Nikon SB-300 flash.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by john_ashby|2, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. I have a Nikon D90 and an SB-800 flash which I both really like.

    I saw an SB-300 on sale for $39 Canadian, about $30 US. I figured it would be useful to throw in my pocket when I'm not expecting to need a flash and don't want to carry the SB-800, so I bought it.

    I first tried using it bounced off an 8 foot ceiling to a subject 6 feet away at ISO 200, F11. The under-exposure light blinked and the picture was severely underexposed. I could not get any useful picture bouncing the light. I tried pointing it straight forward to a subject 6 feet away. The person was well lit, but the direct light was hideous and garish, and it looked like the person was in a cave. Basically every bit as bad as using the pop up flash.

    So am I missing someone or is the SB-300 a complete piece of junk? I can't see myself ever using it when it's no better than the pop-up flash. It is so cheaply made it doesn't even have a flash test button. If I could at least remote trigger it for CLS it might have some use. $150 Nikon product for $30 and it still feels like a ripoff. What were they thinking?
  2. Maybe you should have check out Nikon SB-300 Review . It's not often he actually gives a bad review.
  3. Without using the product, I have to agree with the above. If Rockwell doesn't like a Nikon product, chances are pretty high that it genuinely is a dud. As said, he doesn't give that many bad reviews, and he REALLY doesn't give bad reviews of Nikon stuff.

    The flash reminds me of cheap 70s and 80s strobes that were common before the pop-up became standard. About the only real advantage I'd see to this over the pop-up is that it's less likely to give red-eye since it's on a higher axis than the pop-up.
  4. I actually did read the review, but I thought it would have enough power to bounce indoors. The SB-800 I have has the power to be useful as a fill flash outdoors, so even with a couple of stops less power the SB-300 sounded like it wasn't too bad for $30. It's got half the guide number of the SB-800, so 2 stops, right? I've only had it a couple of days so I can still return it, but it's just hard to believe it is so bad.
  5. You have to remember that all manufacturer's stated flash guide numbers are lies, and that the real GN is at least one stop less. That means the real GN of the SB-300 is around 13 (metres/100 ISO). That's over two stops less power than an SB-800/900/910 with a real GN of around 28-30.

    Unless you're 7 foot tall, the distance to a ceiling is going to be at least 2ft (0.8m). Then from ceiling to subject another 6ft or so (2m). That already takes the stop down to around f/5. Subtract 1.5 stops for the bounce loss and you're at f/2 with an ISO of 100 for a fairly close subject distance.

    Boosting the ISO to 400 gets you a useable f/4, but even then the reach of the flash isn't going to be that great.

    So a bit of maths quickly shows that this little flash isn't really up to the job.

    If you want a bargain Nikon flash you have to forget about i-TTL altogether and look for something like an SB-24, 25 or 28. These all have the power of an SB-910, and have AA mode which is just as accurate as i-TTL exposure. In fact more so IME.

    I picked up an SB-28 a few weeks back for £5 UK ($7 US)! Batteries had leaked and corroded the contacts in the sliding cover. A quick buzz with a dremel and it was up and running again good as new. I can easily light a 30 ft living room with it by bouncing from the ceiling.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  6. What I've learnt from this is that we're allowed to link to Hypnoken now. I didn't know that! (Last I looked he'd gone more pro-Canon, anti-Nikon, but I got tired of some of the casual racism among the sweeping generalisations and stopped reading.) I'll stick to my SB-600s, I think - at least until I go radio.
  7. What?? You don't have an SB-910?
  8. > What?? You don't have an SB-910?

    :) It won't work properly with my F5 (which, admittedly, I've never used with flash). Also, I could buy three SB-600s, two used (so I've got reasonable lighting setup control, especially with a couple of ultra-cheap third party flashes) for the price of a pro flash, and my dSLRs have always done a serviceable job of triggering with the on-camera flash so I don't miss the lack of trigger. I do slightly miss repeating strobe (I had a Canon flash that could do it before I switched systems) - but I've got flashlights that'll cope these days.

    Plus... I very rarely use flash these days. I don't shoot very much posed stuff, the "two flashes on either end of a monopod for portable clamshell lighting" is a bit of a faff, and if there's a decent amount of overall light I tend to rely on the dynamic range of the sensor and post-processing rather than trying to get a natural looking fill flash with the right colour temperature. And I do have some reflectors.

    I feel we've drifted off the SB-300, though! Except to say that I think my most recent used SB-600 cost about the new price of an SB-300 (at least, at launch).
  9. MM Will the SB-300 work with your F5 then , ( not sure if F5 supports CLS ..)
    Anyway the SB-300 ONLY works with CLS compatible camera's and it will Always use CLS ( otherwise it will yust blink its led four times to tell you it does not work without CLS.. 0
  10. > MM Will the SB-300 work with your F5 then , ( not sure if F5 supports CLS ..)

    Neither CLS nor i-TTL. Hence the SB-600s, which still support plain TTL. Not that I've ever actually used by SB-600 with my F5, and not that my F5 has been used for at least a couple of years (and even then it was largely bluebells - I really need to get the contents of my fridge developed...) but I like being prepared!

    To be honest, I'm a little disappointed that the SB-910 and SB-5000 don't retain legacy support. I prefer it when Nikon's philosophy is "it'll cost us to continue supporting legacy stuff, but you can throw money at us if you want it."
  11. I LOVE my SB600 for that reason. I can throw it on my FA, F4, or whatever and it just works with TTL flash. I could even get TTL support on my F3 if I shelled out for the ~$100 AS-17 flash shoe. Since I don't like it THAT much(and hate rewind mounted flashes as a general rule) I just use an SB-16 on it.

    Still, though, I put it down as one of the best strobes Nikon has made. It serves me with EVERY(permanently) hot-shoe equipped body I currently , like I said from the FA all the way up through the D800 on lay-a-way, and AFAIK can use the full flash capabilities of every camera. I use it all the time as a remote flash with my D70s, and don't see that changing. I'm planning on an F5 being my next body purchase after the D800(aside from the F6, it's the only F-series camera I don't have), and of course it will work great on that.
  12. I think the SB-600 is too small. I would want a flash at least the same power of the SB-800 if not more.
  13. > I think the SB-600 is too small. I would want a flash at least the same power of the SB-800 if not more.

    Sure - it has limits (although it'll light up the side of a building at night well enough). The premium for the SB-800 when I was shopping was high enough that I couldn't really justify it - and as I said, I've got several SB-600s, partly because they were cheap. If prices on the SB-800 have now dropped enough, the equation may have changed.
  14. I just checked one of the better known used dealers(and one with whom I've dealt a lot)-KEH. They have a bunch of 600s with prices ranging from $126 for "Bargain"(most Ebay sellers' "excellent") to $189 for Ex+ with the stand, box, and case.

    By contrast, the least expensive SB-800 is $189, and they run up to well over $300.

    I've been eying a boxed one locally for $200 and may buy it.

    With that said, when using a camera that can serve as a remote commander and assuming it were possible to place the flashes off-camera, I'd prefer two SB-600s over an SB-800. Not only do you get more light than a single 800 but you also have a lot more flexibility in how to direct that light. If I needed a remote commander, the SB-800 is more appealing to me than the slightly less expensive SU-800.
  15. If you're not shooting professionally and need the kudos and reliability of gear to impress clients, then why the heck would anyone pay Nikon's price for a pretty bog-standard hotshoe flash?

    Godox, YongNuo, Nissin and a few other makers all supply i-TTL/CLS compatible flashes with the same spec and power of an SB-910, and at a fraction of the cost.

    Plus i-TTL and CLS are hugely overrated for consistency of exposure and triggering reliability.

    Or get some old Nikon SB-2X speedlights and use them in AA mode. Admire their consistent exposures and build-quality and wonder why you ever bothered with a plastic-feeling SB-910 that complains about feeling hot every dozen shots and has to have a lie down.

    "I'd prefer two SB-600s over an SB-800. Not only do you getmore light than a single 800"
    - Not quite true. The SB-600 has half the power of an SB-800, so theoretically you get the same amount of light.... and a double shadow.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
  16. Or how about an old Metz potato masher with an SLA battery on your belt? Not only are they blindingly bright, but also can flash all day(with a good battery, which Batteries+ in the US can rebuild) and give good exposures with an Auto-Thyristor or whatever Metz calls it in the hot shoe. Heck, Metz might even make an iTTL unit for these old beasts-I haven't checked. Back in the day, you could get a couple shoe for pretty much any brand camera.

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