Flash question--film and digital Nikons

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by wogears, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. Hello!

    Having just rescued a damaged N90s (F90f) by de-corroding the battery chamber and removing the sticky crud from the back, I find that this is the first Nikon SLR to use FP/HSS synch. I've noticed that such a capability would be useful for me. I don't know much about specific models--OEM and third-party--but I do know the basics of outdoor flash fill. My cameras range from that N90s and F100 to a D600 and (maybe someday) a D750. Would an SB-25 cover my needs, and if not, are current Nikon/Yongnuo units "backward-compatible" with my older film cameras? I don't need high-power, since my wedding days are long over; I just like the idea of the HSS for outdoor portraits with wider apertures. Recommendations anyone?

  2. The SB-25 was effectively introduced as a companion for the N90, so will provide the capabilities you ask on the N90s and F100. It remains a great unit, and is a real bargain on the used market.

    With that said, since you're shooting digital also, I'm going to suggest either an SB-600 or SB-800. The 800 is more powerful and has a few more features, but the 600 will work for you. Both are superb units. With the SB-600, you get fully-featured film TTL(including rear curtain and slow speed sync if the camera body supports it, which both the N90s and F100 do) along with D-TTL for the first generation DSLRs and iTTL for current DSLRs(and the F6). The SB-800 also gives plain old "auto" mode and a neat reverse guide number mode that sets the light output according to selected aperture and distance from the subject.
    Andrew Garrard and wogears like this.
  3. The SB-25 goes very well with the N90s and the F4S. I have two of each of those and use them often with the SB-24, 25 and 28.. It will also work on the newer digital bodies quite nicely but will not communicate with the camera. It will work in a simple Auto mode and do a good job. I can't argue with Ben though, if it is in the budget he 600 or 800 on those digital bodies will be much nicer.

    Rick H.
    wogears likes this.
  4. Just to be sure, I just double checked my SB600 on my N90s.

    Sure enough, when mounted on the camera the SB600 gives me the option of either TTL or TTL-BL(along with manual at varying power levels) and allows setting flash exposure compensation. I had a zoom lens mounted, and the flash head correctly zoomed with the lens(this can be disabled, and the head won't zoom at all if the diffuser is flipped down). Holding down the "flash" button on the camera and scrolling through the options allows selecting either standard flash, rear curtain, slow sync, or red-eye reduction. With the camera in P and A modes and set to "rear" it also showed "slow" and gave a correct shutter speed for ambient. It didn't show "slow" in S mode, but let me set any shutter speed I wanted below the flash sync speed.
  5. SB-800 is supposed to work with film slrs, but when I have tried ttl-mode with F80 I have not had much luck, flash seems to miss shutter open. SB-22s works with film bodies, and SB-800 works on D-TTL and i-TTL, so have not given it much thought. I also have SB-600 but have not tried it with film bodies.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    The SB-800 is the only Nikon flash that can TTL with Nikon film SLRs as well as all Nikon DSLRs from the D1 (D-TTL) to i-TTL, but of course Nikon is gradually shifting to using radio flash control.

    The SB-600 becomes a dumb flash on film SLRs.
  7. I've been using SB-25s for years, they're a wonderful little flash. I suspect their build quality is better than the SB-910 - they certainly feel more substantial.

    However I didn't even realise they had HSS capability until recently. The F90 and F90x are the only bodies listed in the manual as being capable of enabling the HSS facility. Although I suspect unlisted later cameras might also be HSS compatible.

    As others have said; an SB-800 will also do the job, but you're not going to get one as cheaply as SB-25s can be had for.

    WRT third party flashes. Much as I like YongNuo's gear, I don't think it's made with backward compatibility in mind.

    "I just like the idea of the HSS for outdoor portraits with wider apertures. Recommendations anyone?"

    Or you could buy an 8x ND filter, and forget the FP/HSS synch that robs you of at least a stop of flash power.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
  8. I don't think that's correct about the SB-600. According to Nikon, both the SB-600 and SB-800 are compatible with film TTL, D-TTL and i-TTL:

    Nikon | Imaging Products | SB-600
  9. I've got to say that I've never actually tried my SB-600s on my F5, but I did deliberately buy them with a view to having compatibility with it. I always understood that they supported the range of TTL options. Of course, when I go D850, I'll have to do something to be able to trigger them remotely (or give up and buy a different wireless solution).
  10. The SB-800 should work on both types of cameras, but the menu on that model is very complicated. I own about ten Nikon SB-25 but only use them with "dumb" manual radio triggers. It's a solid flash and can be had for $30 on ebay. For a DSLR, I'd go with a used Nikon SB-900. The smaller flash such as SB-600 really don't have enough power to do much.

    Kent in SD
  11. I have used one extensively on my F4, and it most certainly gives full TTL.
  12. > The smaller flash such as SB-600 really don't have enough power to do much.

    Really? It'll slightly struggle to overpower the sun at a distance, but I've lit the front of buildings with one on-camera and lit an official photo of a dinner of a hundred people with two. It struggled at the far end of the range, but that was the far side of a large college dining room, and I was at f/8. The top-of-the-line flash is indubitably more powerful, but the SB600 is no slouch - it's not like the little AAA flashes you can buy. It's also reasonably small and light - I've dangled two (remote triggered) from my left hand by holding one and putting the other on the end of a monopod, then taken photos with my right hand with my camera held between, which gives you ad-hoc clamshell lighting. (Not professional, but a lot better than "flash on the camera" rabbit in the headlamps.) That would hurt with something the size of an SB-800.

    I've never really bought into the "complicated menu" argument. I've used an SB-700 and, yes, it was slightly clearer to work out how to use it, but the learning curve of the SB-600 is about ten minutes. The SB-600 is a little obscure, but it's not actually got that much functionality, so getting it set up isn't all that hard. And if you use their lower price to buy three of them, you only have to learn how to use them once. The biggest disadvantage of the SB-600 against the SB-800 is that it's not a CLS trigger - which didn't bother me with my D700, D800 or D810, because the on-camera flash is. It'll become a problem when I get a D850, admittedly. It also doesn't have the strobe mode of the SB-800, but that seemed to be limited enough (in number of flashes) that it wasn't so useful; IIRC the Canon equivalent did better - but that's a pretty obscure feature.

    But, except for a tiny and mostly useless Nissin and a couple of cheap flashes bought only for their integrated optical trigger, I've not that much experience with the alternatives for Nikon.
  13. Wow! It really does appear that there is a LOT of conflicting opinion out there in the Speedlight Universe. Example: I happen to have an SB-24 that "came with" an 8008s I bought (and sold) because of its lens. According to this official chart on the Nikon Asia site, it is compatible with FP synch on the N90s and F100. The manual for the SB-24 does not mention this. Guess I'll have to try it out?
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    It has been too long since I last used my SB-600. I just mounted it on my F5 and the SB-600 can do TTL flash with a film SLR.

    Thanks for the correction. I know the SB-900 and 910 cannot do TTL flash with film SLRs but the SB-800 can, and so can the SB-600.
  15. S a guide number of 36 (SB-25) vs one of 30 (SB-600) makes such a big difference that the SB-600 can't do what the SB-25 can?
  16. The difference between the SB-600 and SB-800 is roughly 2/3 stop. The published ISO GN for the 600 is 98ft at 35mm(11 ft f/11), and the SB800 125(9ft f/14). The SB-25 is a bit lower at 118ft(9ft f/13).

    BTW, when I sold my 580EX to the local camera shop, the guy behind the counter(not the owner) said I might want to hold on to it because it was "a lot more powerful" than the SB-800. I went home and looked it up, and sure enough the 580EX reports a GN of 140ft(the 580EXII is 190). There's a big BUT to that, though-the reported guide number for both flashes is at the 105mm zoom setting-without actually testing, I suspect that the SB-800 would be equal or higher at 85mm, although admittedly it doesn't go to 105mm.

    One of my "benchmark" flashes is the good old Vivitar 283. The head doesn't zoom, but per the manual it's fixed at 35mm(if you've bought into the 283 "system" as much as I have, you have fresnel lenses and diffusers to change the coverage). The ISO 100 GN is 120, and I tend to be skeptical of 4-cell shoe mount flashes that claim higher GNs.

    As in the case of the 580exII, some back of the envelope math tells me that the GN difference between 105mm and 35mm should be about 1.7 stops, although I don't know if I'm calculating that right. If I am, that gives a 35mm(60º) GN of around 100 for the 580EXII.
  17. Nikon Asia is WRONG! No FP synch with SB-24.
  18. Either I calculated wrong(I think I know where I might have gone wrong-if Canon gave the corresponding angles for their focal length I could calculate more accurately than the guesses I made) or Canon fudges their GNs a bit. In any case, digging through the 580EXII manual shows that the 35mm GN is 118 ft. That falls right in with my "rule of thumb" I mentioned about 4-cell shoe mount flashes with coverage around that of the Vivitar 283(60º) being about 120 ft.

    Now, if I get motivated this week, I'll pull out my flash meter and actually measure the GNs of several flashes. Since I'm mostly playing with studio lighting these days when I can get away with it, it might be worthwhile to invest in something more advanced than my Minolta incident where I have to set it to flash mode and THEN trigger the flash. If I'm not mistaken, some meters have sync sockets on them so you can trigger the flash and measure rather than setting it to "flash mode" and hoping you can get things synced up right.

  19. I was thinking of wedding/portrait use. I've tried the SB600/Sb700, and they just didn't have enough power to use with umbrellas/softboxes, at least not any at reasonable ISO. I used to have a pair of SB-800. What I liked about them was the small size. What I didn't like was they are indeed complicated, i.e. number of menu steps etc. They were the only flash I've owned that I felt it necessary to bring the manual along so I could figure them out. The SB-900 are larger, but the menu is much simpler. Something like an SB-700 would make a nice smaller flash for travel, but I wouldn't want it for paid work.

    Kent in SD
  20. Ah - yes, Kent, if you're base line is a pair of SB-800s and you consider those "small", the SB-600 is a bit on the low side. I've used a couple through some basic diffusers relatively close up to a subject, but I'm not going to claim it's a studio flash substitute. It depends what you want to do with them, and I can't say I'm all that adventurous in flash use - if I'm not making do with the dynamic range of the sensor to control light, I tend to prioritise a reflector so I don't have colour balance issues. (I can't use flash in my tiddlywinks photography because it would be too intrusive; I don't do that much else indoors.) So I think we have different definitions of "doing much".

    I still believe an SB600 is capable of direct lighting at a reasonable range, and an inexpensive group will light a reasonable crowd. Stick modifiers in the way or bounce off a distant ceiling and it's another matter - horses for courses.

    I'll also say that a decent modern flashlight can put out a lot of power for the money (I have, among others, a TN36UT and some TN30s - the former puts out upwards of 7000 lumens, and its replacement tops 10000, although not for very long) - enough for bounce lighting of short video in a smallish room. I've been known to carry one instead of a hotshoe flash. They have disadvantages (they don't freeze motion, you need a longer shutter speed, pupils contract) but they're pretty useful.

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