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Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR TOOLS - Hardware & Software Nikon Speedlights & Lighting topic #28729
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Subject: "Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor chil..." Previous topic | Next topic
5thElement Registered since 25th Jan 2008Sat 26-Jan-08 03:25 PM
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"Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"


UK
          

Hi,

Recently got the D40 and starting to get to grips with it.

We've just had our first child so it was purchased to get some better shots of him (upgraded from a Fuji S5600)

My problem seems to lie in taking photos indoors with minimal lighting, just room lamps/lights, the shots always tend to be alot more red/orangey than i'd like.

The built in flash obviously helps with this, and it's a big improvement over my old Fuji's flash, but it's still quite harsh and can create horrible shadows/dark backgrounds.

I've been looking at the SB-400 mainly due to its low cost and i wondered how much this would improve my indoor shots? i realise bouncing the flash should make a big difference? does anyone have any examples of photos taken with the d40/sb-400 indoors?

Is there any other tips anyone could give me for taking photos in the kind of environment i've mentioned above?

Thanks in advance!

  

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Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
nikon_pdprib
26th Jan 2008
1
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
mtpenmaker
26th Jan 2008
2
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
5thElement
26th Jan 2008
3
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
bodhisattva
26th Jan 2008
4
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
MotoMannequin Moderator Awarded for his extraordinary skills in landscape and wildlife photography
26th Jan 2008
5
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
justinngo
26th Jan 2008
6
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
econprof
27th Jan 2008
13
     Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
Crabby Guy Silver Member
27th Jan 2008
14
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas
26th Jan 2008
7
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
KazooTom
26th Jan 2008
8
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
justinngo
26th Jan 2008
9
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
5thElement
27th Jan 2008
10
     Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
KazooTom
27th Jan 2008
11
     Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
Crabby Guy Silver Member
27th Jan 2008
12
          Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
giant_slayer
28th Jan 2008
15
     Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
Crabby Guy Silver Member
28th Jan 2008
16
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
justinngo
29th Jan 2008
17
Reply message RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor ...
LATENTA
29th Jan 2008
18

nikon_pdprib Registered since 16th Sep 2007Sat 26-Jan-08 04:16 PM
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#1. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 0
Sat 26-Jan-08 10:22 PM by nikon_pdprib

US
          

To me, the single most important addition I've made to my arsenal has been an external flash. I purchased an SB-400 after borowing one from my neighbor. It is night and day as far as results for indoor photography. I never use the onboard flash anymore, because as you said, it is extremly harsh and washes out the subject. You could try to "dial down" its strenth and may get less wash out, but the inability to bounce is the biggest drawback.

2 things to think about with the SB-400
1) It is in a fixed position. Without a flash bracket you cannot bounce when taking up and down shots.
2) it runs on just 2 AA batteries, and has limited life. This can probably be corrected with nimh batteries.

The two drawbacks stated above drove me to purchase the SB-600. While it is a more sophisticated flash, it takes 4 AA and can be adjusted for up and down bounce, but is much heavier and larger in size.

I hope this helps...

Update: If I could time warp back to a year ago, I would have saved my money and purchasd an SB-600, and saved my money on the 55-200 VR and purchased the 18-200 VR. It has cost me much more money purchasing the 400 and 55-200 vr

  

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mtpenmaker Registered since 23rd Aug 2007Sat 26-Jan-08 04:26 PM
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#2. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 0


Billings, US
          

The odd color can be corrected by setting the white balance to flash, but I don't think you can do that in one of those pre-programmed modes like portrait or sport or kids. I think in those modes the camera uses Auto White Balance. I have an old SB-24 that I sometimes use on my D40, but it won't work in TTL mode. I'm used to it so for me it isn't a problem. I never use a flash, on-camera or the SB-24 without a diffuser. I have a Gary Fong Puffer for the on-camera flash and another diffuser for the SB-24. A diffuser will do a lot to cut down on the harshness of the bare flash.

Gerry Rhoades
www.montanapens.com
My Nikonians Gallery

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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5thElement Registered since 25th Jan 2008Sat 26-Jan-08 04:55 PM
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#3. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 2
Sat 26-Jan-08 04:56 PM by 5thElement

UK
          

nikon_pdprib - Thanks for the reply, much appreciated. Regarding not being able to use it for portrait orientated shots, thats something i never considered, thanks for pointing it out! Do you have an online gallery with any examples of your indoor shots with the SB-400? Budget is my main issue at the moment, so it looks like it's going to the sb-400 or nothing unfortunately! im also tempted to get a telephoto lens, but i guess the flash should really be my first purchase considering i want to take better indoor shots.

mtpenmaker - thanks for the reply, i havn't really used the pre-programmed modes to be honest, been using it mainly on the P mode so i've got a little more control over what settings to use. I'll experiment with diffusers, but i think at the end of the day, being able to bounce the flash will be the best option.

  

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bodhisattva Registered since 09th Jun 2007Sat 26-Jan-08 05:07 PM
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#4. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 0


Folsom, US
          

The Sb-400 gives you two benefits:
1. bounce flash
2. faster flash recharge between shots.

I use rechargeables in mine. It's a very nice, compact flash.

For some nice examples of how this flash affects images, check out this link.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/sb400.htm

-j

  

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MotoMannequin Moderator Awarded for his extraordinary skills in landscape and wildlife photography Nikonian since 11th Jan 2006Sat 26-Jan-08 05:13 PM
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#5. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 0


Livermore, CA, US
          


Bouncing your flash using an external unit will greatly improve your indoor shots.

That said, I agree with Gerry that the problem with your color has nothing to do with flash. I'd just like to add to what he said, if shooting indoor without a flash, set WB to whatever kind of light you're using. If you're getting orange pictures it sounds like you need to set WB to incandescent. If using a flash, set it to flash, and for a mix try auto or use a gray card or expodisc to measure white balance.

Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
My Nikonians gallery

www.tempered-light.com

  

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justinngo Registered since 23rd Jan 2008Sat 26-Jan-08 05:54 PM
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#6. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

Hi 5thElement ,

I agree with some posts here that you SHOULD get the SB-600.

I ever ordered the SB-400 for my D40x, and I'm on budget as you are, but I HAD TO return it to get the SB-600

The SB-400 is more advanced than the built-in flash ONLY at which it can bounce to ceiling when you take horizontal pictures.But you can not do this with vertical pictures.The bounced light is not powerful as the SB-600, of course. These problems made me returned it.

The direct light is NOT stronger and further than the built-in.I took many many pictures to compare before I decided to return it, to get the SB600.

It costed me more because I returned it. I wish I could had ordered the SB-600 right at first time. I'm waiting the SB-600 coming on this Monday.

Get the SB-600 although it's very bulky and bog. But it's worth!
If you need a flash that's better than the built-in one,bounce in all positions,then the SB-600 is the choice.The SB-800 is for professional photogreaphers, I think.
SB-600 can do everything for me, a beginer.I just wish it's smaller by someway. But we can not choose one is both compact and powerful, in this case.
Save $70 more to get the SB600!

  

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econprof Registered since 04th Jan 2008Sun 27-Jan-08 05:32 AM
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#13. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 6


US
          

>Hi 5thElement ,
>
>The SB-400 is more advanced than the built-in flash ONLY at
>which it can bounce to ceiling when you take horizontal
>pictures.But you can not do this with vertical pictures.The
>bounced light is not powerful as the SB-600, of course. These
>problems made me returned it.
>
>The direct light is NOT stronger and further than the
>built-in.I took many many pictures to compare before I decided
>to return it, to get the SB600.
>
>Get the SB-600 although it's very bulky and bog. But it's
>worth!

Not sure how you reached the conclusion that the SB-400 is NOT more powerful than the built-in flash. To increase the guide number from 56 on my D300's built-in flash to 98 on the SB-400, the power has to increase by a factor of three (light falls off with the square of the distance). Perhaps you were merely noticing the fact that TTL will adjust the illumination to give the same exposure. The SB-400 was just firing at a lower percentage of max output. The SB-600 has twice the power of the SB-400, and the SB-800 adds another 60 percent to that.

I have an SB-400, 600, and 800, and the 400 is the flash I always take with me when on a walkabout. The flash that you leave at home because of its weight and bulk is worth a lot less than the small light one that you actually have with you. The ability to bounce improves photos by an order of magnitude. I can always put the SB-400 off camera with a cable (a friend to hold it helps) for vertical shots. Of course, if I know I will need a flash then it is usually the SB-800 (and maybe the SB-600 off camera as well, or both off camera using an SU-800 as commander).

With all that, I still agree that the SB-600 is a great unit, with significantly greater capability than the SB-400 for not much more money. It was my first, and I never had any regrets. I just find that the SB-400 tucked into a pocket has created many opportunities that the built-in flash was not up to. For walking around, it can't be beat.

John


  

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Crabby Guy Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Feb 2004Sun 27-Jan-08 11:36 PM
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#14. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 13


Seal Beach, US
          

My only disappointment with the SB-400 is that it won't work on my F100. It is one of those few items so cute and clever that I find it a joy to use. (Yes, I have an SB-600, which is an excellent piece, but huge by comparison.)

I plan to fiddle with my SB-400 as a macro flash attached to an SC-17, with the strobe mounted upside down, so that I can adjust the angle of the light easily.

Adrian


Photography, though not an art form in itself, has the peculiar capacity to turn all of its subjects into works of art. Susan Sontag, On Photography, p. 149. 1977.

  

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Sat 26-Jan-08 06:57 PM
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#7. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond, US
          

The color is definitely due to the wrong white balance. You're adjusted to daylight, but have incandescent light, which is warmer. That you are seeing this with the flash suggests two things. First, white balance is an issue; second, assuming that the flash is actually going off, it probably means that you don't really have enoug flash power. Here's why. The flash is much closer to daylight white balance than incandescent. If the ambient light is dominating (since you're seeing the orange), the flash isn't pproviding much light. If the SB400 isn't more powerful than the builtin (I don't know) you may well need the SB-600, which I know is much more powerful than the builtin.

Please post a sample image (with exif data) so we can check such a theory.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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KazooTom Registered since 15th Dec 2007Sat 26-Jan-08 09:42 PM
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#8. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

Like the others I would recommend that you go to the SB600. You will want it in a short time anyway if you opt for the SB400 instead. After my purchase of the D40, my first addition was the SB600. It's really only a few dollars more than the SB400 and the SB600 offers a world of options over the SB400. Your camera does not have commander mode, so the SB600 (or SB400) cannot be used off camera without the addition of a synch cord. You can always add the SC28 or SC29 later.

You said you were considering a telephoto lens - get the SB600 first for about the same cost as a good lense - less than many. You'll get a lot more use out of a good flash than you will the lens.

Michigan Nikonian

  

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justinngo Registered since 23rd Jan 2008Sat 26-Jan-08 10:07 PM
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#9. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

Yes, I have the same idea with KazooTom, need the flash before the zoom lens.
I had ever been in difficult choice between getting the flash or the 200mm zoom end first, at the end I did choose the flash, because I have a boy whom I enjoy to take pictures of ,indoor. I think I made the right decision.

  

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5thElement Registered since 25th Jan 2008Sun 27-Jan-08 12:21 AM
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#10. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 9
Sun 27-Jan-08 12:23 AM by 5thElement

UK
          

Thanks for the replys everyone.

I should clarify that when i said the shots were too orange/red, this is happening indoors without the flash (with auto white balance) Obviously i should try shooting with the white balance set to incandescent, or try some custom white balance settings (has anyone had problems setting a custom white balance in low light? i did have some problems last night)


With the flash the orange/red isn't an issue, it's just too harsh sometimes, which led me to thinking about purchasing a flash unit i can bounce off the ceiling.

You've all given me some thinking to do, as in whether i should be looking at the sb-600 instead, im just not sure if i can justify the extra money right now! i'll have a look around for the best prices and weigh up my options!

Thanks

  

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KazooTom Registered since 15th Dec 2007Sun 27-Jan-08 02:02 AM
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#11. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 10
Sun 27-Jan-08 02:03 AM by KazooTom

US
          

While you are waiting to save the extra money for the SB600 try this down and dirty trick -- drape a single layer of white tissue over your flash. It will help to soften the light a bit. If it is not enough use two layers. Leave the flash on TTL. It won't work quite as well as more professional methods, but it is cheap. I learned this years ago before I could afford a proper flash - way back in the film days!

Michigan Nikonian

  

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Crabby Guy Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Feb 2004Sun 27-Jan-08 04:02 AM
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#12. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 11


Seal Beach, US
          

Get some sort of clear orange celophane or gel. (The Nikon flash filter kit is under $20 and has numerous filters in it.) Attach it (with blue masking or gaffer's tape if needed--there is a tab you can probably poke somewhere) over your flash. Set your camera's color temp. meter to incandescent, probably a little bulb.

Everything will be the same color--magic. If you have compact fluorescent bulbs in your lamps, use the green filter in the set. Same magic. If you have different kinds of bulbs, make them the same for the photo. (Striped filters are hard to find. .)

Your SB-400 can tilt upward cleverly. If you put a small piece of white cardboard on it facing the lens from the rear at maybe 45 degrees, some of the light will go forward and some will be bounced. If you like this effect, buy the $20 Demb unit for the SB-400 and gain control over the process. See the photos on his web site for what you can accomplish.

Next time you see a Nikon SC-17 cable for sale cheap, buy it. It will allow you to use your flash off the hot shoe just the same as on it. Numerous effects are possible.

Adrian


Photography, though not an art form in itself, has the peculiar capacity to turn all of its subjects into works of art. Susan Sontag, On Photography, p. 149. 1977.

  

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giant_slayer Registered since 03rd Jan 2008Mon 28-Jan-08 07:10 PM
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#15. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 12


conway, US
          

I am a new 40x owner and the best thing I did was get the sb400. I take a lot of pics of my kids indoors, usually with dim lighting like you. Bounce flash is awesome, I could not believe the differnce. Some of my photos come out a little dim from time to time, but I easily adjust that in the image editor. I thought about the sb600, but it is so big, I didn't want to carry it around. The sb400 just seems to fit the little body of the d40 like it was made for it, and is worlds better than the built in. I would like to bounce sideways from time to time, but that to me is the only drawback. For $110 bucks, it's great. Here's a couple of mine bounced indoors.

http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=7541488
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=7541477

  

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Crabby Guy Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Feb 2004Mon 28-Jan-08 07:55 PM
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#16. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 10


Seal Beach, US
          

Let me try again with the filter on the flash.

The most natural look will come from a bounced flash that does not overpower the usual lights in the room, making everything but the subjects of interest black. You need to use the Nikon iTTL system to do this and possibly to fiddle around a little to balance the flash and the existing lights in terms of their brightness. See your manuals.

However, if you do even out the light intensity, you have the choice of blue flash and white bulbs in your lamps or orange bulbs in your lamps and white flash. If you put an orange filter over the flash and set your camera for incandescent bulbs, all the light will be the same color and your photos will look natural. The difference is significant and the cost minimal. Few people bother to do this and it's one mark of a pro, IMO. If you buy the Nikon flash filter set, it will work on your SB-600 as well.

Adrian


Photography, though not an art form in itself, has the peculiar capacity to turn all of its subjects into works of art. Susan Sontag, On Photography, p. 149. 1977.

  

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justinngo Registered since 23rd Jan 2008Tue 29-Jan-08 06:22 AM
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#17. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

I just received the SB-600 today after returning SB-400 to BH.
Woww..I must say it's a huge difference in comparation to the built-in and SB-400 (which I tried before) when I use bounce ceilling!!!
The bounced light is so wonderful! I tested it in totally dark room, bounce to 10ft high ceiling, just increased the flash output to +1.0, all remains auto...then the 15-by-15-feet room looked as in daylight!
Now I can use this supper one with my kit lens and always use bounce light, in all positions.
I'm so happy with it, although it's supper big relative to my D40x. It's worth the money!

  

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LATENTA Registered since 21st Feb 2007Tue 29-Jan-08 12:44 PM
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#18. "RE: Will the SB-400 make a big difference to my indoor child shots?"
In response to Reply # 17


US
          

I like the soft look I get with a Flip-it attached to my
SB600...
http://www.dembflashproducts.com/

  

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