Sanity check - SB600 plus another flash

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by fluppeteer, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. Hi all. Just checking the results of my research - I hope this has a simple answer, and I'll look like an idiot for asking...

    Currently I have a D700 and an SB-600, and an off-camera cord. I'll shortly be attending a wedding, and would like to take some evening shots of guests, when it'll be dark. It'd be nice to add a second flash for fill lighting (if I can get someone to hold it, or strap it to my elbow). I don't do much flash photography, and if I get into it properly I'll pick up some studio heads, so I'm after a cheapish solution.

    Failed option 1: Use the SB-600 wirelessly in slave mode, and put an SB-400 on a cable. I think this won't work because the SB-400 can't be a master.
    Failed option 2: Use the SB-600 as a master and get an SB-R200 to use as a slave. I think this won't work because the SB-600 can't be a master.

    Remaining options:

    a) Forget the cable and use the D700's on-board flash as a master, hoping it won't show in the image, then use the SB-600 and an SB-R200 as slaves.
    b) Find an SB-800 on eBay (or get an SB-700, or, big budget, an SB-900) and use it to drive the SB-600.
    c) Find an off-camera cord splitter (do these exist for Nikon?) and get an SB-400.
    d) Various expensive third-party options.
    e) Give up, and use a reflector.

    I have manual flash options, but it'd be nice to have proper i-TTL.

    Suggestions, please?
  2. Option (a) is quite workable, and you can simply go into the camera's commander menu, setting the pop-up flash's mode to '--' (so that it serves only as a commander, and not as a contributor to the exposure). It will still emit light in its role as the commander, but it's generally meaningless in the shot. If, however, you find that extra hint of a catch light to be an issue, or the pre-exposure metering/command pulses are distracting to your subjects, try the Nikon SG-3IR, which costs less than $15, and will block essentially all but the IR portion of the output from the pop-up. Just keep the slave unit's IR sensor pointed towards the camera, and you should reliable indoor triggering, even at a fair distance. Remember that you can swivel the head on the flash to help maximize that positioning.
  3. You can set the on board flash to commander mode and "--," for flash output-- meaning it won't contribute to exposure.
    If the SB400 is a CLS flash, you can control it and an SB600 from the camera. The SB-R200 is a macro flash. Its output is pretty low. You have to be close to your subject to use it as a key light. Not for groups.
  4. I believe that your experiment should be feasible with your D700 as the master - that's what I do currently, but haven't tried with older flash models. Works fine with recent models, though. In your in-camera menu, you should be able to determine the correct setup for several flashes. All you other D700 Nikonians, correct me if I'm wrong here.
    I've had the idea of using an Elinchrom wireless trigger for flashes. When it arrived, it turned out that it was rather something you use with studio equipment. I think you can get it up and running, but you'd need one of those crazily expensive Nikon cables to connect it (hah! wireless!) with your camera. The 4 cables that came with the package were all not suited to connect me somehow. I won't give up, though... maybe something like that would be an option for you, too, but check out the makes and models before you launch yourself into experimenting: do they fit, and how do they work? Some Chinese (Yongnuo) models have the not-so-nice reputation of not always triggering when you need them.
    A reflector is something very cumbersome to bounce around at a wedding, and you'd need an assistant to move among people...
    Have you been to the strobist site already? You might get some advice and inspiration there.
  5. evening shots of guests, when it'll be dark​
    Exactly what is that? Inside, outside, formal pictures, candids, photo booth style images? If it's inside what does the venue look like? How dark is "dark"? What are your and the bride and grooms expectations?
  6. I don't know how 'dark' dark is but you may be able to get by if you increase your ISO a bit and drag the shutter (a fast lens will help with this as well).
  7. The R200 isn't very powerful - not sure if it will be sufficient for your application.
    Another cheap solution - some Yongnuo flashes (like the YN-460) have built-in slaves and ignore the i-TTL preflashes and fire with the main flash - but you would need to experiment with the power settings to get the exposure and effect you want.
  8. I wouldn't worry about the pop-up flash contributing to the exposure - it might be good to get some on-axis fill, especially
    if you can get the SB600 well off-axis and it is really dark. I would start out with the pop-up set to -1 to -2 EV and the
    SB600 to 0EV and go from there.
    It's best to keep the SB600 in front (and to the left, if i remember the location of the sensor window) of your camera so it
    can see the pop-up master. A small monopod can be handy here for the "strobe-on-a-stick" technique.
  9. Thanks all.

    To clarify:
    I'm a guest, not the official photographer, but I suspect the official photographer will not be around for the evening after the reception. I don't have details yet for the event, but I guested at another wedding recently, and the few disco lights available on a dance floor meant a lot of missed shots and some exciting colour shifts, even at ISO12800. Remaining light was at candlelight levels (it was electric, but distant). In the same scenario, it would be nice to use flash, and more flattering if I can clamshell-light the subject.

    The power of the R200 might be a concern, but it would be secondary light to the SB-600, so I imagine it would suffice; I'm not expecting to worry about more then three or four people, max. Upping the ISO a bit is still much better than using ISO 12800 and waiting for a disco light to hit a nearby bit of ceiling. :)

    Iverson: the SB-400 apparently won't play as either slave (it has no eye) or master (not sure why that won't work) for the CLS. Which, for my purposes, is annoying! I'd have one by now, otherwise.

    Thanks, everyone. I'll look at going wireless - and have a look on strobists. (Alan - I was going to post a follow-up question about how to hold two flashes at once; good suggestion with the monopod!)
  10. I'm a guest, not the official photographer, but I suspect the official photographer will not be around for the evening after the reception.​
    FWIW every wedding I shot or assisted shooting we were there from the bride's at-home prep through the church and for the entire reception including the cake cutting, bouquet-tossing, garter stuff, bride's dance with Dad and so on.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
  11. Thanks, Henry. I've been to two weddings recently (i.e. in the last couple of years). For one, the photographer left as soon as the cake had been cut, before the dinner proper (including before the speeches) and well before dancing. In the second, the photographer stayed until after the speeches and for the first dance, but left before the rest of the dancing in the evening (which went on until well into the morning - I gave up at about 1am, a long time before most).

    I'll find out what's happening in this case, and not assume the pro will bail - my aim, as an amateur, is to complement and stay well out of the way of the official photographer (as well as having fun as a guest). I doubt it'll be the top of the line photography wedding package, just because the bride and groom asked me to do it; I told them to get a pro, because I'm not competent or organised enough and I don't want their memories ruined - but unless they think I'm a lot better than I am, I suspect they didn't prioritise it all that highly.
  12. The SB-400 is not really a fully CLS compatible flash - it can be used on camera and it supports i-TTL there, but not as a remote or master (unless my memory fails me). The SB-200 is a macro flash and may not have the power you need.
    I think the least expensive CLS multiflash setup for people photography is two SB-600's and using the pop-up to control the flashes (get the Nikon gadget which prevents direct light to go from the pop-up to the subjects or else they'll blink a lot of the time).
    Personally I prefer the SB-700 over the 600 because the former allows the flash head to be pointed to the right and behind (landscape) or up and behind (in portrait orientation) which can be useful to achieve a more frontal, soft lighting than pointing up and ahead (where the frontal component will be point-like, causing glare and wrinkles to show up, and the ceiling reflection will leave shadows under the chin and other places). By using the rear wall and ceiling as effective light sources, you obtain a more beautiful lighting on the subjects with very gentle shadows and no glare, just like using a giant soft box which is bigger than anything you can buy from B&H. The falloff of light as a function of distance is also less. Also the SB-700 has a better user interface and works as a CLS master as well as slave (SB-600 cannot act as CLS master).
  13. Thanks, Ilkka. I only found out while reading before I started this thread that the SB-700 can act as a CLS master - that does make it more appealing to me. I got an SB-600 deliberately, because my backup camera is an F5 and so the i-TTL-only flashes can't help me. I'm unlikely to do complex flash rigs on 35mm film, though, so an SB-700 is more an option than it once was. A shame it costs more than a pair of studio flash heads, though.

    I'll have a think. At the price of an SB-400, I'd get one if it did everything - but I'm wary of the expense of an SB-R200 and especially the SB-700 or above. On this occasion, I'm not sure whether there'll be a wall available - we may be talking a large pavillion, or even outdoors at night; I have a cheap softbox I can stick on the SB-600 (wind permitting). If there's an architectural softbox nearby, though, I'll use it (but I suspect not with something as weedy as an SB-R200). My plan had been to bracket the subject - SB-600 above and to one side, something smaller filling from below to help avoid dark eyes - but I have a lot to learn about flash portraits.

    Thanks for the help. A lot to ponder.
  14. I have both the SB-600 and SB-700....a simple solution for you would be to purchase an SB-700...
    then you can slave one or both flashes.....I prefer to master the SB-700, then slave the SB-600;
    although you will have to spend some money, you will then have 2 flashes in the CLS......
  15. I have sb600 and two older vivitar 283 and firing almost always all three of them via ishoot pt-04 wireless and with great success. They all work just fine.
    Think that all vivitar 283 are about $30, pt-04 are about $40-$50 and they work just fine.
    Using those pt-04 to fire studio flashes too with pc sync cord, visatec units, all 6 of them without problems.
    Also have used a set of radio poppers and they work great too.
    Just my $.02 on this matter.
  16. Set the popup flash on the D700 to Commander mode.
    Built-in flash: mode ttl, comp -2.
    Group A: mode ttl, comp 0.
    Group B: mode --
    Channel 1
    Set the SB-600 in wireless slave mode, group A, channel 1.
    Then hold your SB-600 in the left hand (or stick it to the top of a monopad) and shoot with your right hand.
  17. Thanks again, all. I'll count the pennies and make up my mind.

    Incidentally, the choice would be much simpler if the SB-900 (or 800) could do more than 24 flashes in a single exposure. The 580EX - and I think my old 550EX as well - could do 40, which is a big difference when you're tracking the flight of something. Yes, I use "the feature that nobody needs". Oh well.

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