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Keywords: Nikon Speedlight Tilt Swivel LCD Master Slave HSS


Registered: November 2009
Posts: 21
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by moose
Review Date: 11/28/2009 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $380.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: reliable workhorse
Cons: none

Nikon professional user. The SB800 is a superb flash unit. Good spec and coverage.

Perfect for wedding photography.

Registered: December 2006
Posts: 8
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by glen
Review Date: 3/6/2009 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $380.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: Great forward and backward compatibilty
Cons: Price

I use this with an F100 and a D200. It's a great flash for both film and digital. CLS is awesome and quite easy to use.

I sometimes mess up when using flash, but it's generally a mistake I've made rather than a bad job by the flash.

I'd like to pick up a couple more units since the SB-900 just down't have any features I want and some that I need have been removed.

Registered: January 2007
Posts: 6
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by ArunasM
Review Date: 1/15/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $370.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: Power, diffuser, ease of use relative to SB-600, CLS
Cons: Nothing worth mentioning (is a higher GN possible in a small flash?)

I have used many earlier Nikon, Canon and Vivitar flashes, and have been very impressed with the SB-800. It has relatively fast recycle times, and when used with Nikon's CLS, either direct, bounced or diffused, provides excellent and predictable lighting.

For indoor PJ/event type photography, I have used it primarily with the diffusion dome, but occasionally, in both direct flash and ceiling bounce modes. It is easy with this flash to set exposre compensation either on the back of the flash or on the camera, and also to use either flash-only exposure or balanced fill flash.

I originally purchased, and was very happy with the SB-600, but 1 year later purchased the SB-800 as my second CLS flash. Despite their similarities, I found the SB-800 better in a few important areas (to a greater extent than I had anticipated), including ease of use of the menus and controls (especially setting wireless CLS mode), greater power and zoom range, and most of all, the diffuser.

Even though it is a bit heavy for this purpose, I have also used it in manual mode (1/64 power) fired vertically to fire studio flash. This is a better option than camera built-in flash (or direct flash), as you don't have to worry about changing your lighting with 'fill' from the trigger flash. An additional benefit is not running down your camera's battery to opperate the trigger flash.

Overall, a great product.

Registered: January 2007
Posts: 2
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by birdpix
Review Date: 1/1/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $350.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: smart, fast, lightweight
Cons: i-ttl confusing for old school flash users...

Good amount of power in a small, lightweight package. Flexible and multi-flash abilities w/CLS are impressive.

First, a little confession. After 25 years of using manual studio strobes and portable flashes, as well as "auto" flashes like Vivitars, Metz's and older Nikons, all this new i-TTL stuff is still a bit intimidating to me even after much reading and learning about it.

95% of the time I have used the sb-800, I have been thrilled with it. I have the optional synch cord (replaced sc17) that projects the focus grid when used off camera on a bracket and that works very well almost always. I've shot with several aftermarket diffusers (stoffen, westcott, lightsphere) and it has always been a great performer almost always.

It's lightweight and has a good amount of power for the small size. The heads rotation/movements are very handy and easy to use.

My main complaint is when using the flash in outdoor settings where "I" want to have a little more control than just allowing the flash/camera to set what it thinks is perfect.

Yes, I know there are multiple ways to compensate the setting to get what you want, but I've had several battles with this flash during outdoor sunset/beach shoots where trying to get a well-balanced fill or primary exposure while keeping the background looking the way I wanted was a real pain. In the "old days" with an auto or manual flash, I would have set my cameras exposure and changed to power of the flash as needed to get the right ratio I desired. In theory, this is all supposed to be much easier with these flashes, but in actual practice, I have really fought with it. It got so bad just a couple weeks ago at a sunset family beach shoot that I ended up trying about every other non-ittl combination of camera/flash setting there was including auto and full manual to get something usable under the stress of a quickly changing sky. This may be totally "operator error" on my part, but the things I was changing on the flash were simply not giving me the results I would have expected with any other flash units and it made for a frustrating shoot with lots of unusable images.

With that one exception noted above (which has happened more than once under similar settings), I would strongly advise any owner of newer Nikon DSLR cameras to invest in at least two of these flash units.

Registered: December 2006
Posts: 10
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by btjh86
Review Date: 12/24/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $367.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: Wireless flash is genius! Excellent range of controls.
Cons: Menu navigation abit troublesom.

This flash is the BEST flash I've used all my life. The wireless system is a great achievement by Nikon. Used with multiple SB800's of 600's, you've got a completely mobile studio!

Fill flash from this flashgun is amazing if you know how to compensate the power. Its on my camera probably 80% of the time, even in broad daylight. The flash decreases shadow contrast and adds a sparkle to things.

The RPT mode is a nice touch although the power and number of flashes are pretty limited.

Guide number mode is VERY useful as it is very practical.

The plastic used on this thing could be more scratch resistant, but the material used to coat the LCD panel is EXCELLENT! After more than a year of usage, its the only scratch free area remaining!

The diffusion dome is a good accessory, you don't have to buy a 3rd party one.

Registered: December 2006
Posts: 12
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by aalto
Review Date: 12/21/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $500.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: Best flash ive used so far
Cons: interface, CLS triggering

This flash is like the sb600, except it has all the small things that make a world of difference when it really counts. More power, more versatility, more connections.

Ive made a setup to use this flash with an umbrella holding. I can use hold the hole thing with my left hand while its connected to my camera with the sc28 cord or i can mount it on a light stand or tripod. I can use this flash eith studio strobes, i can connect pretty much anything to it.

The only thing that im really going to whine about is the interface and wireless capabilities.

The interface is easy to learn and seldom needs to be adjusted, with the exeption of setting the slave mode, and that is not as fast as i would hope, i would very much preferred a dedicated button for this function.

The other thing that irritates me sometimes is the fact that the flash uses light to set off other flashes and as is not truly off, even if you set it to off. Radio would have been better, but a couple of pocket wizrds will fix that.

I would like to give extra credit for the fact that this flash does withstand a lot of beating. Mines been knocked over on stands, been dropped to the floor several times, been manhandled by inexperienced users, and it still works, everyday.

Registered: December 2006
Posts: 10
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by mbunge
Review Date: 12/15/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $369.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: wireless capability, quick recycling, powerful, integration with my D200
Cons: none

I love this flash. I've been using the flash in commander mode with my D200 and love being wireless. I am very happy with the speed this flash recycles. It is also very easy on batteries. I'd never put a non-nikon flash on my cameras for no other reason than they integrate so well with the new digitals. If I switch from program to manual to aperture priority, the flash senses everything and keeps giving me excellent images.

Registered: December 2006
Posts: 9
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by deanzat
Review Date: 12/12/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $380.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: It's way smarter than I am about exposure
Cons: I find the menu system a bit clumsy

Remember when even the best auto flash required lots of fiddling and add-ons, like slave shoes?

This sucker slides onto the camera, you set it to balanced-ttl, and boom, you're taking magnificent photos. It comes with important accessories, such as the built-in diffuser and card, the dome diffuser, and the free-standing foot.

That said, if you don't practice with it regularly, I'd recommend keeping the manual in your camera bag, because there's a lot of there there, if you know what I mean.

I've recently started using mine with a Lightsphere diffuser, and the results have been very pleasing, sometimes similar to what I used to do with two strobes with umbrellas.

For the first year I had this flash, I avoided using it, believing that natural light is always better. I was wrong. This flash diffuses so well and exposes so well that I now bring it out whenever I can. I would consider this the first and most important accessory for a new Nikon DSLR.

Registered: October 2005
Posts: 36
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by Ross_Alford
Review Date: 12/1/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing versatility, lots of modes, works as commander for R1
Cons: A bit big, so versatile it can be hard to remember how to set it

A really amazing flash. The instruction manual is huge, and needs to be. this flash probably has more processing power than a mainframe computer from the 1970s.

I use it on a D2x for balanced fill flash, sometimes as the sole lighting source, particularly for macro shots using the diffuser, and for macro shots in combination with the R1 outfit. It does an excellent job in all of these roles.

For the extra power and versatility, the premium price over the SB600 is well worth it. Having this means that I did not need to buy the C1 controller for the R1 macro outfit, saving about $US 250.

I would appreciate a few more buttons for comonly used settings, and perhaps a built-in set of help screens--there are so many settings and combinations of settings, and so few buttons, that it can be pretty hard to figure out how to configure it when in the field without the manual.

Registered: November 2006
Posts: 18
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by colourperfect_co_uk
Review Date: 11/21/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $500.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: excellent integration with D200 and CLS
Cons: price

I have two SB800's with a D200 and the CLS is excellent. They come supplied with accessories such as feet and diffusers.

Top quality product with a top price.

Wish that the batteries lasted a little longer but otherwise very good.

The Nikon CLS with wireless syncing is great, you can turn on the SB800's and place around a room in moments. Produces excellent well exposed results.


Registered: November 2006
Posts: 15
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by jeans
Review Date: 11/18/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $300.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: see inside
Cons: see inside

SB-800 is currently the best flashgun Nikon offers.

If offers a host of very useful features:
iTTL/CLS - wireless shooting with always dead-on exposure
GN34 (@ ISO 100) - making is the strongest of the current Nikon flashguns
Repeated flash that allows you to freeze several positions of a moving subject in a single frame
Gel filters that match the color temperature to that of ambient lighting
Plastic stand that can be connected to a tripod or just put on a table
BUilt-in white card that get's that catchlight you wouldn't get when using bounce flash
Built-in diffuser
Clip-on diffusion dome
Automatic head zoom to cover wider set of shooting conditions
Smart charge management - you can get several successive flashes out of SB-800 w/o need to recharge if you don'r use the full output power
Recharge times are very nice with 4 batteries and are even better with 5 batteries.

On the con side:
Some units come with a sloppy hotshoe mount
Adding the 5th battery requires you to remove the battery door (which than may be lost)

Registered: October 2005
Posts: 7
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight review by marokero
Review Date: 3/9/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $295.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: iTTL works great, powerful/consistant output, robust build
Cons: wish iTTL used radio instead of light pulses, more power would be nice :)

I love when iTTL works, and hate it when it doesn't. The positioning of the slave sensor, and the whole idea behind a light pulse, line-of-sight communication of TTL data is good, but somewhat flawed. With certain obstacles in the way, or strong sunlight hitting the slave sensor directly, iTTL falls apart. That is my main gripe with iTTL, I wished iTTL II would come out and use radio instead. More power is always nice, but the SB-800 is powerful enough for most purposes. I've used the SB-80DX and the Metz 54MZ-3 and the mighty 70MZ-5, but now I own three SB-800's and a single SB-600. All because iTTL rocks when it works! ;^) The Metz units I used all had a bit more consistant light output than Nikon's, but were big and heavy - specially the 70MZ-5. And none had iTTL at the time.

The interface is easy to learn, and the screen is clearly labeled and legible. The lcd cover is made of pretty tough material, because in all the years I've been using my SB-800's, none have a scratch on the screen - the rest of the body is another story, but the screen is always emmaculate. Kudos for Nikon for using good materials here.

The AF assist beam works really well, as does the hot-shoe lock. If you are undecided about adding an SB-600 or the SB-800 to your setup, this is something you should know before hand: something that the specs don't say is that the SB-600 doesn't have a port for external power input, nor does it have a pc sync or TTL connector like the SB-800 does.

Auto FP high speed sync is nice, but greatly reduces the light output by the flash unit. In my experience, if you are not close enough to your subject, FP mode will necessitate multiple SB-800's or 600's to help in the proper illumination of the subject.

Recycle time is good with four AA's (NiMH type), a bit better with 5, but even better with an external high voltage battery pack (I use two DCB 40W units with my SB-800's).

I've used my flashes under light rain, light snow, a short exposure to a downpour, have knocked them on tables, walls, have plenty of scuff marks and scratches on the plastic shell (but none on the screen!), and they just keep going! The only time my SB-800's actually died on me was when they took a nasty fall onto the ground from an 8-ft light stand. Sad

For an interesting setup, check out my link:

Two SB-800's hooked up to a RADIO transmitter, though not TTL, and (not in the pictures) a DCB 40W battery and the high voltage cables for each flash unit. Everything mounted on an 8-ft light stand. Very powerful combo, but has to be set manually. I called it the SB-1600 ;^)


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