SB-600 vs SB-800

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by sanford, May 20, 2008.

  1. Does that tiny built-in white bounce card in the SB-800 provide useful light diffusion? That was the only
    reason I was considering the SB-800 over the SB-600 but when I saw how small it was I thought I could
    save a few hundred bucks and get the cheaper flash and attach an index card with a rubber band. Any
  2. I like the SB-600's and they work well for about 90% of my work. I got an SB-800 for
    wireless flash modes.

    The SB-600 lacks this and a tad less power, but that's about it.

    Most people will say you need the 800, but if you're not doing wireless flash stuff, don't
    bother. Get an SB-600 and save some dough.
  3. There are much, much better reasons to get the SB-800... that built-in card, though, is very helpful, and one thing less to lose. It's not, by the way, so much that it adds diffusion. The whole idea is that you use it when the strobe is pointed at the ceiling (and THAT provides your nice, diffuse light), and the hotter, smaller source of the light bouncing off the small card just helps fill shadows and perhaps provide a little catchlight.

    But really: that's not what it's all about. The SB-800 can (without any other accessories) serve as a simple optical slave to other strobe systems, it can control other CLS system strobes, and it cycles faster. Also comes with a diffusor cup, and some gels to match incandescent and fluorescent light sources. Longer reach, better integration with external battery packs... it all adds up pretty quick.
  4. I have both and like them both. The 800 is more powerful and has more freatures but the 600 is a workhorse for most situations and is simpler to use. If you like romote shooting then the 800 has the ability to control groups of flashes.

    As for the little bounce card, it is useful for creating eye highlights. A file card and elastic does the same on the 600.
  5. pge


    Ken Rockwell likes the sb600 over the sb800

    I have heard someone say to buy the sb600 first, then if you want another flash buy the sb800. It makes sense because without two flashes there isn't anything for the sb800 to command.

    I have a d200 and an sb600 and they work great together wirelessly.
  6. Rockwell likes the smaller version of everything. In this case, he even prefers the SB-400 over the SB-600.
  7. Nic - The SB 600 does have wireless flash ability, I use two of them all the time with
    my D70s in commander mode. The SB800 has the ability to control other flashes
    wirelessly and has a plug for an external battery.
  8. The SB-800 comes with the flash diffuser dome and automatically adjusts the flash output when you attach it. It also comes with the 5th battery holder and the ability to add an external battery pack -both options give you faster recycle time and more flashes per set of batteries (you can use a total of 11 AA batteries instead of 5).

    If you use bounce flash or the diffuser dome, you will really need and will appreciate the extra power of the SB-800.

    The difference in price is about $100, not hundreds of dollars. If you have the money, the SB-800 is a better value but you won't be disappointed with either flash.
  9. I have both. I got the SB-800 when my SB-600 went in for an extended time to get
    the flash bulb repaired (those @#$%! airlines).

    For most casual uses these flashes are fairly equal. If you get the SB-600, I would
    recommend you get a diffuser dome for it. This is included in with the SB-800.

    Apart from the other differences mentioned, the additional nice feature with the SB-
    800 is a much better LCD readout, which contains more useful information, such as
    the distance range that the flash could handle given the current ISO value and f-stop
    on the camera. This can be really useful to see if you have enough power to get
    your shot. The flash also has other features (repeat flash etc) that are not commonly
  10. Based on B&H prices, the difference between the SB-600 and the SB-800 is $130. Not really a lot of money if the additional features are important to you. If you don't need the added bennies of the SB-800, save a little and put it toward another lens.
  11. I don't see a diffuser dome listed in the accessories. Are you referring to the flat piece that
    slides out of of the top of the flash to cover the head? More of a diffuser cover. I think it's
    purpose is to cover more of a wide angle. You're right, I'll never be happy if I go for the
    lesser of the two units.
  12. Michael, what I meant was that it can't be used as a commander, just as a slave. But
    yeah, with some cameras that have built-in commander mode, it can be used as a of-
    camera slave as well.
  13. As many, including Matt have stated, there are many reasons to purchase the SB-800 over the SB-600.

    Among those not yet mentioned is that the user-interface of the SB-800 is much easier to work with than the SB-600 user-interface. I can never remember the crazy combinations of buttons that switch the SB-600 from one mode to another. The SB-800 on the other hand has an easy to use interface. Holding down the center button for a couple seconds switches it into its custom setting menu. In custom settings the SB-800 can be switched between CLS master mode, CLS remote slave mode, SU-4 manual mode, and more. If I were starting over I would never have purchased any SB-600s, fortunately only have SB-600 and a bunch of SB-800s.

    Also, I own both Canon and Nikon equipment. I use the Nikon SBs with my Canon in two ways. In SU-4 mode, the SBs can operate wirelessly by "seeing" another flash that has been fired by the camera. An SB-800 can also be attached to a Pocketwizard in receiver mode to fire it, from a Pocketwizard transmitter on the Canon camera.

    In SU-4 mode it is possible to control the SB unit output in 1/3 stop increments, but only whole stop increments in CLS modes. The SB-800s also reset more quicky, reducing wait time between shots. In addition an SB-800 in CLS master mode can control A B and C groups for 3 different output levels among the remote flash units.

    Also, note that if the SBs are ever use with strobes, their output tends to be a little cooler in color (i.e. higher kelvin value) than most strobes. Which can create some mixed light color issues in certain setups.

    Another way to think about using a speedlight:

    Get an hotshoe style, top of light stand, umbrella mount.
    Get a 30" white shoot through umbrella.
    Attach the SB unit to the mount and insert the shoot-thru umbrella.

    Setup the SB unit to CLS remote slave mode.
    Setup the commander mode in a Nikon camera to disable any on camera flash.

    Hold the SB/umbrella setup in your left and shoot single handed with your right hand.

    You get a nicely diffused light through the umbrella camera left, all while being able to walk around, a little like those newspaper photographers in the 1940s, but with "modern" technology.
  14. I got just the SB600 and have been REALLY happy with it.
  15. I suppose I should have mentioned that I also use one of each. The SB-600 pretty much stays permanently in slave mode, and I only bring it out when I need a second slave. I agree with Sprite - it's a royal PITA to remember the magic button combos on the 600 when you're used to the 800's more chatty interface. I'm happy to have the 600 as a backup and a second... but mostly because I just turn it on and it's already - and always - waiting for a CLS command as a slave, the way I leave it set up.
  16. Sprite,

    Walking around with a thirty inch umbrella in one hand seems a bit awkward. Did those old news photographers really use something that big?

    But I love the idea and will have to try it sometime with something smaller.
  17. I've always loved Nikon flashes for their accurate color balance and natural light, but never really liked using flash until I bought an SB-800. Wonderfully flexible, easy to use, and very high performance. It's the next best thing to having my monolights with me.
  18. For me SB-800 selling point was the PC sync socket on the SB-800 body while SB-600 does not have it. This socket produces sync signal ONLY (allows ignore pre-flashes for non-Nikon flashes usage together), and therefore allows usage of SB800 even in the iTTL/CLS modes, and yet trigger studio or other incompatible flashes via Pocket WIzards or sync cables connected to the extra PC sync socket on the SB-800 when the shutter is fully open.

    Imagine D300 PC sync socket gets disabled in certain flash modes, while the SB-800 when in the camera hot shoe keeps working with the PC sync socket on the flash...working the same way as it used to on D200.

    Another reason is the SB-800 has the high voltage external battery pack socket, and allows much faster and stronger batteries. SB-600 does not have socket for any external battery.

    Some inventors make an external battery for SB-600 that uses low voltage that replaces SB600 internal battery with a stronger one, and feeds the cable to the SB600 battery chamber, requires original battery compartment cover modifications, etc. Feeding flash capacitor directly with external high voltage is not the same as feeding flash with external low voltage... that was explained many times already.

    Some people find extra power of SB800 sufficient for bounced lighting in larger rooms, where in the same place the SB600 fails short of power and requires higher ISO or faster lens opening.
  19. pge


    "I can never remember the crazy combinations of buttons that switch the SB-600 from one mode to another."

    You press the Mode button
  20. The Sto-Fen company, for one, makes a plastic cap (difusser dome?) for the SB-600. It is less than $20, and no, Nikon does not make one for the SB-600.

    If you ever need the extra distance the SB-800 gives, you will have to walk closer to get the same coverage with the SB-600. Your money and your choice.
  21. OK, Phil, so it's not TOO complicated... but there are some behaviors on the SB-600 you can only change by simultaneously holding down multiple buttons - and those are not well labeled, on the unit, in terms of their function in that regard. When I say "mode," I mean things like toggling in and out of remote-control state, etc.
  22. I have an 800 and a 600. I quite often wish I had sprung for two 800's. I do a decent amount of on-location portrait work, and it's really handy to have the built-in slave function of the 800. I bought a Wein slave shoe to use with my 600, but mysteriously the firing is really inconsistent with the 600. An old-school slave shoe I found in the bottom of my dad's camera bag works much better. (Maybe the Wein is defective.)

    I also miss the power of another 800. I commonly shoot events with a flash on my camera and one on a light stand, off to the side. The off-camera flash is usually farther away from my subjects, but since the 600 doesn't have a wireless commander built in, I end up with the 800 on my camera and the 600 on the light stand. The 600 is always firing hard, to try to keep up.

    The 600 is a very capable flash, as many people have pointed out. I don't think the bounce card alone is worth the extra $130, but taken together with the included diffuser cover, gels, slave functionality, commander mode, 25% extra power, and a more detailed display, I personally think the 800 is well worth it.
  23. Having used both extensively, I would agree with the photog who suggested getting the SB600 if you are buying only one, then adding the SB800 if you see the need for two. The 800's menu is nicer. I have used both off-camera in commander mode with both the D2Xs and the D200. I paid $165 for the 600 at National Camera in Minneapolis! Wish I could have gotten such a deal on the 800. <p>Another flash I have been interested in is the Metz 58 AF-1N. More power than a SB800 for less money and is supposed to give the same features/performance - has anyone used this flash? I know the Metz 54 series is very good.
  24. Tom Luongo,

    There is a better solution than my description about how to hand hold an umbrella with a speedlight.

    Alzo Digtal makes a truly nifty bracket that holds the camera, flash, and umbrella, and the entire kit with an umbrella is only about $100.00. Its a must have sort of gadget for the appropriate circumstance. I wonder why the L.A. Papz don't use them, probably because most are clueless hacks.

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