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Subject: "Newest SB-900 Rant" Previous topic | Next topic
rickpaul Basic MemberWed 26-May-10 06:14 PM
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"Newest SB-900 Rant"


Tucson, US
          

OK, I'm sorry, but I'm going to rant about the SB-900 again.

This thermal shutdown thing is ridiculous. I cannot count on the SB-900 to get me through a location shoot without shutting down, and shutting down quickly.

Today I was shooting a graduation ceremony. I had shot a few test pictures (~30) over a 45 minute period. Then I shot 10 pictures over a 5 minute period. Thermal shutdown. SB-900 was connected to an SD-9.

That's it? 40 pictures in 50 minutes is all I get? Also, during the first 45 minutes I was turning the SB-900 off between shoots to try to keep it cool.

Once the ceremony got rolling, I had no choice. I had to get the shots, fried SB-900 or not. So I turned the thermal shutdown off, and shot away. I took another 200 pictures over a 15 minute period.

Good news? In the end, the SB-900 came through just fine. No apparent damage whatsoever, and it got ever shot for me.

My conclusions are either

(A) My SB-900 is calibrated incorrectly and goes into shutdown way too early

or

(B) Nikon's Thermal Shutdown feature is just way too conservative

In any event, in the future, I'm going to back up my SB-900 with a second SB-900 and cycle between them as they cool off. Seems to be the only solution to this until Nikon delivers a truly professional flash unit that can deliver.

--------------------------
Rick Paul
The Photo Professors

Saguaro Shadows Photography
Tucson, Arizona

My Nikonians Gallery

My Nikonians Blog

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Newest SB-900 Rant
Curt
26th May 2010
1
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ScottChapin Moderator
26th May 2010
2
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Cheryl D
27th May 2010
3
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rickpaul
28th May 2010
4
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ScottChapin Moderator
28th May 2010
5
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Freewheeler10
28th May 2010
6
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Cheryl D
28th May 2010
7
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ScottChapin Moderator
28th May 2010
10
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Cheryl D
28th May 2010
11
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ScottChapin Moderator
29th May 2010
17
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ScottChapin Moderator
31st May 2010
32
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gkaiseril Gold Member
28th May 2010
12
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Cheryl D
28th May 2010
13
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ScottChapin Moderator
29th May 2010
18
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AndrewFromCanada Silver Member
28th May 2010
8
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Cheryl D
28th May 2010
9
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jjm203z
28th May 2010
14
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rickpaul
29th May 2010
15
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jrp Administrator
29th May 2010
16
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ScottChapin Moderator
29th May 2010
19
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PhilBenson Silver Member
29th May 2010
20
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ScottChapin Moderator
29th May 2010
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rickpaul
29th May 2010
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rickpaul
29th May 2010
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ScottChapin Moderator
29th May 2010
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Cheryl D
29th May 2010
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rickpaul
29th May 2010
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29th May 2010
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rickpaul
30th May 2010
28
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ScottChapin Moderator
31st May 2010
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rickpaul
31st May 2010
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ScottChapin Moderator
31st May 2010
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Chris B1
09th Jun 2010
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09th Jun 2010
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Chris B1
09th Jun 2010
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ScottChapin Moderator
09th Jun 2010
40
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MEMcD Moderator
01st Jun 2010
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Cheryl D
04th Jun 2010
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04th Jun 2010
35
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km6xz Moderator
05th Jun 2010
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gheck58 Silver Member
17th Jun 2010
41
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Chris B1
17th Jun 2010
42
Reply message RE: Why not read the SB 900 instructions?
Len Shepherd Gold Member
18th Jun 2010
43
Reply message RE: Why not read the SB 900 instructions?
ScottChapin Moderator
18th Jun 2010
44
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km6xz Moderator
18th Jun 2010
45
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Arkayem Moderator
18th Jun 2010
46
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voyageurfred Silver Member
19th Jun 2010
47

Curt Registered since 02nd Sep 2004Wed 26-May-10 07:13 PM
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#1. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 0


Redwood City, US
          

Makes me want to find another SB800 instead of going with the 900.

Curt

A San Francisco Peninsula Nikonian

WilliamRowePhotography

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberWed 26-May-10 09:41 PM
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#2. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 0


Powder Springs, US
          

Hi Rick,

When you turn the alarm off, you probably have an SB-800 in essence. I'll bet the alarm is conservative to boot.

Maybe yours does need checked, because mine doesn't seem to do that. Were you shooting full dumps?

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Cheryl D Registered since 18th May 2010Thu 27-May-10 08:39 PM
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#3. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

I'm having the same trouble! Just rec'd the SD-9 today hoping that would help, it didn't! I've contacted Nikon support, but they haven't answered back.
I love the SB900 when it works....

  

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rickpaul Basic MemberFri 28-May-10 01:56 AM
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#4. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 3


Tucson, US
          

You would think the SD-9 would help because the batteries aren't contributing to the heat as much.

But I have found no difference.

I was not shooting full dumps. I up'd the ISO quite a bit so it wouldn't.

I'm asking Nikon, what's the point of the SD-9? What's the point of a battery pack that can support 1 frame per second, but the flash can't handle that rate for 50 pictures taken in 50 minutes?!

We have no choice now - The SB-800's are gone. I have 3. I will return to them for critical shoots, and get an SD-8A to support them. And I'll buy another SB-900 so I can cycle between them, letting them cool off for 15 minutes or so.

--------------------------
Rick Paul
The Photo Professors

Saguaro Shadows Photography
Tucson, Arizona

My Nikonians Gallery

My Nikonians Blog

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberFri 28-May-10 11:02 AM
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#5. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 4


Powder Springs, US
          

I would definitely contact Nikon. That just does not seem right. You should be able to shoot 15 full power dumps every 10 minutes, according to the speedlight manuals. My Sunpak 120Js were rated the same.

I would think you could get more than 15 per 10 minutes, if you paced them out. BTW....are you using low self dicharge NiMH's? Atlthough with an SD-9, that probably would not make a difference.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Freewheeler10 Registered since 17th Apr 2008Fri 28-May-10 01:53 PM
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#6. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 4


Englewood, US
          

>I'm asking Nikon, what's the point of the SD-9? What's the
>point of a battery pack that can support 1 frame per second,
>but the flash can't handle that rate for 50 pictures taken in
>50 minutes?!
>
>..... And I'll buy another SB-900 so I can cycle
>between them, letting them cool off for 15 minutes or so.

At one of Joe McNally's seminars here in Denver recently he was
using up to a dozen or so SB-900s at once with the SD-9 battery packs
on them, at least three to four shots a minute and some bursts of
maybe ten shots per minute, all day long during the seminar; never
heard one go into thermal overload. I wonder if you have a problem
with the SB-900 you're using, because they all don't seem to act that
way. Mine has never gone into overload either, but I probably don't
stress it very much.

http://gallery.me.com/freewheeler
http://freewheeler10.blogspot.com/

  

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Cheryl D Registered since 18th May 2010Fri 28-May-10 04:50 PM
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#7. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 6


US
          

I watched a video yesterday showing two sb900 side by side. One had rechargable batteries and the other non rechargable. The 900 with rechargable batteries had a faster recycle time but overheated quicker. The 900 with non rechargable batteries had slower recycle time but didn't overheat. So I'm wondering if I use nonrecharable batteries and the sd9 if I might have the best of both worlds.
Nikon e-mailed me and said once I upgraded the firmware it should solve the problem. Mine is new and had the latest firmware. They also said if you are using a third party battery pack it caused problems. Mine is a Nikon battery pack. They suggested I turn off the thermal sensor and follow my manuel. So in other words they were no help!
As much as I hate it I will probably have to buy another SB900 and switch between the two!
I might be grasping at straws, but I wonder if once the 900 overheats
it causes it to become really sensitive.

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberFri 28-May-10 07:10 PM
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#10. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 7


Powder Springs, US
          

Cheryl,

In this case "rechargeable" is not enough information. What type were they? NiCads and NiMHs will get hot. Low self discharge NiMHs like Eneloops will not. If you are not using an external pack, that would make a huge difference.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Cheryl D Registered since 18th May 2010Fri 28-May-10 07:23 PM
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#11. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 10
Fri 28-May-10 07:28 PM by Cheryl D

US
          

Scott,
Good point! I will have to find the video and watch what he used.
He did not use an external pack.
Here's a question for you. If I use the batteries you mentioned in the flash itself but use rechargeable Energizer nimh in the SD9 do you think that would work?

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberSat 29-May-10 09:07 AM
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#17. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 11


Powder Springs, US
          

Cheryl,

Yes I do. In fact, I have alkalines in the flash and Eneloops in the SD-9. When using an external pack, the batteries in the body only power the zoom and control circuits. They don't get hot and last a long time.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberMon 31-May-10 03:05 PM
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#32. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 11
Mon 31-May-10 03:09 PM by ScottChapin

Powder Springs, US
          

Cheryl,

I should clarify:

The chemistries of the batteries in the unit should not matter when using an external pack like the SD-9. In that case the batteries in the flash are only used for zooming and control.

I think it only matters when the in flash batteries are the only batteries. Then, Eneloops or their equivalent are important.

The reason I use low self discharge NiMHs is that they recycle the flash faster and they hold a charge, so I don't have to keep topping them off between shoots.

I don't even care what's in the flash for casual shooting, since I won't be using it heavily. When I think I need to get a lot of shots, or avoid thermal shutdown, I plug the SD-9 in to keep the in flash batteries from getting hot (within reason).

As Rick's tests suggest, if you get the flash tube so hot in such a short period of time, the SD-9 will not save the day. In normal high usage, it will. Some SB-800 users, myself included, have dumped batteries that were so hot, we had to drop them. Some chemistries more than others contribute to heat build up when there is no external pack, but not in 6.2 minutes.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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gkaiseril Gold Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005Fri 28-May-10 07:35 PM
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#12. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 7


Chicago, US
          

Have you checked the EXIF data to verify that your SB-900 has firmware version 5.0.2. If the SB-900 stock was not properly rotated so the older units are sold before the newer units, you might have an unused SB-900 with the older firmware version. Hard goods usually are not rotated like perishable inventory is rotated.

You will need to use an unmodified Jpeg file and a 3rd party EXIF reader to get to this data. I know that ExifTool by Phil Harvey to view this data.

George
My Nikonian Galleries

  

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Cheryl D Registered since 18th May 2010Fri 28-May-10 07:42 PM
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#13. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 12


US
          

Yes I have the 5.02 firmware.

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberSat 29-May-10 09:10 AM
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#18. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 12


Powder Springs, US
          

You can check it in the flash as well via the menus.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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AndrewFromCanada Silver Member Charter MemberFri 28-May-10 04:59 PM
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#8. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 6


Victoria, CA
          


I've shot with mine is an arena shooting bursts at full power (bouncing off as high as 20 ft ceiling at 200mm) and never once had it go into overload. Based on the variety of experience, it seems that there must be a huge amount of variation in the sensors or some other settings/variable??

  

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Cheryl D Registered since 18th May 2010Fri 28-May-10 05:20 PM
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#9. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 8


US
          

The flash is either in TTL or M. I use the "tupperware" diffuser and try to bounce when I have white ceilings.
I have a long wedding tomorrow, so I will try different batteries, use the SD9 and take the tupperware off. Maybe one of those will help.

  

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jjm203z Registered since 17th Dec 2007Fri 28-May-10 08:28 PM
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#14. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 0


Dupont, US
          

In my experience the nikon flashes are good for slow go portrait sessions or small, small events.

I have since switched to the quantum tdr5 and trio for my wedding shoots.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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rickpaul Basic MemberSat 29-May-10 12:55 AM
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#15. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 14


Tucson, US
          

Ah! I checked mine and it's 5.0.1.

Could that be the problem? Will 5.0.2 help?

--------------------------
Rick Paul
The Photo Professors

Saguaro Shadows Photography
Tucson, Arizona

My Nikonians Gallery

My Nikonians Blog

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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jrp Administrator JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources Charter MemberSat 29-May-10 08:28 AM
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#16. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 15


San Pedro Garza García, MX
          

Yes

Have a great time
JRP (Founder & Administrator. Nikonian at the north-eastern Mexican desert) Gallery, Brief Love Story, The Team
Join the Silver, Gold and Platinum members that help this happen; upgrade. Join your personal web site to the Nikonians WebRing
Make sure you check our workshops at The Nikonians Academy and the product catalog of the Photo Pro Shop

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberSat 29-May-10 09:19 AM
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#19. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 15


Powder Springs, US
          

Rick,

Absolutely. I think the thermal cutoff was the main fix. I thought you had said you had already updated it in an old thread, or I would have mentioned it a lot sooner.

I'm thinking the update came out in late 2008.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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PhilBenson Silver Member Nikonian since 08th Mar 2009Sat 29-May-10 12:13 PM
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#20. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 19


Bayonne, US
          

I have two SB-900s and both have the updated firmware installed. Both still suffer from the overheat problem, so if the update was targeted at that issue, it failed miserably. At weddings I use an SD-8a (Duracell 2650 mAh rechargeable batteries in both the flashes and the battery pack) with the units, and have worked around (not solved) the problem by turning off the temperature sensor and leaving the flash intensity on -.7 for most of my shots. I'm then able to shoot as fast as I want to, occasionally 8 or 10 frames a minute at the critical points of the wedding. Although this has been successful for me so far, I still feel that the essential problem is a sensor issue which is being completely ignored by Nikon. I have called them several times and each time the tech said he had never heard of this problem. There are only two choices in my opinion: the techs have been instructed to say this because Nikon can't fix it without a massive (and frightfully costly) recall, or the three techs I talked to aren't reading their update notices. I think that the latter is unlikely.

As an aside, using the same batteries, both flash units have failed due to sensor overheat without having the SD-8a connected, so the battery pack does not seem to contribute to (or improve) the problem.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberSat 29-May-10 01:40 PM
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#21. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 20


Powder Springs, US
          

It hasn't failed miserably. It's doing what it's supposed to. It's meant to save Nikon from repair work sent in by photographers who shoot at rates for which the unit was not designed. But, you can turn the sensor off and have an SB-800, so what's the problem?

Now if you turn it in for warranty work, they can refuse to repair it, if you turned the sensor off, and they will know that you have. If you really need machine gun rates, you should buy some Quantums. That's what my Quantums are for.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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rickpaul Basic MemberSat 29-May-10 02:26 PM
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#22. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 21


Tucson, US
          

I'm about ready to buy a Quantum.

I will try to the 5.02 update and report back. I'm going to setup my D3 on a tripod with the intravalometer set to different firing rates, and the SB-900 at different manual power settings so I can see where the trip point is, and if I can come with a combination of shots/minute and power that does not trigger it.

Also, with my experience this week, the SB-900 was dialed into -1.0. I couldn't tell for sure, but I don't think it was firing full power.

Here's an example shot I took. D3, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/100, 70-200 f/2.8 @ 200mm:



--------------------------
Rick Paul
The Photo Professors

Saguaro Shadows Photography
Tucson, Arizona

My Nikonians Gallery

My Nikonians Blog

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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rickpaul Basic MemberSat 29-May-10 03:14 PM
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#23. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 22
Sat 29-May-10 06:06 PM by rickpaul

Tucson, US
          

SB-900 upgraded to 5.02.

First Intravalometer test complete. Camera was set to an exposure every 4 seconds. SB-900 was on Manual 1/2 power. Thermal shutdown after 94 images.

In an hour when it has fully cooled down, I will try a second test at a shot every 15 seconds, which is more real world to the situations I normally shoot (like at a wedding).

More to come...

--------------------------
Rick Paul
The Photo Professors

Saguaro Shadows Photography
Tucson, Arizona

My Nikonians Gallery

My Nikonians Blog

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberSat 29-May-10 04:32 PM
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#25. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 23


Powder Springs, US
          

I would say that's pretty darn good, Rick. The manual states its limits as being at 1/2 or full power. When I shoot commencement exercises, I'm at 1/8 power and 8' from subject. So it should be a breeze. Maybe I can leave the Quantums at home(though they have nice features too).

Your experience would explain why I have not had a wedding failure. I shoot around 360 photos over a 6 hour period per camera. My wife shoots the second camera and no way do I want more than 800 shots

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Cheryl D Registered since 18th May 2010Sat 29-May-10 03:17 PM
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#24. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 22


US
          

The firmware didn't help mine.
Bought another SB900 yesterday. I couldn't find the enelopes(sp) so will have to order those.
I have a wedding today so I will at least be able to switch the flashes when they overheat.
I hope the SD-9 is going to help a little. If not I've also packed two SB800's for backup!
It's going to be a long day, pretty sure I won't be able to lift my arms tomorrow!

  

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rickpaul Basic MemberSat 29-May-10 06:08 PM
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#26. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 24


Tucson, US
          

Second test. Same Intravalometer settings, but I hooked up the SD-9.

Guess the results! Come, on! Guess!

Exactly the same. 94 images, just like without.

So the SD-9 does nothing to help prevent thermal overload.

More test coming. I'll put out a complete table when I'm done.

I think I'm going to solve this by having multiple SB-900's and swapping as needed. Cheaper and better than investing in a Quantum.

More to come...

--------------------------
Rick Paul
The Photo Professors

Saguaro Shadows Photography
Tucson, Arizona

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberSat 29-May-10 06:57 PM
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#27. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 26


Powder Springs, US
          

You are not happy with 94 images in 6 minutes and 12 seconds? That would be 5,401 pictures in a 6 hour wedding, if you even could keep that pace up.

Buy a Quantum. I think they are better for weddings anyway. You've got nice parabolic reflectors, modifiers, sensor limit and on and on.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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rickpaul Basic MemberSun 30-May-10 11:52 PM
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#28. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 27


Tucson, US
          

No, 94 images in 6 minutes is NOT acceptable! I can shoot 20 pictures in 20 minutes, then shoot a string of 10 pictures in 2 minute, and it shutsdown.

This past week I was shooting a middle school graduation. I shot 39 images over a 31 minute period and I hit thermal shutdown.

Following this, II had a 160 kids graduation to shot, coming at my at 1 every 5-6 seconds. The only way I accomplished this was shutting off the thermal protection.

Here are the total results of my testing:

4 seconds, 1/2 power, SB-900 only: 94 images
4 seconds, 1/2 power, SB-900+SB-9: 94 images
15 seconds, 1/2 power, SB-900+SB-9: 250 images no shutdown
4 seconds, 1/4 power, SB-900+SB-9: 250 images no shutdown

Lesson from this is keep the power down at 1/4 or the images 15 seconds apart to avoid a shutdown. Normally in a wedding the 15 second rule works.

Some have suggested I have a faulty SB-900. It would be nice if someone else could run these same tests to see if they come up with the same results.

I'm not trying to say I always hit a shutdown, or I'm always pushing this at 94 images in 6 minutes. But in real-world conditions, I can not count on the SB-900.

I will solve this in the future by having another SB-900 already configured the same and ready for a hot-swap. This should give each unit time to cool off as I swap back and forth.



--------------------------
Rick Paul
The Photo Professors

Saguaro Shadows Photography
Tucson, Arizona

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberMon 31-May-10 12:23 AM
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#29. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 28


Powder Springs, US
          

>This past week I was shooting a middle school graduation. I
>shot 39 images over a 31 minute period and I hit thermal
>shutdown.

What's this got to do with the price of tea in China? You just told us yesterday that you were still shooting with the old firmware which is known to have a thermal shutdown problem.

>Following this, II had a 160 kids graduation to shot, coming
>at my at 1 every 5-6 seconds. The only way I accomplished this
>was shutting off the thermal protection.

Did this happen within the past 24 hours, or was this under the original firmware? Again, you can shut the thermal protection off and use it as you would an SB-800.

When I shoot graduations, I'm 8' from the students shooting at 1/8 power or so.

>Here are the total results of my testing:
>
>4 seconds, 1/2 power, SB-900 only: 94 images

I would expect that. Since the flash, SB-800 and Sunpaks included are rated at 15 shots in 10 minutes. 94 in 6.2 isn't bad, actually.

>4 seconds, 1/2 power, SB-900+SB-9: 94 images

I would expect that too. Heck, the flash tube alone is probably hotter than the hubs of hell. Why would should an external pack be expected to make a difference here?

>15 seconds, 1/2 power, SB-900+SB-9: 250 images no shutdown

Sounds about right. Full power and half power dumps are rated at 15 shots per 10 minutes, or one every 40 seconds. I would think that 1 shot every 15 seconds at a wedding would last a lot longer, since you would be at less than 1/2 power a lot.

Not sure if you are saying that it shut down at that point, or not. Still, if you have to swap units every 250 shots, you don't have a problem.

>4 seconds, 1/4 power, SB-900+SB-9: 250 images no shutdown


>Lesson from this is keep the power down at 1/4 or the images
>15 seconds apart to avoid a shutdown. Normally in a wedding
>the 15 second rule works.

I doubt that your wedding shots consistently are at 1/2 power and above, mine aren't. I also bet, if you turned the thermal protection off, you would have an SB-800.

>Some have suggested I have a faulty SB-900. It would be nice
>if someone else could run these same tests to see if they come
>up with the same results.

I don't think these results are unreasonable at all, and now it's not clear to me as to whether you upgraded the firmware or not.

>I'm not trying to say I always hit a shutdown, or I'm always
>pushing this at 94 images in 6 minutes. But in real-world
>conditions, I can not count on the SB-900.

You could, if you upgrade the firmware and turned the protection off. At least as well as you could an SB-800. Folks have fried those. That's why Nikon added the protection. They probably got tired of servicing fried units under warranty.

>I will solve this in the future by having another SB-900
>already configured the same and ready for a hot-swap. This
>should give each unit time to cool off as I swap back and
>forth.

Sounds reasonable to me, but Quantums are better, even better than an SB-800, if you push your units that hard.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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rickpaul Basic MemberMon 31-May-10 04:33 AM
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#30. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 29


Tucson, US
          

I installed the new firmware the other day before I started with the intravalometer testing. I really don't think it made any different in my SB-900.

I've always got my SB-800's with me, but I don't have an SD-8A for them. During this particular shoot, I felt I needed the SB-900 because I need the power of the SD-9 to get though the shoot. I knew the recycle times on the SB-800's would drop really low after that many shots.

We'll see how it behaves now in real-world shooting after the firmware upgrade.

Enough of my rant...!

--------------------------
Rick Paul
The Photo Professors

Saguaro Shadows Photography
Tucson, Arizona

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberMon 31-May-10 10:29 AM
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#31. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 30
Mon 31-May-10 02:49 PM by ScottChapin

Powder Springs, US
          

Others have reported that the SB-900 firmware update doubles the high rate shots that you can get, though they said it went from about 30 shots to 60. I don't know how they tested it.

Let us know how it goes. Swap flashes prior to critical runs, like the processional.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Chris B1 Registered since 06th Sep 2004Wed 09-Jun-10 08:57 PM
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#37. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 28


Upper Coomera, AU
          

We shoot with SB800's and SB900's. We also have the thermal shutdown problem on the SB900's.
We turned off the thermal shutdown on the SB900's. We have already had to have the SB900's repaired by Nikon as the top screen on the units become damaged from the heat overload. This eventually shows up in the shots. We have had the firmware upgraded in the SB900's and it made a slight improvement, but we have turned the thermal control off again.
We shoot exactly the same with the 800's & 900's and never have any problems with the 800's, they just go on forever.
Our solution unfortunately, is to turn off the thermal protection and keep shooting until the damage on the 900's starts showing up in shots, at which time they will be off to Nikon again for repair or we may look into alternate units.

Chris B1

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberWed 09-Jun-10 09:24 PM
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#38. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 37


Powder Springs, US
          

It is seriously Quantum time for you. That would save a lot of headaches.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Chris B1 Registered since 06th Sep 2004Wed 09-Jun-10 09:30 PM
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#39. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 38


Upper Coomera, AU
          

Once we burn out the top screens again we will probably go down this path.

Chris B1

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberWed 09-Jun-10 09:56 PM
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#40. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 39


Powder Springs, US
          

With the T5d-R you will enjoy the extra muscle and parabolic lighting as well. The Trio is smaller, about on par power-wise, and of course has wireless built in.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007Tue 01-Jun-10 03:18 PM
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#33. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 24


US
          

Hi Cheryl,

You can get the Sanyo Eneloops at Thomas Distributing .

Best Regards,
Marty

  

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Cheryl D Registered since 18th May 2010Fri 04-Jun-10 11:07 PM
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#34. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 33
Fri 04-Jun-10 11:11 PM by Cheryl D

US
          

Marty,
Thanks! I was hoping to find them at the local camera store. But no luck.
Ok so my last wedding was a little bit strange! The bride wanted everyone who attended the service up on the altar for a group shot. So I photographed that with the SB900. Then she wanted an individual shot of each guest with her and the groom at the altar!
(200 people) Got nervous the SB900 couldn't handle the pace and switch to the SB800. (Video guy told me Six Flags called and wanted to hire me!! He was a funny guy!)
Anyway, changed back to the SB900 with the SD9 for traditional family shots and park shots and most of the reception. Half way through the father/bride dance it overheated. So the new SB900 that I recently bought works way better than my older SB900!

  

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MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007Fri 04-Jun-10 11:42 PM
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#35. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 34


US
          

Hi Cheryl,

>Half
>way through the father/bride dance it overheated. So the new
>SB900 that I recently bought works way better than my older
>SB900!

That seems strange!
Before I got my Quantum's I used my 3 SB-800's with a Quantum Turbo 2 x 2 battery switching SB-800's when they got hot giving them time to cool. I was lucky because I never burned any of them up.
With the Quantum Q Flash I don't worry about how hard of fast I push them. The only issues I have had with the Trio is the hotshoe lock broke(repaired under warranty).
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

  

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km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009Sat 05-Jun-10 04:17 PM
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#36. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 35


St Petersburg, RU
          

Just guessing, based on these reported problems and frame rates, that there is a problem with variability of the thermal trigger, and some people need a different flash since these rates reported are higher than the ratings for any standard shoe mounted flash is intended for.
My SB900 never has shut down since I've had it. I shot again last night over a 3 hour period 400 shots that were kept, don't know the total shot, maybe 430-440. I was using a 1/2 Cloud LS since the place had a matte black ceiling at 18 feet.
what is needed is a realistic diagnosis of the problem and mechanism of fault. If I had one that did fail often I could probably trace the source of the probably with appropriate measurements and tests.

Las time I was in the US my mother was complaining that her new refrigerator was freezing food in vegetable bins. The shop had come out 3 times and tested it, replaced things in a shotgun style approach but the problem still occurred intermittently. I tried my own tests and quickly found that the thermistor that does the sampling was not sensitive enough because it was mounted way contrary to the design, is was supposed to extend through a styrofoam insulator to within a short distance of the free air inside the cool chamber. It was not extended for enough so it was shielded from getting the full access to the chamber temperature. Pushing the mounting bracket 1/2in took care of the problem.
The thermal sensor in the SB900 might not have a consistent heat transfer between units coming off the assembly line which would account for the vastly varying differences in thermal shut down rates between users. Measuring the heat to be sensed, and the signaling threshold of the sensor mounted as it is would not be hard.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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gheck58 Silver Member Nikonian since 26th Dec 2003Thu 17-Jun-10 06:24 PM
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#41. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 36


Aliso Viejo, US
          

It's not the SB-900 that's the problem. You just need a more powerful flash or change your shooting technique, or increase your ISO. This is also one of the reasons also I don't use the Gary Fong modifier. It sucks up way too much power. Plus when you put a modifier like this over the flash head you limit it's self cooling ability. Then add trying to bounce or a typical church with no reflective surfaces and you are at the limit of any speedlight. This is why I like the Demb Flip It the best. Just about any flash tube will burn up without cooling when used at near full power, consecutive times. Why do you think they put cooling fans in studio strobes? So they don't burn up either

Hecky

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Chris B1 Registered since 06th Sep 2004Thu 17-Jun-10 08:19 PM
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#42. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 41


Upper Coomera, AU
          

We use the same shooting style for all photo shoots. This consists of studio lights (Bowens Gemini Esprit 500's) and speedights for fill light to balance out the studio lighting.
We can use SB800's all day without a problem and without burning out the top screen on the speedlights.
The SB900 thermal cutoff is the issue. I can turn this off on the SB900's and keep shooting all day. We just need to keep an eye on the temperature guage on the speedlight.
We operate the entire lighting setup and cameras manually, we shoot up to a thousand frames a day, day after day and have done so for years. We rarely need to operate the speedlights at full power and most of the time they are used between one sixteenth and half power.
We having been managing the thermal load on lighting equipment and have never had an issue until we started using SB900's.
I think Nikon need to do something about the material used in the top screen on the SB900's so that it can perform the same way as the SB800's. We have not had to change the flash tubes in either the SB800's or SB900's. We have only had to change the top screen on the SB900's.

Chris B1

  

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Len Shepherd Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003Fri 18-Jun-10 08:52 AM
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#43. "RE: Why not read the SB 900 instructions?"
In response to Reply # 0


Yorkshire, GB
          

The SB800 came with a warning if it got hot to stop using it until it cooled.
Even so there are reports of melted SB 800's - so not everybody reads instructions
The SB 900 comes with a safety cut out set conservatively as default.
In menu option F6 you can override the default. There is then a 3 stage temperature indicator being low, getting hot, and switch off if you do not wish to risk melting the unit.
External battery sources help to some extent, though other important sources of heat with the flash unit are the flash tube and flash condenser.

Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.

Len Shepherd

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberFri 18-Jun-10 09:43 AM
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#44. "RE: Why not read the SB 900 instructions?"
In response to Reply # 43


Powder Springs, US
          

Also, the SB-900 is designed to recycle faster (get hotter) to "satisfy" the pro. Have backup units and rotate them, if you must make unreasonable demands of them.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009Fri 18-Jun-10 01:49 PM
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#45. "RE: Why not read the SB 900 instructions?"
In response to Reply # 44


St Petersburg, RU
          

There is a difference that the term "pro" entails. Some warranty and consumer protection laws are affected by one using that term and using gear with that designation. For example a "pro" is assumed to understand the nature of the task and equipment limitations to a much higher degree than a consumer. Therefore consumer gear is usually designed to prevent use outside of specifications. A microwave oven is hard to over power or over heat because it is assumed in the design phase that the user is clueless and will do things that if allowed would endanger themselves and the equipment.
Pro gear often falls outside consumer protection agencies in state government and repair services regulatory agencies.
The reason is that much of the responsibility for equipment's proper use shift to the "pro" user. The equipment is designed to be more flexible and with more flexibility comes the possibility to operate intentionally outside the safe operating ranges.

I just do not understand "pros" complaining that a unit that is intended for their use and they buy with that extended range in mind, complain when their own operations, exceeding the published specs, sometimes fails. Are all the pros who are supposed to know the full details of operations, theory and appropriate use of their equipment are so angry that an item does not object to being abused. If it was a consumer intended product it would recycle much slower, have much lower peak operating temperature, lower range, and more hand-holding.

Learn about your tools and use them appropriately or don't complain that the gear rebelled. Maybe some should not use the term "pro" if they need more hand-holding.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberFri 18-Jun-10 09:28 PM
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#46. "RE: Why not read the SB 900 instructions?"
In response to Reply # 45


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>There is a difference that the term "pro" entails.
>Some warranty and consumer protection laws are affected by one
>using that term and using gear with that designation. For
>example a "pro" is assumed to understand the nature
>of the task and equipment limitations to a much higher degree
>than a consumer. Therefore consumer gear is usually designed
>to prevent use outside of specifications. A microwave oven is
>hard to over power or over heat because it is assumed in the
>design phase that the user is clueless and will do things that
>if allowed would endanger themselves and the equipment.
>Pro gear often falls outside consumer protection agencies in
>state government and repair services regulatory agencies.
>The reason is that much of the responsibility for equipment's
>proper use shift to the "pro" user. The equipment is
>designed to be more flexible and with more flexibility comes
>the possibility to operate intentionally outside the safe
>operating ranges.
>
>I just do not understand "pros" complaining that a
>unit that is intended for their use and they buy with that
>extended range in mind, complain when their own operations,
>exceeding the published specs, sometimes fails. Are all the
>pros who are supposed to know the full details of operations,
>theory and appropriate use of their equipment are so angry
>that an item does not object to being abused. If it was a
>consumer intended product it would recycle much slower, have
>much lower peak operating temperature, lower range, and more
>hand-holding.
>
>Learn about your tools and use them appropriately or don't
>complain that the gear rebelled. Maybe some should not use the
>term "pro" if they need more hand-holding.
>Stan

I don't know about the definition of pro, but here's how I use my flashes.

I don't worry about overheating a flash. If it burns out, I will send it in for repair or buy a new one. But under no circumstance will I allow the flash to cause me to miss a shot so it can cool down. The pictures are worth far more than the flash. If the flash does shuts down by itself when it gets hot, I won't use it.

I have been using my SB-800's without worrying about overheating for five years, and I have only damaged one when I used a Quantum Turbo pack on it. And I don't rotate them when they get hot. I use one until its batteries are dead and switch to a second one at that time.

Lately, I have been using NiZn batteries in my SB-800s, which reduce the recycle from a full power flash to under 2 seconds. I have shot about 25,000 flashes on them now using these batteries and so far, no failures. These batteries are not approved by Nikon, so use them at your own risk. I love the fast recycle time, even though the number of flashes per charge is about 25% less than Eneloops.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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voyageurfred Silver Member Nikonian since 20th Jun 2007Sat 19-Jun-10 05:05 AM
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#47. "RE: Newest SB-900 Rant"
In response to Reply # 0
Sat 19-Jun-10 05:15 AM by voyageurfred

Montreal, CA
          

Having just purchased the SB900 a month ago, I read all the comments posted here with interest. Thanks for the heads up. Agree with Stan from St Petersburdg about RTM and knowing the limitations of your equipment.

That said, to date I haven't had any overheating problems, this despite industrial photography at night where I am pushing the unit to full power and exposure comp of +2 with an ISO rating of 1600 on my D700 to get extra reach. I'm shooting bridge girders being erected from 70 feet away, so I need the power. I also focus the beam for more directional light

Knock on wood, to date I've had no problems. I bookmarked this thread to follow what happens down the road.

I also own the SB800, SB80, a couple of Vivtar 285HV and an old Honeywell Strobonar 892S with NiCad pack, none of which ever burned up, despite heavy usage.

On a final note, I use Lithium-ion batteries for most of my shoots. They are good for 400 flashes or more before I have to change them. After I let them cool, I can usually get another 100 pics before I need to toss them. Rechargeables for hot-shoe cams I've found, don't stand up for my useage.

Cheers,
Frederic in Montréal

Nothing ventured... nothing gained!
http://www.RemarkableImages.ca


Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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