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Flash advice for Nikon


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I'm considering to take up a volunteer opportunity to photograph an event for a local charity. It will be at a function room held indoors. All my photography up till now has been either outdoors or still life images taken indoors using a tripod (using natural light and or inside light sources but not a flash).

 

My knowledge about flash photography is limited, so I thought I would ask those who do use a flash what their recommendations for an affordable but reasonable quality flash might be? I've started to have a look at options and a mid-level option that seems like it could be good is the Nikon SB-700, but there are cheaper ones again that may be perfectly adequate.

 

I would be looking for something that can provide a diffuse light that is suitable for indoor portraits, both posed and candid. My camera is a Nikon D5200. I would most likely be using my Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens which I think is about the focal range I would need. I understand that more powerful flashes are required for telephoto focal lengths, but in this case I don't think I need anything especially powerful.

 

So just wondering if anyone has any advice on this topic? Thanks in advance.

 

(I realise now I probably should have posted this in the technical thread, but as it is already here and I can't delete it I'll just leave it here for now.)

Edited by Sally R
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Take a look at what Godox has to offer.  It has a range of flashes from hot shoe flashes through various battery operated somewhat bigger flashes that can work as radio controlled hand held flashes or on light stands to studio flashes and larger battery higher power flashes that need light stands.

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Thanks Miz Brown!

 

Yes I noticed a Godox flash being mentioned in a list of potential options for Nikon. It was the Godox Thinklite TTL TT685N Camera Flash High Speed 1/8000s GN60 Compatible for Nikon DSLR I-TTL II Autoflash.

 

It does seem like a good, affordable option.

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32 minutes ago, Sally R said:

Thanks Miz Brown!

 

Yes I noticed a Godox flash being mentioned in a list of potential options for Nikon. It was the Godox Thinklite TTL TT685N Camera Flash High Speed 1/8000s GN60 Compatible for Nikon DSLR I-TTL II Autoflash.

 

It does seem like a good, affordable option.

It appears Godox is also sold rebranded as Neewer and some of their equivalents can be much cheaper under the Neewer name.

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1 hour ago, Sally R said:

I'm considering to take up a volunteer opportunity to photograph an event for a local charity. It will be at a function room held indoors. All my photography up till now has been either outdoors or still life images taken indoors using a tripod (using natural light and or inside light sources but not a flash).

 

My knowledge about flash photography is limited, so I thought I would ask those who do use a flash what their recommendations for an affordable but reasonable quality flash might be? I've started to have a look at options and a mid-level option that seems like it could be good is the Nikon SB-700, but there are cheaper ones again that may be perfectly adequate.

 

I would be looking for something that can provide a diffuse light that is suitable for indoor portraits, both posed and candid. My camera is a Nikon D5200. I would most likely be using my Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens which I think is about the focal range I would need. I understand that more powerful flashes are required for telephoto focal lengths, but in this case I don't think I need anything especially powerful.

 

So just wondering if anyone has any advice on this topic? Thanks in advance.

 

(I realise now I probably should have posted this in the technical thread, but as it is already here and I can't delete it I'll just leave it here for now.)

Sally,

 

I've been using NIKON Film and DSLR's along with NIKON SB-24's to now SB-800's and once you play with it a bit the SB-800 works really well in Matrix TTL mode.

I usually have the flash exposure set to -1 to -1.75.  I also most often use the popup diffuser.  It gives a really nice fill.  I could go on and on about the in's and

out's of camera mounted flash, but.  In any event used SB-800's are available really cheap these days.  I carry two SB-800's with me for reportage work and I've

used mine for over a decade with out a problem.  NIKON also pioneered the "Matrix Balanced fill flash"  I would never consider the Godox or Neewer.

 

Chuck

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1 hour ago, RyanU said:

It appears Godox is also sold rebranded as Neewer and some of their equivalents can be much cheaper under the Neewer name.

 

Thanks Ryan, that's good to know.

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1 hour ago, Chuck Nacke said:

Sally,

 

I've been using NIKON Film and DSLR's along with NIKON SB-24's to now SB-800's and once you play with it a bit the SB-800 works really well in Matrix TTL mode.

I usually have the flash exposure set to -1 to -1.75.  I also most often use the popup diffuser.  It gives a really nice fill.  I could go on and on about the in's and

out's of camera mounted flash, but.  In any event used SB-800's are available really cheap these days.  I carry two SB-800's with me for reportage work and I've

used mine for over a decade with out a problem.  NIKON also pioneered the "Matrix Balanced fill flash"  I would never consider the Godox or Neewer.

 

Chuck

 

Thanks Chuck. That's great to know the SB-800 has been reliable for over a decade. It is good to know about your exposure settings and the popup diffuser too, which sounds like what I would want to be using for photographing people.

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13 hours ago, Sally R said:

Thanks Miz Brown!

 

Yes I noticed a Godox flash being mentioned in a list of potential options for Nikon. It was the Godox Thinklite TTL TT685N Camera Flash High Speed 1/8000s GN60 Compatible for Nikon DSLR I-TTL II Autoflash.

 

It does seem like a good, affordable option.

 

I have the Sony version of that flash.  There's another similar version that takes a lithium ion battery.  For me, where I am, AA batteries make somewhat more sense, but lithium ion batteries are better if you're not importing lithium batteries by air for any replacements.  If you get the lithium battery version, probably get a second battery.    The TT685 will serve as a radio commander (probably easier to get a smaller radio control unit if you expand your Godox collection, a infrared commander (at least on Sony), and can also be used off camera as a radio slave.   I've used a MagMod MagSphere on mine, but there are cheaper diffusion options, including taped on paper ones.  The flash also has a pop-up bounce card. 

 

The Nikon flash would probably be more robust and more stable in terms of color consistency.  I had Nikon flashes when I had a Nikon DSLR.   Godox started out rather crap from what I've read.  Not all Neewer branded gear is Godox.  Adorama and some English and Canadian resellers have their own house brands.   B&H sell Godox. 

 

If events are going to be a thing you do, then go Nikon for a Nikon body.  If you aren't going to do this often, the Godox will serve, but the controls on my radio transmitter are a bit fiddly.  There's a newer model transmitter that's apparently easier to use.   Work through the exercises on the Strobist site (they recommend yet another brand, but mheh).

 

My shots taken in a furniture and upholstery shop were lit by the TT685 and the MagMod MagSphere.   My other flash is a Nissin i40 for Sony (also comes in a Nikon variant).  It's small and takes four AA batteries.   Like most modern flashes, it has a pull out bounce card and a diffuser for wide angle lenses and comes with attachable diffuser cap.   The battery door is fiddly.   More than the Godox, less than the Nikons might be.

Edited by MizBrown
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The power of the flash you need will depend on how close you can get to the subject and that is the first thing you need to think about. Can you get close to the subjects or not? The SB-700 is a good little flashgun and the advantage of using a Nikon flash is that you can do everything automatically and generally very reliably without having to think too much, once you learn the controls on the flash and camera. So if you want an easy life and the SB-700 is powerful enough, then go for that, given that you have no experience with flash. The power is given as a guide number which tells you what distance you can shoot at depending on aperture and ISO. 
 

If you are talking about doing formal portraits then a single flashgun would not be ideal but there are different ways to diffuse flash. The best way for the sort of stuff you area talking about is probably to bounce the flash off a wall or ceiling if there is a suitable white wall or low ceiling. The SB-700 has a tilt head so this is easy to do in principle . This also avoids horrible red eye. You can also get a small softbox like this that fits on the flash and gives a much nicer light than unmodified flash. Or you could bounce the flash into a reflector etc. 

Edited by MDM
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Another vote for the SB-800 - very reliable flash and you can also have an extra single  battery on the side of it.  I used to also have the SB-900 but this was prone to overheating so got rid of it.

 

Carol

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2 hours ago, MDM said:

You can also get a small softbox like this that fits on the flash and gives a much nicer light than unmodified flash. Or you could bounce the flash into a reflector etc. 

 

If you're going to do formal portraits, a number of places have umbrella and light stand kits that are a good place to start.

 

What I like about Godox is that the whole contemporary system is expandable into studio lights that work off mains power, studio battery lights from 200 Watt/sec to 600 Watt/sec (a bit heavy in the field, but people do use that one there).  One of their cooler products is the AD200 strobes with interchangeable heads (200 Watt/sec, about as powerful as three or four hot shoe strobe flashes) which can be hand held and triggered by radio controllers.  Or put on a light stand, or put in two to a bracket for a combined 400 watt/sec (super fliddly).  I don't make serious money at this, so I don't have the newer AD200Pros that are more stable in color output.  The people who use Godox tend to be somewhat fanboys/fangirls, so take what I'm saying with adequate salt.  If you don't have space, two light stands, two flashes or one flash and some pop up reflectors, and umbrellas and pop-up reflectors can be taken down quickly and put away easily.

 

There's a recommendation by car and bike mechanics -- buy cheap tools in a kit and assume the ones that break or frustrate you are the ones you use the most and replace those with the best quality individual tools.  You can spend eye-watering amounts of money on lighting, or you can buy one umbrella, a pop-up reflector, two used or new light stands, umbrella and reflector brackets, and a hot shoe strobe, and see if you actually want to take formal portraits.  I like radio controlled flashes better than optically controlled or wired controlled ones.  If your Nikon has a popup flash, I believe it may serve as a optical master.   Or use a flash cord if your camera and the flash you get have connectors for that.

 

Lots of information on line about setting up formal portraits with various lighting set ups.  I'll mention Strobist again.  

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31 minutes ago, MizBrown said:

 

If you're going to do formal portraits, a number of places have umbrella and light stand kits that are a good place to start.

 

What I like about Godox is that the whole contemporary system is expandable into studio lights that work off mains power, studio battery lights from 200 Watt/sec to 600 Watt/sec (a bit heavy in the field, but people do use that one there).  One of their cooler products is the AD200 strobes with interchangeable heads (200 Watt/sec, about as powerful as three or four hot shoe strobe flashes) which can be hand held and triggered by radio controllers.  Or put on a light stand, or put in two to a bracket for a combined 400 watt/sec (super fliddly).  I don't make serious money at this, so I don't have the newer AD200Pros that are more stable in color output.  The people who use Godox tend to be somewhat fanboys/fangirls, so take what I'm saying with adequate salt.  If you don't have space, two light stands, two flashes or one flash and some pop up reflectors, and umbrellas and pop-up reflectors can be taken down quickly and put away easily.

 

There's a recommendation by car and bike mechanics -- buy cheap tools in a kit and assume the ones that break or frustrate you are the ones you use the most and replace those with the best quality individual tools.  You can spend eye-watering amounts of money on lighting, or you can buy one umbrella, a pop-up reflector, two used or new light stands, umbrella and reflector brackets, and a hot shoe strobe, and see if you actually want to take formal portraits.  I like radio controlled flashes better than optically controlled or wired controlled ones.  If your Nikon has a popup flash, I believe it may serve as a optical master.   Or use a flash cord if your camera and the flash you get have connectors for that.

 

Lots of information on line about setting up formal portraits with various lighting set ups.  I'll mention Strobist again.  


Yes I didn’t even start on portable studio light setups as I assume Sally is looking for a cheap and simple single flashgun setup. Triggering off camera flash would be the next step but again I got the feeling she is looking for something very basic. 

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1 minute ago, MDM said:


Yes I didn’t even start on portable studio light setups as I assume Sally is looking for a cheap and simple single flashgun setup. Triggering off camera flash would be the next step but again I got the feeling she is looking for something very basic. 

 

I'm in the middle of editing some recent shots, half taken with the two AD200 flashes, which are making me smile, and the other half taken hand held with natural light, which were all deleted because of noise.   If the shots taken with one umbrella, one off camera flash and a reflector look superior to anything taken with direct or even overhead bounced flash, it's just more fun, I think.

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3 hours ago, CAROL SAUNDERS said:

 I used to also have the SB-900 but this was prone to overheating so got rid of it.

 

Carol

I've had three SB900's and one SB910 for many years and not once has any of those flashguns overheated.  Strange.

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42 minutes ago, Colblimp said:

I've had three SB900's and one SB910 for many years and not once has any of those flashguns overheated.  Strange.

I did melt some of the plastic bits of my SB900 while lying in the grass quickly shooting off many shots of egrets and blue herons catching fish since they were somewhat backlit. If used judiciously and normally, it was great for several previous years. You probably never stressed yours like I did that one and only day. It left me gun shy. Pun intended.

As far as portraits, you’ll never be quite happy with flashing straight onto a face. I tried to bounce when I could, and used a reflector the rest of the time. Portraits using flash are not for those technically challenged like I am.  I did it successfully, but it was stressful and took me a lot of trial shots, camera settings fiddling and stress.

I finally bought some light stands that came with accessories, including an umbrella. I still had to take test shots, but was more pleased sculpting the faces with a main light. I set up my studio (of sorts) in my large bedroom. I had good side light from a window, and often just used one light for fill on the other side on a bright day. I sometimes was criticized for using dramatic lighting from time to time, but I liked it. Dramatic is not good for children, but works better on men. Women need softer.

Edited by Betty LaRue
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There is a known overheating issue with the SB-900 if you fire it a lot in quick succession without giving it time to cool but you can’t fry eggs with it as it cuts out and won’t work again until it cools. I think the thermal cutout can be overridden but that is dodgy as it could  cause damage. I have used one with a 910 and 700 all mounted together shooting through an umbrella and the 900 would stop firing if I overdid it. Shooting on lower power helps. That was why Nikon brought out the 910 I believe. This issue is mentioned in the link I posted above. 

Edited by MDM
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1 hour ago, MDM said:

There is a known overheating issue with the SB-900 if you fire it a lot in quick succession without giving it time to cool but you can’t fry eggs with it as it cuts out and won’t work again until it cools. I think the thermal cutout can be overridden but that is dodgy as it could  cause damage. I have used one with a 910 and 700 all mounted together shooting through an umbrella and the 900 would stop firing if I overdid it. Shooting on lower power helps. That was why Nikon brought out the 910 I believe. This issue is mentioned in the link I posted above. 

 

57 minutes ago, Michael Ventura said:

I also have the Nikon SB-900 flash and I hate how it overheats easily.  It makes it impossible to use when shooting in quick succession.

Yes I think the overheating was a fairly common problem when they first came out, I did read somewhere that turning off the thermometer helped but as said above it could cause other problems.    I've never had any problems with the SB-800.  I used to use it with both the 24/70mm 2.8 and the 70-200mm 2.8.

 

Sally, also if you get the chance it would be useful if you could visit the venue in advance to see what if any, available light there is.  I realise that this may be possible so if it's not possible, get there early to see what you have to deal with.  I have in the past done many paid shoots for a well known cancer charity in many different venues both in London and some further away.   I never used a tripod or any other lighting equipment.  I used a combination of available light if there was any and flash or in some cases just bumped the iso up really high, most Nikons are capable of using very high ISO with excellent results.

 

Carol

 

 

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On 28/03/2021 at 21:53, Sally R said:

I'm considering to take up a volunteer opportunity to photograph an event for a local charity. It will be at a function room held indoors. All my photography up till now has been either outdoors or still life images taken indoors using a tripod (using natural light and or inside light sources but not a flash).

 

My knowledge about flash photography is limited, so I thought I would ask those who do use a flash what their recommendations for an affordable but reasonable quality flash might be? I've started to have a look at options and a mid-level option that seems like it could be good is the Nikon SB-700, but there are cheaper ones again that may be perfectly adequate.

 

I would be looking for something that can provide a diffuse light that is suitable for indoor portraits, both posed and candid. My camera is a Nikon D5200. I would most likely be using my Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens which I think is about the focal range I would need. I understand that more powerful flashes are required for telephoto focal lengths, but in this case I don't think I need anything especially powerful.

 

So just wondering if anyone has any advice on this topic? Thanks in advance.

 

(I realise now I probably should have posted this in the technical thread, but as it is already here and I can't delete it I'll just leave it here for now.)

Hey I have over 30 years of using NIKON SB units in the U.S., EU, SU, China and Russia.  I still have a box of SB-25's and 26's and they all still work as designed.

When I worked in Russia and the former SU I used rechargeable AA batteries or packs that I built myself with 4 D rechargeable batteries, they worked better in

really cold weather.  Now I have sets of rechargeable AA 2500mAh batteries that I only use in the SB-800's and I get about three years out of them.  I have never 

had a problem with recycling during a shoot.  I also keep an old SB-26, has a built it slave and delay function, to setup as a second background fill.  The bottom 

line is the the NIKON SB flashes are the best in the business.

 

Another great unit is the Vivitar 283 and 285 units.  I have a collection of them with the old metal shoes with a household PC input.

 

I said I could go on and on about hot shoe flashes, I also have over 10,000 watts of NORMAN studio strobes.

 

Chuck

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8 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

You probably never stressed yours like I did that one and only day. It left me gun shy. Pun intended.

As a press tog I often use the flash when I’m motor driving with my camera and it just doesn’t overheat.  Hmmmmm...

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Thank you so much everyone for your input! That is all very helpful. What I am wanting to do is fairly simple, so a relatively simple flash gun I think would be all I need.

 

I have come across the SB 400 and SB 800 advertised locally second-hand. I also have in mind that I may invest in the Nikon Z system in the future, and if I did some of the older flashes cannot be controlled from the Z camera menu system. According to one article I read, the SB 700 also has some compatibility issues but will work with the Z system. This article recommends the SB 500 or the SB 5000 as the best options for the Z system https://www.zsystemuser.com/accessories/z-accessories/nikon-flash-for-z-cameras.html  However, the SB 500 is a bit less powerful than the SB 700 and doesn't have the same reach in relation to focal length/frame coverage as it doesn't have a zoom motor.

 

I expect I would be in close proximity to people and so the SB 500 may be enough, but the SB 700 may be more versatile for the future and different usages. Hmm 🤔 Then again, getting a second-hand SB 800 might be the good thing to go with now, and figure out other flash options later on if I go with the Z system. I will do more thinking and investigating.

 

Thanks Carol for suggesting visiting the venue beforehand. That's a very good idea 👍 I'm looking at ways of building some new photography skills and opportunities.

 

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1 hour ago, Sally R said:

Thank you so much everyone for your input! That is all very helpful. What I am wanting to do is fairly simple, so a relatively simple flash gun I think would be all I need.

 

I have come across the SB 400 and SB 800 advertised locally second-hand. I also have in mind that I may invest in the Nikon Z system in the future, and if I did some of the older flashes cannot be controlled from the Z camera menu system. According to one article I read, the SB 700 also has some compatibility issues but will work with the Z system. This article recommends the SB 500 or the SB 5000 as the best options for the Z system https://www.zsystemuser.com/accessories/z-accessories/nikon-flash-for-z-cameras.html  However, the SB 500 is a bit less powerful than the SB 700 and doesn't have the same reach in relation to focal length/frame coverage as it doesn't have a zoom motor.

 

I expect I would be in close proximity to people and so the SB 500 may be enough, but the SB 700 may be more versatile for the future and different usages. Hmm 🤔 Then again, getting a second-hand SB 800 might be the good thing to go with now, and figure out other flash options later on if I go with the Z system. I will do more thinking and investigating.

 

Thanks Carol for suggesting visiting the venue beforehand. That's a very good idea 👍 I'm looking at ways of building some new photography skills and opportunities.

 


The SB-500 is a tiny flashgun, mainly useful in commander mode for triggering the SB-5000 off camera in newer cameras that don’t have pop up flashes (D850, Z6 etc). it integrates with these cameras as well in ways the older flashguns don’t.  It is not really what you want here I think. The SB-700 is probably a better bet than an old SB-800 forgoing forward for future compatibility and for someone who has never used a flash. 

Edited by MDM
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3 hours ago, MDM said:

The SB-500 is a tiny flashgun, mainly useful in commander mode for triggering the SB-5000 off camera in newer cameras that don’t have pop up flashes (D850, Z6 etc). it integrates with these cameras as well in ways the older flashguns don’t.  It is not really what you want here I think. The SB-700 is probably a better bet than an old SB-800 forgoing forward for future compatibility and for someone who has never used a flash. 

 

Thanks Michael. That's good to know. Yes the SB-700 is probably better going forward. It is good to know it's good for someone like me who hasn't used a flash, at least with a DSLR. Many years ago I had one for my Pentax K1000 film camera but I can't remember anything about it now except that it was made by Hanimex.

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I have the SB900 and is prone to overheating after firing quick bursts and then have to wait till it cools, I now carry two Nikons with SB900s to overcome problems with overheating.

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21 hours ago, MDM said:

There is a known overheating issue with the SB-900 if you fire it a lot in quick succession without giving it time to cool but you can’t fry eggs with it as it cuts out and won’t work again until it cools. I think the thermal cutout can be overridden but that is dodgy as it could  cause damage. I have used one with a 910 and 700 all mounted together shooting through an umbrella and the 900 would stop firing if I overdid it. Shooting on lower power helps. That was why Nikon brought out the 910 I believe. This issue is mentioned in the link I posted above. 

I think I could have started a wildfire with mine, Mick! 😁

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