Nikon SB-400 and WA Lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by yaroslav_kovaliv, May 11, 2010.

  1. Greetings,
    I have leveraged this forum to gather critical information to help me in my gear selection and picked up some great tips. So many thanks to all the members from a long-time lurker :)
    I currently have Nikon D90 and 35mm 1.8 Prime lens.
    My next major investment will be in a Wide Angle lens. Right now I am leaning towards Tokina 11-16mm, although the 12-24 is till a strong contender in my head.
    Meanwhile, I reached a point where I need a dedicated flash. After a lot of consideration, I think I settled on the SB-400 with a clear understanding that SB-600 will probably be in my future after I outgrow the SB-400. My major reservation is whether the SB-400 can be used with a Wide Angle Lens without casting a shadow.
    For the purpose of this question, lets say that the set-up is Nikon D90, Tokina 11-16 and SB-400.
    Will there be a shadow @ 11mm?
    If anyone has any pics taken with that set-up, that would be AMAZING!!!
    Thank you in advance.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The SB-400 does not have a zoom head. It is a decent flash for very casual photographers. Based on the equipment you have and are getting, I think you will outgrow the SB-400 in no time, and you'll end up spending more money on two flashes. I think you are better off getting an SB-600 to begin with.
    If you are shooting indoors, you can always bounce the flash off the ceiling to have wider coverage, provided that you have a ceiling with light color and will not give you a very strong color cast. Again, the SB-400 has some limitation due to its weaker power.
  3. I have a D90, an SB-600, and the Tokina 11-16, the SB600 will only cover your frame with an 11-16 if you have the slide-out diffuser engaged. Without it you will get serious vignetting in the corners.
    Even better, imho, I NEVER shoot that lens with a flash without my trusty sto-fen diffuser.
    Even better, bounce it. I don't know if the SB400 is bounce-able with that lens, I'm doubting it (although you can get a diffuser for it and I think that might work). I suspect, though, that like Shun says, you'll not like that flash very much very quickly. The SB600 is a GREAT flash for your camera.
  4. The SB400 may not be tall enough, and possibly could cause dark shadow at the bottom of frame from the big wide lens hood. You may need to remove the lens hood, or bounce the flash (in only one direction that is allowed).
    You could possibly outgrow the flash the moment you insert a large lens with a large hood. All depends what lenses you will use with it.
  5. Yes,
    "I think you will outgrow the SB-400 in no time, and you'll end up spending more money on two flashes."
    That could happen to you...
    and since the SB400 is not CLS compatible, it cannot participate in multiflash CLS setup, you will end up with one useful flash and one...useless.
  6. I have the Tokina 11-16mm. It's great. I know people who prefer the 12-24 also. Since you have nothing wider than the 35mm, you might be better off with the 12-24. There is a huge difference between 16mm and 35mm. The 12-24 may also have its front element better protected by its hood than the 11-16, which is very vulnerable. I find that, on the 11-16, a protective filter picks up too much flare (because it is so far forward) so I shoot with only the hood.
    Unless you are very rich, don't waste your money on an SB-400. It costs more to buy the wrong thing first. The first time you need to shoot in portrait orientation, and find that the flash won't let you bounce light off the ceiling, you'll be the one bouncing off the ceiling. Listen to what others above already said above about that flash's limitations.
  7. For the Flash, I agree with all others, you're much much better of with a SB-600, and even then you need to bounce, or use a diffuser , or some other devic,e to "spread" the light when using a ultra wide lens becausse the SB-600 will cover 14mm max. by itself ( the SB-400 covers 18mm max. I think)....
    Although the SB-400 accepts a Lumiquest diffuser, the combo will light your subject only within two meters or so, still rendering it pretty useless for a wide angle lens, unless you want to create a "Hotspot" effect ( which can be okay sometimes too.. :) ).
    Main advantage,like Frank Skomial already mentioned, when you decide to upgrade even further, the SB-600 works perfectly with SB-800 or SB-900's for multyflash set-ups.
  8. just tested my sb-400 with a 12-24 tokina on a d80. the short answer is no, there is no vignetting at 12mm.
    however, like the other posters, i would strongly recommend getting the sb-600 first. the sb-400 is a great little travel flash, but it is much more limited than the 600. it's good for daytime fill, and it recycles quickly. but the 600 is just better all-around. besides extra power, manual modes, a swiveling head, and CLS capability with d90, it also looks nice and professional on a flash bracket. i couldnt imagine using an sb400 with a bracket. the 600's larger surface is easier to grip if you use an off-camera sync cord too. and the cost differential is only $100 or so.
  9. hmm, frank is right...with a hood, there is vignetting with the sb-400 and 12-24 at the widest setting (i think the 11-16 is the same size and has the same hood).
    i usually use a sto-fen diffuser for the 600, and i also have a sto-fen for the 400, but it's often extraneous as it's not really needed for daytime fill outdoors, which is where the 400 shines.
  10. Eric,
    Your pic. does a very nice job of showing what was said before, thanks for that.!
    As shown in your pic , the SB400 does not cover the field, hence the dark corners at the bottom ...
    the right corner is darker than the left one, because the mirror in the room helps lighting up the left side of the pic..
    In a larger room the effect will even be worse because then, there are no nearby white walls to help the general lighting either.
  11. just for kicks, i tried the sb-400 bounced with and without hood...same settings (P mode)
  12. and with the hood...
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Eric, thanks a lot for posting the images. As usual, images explain the situation very well.
  14. Thanks for the responses.
    Looks like i need to start looking for the SB-600.

    My thoughts on the SB-400 were that its a great small lens for casual interior shots and to use as fill-flash in sunlight. It also makes for a great travel companion. But I see your point about its limited use...

    I thought that as long as I can use the SB-400 effectively with Tokina 11-16 for interior group photos and the 35mm prime for portraits, the flash will serve its purpose. But looking at Eric's pictures (Thank You!!!), the SB-400 can't handle the UWA lenses. Its very unfortunate because I really liked the small form factor. :(
    But even with the SB-600, it still cannot properly light the scene @ 12 mm. Is that correct? So it would have to be bounced off the ceiling or used with a diffuser when flashed directly at the subject for focal distances wider then 14mm.
    Eric, would it be too mutch to ask to take the same picture with SB-600?

    ""You could possibly outgrow the flash the moment you insert a large lens with a large hood. All depends what lenses you will use with it.""
    Ahhhh... the lens wishlist...
    1. Tokina 11-16 2.8
    2. Tokina 50-135 2.8 or Sigma 50-150 2.8
    3. Possibly Nikon 85 1.8 - depending on how i like the bokeh on the zoom lens above.
  15. ok sure, yaroslav
    of course the light is a bit different as its nighttime now in California
  16. and here's the bounce
  17. as you can see, the bounced 600 at nighttime is pretty much equivalent to the bounced 400 in daylight.
    btw, the barrel of the 50-150 alone is long enough to vignette on a 400 without the lens hood...
  18. the sb-400 will surely serve your purpose --- make sure it is bounced when using the hood. but why would you use a hood? ................ but again, for another hundred, you can get the sb-600.
  19. but ramon, if yaroslav ever wants to use a long tele lens he will have to get a 600 or 900 anyway. so might as well get that now and the 400 later.
  20. Eric, time to get a maid.
    Yaroslav, for casual vacation shots, slimmer form, lighter weight, and to not look like such a geek, the SB-400 can't be beat, so don't overlook it. At only $120, it's great to have in addition to the larger flashes, when only a little bounce is needed.
  21. Eric's comparison pictures really turned around my perception of the SB-400. It's more of a walk around add-on, which by-the-way is very appealing to me, and surely will find its way into my bag.
    I just picked up SB-600 with diffuser on my local c r a i g s l i s t for $150. I'll keep an eye out for an SB-400 as well, and if the price is right (~50) i'll go for it as well. Now its time to experiment :)
    Thank you all for your perspectives, I truly appreciate it.
  22. Nice bathroom! Ever hear of something called Comet! LOL
    Seriously, I thought your posts were both helpful and informative. Thanks!
  23. I've just bought a SB-400 to use for slow-synch work in clubs and for fill flash outside. And yes I did have an SB-600, it just blew up on me! It sounded like a .22 rifle being fired when it died!
    I've found that for close in work in clubs, gigs etc the big flash is just too powerful, I'd rather just "graze" the subjects with a flash, I've found the built in flash works well for this and the SB-400 works even better. And yes; I always used the SB-600 diffused and powered down.
    Would I use an SB-400 for lighting up big spaces? No! So like everything it's horses for courses. I will get another SB-600, but had always planned on getting an SB-400 anyway, specifically for the work described above.

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