what I was looking for and am no longer in the dark regarding my new/old flash head.

    Just to mention that the off-camera use of the S-800 using the D40's built-in flash as a trigger works fine. Yes, its a manual operation but what the hell. Just saved myself a ton of money.

    OK, 10 years later but a HUGE thanx for 1. The question and 2. the answers :) happy bunny time

    Thanx again

    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  11. Just to add that there's no need to stick with manual exposure. The SB-800 supports AA mode (Auto Aperture) where you set the camera ISO and lens aperture on the flash, and let the flash's built-in sensor adjust its output duration.

    IME this works very well - in most cases even better than iTTL. With the proviso that the flash sensor is kept pointing at the subject.

    FWIW, the SB-800 is (probably) Nikon's most versatile speedlight. So congratulations on getting one Dean. The only slight niggle I have with it, is that setting the ISO for off-camera AA mode is needlessly a PITA.

    On earlier Nikon speedlights, setting the ISO was simply a matter of pushing the 'select' button until the ISO indicator started blinking. So why Nikon's nutty UI designers decided to make this a menu-mining exercise, I have no idea.
    mag_miksch likes this.
  12. The SB-800 is a great speedlight and all of the above information is helpful but getting a bracket to elevate the flash unit above the lens (or off to the side for vertical images) is a must if you want to get some good images.
  13. The head's proximity to the lens is no issue at all if you bounce the flash. And the Dean did say that he was using the SB-800 off camera as a slave to the camera's BI flash.
  14. Bouncing the flash is an alternative to not having the flash in the wrong place (on the camera) to start with. :) The problems I've found with bouncing flash are a) there's never a wall where I want one (it's often too far away), and b) you tend to get images shaded according to the likes of the interior designer rather than photographic merit (there are a lot of walls out there that aren't white). But there's always a problem balancing colour with flashes - given the choice, I prefer reflectors to some extent, for this reason.

    If you want to use the flash automatically, don't forget that coily cables exist, and ones not made by Nikon (SC-29) are even affordable. That'll give you TTL and the ability to move the flash around a bit. If you're happy without TTL and just want to be mobile, I've been known to attach two flags guns to the ends of monopods, then wander around with a massive portable clamshell lighting rig that I can accidentally concuss people with. I've not tried it with an SB-800. Oh, another tip: gorillapods as lighting supports. Mine are a bit iffy at holding my cameras, but dangled from a light fixture or even some artsy ceiling fixture (I was in a dark wooden balcony that had sort of wooden stalactites) you can position them with less of a faff than setting up light stands.

    Other than that, I make no claims to be a flash expert. Strobist is your friend. :) Have fun.
  15. - That's not too much of an issue if bounced flash is going to be the only light source Andrew.

    I've bounced flash off an 'insanity yellow' wall using AWB, and the camera's white balance has pretty much taken complete care of the resultant colour cast. Likewise with pastel pink walls and those in various shades of beige. And a RAW file can get even closer to perfectly neutral colour with a bit of tweaking.

    As for bounce distance, well my adage has always been 'you can never have too much flash power', which is why I've advised people in the past to avoid the likes of an SB-700 and any feebler speedlights.

    The limited speed of film in ye olden dayes was crippling, but the ridiculously high ISO ability of any near-current digital camera makes distant bounce far less problematic. My personal bounce 'record' is probably a 25 foot high cream painted and apexed ceiling in a dimly-lit barn-like wedding venue, and getting a perfectly exposed picture of the bride and groom signing the registry.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  16. I realize that but it never hurts to have your flash on a bracket. It makes you mobile and agile and never hostile.
  17. Well, maybe it's worth a try, but I'm reasonably sure it'll take more than putting a flash on a bracket to achieve any of those three things for me!

    Did I imagine someone proposing a drone swarm as a programmable light source? If not, mounting a flash (although perhaps something lighter than an SB-800) on a drone with some AI feels like an interesting creative option. One awkwardness of brackets is that they often don't let you turn the camera orientation without the flash going somewhere odd - unless it was already at 45 degrees. There ought to be some kind of cold shoe attachment that you could put on your collar bone ("cold shoulder" - the branding creates itself) like a TTL pet parrot. Maybe getting a shoulder massage from a really big gorillapod?
    rodeo_joe|1 likes this.
  18. I'll have some of what Andrew's been smoking/drinking/sniffing!

    No offense meant Andrew.

    "...but it never hurts to have your flash on a bracket." - Unless you quickly lower the camera in a crowd and knock someone on the head with the bracket.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  19. No offence taken, Joe. What I've been taking is sleep deprivation.

    My experience of crossed monopods with flashes on the end for clamshell lighting is much more effective at causing random casualties. I only did it once. (I only mentioned it as a curio.)

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