Getting Started

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by theshorey, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. Hello All, I'm just getting into Photography as a Part-time source of additional income now that I have a good Nikon to work with and have a question about buying a flash. My starting budget is right around $150, and I have found lots of used SB-800's on ebay in that price range. But where I'm just getting started I was wondering if a new SB-300 would better a better place to start. I realise it doesn't have the same specs or features, but just wanted to get an honest opnion from some regular users who can remember what it's like to start small and be on a tight budget.
    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. What is it you plan on shooting part-time? What other equipment do you own already (lenses, back-up body, etc?)
     
  3. imho, depending on your other equipment, I believe the 800 is the way to go. I bought a sb 400 some years ago and the a sb 800, the 400 almost never gets used. The 800 has been a truly outstanding flash for me.
     
  4. pge

    pge

    An sb-600 might fit into your budget better than an sb-800 and would be more versatile than an sb-300.
     
  5. Dave - I'm using a Nikon (Can't remember if its the D3100 or D3200) with an 18-55mm VR lens and a 55-200mm VR. I'm mostly planning on doing small time stuff. Portraits/ Head Shots, Engagment Photos, Holiday/Family Photos, Small weddings, parties, things like that. If it becomes suscessful maybe expanding into larger weedings. I also enjoy shooting unique landscape/wildlife/life photos, but thats more on the personal scale.
     
  6. I would not buy it for your needs. You need a more capable flash with more power and features. You need to make sure that your camera allows you to set flash exposure compensation, which it probably does. And you need to understand the difference between using the flash in TTL BL mode, balanced flash, and just TTL mode, true fill flash. I would get a SB-800 if you can find a decent one; SB-600 as a fallback. Joe Smith
     
  7. Hi Nicholas. If it's in your budget, the SB-800 is by far the most capable of what you've listed. The SB-700 has a nicer interface and is newer, but may not be in your price range. The SB-600 is likely to be cheaper - I have these, since I don't use flash enough to spend a fortune on it - and it's a very capable flash. It has the advantage that it can be used wirelessly, although with a D3100/D3200 you'd need something to trigger it with (which may not be a problem - start with it on camera, then if you expand your system you can add an SB-700 or SB-800 that can trigger the 600). I'd be a little wary that the SB-800 is enormous compared with the size of your camera, but if you're ready for it that may not put you off.

    Other than that the interface is nicer, I've not seen much need to move towards the SB-700 and SB-900/910 over the older models. The SB-300 (and -400) I would find way too limiting. Being able to be part of a multi-flash set-up is a significant advantage.

    You might also like to check out some Nissin flashes, since some of their options are pretty good for the money. Good luck.
     
  8. The SB-800 is a great flash, but do you really need a camera-mounted flash/speedlight. They are great for fill (but the flash already on the camera will do much of that) and otherwise only for press-style photography where the need for portability outweighs everything else, which would include many wedding and party shots. For portraits, if you value your sanity, you need to start thinking about studio lighting - two-head strobe kits from Adorama start not much above your budget, low power but enough for portraits, no idea what the quality and durability are like, but would be so much easier to use as well as giving far better results! Of course, if you need to be outdoors away from AC power then the cost and weight of the kit skyrockets. I speak from experience - shot some pre-prom portraits with the on-camera flash, an SB-800 off camera and reflectors, really struggled and the results were poor (never again!), then shot the local church congregation with borrowed strobes and after half-an-hour setup shot nearly a hundred very satisfactory yearbook portraits in an hour or so.
     
  9. I'm mostly planning on doing small time stuff. Portraits/ Head Shots, Engagment Photos, Holiday/Family Photos, Small weddings, parties, things like that.​
    First let me second the motion for the SB-800. Get to know it very well. I recommend you do the tutorial on Strobist as a start.
    Though it will probably get deleted let me make one more comment. About the quote above.
    If you have any notion of being a "professional" photographer please try to get over that manner of thinking. THERE ARE NO SMALL TIME assignments. You must treat each one as important. You must learn to respect and honor your craft. If it were your engagement it would not be "small time". If it were your wedding it would not be small time.
    Let me ask you a question. I have photographed the wedding of a member of congress. The elaborate international wedding of the son of a prominent and wealthy judge. The no-budget wedding of an army private on his way to Iraq. Which of these is small time?
     
  10. Thanks everyone for the tips so far, love the fast responce that everyone seems to get on this site! @Rick - I must ask forgiveness for my lack of context/grammar, what I meant was small scale, not "small time". At some point I would love to be able to shoot large weddings or elaborate staged photo shoots for people, but at this time I know my own limitations (both in lack of skills and equipment) would not be able to meet the demands of some clients.
    Back to the Flash Question, how have peoples experiences been with purchasing used equipment that is "Name Brand" vs purchasing used or new equipment from a secondary vendor? Both the Nikon and many secondary units will work with the i-TTL system, so there's room to expand at a future time, but do you trade features or cost for durability when going with a secondary vendor?
     
  11. John: I agree about on-camera flash, but that's nothing that a flash extension cord can't fix. I also agree about multiple lights, but since the D3100 and D3200 don't have the ability to use the on-camera flash as a CLS trigger (unlike, say, the D7100) then something like an SB-800 or SB-700 that can act as a CLS master would potentially be valuable. Personally, I tend to use the on-camera flash on my D800 as a trigger and have a few SB-600s for the actual lighting.

    For a large number of shots in a controlled environment, there's no substitute for studio flash - but for flexibility, portability and building a system incrementally, I'd give priority to speedlights. It depends on what priority is being given to being "out in the field" (such as weddings) compared with controlled portrait conditions, though.

    Incidentally, if on a budget with lighting, I'd keep an eye on whether a reflector will do some work for you, or let you get away with fewer lights. The ones that double as diffusers do pretty good service on their own, outdoors.

    Off topic: Particularly for the wedding situation, I'd give priority to a second body rather than a flash. A flash would get you some shots - or nicer shots - that you might not get otherwise, but a dead body is the end of your shooting for the day. Nicholas: maybe you have one, but the rule I hear time and again for, especially, weddings is always have a back-up (even if you only rent it), because there's no second opportunity if you have an equipment failure. But I speak only as an amateur (who has taken snaps at several weddings recently) with Nikon Acquisition Syndrome and a realistic opinion of my limited organizational skills - I steer well clear of official wedding shots.
     
  12. @Rick - I must ask forgiveness for my lack of context/grammar, what I meant was small scale, not "small time". At some point I would love to be able to shoot large weddings or elaborate staged photo shoots for people, but at this time I know my own limitations (both in lack of skills and equipment) would not be able to meet the demands of some clients.​
    Excellent! My apologies if I offended.
     
  13. i'd look for a used sb-600 or get the 300. the 800 will be unbalanced on a compact DSLR. the 600 is just about right on a d300s, and the 800 is much larger than that. if the flash is bigger than the camera, it kind of defeats the purpose.
     
  14. If you are thinking of doing weddings on a paid basis, you need an SB-800 at a minimum. A used SB-900 would be better (it has a much faster/easier menu.) You also need an 18-50mm f2.8 zoom of some kind. Weddings are all about fast zooms. For the formals (group shots,) you need about three flash with remote triggers/lightstands/light modifiers. Going cheap with used gear these will run about $100 per each (flash/trigger/stand/umbrella.) For used flash I'm talking about something like a Vivitar 285 or Nikon SB-25 from ebay etc. An SB-300 does NOT have enough power for wedding use, and an SB-600/700 is very iffy.
    Kent in SD
     
  15. $150 for a used SB-800 is a good price. (assuming its in good condition) When I was looking for one this summer they were running in the $250-$300 range, and I can't imagine the price dropping that much. Make sure you are checking completed sales not opening bids. If you can get one for $150, get it - it has all the power you need.
     
  16. The SB-600 is running $80-100 on ebay, and the SB-800 is $140-$200, so both would be in my budget. Perhaps I can score a great deal just after the holidays, not in any big rush, and I'm sure people will be trying to unload their used equipment if they get upgrades...
     

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