Looking to purchase a speedlight that is compatible for film and digital Nikon SLR

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by matt_smith|30, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. Hi there,
    I am currently looking at purchasing a flash speedlight for my Nikon D80 after going years without venturing near flash photography. The only issue is that I am also an analogue lover and would ideally like my purchase to work well with both my D80 and my FM2.
    After doing some research, this article states that the SB-900 (the unit I was in particular considering) does not feature TTL for film.
    Is that is to say it is totally incompatible with working with a film SLR? The same article leads me to believe that at least some of these units would work with the Nikon F6, a camera I intend to eventually own.
    For those who own current Nikon DSLRs (as well as the F6 film SLR), i-TTL and CLS is simply a wonderful flash system that can be as simple as just the built-in pop-up flash, one external flash, or it could be a complex, multi-flash system that works in a coordinated manner.​

    If someone could clarify the above quote that would be great.
    In summary here are my main points/questions when considering which unit I want to buy...
    - The unit would most likely see more use with a digital camera in live event scenarios etc...
    - Would rather purchase the SB-900 if it offered film TTL to at least the F6.
    - Is there a non-Nikon unit that would be an alternative to the SB-900 which offers film TTL? E.g: Metz.
    - Does anyone have any experience with either the SB-900 OR SB-800 with a film SLR, in particular the FM2 or F6?
    - Is it worth me considering the SB-800 instead despite the inferior menu system? Going on the reviews I have read at least...
    Any constructive input or links to articles would be greatly appreciated!

  2. SB-600 would do but it was recently discontinued but it worked with both systems.
  3. The F6 is the only iTTL film camera, and has the same flash compatibility as the current dSLRs.
    Earlier film cameras need the original 'film' TTL mode. The SB-600 and SB-800 support both 'film' TTL and iTTL. Earlier flash units do not support iTTL, and later flash units like the SB-700 and SB-900 do not support 'film' TTL.
    I think the SB-800 interface is fine, and prefer the more compact size relative to the SB-900. There are current Metz flashes like the 58 AF-2 that support both iTTL and film TTL. See also:
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As Richard mentions, the F6 is the only film SLR that is compatible with i-TTL, designed mainly for digital SLRs. Therefore, any one among the SB-400, 600, 700, 800, and 900 plus the SB-R200 are totally compatible with the F6. Otherwise, only the SB-600 and 800, both are now discontinued, are compatbile with film TTL.
    If you also need to use this flash on an FM2, as far as I know it does not have TTL flash. (I had an FE2 that does have TTL flash.) In that case you need to be careful. The SB-800 and SB-900 have the A (auto) mode where you can use the sensor on the flash to shut off the flash; therefore, they can still work on the FM2 with auto flash; it is just not TTL. The SB-600 does not have the A mode so that if you use it on the FM2, you are left with manual flash only.
  5. Shun is right - I hadn't realised that the FM2 doesn't have a TTL mode, which rules out the SB-600 if you want any level of automation, and means that the SB-900 is an option (but not the SB-700, which also lacks 'A' mode). So the only disadvantage in getting the SB-900 would be if you end up buying, say, an F5 or F100 rather than an F6.
  6. Many thanks for the replies, greatly appreciated.
    I think I will shop around and see what sort of prices I can find for the SB-600 and 900. To be honest I can't see myself using these flash units on the FM2 too seriously so might opt to buy a much cheaper/older flash unit especially for it.
    Like I said, I would rather have the SB-900 for now and be able to use it on the F6 in the future.
  7. I hadn't realised that the FM2 doesn't have a TTL mode...​
    The FM2n was my #1 camera when I was shooting full time and I used it with the Vivitar 283 and Metz 60 CT1. The only camera-flash communication possible is the fire signal. You can find the 283 used relatively easily and as long as you buy one of recent vintage there's no risk of the flash frying your camera. You can also buy a brand new shoe-mount non-dedicated flash with bounce & swivel and a range of auto aperture options similar to the Vivitar's for <50.00.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Among the FM/FE family cameras, the original FM, FE and the FM2 (all variations) do not have TTL flash capability.
    The FE2, FA, and FM3a have TTL flash. Apparently Nikon introduced TTL flash around 1983 or so. Therefore, SLRs introduced before that, including the F3 and the initial FM2, do not have that feature while the FE2 and FA (introduced around 1983, 1984) have it.
    Nikon did introduce some variations of the FM2 later on such as the titanium version, but they continue not to have TTL flash until Nikon replaced it with the FM3a.
  9. The F3 does support TTL flash but it uses a different shoe/communication standard than the one eventually adopted by Nikon for other cameras in its lineup, so the flashes that work with the F3 in TTL mode are limited.
  10. I (almost) hate to contradict Henry, but there is a small, extra contact in the hot shoe of a FM2n that lights a LED above the viewfinder when a dedicated flash is recycled.
  11. Just a (OT) thought... how strange would an FM2 look with a bigger than itself flash on it? But it would probably look cool with a pocket wizard AC3 zone controller on it...
  12. Why not try a 2nd hand older Metz 45 with full Auto on the FM2 and using a Wein Safe Synch on the D80. Should cost around $100-$150 for both. You wont get TTL on the D80 but will get a great result using Metz Auto "A" setting, which I used for years very successfully on an FM2 and FE 2. Its a powerful flash for the money and in some cases you can turn the flash down or up if you realise its a tricky light situation. Often this gives a better result than TTL if you experiment.
  13. 'Why not try a 2nd hand older Metz 45 with full Auto on the FM2 and using a Wein Safe Synch on the D80. Should cost around $100-$150 for both.'
    An alternative to this would be an older Nikon flash like the SB-24, available for around £50. No TTL on iTTL cameras, just 'A' mode and manual, but no need for the Safe Synch either, and on film cameras should support everything from full TTL (where available) to the more limited dedicated features of the FM2.
  14. Metz supply flashguns that take adapter leads useable with nearly all film and digital SLRs. Here's a link to the Metz 45 CL4 hammerhead style gun. This takes both SCA 3000 series adapters for digital and SCA300 series for film SLRs.
    AFAIK Metz are the only firm currently providing guns suitable for both film and digital.
  15. PS. There should be no need for a "safe-synch" on the older Metz 45 CL-1 or CT-1 models. I've just checked mine and they're all under 8 volts trigger as measured by a digital high-impedance multimeter. My slightly newer 45 CT-4 measures 25 volts though, go figure.
    Anyway, these old Metz guns go on forever and can be picked up for under the equivalent of $50 US if you snoop around.
  16. How about a used sb 80dx, or sb 28? I think both have an A mode for non TTL cameras.
  17. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Right now I'm leaning more towards buying the SB-900 as an investment and hopefully a way to make a bit of money covering events etc and getting an SB-24 for my FM2.
  18. I'm leaning more towards buying the SB-900 as an investment and hopefully a way to make a bit of money covering events etc and getting an SB-24 for my FM2.​
    If you plan to buy two and dedicate one to the FM2, IMO the SB-24 is overkill as it has numerous features the FM2 cannot use.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

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