Nikon SB400 vs SB600 on a D90

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bensgalguerra, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. I'm a beginner photographer and just recently bought my first DSLR, the D90. A lot of times, I am shooting indoors or somewhere where there is poor lighting and I am looking for a flash that could at least bounce off the ceiling so I could still get great photos without the "washed-out" look.
    I've read through a lot of posts, articles about these two flashes but still I am still torn between them because of the following reasons:
    • The SB400 seems to be all that I need right now for what I currently shoot (family & school events) however...
    • I am afraid that someday I would want/need the versatility and power that SB600 offers. I always want to further my creativity and with the SB600, I know I can do that.
    • For family and casual events, I'm kinda hesitant to pull out a big, bulky flash lest people might think I am showing off or expect "pro" quality photos from me (which I cannot guarantee). The low key size of the SB400 is perfect for me, especially when I also don't have a big camera bag where I can put it in.
    • I don't know, but I might come across a situation wherein I'll have to bounce the flash to the sides or to the back. I still don't know yet but I just might. Are these situations common?
    • If I need to bounce off the ceiling in portrait mode, I guess I can just shoot in landscape and crop it (for the SB400). :)
    • BUT... the off camera capabilities of the SB600 is what I'm really gonna miss if I get the SB400. Though, as I've mentioned, as a beginner, I still don't know YET in what cases I'm gonna be needing this feature. But I really do want to learn.
    • Money is kind of a factor right now. There are some events coming up soon in which I'll be needing a good flash. The SB400, I can buy immediately for that. But it might take me another month or so to save up for the SB600 which means I'll have no decent light for those events.
    Okay, my question is, which one should I go for?
    Won't the SB600 make me look like a wannabe pro photographer at this stage?
    I don't understand the GN associated with these things so is there really a major difference in terms of power? Can the SB400 bounce off medium-high ceilings? (showing photos where SB400 was used would be very much appreciated)
    Why can't these camera manufacturers make a DSLR with a built-in flash that can be tilted? :)
    Thank you for taking time to read my VERY long post! Looking forward to your help.
     
  2. I too debated between the SB400 and SB600. Ultimately I went with a SB600 (thanks Adorama used department!) and it's worked well so far. It gives me enough power fill the room with light when bounced up off the ceiling, netting me some great shots in low light without the burnt out direct flash look. I think the SB400 is a very capable flash, and if you're only planning on using it for the occasional family event, it will work well. If you're looking to get more into photography, especially with creative lighting, it will be worth it to spend the extra money to get the SB600. That will give you space to learn new techniques (like bouncing off walls, behind you, or shooting off the camera).
    As for your concern about being regarded as a pro photographer if you use a large flash, if that's what people think, let them. Don't let people's perceptions control your decisions about gear. Always buy what's best for you, and suits your needs. We all start somewhere.
     
  3. I would spend the extra for the SB600. I had it and it is a very good flash. The off camera abilities can help to make some creative portraits.
     
  4. SB600- Off camera will become important to you, and it's capable of swiveling for portrait orientation bounce, which I don't believe the SB400 can do. BTW, who cares if people get "big flash envy?" Also, the SB600 does have more flash power, or greater range than the SB400.
     
  5. I started with the SB-400 and found it too restricting but it is small and convenient and works well to bounce in a room with a 8' or so ceiling but the power is an issue at times unless you have a fast lens (I have a 50mm f/1.8).
    I finally got around to getting an SB-600 - way more power, definitely worth the extra money but it is quite a bit larger. Using it off camera is easy and worth the extra money. I plan on picking up an umbrella to bounce it off of next.
    I've also got a lightly used SB-800 coming my way soon but that was a 'right place at the right time' deal that I couldn't pass up from a friend.
    If you can swing it, definitely go for the SB-600. Think of it as SAVING money since you won't have to spend the $150 or so for the SB-400 and then the money for the SB-600 later like I did.
    P.S. - once I got the SB-600 and played with it for a day, I gave my friend the SB-400 to play with until he decides on what flash he is going to buy - that was about 3 months ago and I still don't miss it.
     
  6. The number of times you'll need to "bounce the flash to the sides or to the back" will be miniscule compared to the number of times you'll want to turn the camera for portrait orientation (rotated 90 degrees) for a taller than wider image. A hotshoe mounted flash will rotate with the camera. Please consider that in your solution.

    DanBeauvais.com
     
  7. No question you go with the 600. In my mind the 400 is only a small upgrade to the onboard flash of the D90.
    The 600 gives you so much more headroom, in practically every way. From bouncing to flash range, to remote flash capabilities, its really not comparable. You can also add flash modifiers like a basic diffuser or a strap-on Lumiquest bounce, which is rather conspicuous, but gives you a much larger and softer apparent light source. Really, the universe of possibilities expands dramatically.
     
  8. Definitely get the 600. If you're set on the SB400 because of its size, save your money and use the flash that's already on the D90. In one way, it's far more capable than the SB400 -- it can work in commander mode to control other flashes.
    The D600's capabilities -- greater power, bouncing regardless of camera orientation, ability to slave to the pop-up flash (as well as several other Nikon units) make it a far more useful light source. If you're worried that people will expect too much quality from your photos because of your using it, assure them that it is perfectly possible to make a mess of lighting even with multiple flashes, light stands, umbrellas, etc.
     
  9. SB600 and a Gary Fong 'Lightsphere 2 Clear'.
    The SB400 is a great flash for people who don't want to learn photography but would like improved flash. It's also great for more advanced shooters as a second choice for lightweight or low-key situations. But if you want to learn you need a versatile tool like the SB600. And I just plain like the Fong.
     
  10. I have both the SB600 and the SB400. There is nothing at all wrong with the SB400. It is cheap, easy to use, and will allow you to bounce your flash off the ceiling.
     
  11. The bang for the buck on both flashes it pretty incredible. I bought an SB400, used it for a year, and then sold it to get an SB600 (and then another sb600, because once you see what modifying light does to photos....). The off-camera stuff is stellar, and the 600 is definitely worth the extra money. However, I do wish I'd kept the sb400, because there are times when I miss having that tiny, unobtrusive flash. You're absolutely right about changing expectations/reactions, and changing whether you have it with you all the time. But if I had to choose one to start with, I'd get the SB600 in a heartbeat.
     
  12. i have both. i'd get the 600, no question. the 600 wont make you look like a 'wannabe' though its more 'professional' than the 400.if you show up at an event with a 400, you will certainly look like a wanna-be, though, if there are pro shooters there. ultimately, it's not about appearance but results.
    there is a major difference not only in terms of power, but features. it's pretty easy with the 600 to dial down the flash for more natural look. with a 400 you have to do this from the in-camera menus, so you could miss shots fiddling with settings. the 400 is more of a travel/casual flash; the 600 is more of an advanced amateur/semi-pro flash which complements your d90's feature set. the price difference is only $100 or so, which isnt that much when you consider the benefits.
     
  13. Eric,
    The D90 generally allows the user to dial down flash power by pressing the flash button on the camera body and turning the front dial, so it's a pretty convenient adjustment. I believe that this can be done even on the 400, although I don't have one to try. Of course, as I said earlier, I am also convinced that Benson would be better off with the 600.
    Benson,
    One detail. When I need a flash, one of my favorite ways is to set the on-camera flash to commander mode, set the flash unit to wireless remote, and shoot while holding the camera in one hand and the flash in the other. Even while bouncing most of the light, it gives me a better look than with the flash on the camera. You can't do that with the 400, at least not wirelessly, which is the easiest way.
     
  14. If you are going to take pictures indoors, go with the one with higher power, SB600, which I have. Sometimes I wish I had the SB800 when I am shooting in a room with high celing, for example, that needs a lot more flash power to bounce efficiently in order to get an image with low noise. Clearly SB800 is more expensive and heavier so I think SB600 is a good compromise. The SB400 may be nice for traveling when you need to carry a lighter load.
     
  15. "Money is kind of a factor right now. There are some events coming up soon in which I'll be needing a good flash." This makes the decision kid of obvious, doesn't it
    The best 'feature' of the SB-400 is its simplicity. It has one control/setting - on or off. It produces exceptional results, especially on the D90. It is small, lightweight and has ample power.
    FWIW: I have a friend who has both flashes and a D90 and rarely uses the SB-600. In fact, the SB-400 is so light in weight that he rarely removes it from his camera. I guess it really all depends on what you are shooting, your shooting style and your preferences. And only you can answer that.
    Keep in mind that if you buy the SB-400 now (at a really good price) and use it for a while and keep it in excellent condition, you will be able to sell it for just a little less than what you paid for it should you decide to upgrade in the future.
     
  16. It's been mentioned above, but it bears repeating (loudly!). If you rotate the camera into a vertical position (essentialy for shooting in many social settings), the SB-400 will no longer be able to bounce from the ceiling. You'll only be able to get sideways light, and the sideways shadows that go with them.

    And of course, the remote capability of the better strobe is the sort of thing that makes a huge difference once you invest 30 minutes in learning how to use it.
     
  17. Matt, this is a very good point but the OP and others should keep in mind that the D90 has sufficient resolution to crop the image horizontally and maintain sufficient resolution for larger prints.
     
  18. Spend extra for SB600 i once bought SB400 and after a while I regretted the decision and later purchased SB600. it is more flexible than 400.
     
  19. Get the 600. The chances you will get the 600 and regret not getting the 400 is much, much smaller than vice versa.
     
  20. Okay, I'm starting to lean towards the SB600 now since about 95% of you root for it and I agree about the features it can offer me in the future.
    Still I like the unobtrusive size of the SB400 which I can easily bring to any occassion. But I guess I can use the SB600 off camera sometimes in an event so that it won't be bulging out of the top of my camera all the time.
    Does the 600 come with its own bag? Is it a lot heavier than the 400?
     
  21. I just bought my third SB600, using them with two D70s cameras. The wireless capability is great. I have three stands and umbrellas and last week shot a banquet hall set for 300 people using only two flash units on stands with umbrellas, worked great.
    Yes, they have a nice pouch and a flat stand.
    00Tcjs-143017684.jpg
     
  22. bmm

    bmm

    Everyone has already said it but go the 600. You will regret it otherwise.
    I am a VERY occasional flash user, preferring natural light. I have a 400 (its what I bought when I didn't know better) and then invested in a flash cord so I could get it off camera and be more flexible including using bounce in portrait orientation.
    Its an ok compromise solution because of how rarely I use flash, but I still wish to god I'd just gone the 600 in the first place - in fact the price difference between a 400+cord and a 600 is stupidly small and if I'd just started with the 600 I'd have a better flash unit and less stuffing around.
     
  23. Wow, that is really great lighting Michael. Now I'm having ideas on how to use the SB600 without attaching it to my camera.
    Though the 400+cord mentioned by Bernard could be another consideration. But then again, I don't want to be cheap and compromise the possibilities I can do with the 600. Okay, I'm 98% convinced that I'm buying the SB600. Time to save up.
     
  24. Between the two? SB600. Been using mine for nearly half a year now, it's been great. That said, I shoot mainly outdoor for "wildlife", and I wish that I'd saved more and bought a SB800. Even with a flash extender and -2.7EV on my flash, I do occasionally get underexposure - would kick myself and wish I'd got the more powerful flash.
    Alvin
     
  25. bmm

    bmm

    Benson - let me be clear that cord was a "cheap-arsed" work around to not having a 600. It is not at all a solution I'd recommend.
     
  26. The D90 generally allows the user to dial down flash power by pressing the flash button on the camera body and turning the front dial, so it's a pretty convenient adjustment. I believe that this can be done even on the 400, although I don't have one to try. Of course, as I said earlier, I am also convinced that Benson would be better off with the 600.​
    excuse me if i was unclear, but i think the flash button on the camera only allows for flash EV to be dialed down, not fractions of output (1/2-1/64); if i'm not mistaken, for that you have to go into menus. if i'm shooting a room with different lighting in different areas at an event, i may have to quickly switch from 1/2-1/4 or 1/4-1/8. with the 600, it is much easier to cycle through settings.
    i'm glad i have the 400 for those times when the 600 is too bulky, but it's basically a one-button flash with no external controls. at first the 600 definitely added heft to the camera around my neck, which took some time to get used to, but it's not so big that it cant be put into a jacket or pants pocket when it's not needed.
     
  27. I think it's important to remember that the SB-400 is not a replacement for the 600, nor is the 600 a replacment for the 400. They are designed for two different purposes. I started with an SB-400 myself. Then I got an SB-800 and thouhgt I would sell the 400. I was wrong. I kept both and actually use the 400 even more often. Why? Because the purpose of the 400 is to SMALL and LIGHT, and SIMPLE...not to be flexible and powerful. When I need power and off camera use I use my 800 and 80DX. But the 400 is just perfect for casual snapshots and family get togethers. One of the best things is that its low profile is much less intimidating than a 600 or 800. It's also great to use for simple outdoors fill flash on sunny days instead of the pop up flash.
    So consider that if you want something very small, simple, and light for casual snapshots the 400 may be just the thing. But ALSO consider the power and flexibility of the SB-600. Especially its ability to be used off camera with your D90's flash commander. That will open up a whole new world of possibilities!
     
  28. Forgive me if I'm overstepping my newbie-poster privileges here, but I'm feeling plucky this morning.
    Good grief people, it's just a flash. The polarizing, confrontational attitudes and opinions some of you are spewing are astounding.
    Thankfully, you are also getting a lot of level-headed, logical advice. I'll try to contribute some of my own.
    I happen to own the 400. For what it is, I love it. For what it's not, I really wish I had the 600. I recently took pictures at my sister's wedding and used the bounce flash a lot during the reception and it worked very well when I was standing on an 8-10 foot painted ceiling (example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevans/3606262661/in/set-72157619328604127/ ), but significantly less well under a 12' drop ceiling with tiles (example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevans/3607083356/in/set-72157619328604127/ ). I also really wanted the ability to bounce it while the camera was rotated, but as was pointed out, I could have simply cropped the photo later if I wanted to make reasonable (4x6/5x7) prints.
    In my mind the 400 is only a small upgrade to the onboard flash of the D90.​
    I disagree. Much faster recycle time, much more powerful, and you can bounce it. In my mind (which is no more or less valid than this opinion) that makes a lot of difference.
    Don't listen to advice like this:
    The SB400 is a great flash for people who don't want to learn photography but would like improved flash.​
    Wow. I must not want to learn photography. Hope anyone else with the 400 doesn't plan on it either.
    if you show up at an event with a 400, you will certainly look like a wanna-be, though, if there are pro shooters there.​
    Another astounding statement. (Do you really think this way?) I didn't feel like a wanna-be, and there was two hired professional shooters there. They in fact thought it was kind of a neat, handy little flash (they were shooting on Pentax dSLRs, extremely quiet shutters on those things!). Be confident and fearless with what you're doing and forget the gear you (don't) have. (I've seen some amazing pictures out of wanna-be bridge and P&S cameras.)
    Do listen to advice like this:
    I have both the SB600 and the SB400. There is nothing at all wrong with the SB400. It is cheap, easy to use, and will allow you to bounce your flash off the ceiling.​
    Reading through the other posts, I think Elliot Bernstein had the most useful advice, so it bears repeating:
    "Money is kind of a factor right now. There are some events coming up soon in which I'll be needing a good flash." This makes the decision kid of obvious, doesn't it
    The best 'feature' of the SB-400 is its simplicity. It has one control/setting - on or off. It produces exceptional results, especially on the D90. It is small, lightweight and has ample power.
    FWIW: I have a friend who has both flashes and a D90 and rarely uses the SB-600. In fact, the SB-400 is so light in weight that he rarely removes it from his camera. I guess it really all depends on what you are shooting, your shooting style and your preferences. And only you can answer that.
    Keep in mind that if you buy the SB-400 now (at a really good price) and use it for a while and keep it in excellent condition, you will be able to sell it for just a little less than what you paid for it should you decide to upgrade in the future.

    I'm not sure you'll be able to resell the flash for nearly what you paid for it... I don't know how that market goes, but generally electronics (bodies) depreciate quickly (think of how much you might get for a 1 or 2 year old laptop... a quarter what you paid, if you're lucky?) whereas lenses and other mechanical things tend to hold their value.
    All in all, if you think you need:
    • More power
    • bounce flash on camera rotation
    • autofocus assist
    • (edit +)Off-camera operation
    Then get the 600. Otherwise, get the 400 and crop your pictures like somebody else mentioned. If you're at the point where you need your full resolution to make shots, and you're shopping for a flash, you should be looking at the 800/900. :)
    Sorry for the long post/rant but I hope this helps. Cheers.
     
  29. Unfortunately for me (as I don't have one yet and want to buy) the SB-600 holds its value very well on the used market. Ditto for the SB-800 (replaced by the SB-900).
     
  30. The 400 and 600 both appear to be nice units. I'm a Pentax shooter, and like the Pentax units too, but wish that Pentax offered a compact unit with bounce like the 400 and an inexpensive swivel flash like the 600. I just want to comment because I haven't seen these suggestions yet mentioned here (didn't read every word so maybe missed it)...
    - Either flash is an improvement over the built-in flash for unbounced direct flash in that it gets the flash head further from the lens. The SB600 moreso than the SB400.
    - The SB400 (as well as the SB600) will offer better compatibility with todays chunky lenses than the built-in flash. Many lenses will cast shadows at certain focal lengths, and the built-in flash is probably limited to only 28mm equiv coverage, and probably just barely that.
    The SB600 is no doubt the more powerful and flexible unit but I suspect that if the SB400 is good enough for now its not a bad choice--you can always get the more powerful flash later if there's something you can't do and either keep or sell the compact unit. The SB400 is so small that you will bring it with you rather than leaving it at home as you might be tempted to do with a larger unit. Also, I imagine the camera will feel considerably more comfortable and balanced with the SB400--full-size flash makes the camera considerably heavier and top-heavy, feels better with an accessory grip (which if you worry about looking 'too pro' you might not want either).
     
  31. I have an SB800 with my D90. To me the off-camera capabilities are essential. I wouldn't even consider an SB400. Actually I might by another 800 in the next few months.
     
  32. I bought an SB400 when I first switched to digital and have since considered that an SB600 might have been a better choice for the reasons covered here. However, I like the SB400 enough that I still wouldn't be without one. I leave it on the camera MOST of the time, where it's always ready for fill duties outdoors and bounce-flash indoors, and it's light and relatively unobtrusive. My D90 fits in my camera bag with the SB400 mounted, and the flash switches on and off immediately with a simple switch, a trick I understand the SB600 is incapable of.
    The SB400 is small and light and I like it. However, I'll need to get myself and SB600 at some point if I want to have more than basic flash capabilities - which I do.
     
  33. Another astounding statement. (Do you really think this way?) I didn't feel like a wanna-be, and there was two hired professional shooters there​
    good grief. speaking of "polarizing, confrontational attitudes," i'm not really sure why you chose to take this personally, tim, since it wasnt directed at you. but since you did, let me ask you: have you ever seen a pro shooter at an event with an sb400?
    it's one thing to shoot a relative's wedding for fun, and quite another to shoot from a photo pit on assignment. maybe you should have taken my response in context , since the OP wondered whether getting the bigger, better, and more powerful 600 would make him look like a wanna-be pro and mentioned he had some "events" coming up. this is just my opinion, but the 600 is more 'pro' and the 400 is more 'wanna-be'. not that a pro cant use a 400 and get great results. you just dont see that too often.
    FWIW: I have a friend who has both flashes and a D90 and rarely uses the SB-600.​
    that's great, elliot, but i have both flashes and a d300 and my experience is the exact opposite. if i'm bringing my backup body, a d80, its nice to have another flash so i dont have to switch out the 600, but other than that, i rarely find the 600 incovenient to use.
    granted, there's always going to be some dissent in any comparison, but if the overwhelming majority of folks are saying the same thing, you might want to take that into consideration. nothing wrong with the 400, but i tend to agree it makes a better second flash than a primary flash. for $100 it's not bad, but it is what it is and it aint what it aint. in the long term, the 600 is simply a better option for anyone shooting events.
     
  34. the flash switches on and off immediately with a simple switch, a trick I understand the SB600 is incapable of.​
    actually both the 400 and 600 have standby mode. if you switch on the power on the flash and turn the camera on and off, both flashes will power down, then power up when the camera is switched on again.
     
  35. Wow, this forum has become very active and informative as well! Keep 'em coming! :)
    @ Tim: Those are just 8-12 foot high ceilings? Man, the SB400 is weaker than I thought. Anybody care to prove otherwise? The 400 is still in consideration since, for now, I am just shooting simple family events--sometimes held in restaurants--where using a powerful flash might be too distracting for other customers. And I agree with you that it is very simple and easy to carry around. That's the big plus about the SB400 that I like.
    @ Andrew: You are right. If I have a bigger flash I might hesitate to bring it sometimes, especially if I'm not going to use it all day anyway.
    @ Glenn: I know how you feel. If only I could buy both at the same time eh? Maybe, in the future. Maybe.
    @ Eric: I understand your point as you probably are more than just an enthusiast like me who just wants to get well-lit photos for now. And these "events" I'm talking about aren't really formal ones wherein I'm the official photographer. They're just special, family/church occasions which I want to document with great looking photos. However, when all that's done and I want to explore more possibilities (or when bigger opportunities arrive), I would definitely need the versatility of the SB600.
    It's been a see-saw battle between the two so far! (at least for me) Again, if only I could get both...
    Why is this hobby so expensive, yet so addicting?
     
  36. benson, what it really comes down to is this: if you get a 400, you will wish you spent the extra $100 on a 600. probably sooner than later. if your budget doesnt allow it at this time, by all means, get the 400 now and save your pennies until you can upgrade. a basic flash is better than no flash at all.
     
  37. Update: the SB600 suddenly gained a huge advantage thanks to this post by Matt Laur. Thanks to his dog, too, of course.
    I think I will be saving for the bigger flash now for I might regret getting the 400 very soon after I buy it, as Eric mentioned.
    But for the simple family occasions, anyone know where I can buy a used SB400?
     
  38. @Eric - Yes, re-reading that I took it personally and out-of-context. I apologize. Hadn't had the coffee yet. As to your question - In my limited experience with professionals, all I've ever seen (as far as Nikon equipment goes) is D300s with an SB800 attached (not to mention a ridiculous-looking diffuser).
    @Benson - You're assuming I had correctly exposed those! Keep in mind I was at a family member's wedding. ;) I'll see if I can find a better example of one taken in a short ceiling.
    benson, what it really comes down to is this: if you get a 400, you will wish you spent the extra $100 on a 600. probably sooner than later. if your budget doesnt allow it at this time, by all means, get the 400 now and save your pennies until you can upgrade. a basic flash is better than no flash at all.​
    For what it's worth, this is exactly the situation I'm in. Right on the nose, Eric.
    I could be convinced to sell my SB400, btw. :)
    Better exposed shot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevans/3607081948/in/set-72157619328604127/
    Justin here let me use his 18-200 for a little bit, too, and HE brought an SB600. I should have asked to use the flash instead of the lens, but at the time I was considering buying the lens, so... yeah.
     
  39. I rarely use flash at all and have a SB400. It is limiting but not for my basic needs. It sounds like you should go for the SB-600 no question.
     
  40. Ah, Benson, I was wondering if you'd find that thread. I should have linked to it earlier.

    Yeah, that's exactly why you want the option for remote use of the strobe. Once you get all strobist-y, there's no turning back. A lot of people swear that they can't see themselves using a strobe that way, but once you take a few minutes to learn how to do it, it becomes a solution for all sorts of shooting.

    Below another quick example that I've trotted out before. I keep my SB-600 and SB-800 in slave mode pretty much all the time, and the pop-up on my D300 in commander mode. When I need some light (as in this very dim room after a casual dinner), I just pop up the commander, turn on the SB-600/800, and hold the strobe at arm's length... in this case, pointed a wall/ceiling juncture high and camera-left, using it like a nice big off-center reflector to add some friendly, warm-n-fuzzy light. So much better than the mounted-on-the-camera look.
    00Td71-143243584.jpg
     
  41. all I've ever seen (as far as Nikon equipment goes) is D300s with an SB800 attached (not to mention a ridiculous-looking diffuser).​
    i once saw a guy with a d40 and an sb900. he had to ask me how to use his flash correctly "because it wasnt powerful enough."
    for diffusers, i have Sto-Fens on the 400 and 600. they rarely come off. much less unpleasant than some of the open-topped Gary Fong monstrosities for people next to you :)
     
  42. Matt, your quick and dirty is fantastic.
    Ah ha! It was that Gary Fong, with the little pot pie tin stuck in the top! haha
     
  43. I have not, and never shall Fong. I stick with drywall, paper napkins... and if I've got nothing else, I bounce the strobe off of my own big, shiny, pasty-looking forehead. Talk about a "light sphere!"
     
  44. SB400 is not tall enough to avoid casting shadow in lower central area of the picture, caused by wide angle lenses with large hoods. E.g. Nikkor 14-24/2.8 (the hood cannot be removed), Tokina 12-24/4 with hood, perhaps few others...
    Similarly, SU-800 commander is not tall and casts invisible (IR) shadow, but due to 4X stronger IR signal than other commanders (SB800/900) provides 2X longer CLS range, and it works OK in highly reflective rooms or with white walls. Perhaps nobody would place a remote CLS flash in front of camera at the bottom, anyhow.
     
  45. Photography has been one of my primary hobbies for 50 years, and I own a number of nice DSLR cameras and lenses.
    But when I travel (I've been all over Europe and much of North Africa) I usually bring just a high quality point and shoot. Size and weight really are very important criteria in some situations. Even the D40 is too big to fit in your shirt pocket. My D300 is wonderful, but normally I leave it at home when I am travelling.
    The same applies decision applies with strobes. I like the SU-400 because it is so small and simple, but it will still bounce off the ceiling. I also like the SU-600, especially when used remotely with Nikon's CLS. Both are great - they are just suited for different situations.
     
  46. last night, i was at a show in san francisco. shooting from the balcony of a large (1,200 capacity) venue, i was surprised at the 600's illuminating power. dont think this shot would have been possible with a 400. also, i had to swtich quickly between iTTL and manual mode at times, as lighting shifted. that would have been frustrating with a 400 as well.
    00Tdb7-143547584.jpg
     
  47. this vertical bounced shot would have been beyond the 400's capabilities as well...
    00TdbH-143551584.jpg
     
  48. I use an sb600, and shooting action a lot of light is important to freeze the action. I've never had a situation where the 600 wasn't enough light. I use it during the day in direct sun to fill shadows, and still get plenty of light from it.
    The only downside, as you mentioned before about shooting in a restaurant for a family occasion, sometimes people complain that it blinds them. I know it's kind of normal for any camera with a flash, but with the 600 I get very used to people cracking jokes about seeing blue dots when I'm shooting. In a restaurant with other customers you might get people who are actually irritated by it.
    I think the best answer has been get them both, use the one that feels right for the situation you're in. As far as people thinking you are a wannabe professional, I actually am a wanna be professional. And there's nothing wrong with that. But I'll tell you what, when I tell people to look a certain way for a photo with a D2x and sb600 in my hand, they listen.
     
  49. But I'll tell you what, when I tell people to look a certain way for a photo with a D2x and sb600 in my hand, they listen.​
    scott has a good point. there is nothing wrong with looking like a 'pro', even if you're not. in fact, sometimes--actually, most of the time--it can be to your advantage. there have been times, for instance, when just having a professional-looking camera+flash is all the photo pass you need to shoot an event. sometimes club secturity guards just assume you know what you're doing and don't hassle you.
    The only downside, as you mentioned before about shooting in a restaurant for a family occasion, sometimes people complain that it blinds them. I know it's kind of normal for any camera with a flash, but with the 600 I get very used to people cracking jokes about seeing blue dots when I'm shooting. In a restaurant with other customers you might get people who are actually irritated by it.​
    this is a whole 'nother topic. bars are the same thing, especially dimly-lit ones. generally, in these situations, i'll try to shoot with a f/1.4 lens and no flash at high ISOs.
     
  50. Thanks to all who convinced me to get the SB600 instead. Just bought it this morning and I love it!
     
  51. My face says it all.
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  52. Pretty cool, huh Benson? If you think it's fun now, just wait until you're so comfortable using it that it's completely second nature, and you solve on the fly a photographic problem you didn't see coming. Just keep those batteries charging, and shoot shoot shoot. You'll wonder how you ever got along without it for some stuff. Have fun!
     

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