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Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR TOOLS - Hardware & Software Nikon Speedlights & Lighting topic #60942
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Subject: "Nikon SU-800 Problem?" Previous topic | Next topic
output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Mon 04-Mar-13 01:31 AM
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"Nikon SU-800 Problem?"


US
          

So, based on the recommendation of several Nikonians, I invested in a SU-800 Commander. I had high hopes for the unit controlling my remote SB-900 and SB-700. Instead, it has been a crushing disappointment.

Using it in a studio with fresh batteries in the Speedlights and the SU-800 I missed 75% of my shots due to the sluggish recycling of the set-up. Never had this problem using a Pixel TR-301 remote or the built-in Commander Mode of my D700. I literally had to wait a minimum of 2-3 seconds between each shot or else the Speedlights didn't fire. It made shooting models rapidly impossible. 5 shutter activations in 5 seconds = 1 good shot. 4 unlit, unusable shots.

Then, today after only the second time of use (or approximately 600 total flash activations) the SU-800's brand new battery died. And I just bought it yesterday for $12. If the battery wasn't defective this means I will be buying at least 7 or 8 batteries a month. No way.

Can anyone tell me if their SU-800 performs better? If so, maybe I have a bum unit or the battery was bad to begin with.

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
bassman1946 Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
1
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
output555 Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
4
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014
04th Mar 2013
2
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
output555 Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
5
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography
04th Mar 2013
3
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
output555 Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
6
     Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography
04th Mar 2013
7
          Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
output555 Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
10
               Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography
04th Mar 2013
15
               Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography
05th Mar 2013
18
                    Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
output555 Silver Member
05th Mar 2013
21
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
Luke_Miller Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
8
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output555 Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
9
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MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas
04th Mar 2013
11
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
output555 Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
12
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014
04th Mar 2013
13
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
Luke_Miller Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
14
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
output555 Silver Member
04th Mar 2013
16
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography
04th Mar 2013
17
Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography
05th Mar 2013
19
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output555 Silver Member
05th Mar 2013
20
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output555 Silver Member
05th Mar 2013
22
     Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography
05th Mar 2013
23
     Reply message RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?
Luke_Miller Silver Member
05th Mar 2013
25
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output555 Silver Member
05th Mar 2013
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REH45 Silver Member
05th Mar 2013
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output555 Silver Member
05th Mar 2013
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Luke_Miller Silver Member
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bassman1946 Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2007Mon 04-Mar-13 04:19 AM
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#1. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


Petersburg, US
          

Check to see if you have red eye reduction turned on.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Mon 04-Mar-13 12:16 PM
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#4. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 1


US
          

>Check to see if you have red eye reduction turned on.

Thanks for the suggestion. I normally don't have it on and changed nothing when using the Speedlights with the SU-800 but I will check per your recommendation.

  

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mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006Mon 04-Mar-13 04:40 AM
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#2. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


Tacoma, US
          

Mine works just fine with SB-700s and 900. Any wait is for the Speedlights to recycle, not the SU-800

Good suggestion to check of you have red eye reduction turned on.

$12.00 for a battery? What kind did you get?

Mick
http://www.mickklassphoto.com
or
Visit my nikonians gallery

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Mon 04-Mar-13 12:20 PM
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#5. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 2


US
          

>Mine works just fine with SB-700s and 900. Any wait is for
>the Speedlights to recycle, not the SU-800
>
>Good suggestion to check of you have red eye reduction turned
>on.
>
>$12.00 for a battery? What kind did you get?
>

Thanks for the reply. When you say fine, I assume you mean you're not experiencing the sluggish recycling. The SB-900 and SB-700 recycle in a fraction of the time on-camera, with in-camera Commander Mode, and remotely with the Pixel TR-331 so I don't see why they would behave differently with the SU-800. Regardless, if they do, this is not a satisfactory arrangement.

The battery was a standard Duracell C123 bought at CVS. $11.99, yikes!

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberMon 04-Mar-13 10:20 AM
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#3. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


Powder Springs, US
          

B&H sells Sure Fire 123A batteries at $25/dozen.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Mon 04-Mar-13 12:21 PM
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#6. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 3


US
          

>B&H sells Sure Fire 123A batteries at $25/dozen.

Thanks for the tip, Scott. I'll check it out. I've bought Surefire before and noticed their shelf life is really poor. What's your experience?

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberMon 04-Mar-13 01:25 PM
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#7. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 6


Powder Springs, US
          

I've not noticed that...yet. Surefire is known for its quality, so that would surprise me.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Mon 04-Mar-13 02:42 PM
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#10. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 7


US
          

>I've not noticed that...yet. Surefire is known for its
>quality, so that would surprise me.

OK, good to know. Maybe the ones I bought on Amazon were long-in-the-tooth already.

Thanks, again.

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberMon 04-Mar-13 06:09 PM
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#15. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 10


Powder Springs, US
          

The Jury might still be out on that. I don't know that I've had mine long enough to make that determination on my own. B&H sells them in quantities, of 72 so I would think they are reputable, or they would pull them.

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 MemberTue 05-Mar-13 01:10 AM
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#18. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 10
Tue 05-Mar-13 01:12 AM by ScottChapin

Powder Springs, US
          

You can get them for $1.52 apiece:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/564261-REG/Surefire_SF38400_BULK_Bulk_Box_of_38_400.html/BI/4775/KBID/5289/

This is really unbelievable! Read the review

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Tue 05-Mar-13 03:14 PM
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#21. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 18


US
          

>You can get them for $1.52 apiece:
>
>http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/564261-REG/Surefire_SF38400_BULK_Bulk_Box_of_38_400.html/BI/4775/KBID/5289/
>
>This is really unbelievable! Read the review

Ha! 38,400 batteries for only $58,425.00! An awesome bargain! Too bad they don't sell them in higher quantities.

  

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Luke_Miller Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2006Mon 04-Mar-13 02:20 PM
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#8. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


Rural Virginia, US
          

>....... It made shooting
>models rapidly impossible. 5 shutter activations in 5 seconds
>= 1 good shot. 4 unlit, unusable shots.

I think you are expecting too much from speedlights if you are taking five flash shots in five seconds. In my experience my SU-800 had no effect on my SB-800 recycle times. Adding an SD-8A battery pack helped, but did not get me the recycle times I wanted, so I went to monolights.

Places We Have Been

www.peppermill-multimedia.com

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Mon 04-Mar-13 02:40 PM
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#9. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 8


US
          

>>....... It made shooting
>>models rapidly impossible. 5 shutter activations in 5
>seconds
>>= 1 good shot. 4 unlit, unusable shots.
>
>I think you are expecting too much from speedlights if you are
>taking five flash shots in five seconds. In my experience my
>SU-800 had no effect on my SB-800 recycle times. Adding an
>SD-8A battery pack helped, but did not get me the recycle
>times I wanted, so I went to monolights.

Hi Luke,

Not really. I can shoot that quickly all day long (or at least until my Speedlights heat up) on-camera, using the Pixel TR-331 or the built-in Commander Mode. Any serious portrait, wedding or sports photographer absolutely must be able to fire flash in rapid succession..."Wait, wait, don't throw the bouquet yet, my flash needs to recycle!" I use a battery pack with the SB-900 to make sure there is plenty of power.

  

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MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007Mon 04-Mar-13 02:47 PM
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#11. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

Hi Michael,

It sounds like your Speedlights are firing at or near 1/1 or full power.

Are you using i-TTL flash control or Manual flash control?

If you are using Manual flash control what power ratio are the remote Speedlights set to?

Keep in mind that the maximum recycle time for the SB-900 is 2.3 sec. and the SB-700 is 2.5 sec. If the Speedlights are firing at anything higher than 1/8 power, I would not expect to shoot at 1FPS.

Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Mon 04-Mar-13 03:18 PM
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#12. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 11
Mon 04-Mar-13 03:19 PM by output555

US
          

>Hi Michael,
>
>It sounds like your Speedlights are firing at or near 1/1 or
>full power.
>
>Are you using i-TTL flash control or Manual flash control?
>
>If you are using Manual flash control what power ratio are the
>remote Speedlights set to?
>
>Keep in mind that the maximum recycle time for the SB-900 is
>2.3 sec. and the SB-700 is 2.5 sec. If the Speedlights are
>firing at anything higher than 1/8 power, I would not expect
>to shoot at 1FPS.
>
>Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Hi Marty,

Right now, I'm shooting TTL with some manual compensation in the minus mode (-3, -7) so I doubt this is causing the slow recycling. Moreover, as I said, operating in the TTL setting when using the other configurations named above, there was no issue with slow flash firing, except when the unit overheated or the batteries tired. Shooting at 1FPS is not satisfactory for the type of work I do, and while the recycling specs for the flashes are listed as 2.5/sec. this is more of a guideline for overall use. In real use, especially on-camera, the Speedlights are easily capable of 3-4 flashes in 2-3 secs.
>

  

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mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006Mon 04-Mar-13 03:50 PM
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#13. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


Tacoma, US
          

What is the mode switch set to on the SU-800?

Mick
http://www.mickklassphoto.com
or
Visit my nikonians gallery

  

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Luke_Miller Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2006Mon 04-Mar-13 04:35 PM
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#14. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0
Mon 04-Mar-13 05:48 PM by Luke_Miller

Rural Virginia, US
          

Michael

If you are confident that your flash output is low enough to recycle the SB-900s fast enough for your use - then it sounds like the latency in the CLS system is the problem. The use of the SU-800 does not affect flash recycle times, but all of the required communication between the SU-800 and SB-900s limits the maximum rate you can fire since the communication must complete in order to have proper flash function. HBB is the expert on CLS and this thread illustrates the communication strings.

http://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=154&topic_id=38452&mesg_id=38452&page=

What may help is the use of FV Lock. When the FV Lock button is pressed the SU-800 performs all required communications and all flash functions are performed (flash settings are set, pre-flashes are fired, flash exposure is calculated). The main flash does not fire and no exposure is taken. Then each time the shutter is released the SU-800 just sends the "Fire" command to the flashes and there is virtually no latency in the system. This may work until you need to change flash output or exposure.

Places We Have Been

www.peppermill-multimedia.com

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Mon 04-Mar-13 08:07 PM
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#16. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 14


US
          

>Michael
>
>If you are confident that your flash output is low enough to
>recycle the SB-900s fast enough for your use - then it sounds
>like the latency in the CLS system is the problem. The use of
>the SU-800 does not affect flash recycle times, but all of the
>required communication between the SU-800 and SB-900s limits
>the maximum rate you can fire since the communication must
>complete in order to have proper flash function. HBB is
>the expert on CLS and this thread illustrates the
>communication strings.
>
>http://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=154&topic_id=38452&mesg_id=38452&page=
>
>What may help is the use of FV Lock. When the FV Lock button
>is pressed the SU-800 performs all required communications and
>all flash functions are performed (flash settings are set,
>pre-flashes are fired, flash exposure is calculated). The main
>flash does not fire and no exposure is taken. Then each time
>the shutter is released the SU-800 just sends the
>"Fire" command to the flashes and there is virtually
>no latency in the system. This may work until you need to
>change flash output or exposure.

Hi Luke,

I think you've hit on something regarding the latency of CLS. Since the SU-800 has no effect on the flashes' recycling (it's just a signal, after all) I suspect the prolonged delay I'm experiencing is actually the signal from the SU-800 reaching the flashes, via CLS, etc. I'll try your suggestion of using FV Lock to see if it makes a difference.

Michael

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberMon 04-Mar-13 08:25 PM
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#17. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 16


Powder Springs, US
          

Michael,

Everything is in the line of sight too, isn't it? This might be blue skies, but maybe the signal is propagating from less than adequate reflections?

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 2009Tue 05-Mar-13 01:05 PM
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#19. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 16


St Petersburg, RU
          

It sounds like the flash power has been high enough for your work but low enough to not to require full dumps.
So the problem is related to the Commander function which is normally very fast.
Try an experiment with close coupling the SU800 to a SB900 so the IR signals are not distorted by multiple reflections and possible other room IR sources. Any difference in time? If not, I would suspect a faulty SU800 but if there is a improvement in timing start looking for problems with the IR optical path such as distance, shaded IR sensor on the flash, a strong IR radiation source like a radiant heater that might be swamping the sensor. Are you positioning the body of the SB900's to have a clear path between the SU800 and IR sensor on the flash?

When I have used a SU800 there did not seem to be any difference between it and the body's built-in flash in time delay, both limited frame rate solely by the flash recycle period
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Tue 05-Mar-13 03:10 PM
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#20. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 19
Tue 05-Mar-13 03:11 PM by output555

US
          

>It sounds like the flash power has been high enough for your
>work but low enough to not to require full dumps.
>So the problem is related to the Commander function which is
>normally very fast.
>Try an experiment with close coupling the SU800 to a SB900 so
>the IR signals are not distorted by multiple reflections and
>possible other room IR sources. Any difference in time? If
>not, I would suspect a faulty SU800 but if there is a
>improvement in timing start looking for problems with the IR
>optical path such as distance, shaded IR sensor on the flash,
>a strong IR radiation source like a radiant heater that might
>be swamping the sensor. Are you positioning the body of the
>SB900's to have a clear path between the SU800 and IR sensor
>on the flash?
>
>When I have used a SU800 there did not seem to be any
>difference between it and the body's built-in flash in time
>delay, both limited frame rate solely by the flash recycle
>period
>Stan

Hi Scott and Stan,

There is some possibility that the SU-800 IR signal isn't finding its way easily to the flash units mounted in the diffusion umbrellas. However, even though I am not directly in the line of sight of the flashes, the delay isn't with the first flash, it's the subsequent ones. I'll be in exactly the same position, so if the initial trigger signal made it, the following ones would, too. That said, I have no doubt that if I place the Speedlight on a light stand, without being enclosed in the umbrella, it will respond more quickly. Even so that's doesn't solve anything for me because I must use the flashes in lighting umbrellas, and usually not within a perfectly clear line of sight. Again, this is not an issue with the built-in Commander Mode using the pop-up flash as the IR trigger. I'd think for $250, the SU-800 would have far better range.

  

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Tue 05-Mar-13 03:35 PM
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#22. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 14
Tue 05-Mar-13 03:37 PM by output555

US
          

>What may help is the use of FV Lock. When the FV Lock button
>is pressed the SU-800 performs all required communications and
>all flash functions are performed (flash settings are set,
>pre-flashes are fired, flash exposure is calculated). The main
>flash does not fire and no exposure is taken. Then each time
>the shutter is released the SU-800 just sends the
>"Fire" command to the flashes and there is virtually
>no latency in the system.

I tried your suggestion, Luke, and, I think it works! Although I was doing a simple test with both flashes mounted relatively close, and within line of sight, there was a significant difference between "missed" flashes when using the FV Lock and not using it. I could easily trigger four or five flashes in quick succession with none of the subsequent images being unlit/underexposed with the FV Lock. Whereas, when it was turned off, I could only get three flashes out of five.

I'll get to put it to a real test later this week when I go into the studio.

In the meantime, thanks to you and everyone else for your help. You folks are the best!.

(I guess I'll go ahead and put in my order to B&H for 38,400 Surefire SF123s)

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberTue 05-Mar-13 04:04 PM
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#23. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 22


Powder Springs, US
          


>(I guess I'll go ahead and put in my order to B&H for
>38,400 Surefire SF123s)

LOL.. Maybe we can all chip in and split the cost !

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Luke_Miller Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2006Tue 05-Mar-13 05:08 PM
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#25. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 22


Rural Virginia, US
          

>(I guess I'll go ahead and put in my order to B&H for
>38,400 Surefire SF123s)

You may find that by using FV Lock your SU-800 battery lasts longer, since it is not putting out nearly so many control flashes. Maybe you can get by with only 19,200 SF123s.

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Tue 05-Mar-13 05:32 PM
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#26. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 25


US
          

>>(I guess I'll go ahead and put in my order to B&H
>for
>>38,400 Surefire SF123s)
>
>You may find that by using FV Lock your SU-800 battery lasts
>longer, since it is not putting out nearly so many control
>flashes. Maybe you can get by with only 19,200 SF123s.

Darn! I wish you'd mentioned this earlier, Luke. I just maxxed out my AmEx card buying the full 34,800 quantity!

  

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REH45 Silver Member Nikonian since 05th May 2009Tue 05-Mar-13 05:06 PM
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#24. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


Bloomington, US
          

Make sure you turn off standby on each of your flash units, if you don't the units go into standby and then when you fire the SU800 it has to wake up,the flash unit first you would then have to,fire it a second time to get the flash to fire there by missing the first shot. The units go into standby rather quickly. So unless you are shooting very fast this will be a problem. It used to drive me nuts until I figured out what was going on. Since then I have had no problems.

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output555 Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Aug 2008Tue 05-Mar-13 05:33 PM
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#27. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 24


US
          

>Make sure you turn off standby on each of your flash units,
>if you don't the units go into standby and then when you fire
>the SU800 it has to wake up,the flash unit first you would
>then have to,fire it a second time to get the flash to fire
>there by missing the first shot. The units go into standby
>rather quickly. So unless you are shooting very fast this will
>be a problem. It used to drive me nuts until I figured out
>what was going on. Since then I have had no problems.

Thanks for the tip, but I've got my flashes set up where they don't go into standby mode that quickly.

  

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Luke_Miller Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2006Tue 05-Mar-13 11:02 PM
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#28. "RE: Nikon SU-800 Problem?"
In response to Reply # 27


Rural Virginia, US
          

Not sure about the SB-900, but the manual states that the SB-800 will not go into standby when set to Remote mode. However, the flash apparently does not read the manual as it does go into standby if the batteries start getting low. It must then be awakened by the SU-800 (usually resulting in a missed shot) before it will fire. With fresh batteries this does not happen.

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