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Subject: "SB800 over-exposing grossly" Previous topic | Next topic
Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Mon 21-Oct-13 05:24 PM
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"SB800 over-exposing grossly"
Mon 21-Oct-13 05:24 PM by Ferguson

Cape Coral, US
          

The other night shooting zombies (ok, that's another story) everything up close started coming out grossly over-exposed. I tried everything I could think up, and ended up lowering the ISO way down (it was night but I wanted some ambient), and then put on a diffuser, and then found I needed to stand back a bit. I tried it on a different camera, same results, so not camera settings.

I tried TTL and TTL-BL both, no difference.

So now that I'm home and have a second speedlight, I tried it, and it worked as expected. Shots taken anywhere close are horribly over-exposed. I THINK it is shooting at full power.

Examples are below. Control panel shots are also included -- I can't see that I have any setting different. Is there ANY setting of substance that I may be missing. Remember -- same camera, same scene, same settings on the camera, just swapped flash.

There is a tiny bit more to this story. The night before I shot a basketball party and dropped the flash about 3-4 feet. I was putting it (I thought) onto the padded goal mechanism over my head while sitting under the goal, and apparently there's a small hole in the corner that leads to the floor. It feel, no visible damage. And it "worked" afterwards, meaning it flashed.

The problem with that theory is I took quite a few shots at sunset where the flash was fill. But several were close enough I would expect it to wash out at this power (I went back and checked distance, ISO, etc.). So I THINK it worked and hour or so correctly before it went nuts -- right about at dark, though, when I started relying on it for primary light not fill.

Anyway...

Other than "it's broken", anyone have any ideas? Anyone ever tear one apart, are there components that are accessible, might it be worth looking for something shaken loose?

Or on the other side, any point sending them to Nikon? Do they repair them, anyone had one repaired? I suspect other than cosmetics (which are fine), there's likely one electronics card inside - expensive?

Or just go buy a SB910 to replace it? I love my SB800's, but they are pretty old.











Linwood

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberMon 21-Oct-13 10:24 PM
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#2. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 0


Powder Springs, US
          

Linwood,

Why ISO 2000? Why FP? Did you turn both the camera and flash of prior to mounting and power the camera up first. I frequently get poor ISO syncs with a flash, if I turn it on first.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Mon 21-Oct-13 10:46 PM
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#3. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 2


Cape Coral, US
          

>Linwood,
>
>Why ISO 2000? Why FP? Did you turn both the camera and flash
>of prior to mounting and power the camera up first. I
>frequently get poor ISO syncs with a flash, if I turn it on
>first.

I redid the test as it was the night of the problem; it was a dark street with some lighting (including on costumes), so I wanted a decent amount of ambient light.

As to FP, I leave that on all the time, as my understanding is it has no effect if the shutter speed is lower than the limit (250 if I recall) and allows some flash if above.

But regardless, the problem occurs at ISO 100 and with FP off, I just tried it both ways. It really seems to be firing at or near full power regardless of settings.

Linwood

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Mon 21-Oct-13 10:48 PM
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#4. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 2


Cape Coral, US
          

>Linwood,
>
>Why ISO 2000? Why FP? Did you turn both the camera and flash
>of prior to mounting and power the camera up first. I
>frequently get poor ISO syncs with a flash, if I turn it on
>first.

I'm sorry, I did not answer the other question - I confess I rarely power either off, but I did just go back and power both down, mount, power both up, and got the same result.


Linwood

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jherrel Silver Member Nikonian since 08th Apr 2007Tue 22-Oct-13 01:51 AM
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#5. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 0


Elgin, US
          

Here are some thoughts.
1. In TTL, the speedlight uses center weighted metering to establish subject exposure. The camera establishes ambient exposure. If it is dark, the speedlight is trying to achieve 18% gray. So, in a dark scene or if there is a dark center scene, you will get over exposure. Dial down the EV on the speedlight.

2. Your Sb800 showed that it was in Manual Zoom. I am not sure if this has any effect when you are close.


John Herrel
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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Tue 22-Oct-13 02:17 AM
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#6. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 5


Cape Coral, US
          

>Here are some thoughts.
>1. In TTL, the speedlight uses center weighted metering to
>establish subject exposure. The camera establishes ambient
>exposure. If it is dark, the speedlight is trying to achieve
>18% gray. So, in a dark scene or if there is a dark center
>scene, you will get over exposure. Dial down the EV on the
>speedlight.

Remember that this works well on one SB800 and horribly over-exposes on the other, 100% of the time. So this isn't a subject/distance issue. And it's far from subtle.

>2. Your Sb800 showed that it was in Manual Zoom. I am not
>sure if this has any effect when you are close.

The diffuser is on it -- I typically store them that way, so when I picked up to experiment both had it on. It works the same way with them off.


Linwood

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Tue 22-Oct-13 05:18 PM
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#7. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 0


Cape Coral, US
          

OK, this is just weird.

I decided there was another way to check, so I took the flash off the camera, put it in "M" and set it to 1/128th power. It fired a full power flash (if you've ever tried that, you know you can see, feel and hear the difference between 1/1 and 1/128).

On a whim, I removed the batteries and tried it again -- it worked. Soft click and dim flash at 1/128th.

So I grabbed a camera, put it back to TTL, and -- failed. Full power flash.

Set to M and 1/128th while on the camera -- fired a full power flash.

Removed (without power cycle) - fired a full power flash.

Power cycled, and it fires a 1/128th flash.

Removed again, power cycled, set to M 1/128th - worked.

Turned off, put on camera, turned on with M and 1/128th - worked.

Switched on camera to TTL - WORKED!

Tried all sorts of settings, distances, modes - all working.

Something was for want of a better word "stuck". But I am absolutely sure it was fixed briefly and then stuck again.

But now I can't get it to stick. Not sure if I should trust this flash or not now. Weird.

Linwood

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberTue 22-Oct-13 09:14 PM
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#8. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 7


Powder Springs, US
          

It might be in part, because you turned the flash on after turning the camera on or at least after you mounted the flash. That WILL ocassionly get you. I would pull the batteries over night.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Tue 22-Oct-13 09:26 PM
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#9. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 8


Cape Coral, US
          

>It might be in part, because you turned the flash on after
>turning the camera on or at least after you mounted the flash.
>That WILL ocassionly get you. I would pull the batteries over
>night.

Yeah, maybe. Though toward the end just turning it off and on "fixed" it. And I must have power cycled it a dozen times while trying to get it to work.

Too bad as those two were real workhorses, about the only Nikon item where I had zero urge for a newer model, and now I worry. I'll keep experimenting, but last time (for a while at least) I grab one flash and run off (I was carrying it in a pocket, no backpack, and got lazy).

Linwood

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davepmyoung Gold Member Nikonian since 10th Dec 2008Tue 22-Oct-13 09:31 PM
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#10. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 9


Robertsbridge, GB
          

Try cleaning the hotshoe contacts or using it wirelessly. I have had similar problems with my SB900 not being fully engaged with the cable or hotshoe. Just a thought.

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Tue 22-Oct-13 10:15 PM
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#11. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 10


Cape Coral, US
          

>Try cleaning the hotshoe contacts or using it wirelessly. I
>have had similar problems with my SB900 not being fully
>engaged with the cable or hotshoe. Just a thought.

Recall that the problem occurred OFF the camera in "M" mode.

But I will regardless.

Linwood

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberWed 23-Oct-13 12:57 PM
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#12. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 11


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>>Try cleaning the hotshoe contacts or using it wirelessly.
> I
>>have had similar problems with my SB900 not being fully
>>engaged with the cable or hotshoe. Just a thought.
>
>Recall that the problem occurred OFF the camera in
>"M" mode.
>
>But I will regardless.
>
>Linwood
>
>Comments welcomed on pictures: Http://www.captivephotons.com

I had the same problem once about four years ago with one of my SB800's. I ended up sending it to Nikon for repair. It came back like new and has never caused me a problem since then. I think they charged me $150. Don't know what it would cost now, but I really like my SB800's and wouldn't want an SB9xx. They are just too big.

Russ
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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Wed 23-Oct-13 12:59 PM
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#13. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 12


Cape Coral, US
          

>I had the same problem once about four years ago with one of
>my SB800's. I ended up sending it to Nikon for repair. It came
>back like new and has never caused me a problem since then. I
>think they charged me $150. Don't know what it would cost now,
>but I really like my SB800's and wouldn't want an SB9xx. They
>are just too big.

Good to know. The more immediate problem is that if it's not failing when I send it, I can't tell if they fixed it.

I didn't get much time yesterday, I'm going to beat on it a bit (some literally) and see if I can reproduce the problem again. I'd like to get it "stuck".

Russ, when you say you had the same problem do you mean literally - that it was stuck in full power?

Linwood

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Luke_Miller Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2006Wed 23-Oct-13 01:59 PM
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#14. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 13
Wed 23-Oct-13 02:07 PM by Luke_Miller

Rural Virginia, US
          

Did you do a "Reset" on the flash? I had the opposite problem (low output) with one of my SB-800s and a reset cured it.

Also - I have experienced this when the batteries get low. Seems there is enough in them to charge the capacitor, but not enough for the control circuit. Flash just fires at full power.

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Wed 23-Oct-13 03:26 PM
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#15. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 14


Cape Coral, US
          

>Did you do a "Reset" on the flash? I had the
>opposite problem (low output) with one of my SB-800s and a
>reset cured it.

If I do, I don't know where it is, and I just looked around. Where was it?

>Also - I have experienced this when the batteries get low.
>Seems there is enough in them to charge the capacitor, but not
>enough for the control circuit. Flash just fires at full
>power.

Batteries were nearly full, but that's an interesting perspective of why it might revert to full power mode.

Linwood

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Wed 23-Oct-13 04:07 PM
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#16. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 15
Wed 23-Oct-13 04:26 PM by Ferguson

Cape Coral, US
          

Well, time to do something.

It was working fine. I took the batteries out to charge fully overnight, put them back in, set it to M and 1/128 (not on camera), and it's firing at full power again. So it started this failure mode this time without being on a camera at all.

I see a bunch of screws. Since I think this may have started after dropping it, I'm tempted to take it apart if I can and see if anything is lose.

Anyone ever taken one apart?

Linwood

PS Edit: Yes, I know capacitors hold charges a long time.

PS Edit: Found a service manual online! Nice. Even has discharge instructions, now to see if I remember how to read a resister. Something about Violet and openness?

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Luke_Miller Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2006Wed 23-Oct-13 06:29 PM
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#18. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 15


Rural Virginia, US
          

To perform a reset - with the flash powered on, hold the On/Off and the Mode buttons simultaneously for several seconds.

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Thu 24-Oct-13 12:18 AM
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#19. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 18


Cape Coral, US
          

>To perform a reset - with the flash powered on, hold the
>On/Off and the Mode buttons simultaneously for several
>seconds.

Thanks.

No change.

Linwood

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HAN47 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Sep 2010Sun 27-Oct-13 01:52 AM
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#20. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 19


FR
          

Hi there,

new to this forum, first post.

Try this,it often works on cameras also.
Open the batterie compartiment with the flash powered on.
This often gets things out of a hung state.

Regards Han

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Sun 27-Oct-13 10:13 AM
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#21. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 20


Cape Coral, US
          

>Hi there,
>
>new to this forum, first post.
>
>Try this,it often works on cameras also.
>Open the batterie compartiment with the flash powered on.
>This often gets things out of a hung state.

Thanks, Han. Tried that a couple times, no change.

It's definitely broken, now just can't decide whether to get it fixed or replaced. Fixing is attractive, but since it is an intermittent problem I am worried I'll spend the $120 or $200 or whatever Nikon charges, get it home and it works for a week then breaks again. So I'm leaning toward replacing, though I remain convinced the SB800's are better than the SB910 (lighter, more powerful, don't stop shooting for a temperature break).


Linwood

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HAN47 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Sep 2010Sun 27-Oct-13 01:03 PM
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#22. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 21
Sun 27-Oct-13 01:11 PM by HAN47

FR
          

Hello Linwood,

sorry to hear this.
I took SB800's apart several times, but always for mechanical reasons.
I dropped one that afterwards kept zooming on its own even of camera.
Had a problem with the switch that looks at the tilt position.

Another one that I bought second hand for $50 had an intermittant problem that it showed strange behaviour after say 30 minutes on camera.
I was sold to me and the guy told me this before.
Thought I could use it in CLS off camera and I was right.
Later I found it was just comming a bit loose in the camera hotshoe because the little locking pin in the flashes foot was missing.
Took the pin out of a cheap nock-off SC-28 cord and now it is like new.

Anyway, you can open them but it's a bit crammed inside.The head part where the bulb and the capacitor are sitting is a little complicated but doable if you are a little experienced. You need to keep your calm and be patient though.

I wouldn't know what to look for espescially but there is an optic fiber running that is glued to an onboard Opto-coupler and ends behind an ND filter thats close to the bulb.

I have the actual Nikon SB800 repair manual dont remember where I found it but if you Google FSA03501 it will maybe come up.
If there's to much rubbish or fake, don't bother,PM me and we'll find a way to get it to you.

Oh yeah, discharge the capacitor, at our age it's a bit rough on the heart.

Regards, Han


EDIT: here's the link, I checked it

arcticwolfs.net/data/servicemanuals/SB-800.pdf‎

Well it's not a link, but there it is.




  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Sun 27-Oct-13 07:05 PM
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#23. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 22


Cape Coral, US
          


>I have the actual Nikon SB800 repair manual dont remember
>where I found it but if you Google FSA03501 it will maybe
>come up.

I do have the manual, and I did take it apart (well, mostly). I was hoping for a connector loose or something obvious, and I found none of that. Everything looked correct and solid. I plugged and unplugged a few things. I looked for corrosion (completely clean, not even dusty).

I stared at the manual trying to find a corresponding physical set of components to the "stop" section that handles the quench, without success. It looks like the signal originates on one of the IC's but I lost it from there.

>Oh yeah, discharge the capacitor, at our age it's a bit rough
>on the heart.

Funny, since that's how they get it started if it quits, isn't it?

Apparently I got it discharged, though I am not sure how I had a 2200 ohm resistor (they say 200-1000) and used it; it was a tiny thing and didn't get hot. Just to make sure I shorted across the contacts with a paperclip and no lightning, so I had discharged it, but I expected it to really heat up that resistor. But anyway, no excitement. Though there's a metal washer awfully close to where you stick the resistor wires; shaky hands and I guess you see a real arc there.

But thanks Han. I'm learning toward replacing it. If it was something physical, where I could tell if they fixed it, I would have it repaired, But an intermittent problem buried in the electronics -- I have this image of the guy firing it once, it works, and mumbling about stupid users and cleaning and returning it to me "fixed".


Linwood

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberMon 28-Oct-13 12:05 PM
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#24. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 23


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>But thanks Han. I'm learning toward replacing it. If it was
>something physical, where I could tell if they fixed it, I
>would have it repaired, But an intermittent problem buried in
>the electronics -- I have this image of the guy firing it
>once, it works, and mumbling about stupid users and cleaning
>and returning it to me "fixed".
>
>
>Linwood

The culprit is almost certainly one of the integrated circuits. Since they are all surface mount devices, it is impossible to change them out without specialized equipment. And even if you manage ti change them out, you will have destroyed the encapsulation that protects them from moisture. When Nikon repairs these units, they exchange PC Boards instead of individual components.

I highly recommend sending it to Nikon with a detailed description of the problem and some example photos with full information (camera mode, Flash mode, (TTL or TTL-BL), ISO, shutter, aperture, distance to subject). They will change out all the boards that could cause this problem. I have sent several of my SB800's in for repair over the years, and they have always come back as good as new. That will be far less expensive than replacing it with a new one.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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ctadin Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2008Mon 28-Oct-13 02:54 PM
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#25. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 23


St Louis, US
          

Linwood,
What about contacting Nikon to get an estimate as to what the cost would be to repair your flash?

Cheryl

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Mon 28-Oct-13 05:57 PM
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#26. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 25


Cape Coral, US
          

>Linwood,
>What about contacting Nikon to get an estimate as to what the
>cost would be to repair your flash?

I did that online and they have about 10 options (the closest was "exposure not correct", which could be calibration or anything). Then they give you an estimate. All automated. The estimate is binding at the low end (i.e. they will not ask again unless it is more). The estimate was about $120 with shipping.

Russ, to your point, that is encouraging. I guess it may be worth the $120. I'm just so depressed by so many tales circulating of Nikon US not fixing things right the first time. My one experience (the D800) they were fine, and I realize there are an untold number of people with good experiences who do NOT post. But still, the increasingly negative press makes one leery.

Linwood

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HAN47 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Sep 2010Mon 28-Oct-13 06:18 PM
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#27. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 26


FR
          

Hi Linwood,

I'm with you on this one.
If they just gave you 5 minutes on the phone with the actual repair tech I would be reassured about them understanding the problem.
After I would be happy to pay whatever it costs repaired or not.
At least things would be clear.

This case is rather straight forward so might work.

And yes the 3 times to Nikon stories really stop me from doin' anything with them on repairs, it scares me and seems such a waste.

I wish you a happy repair and keep us posted.

Regards, Han

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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ctadin Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2008Tue 29-Oct-13 12:37 AM
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#28. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 26


St Louis, US
          

Linwood,
Another idea, what about contacting one of the authorized Nikon Repair Centers. I've had good results with: http://www.ncscamera.com.
You can actually get a live person on the phone and I received quick turn around time.

Cheryl

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Tue 29-Oct-13 12:39 AM
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#29. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 28


Cape Coral, US
          

>Linwood,
>Another idea, what about contacting one of the authorized
>Nikon Repair Centers. I've had good results with:
>http://www.ncscamera.com.
>You can actually get a live person on the phone and I received
>quick turn around time.

I thought Nikon killed all of those by not allowing them to buy parts. Did they back away from that?


Linwood

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ctadin Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2008Tue 29-Oct-13 01:48 AM
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#30. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 29


St Louis, US
          

Linwood,

>I thought Nikon killed all of those by not allowing them to
>buy parts. Did they back away from that?

I thought the same thing, but this past spring when I called NCS they said they would be able to repair my Nikon SB-900 Strobe, and they did. I paid $90 to have my broken built in wide angle adapter replaced.

Cheryl

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberTue 29-Oct-13 11:58 AM
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#31. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 26


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Russ, to your point, that is encouraging. I guess it may be
>worth the $120. I'm just so depressed by so many tales
>circulating of Nikon US not fixing things right the first
>time. My one experience (the D800) they were fine, and I
>realize there are an untold number of people with good
>experiences who do NOT post. But still, the increasingly
>negative press makes one leery.

I never pay much attention to negative press. There are always going to be some problems, especially focus problems, that can't be reproduced, so they can't be fixed. I don't blame the repair shop in those cases. In your case, your problem appears to be easily reproducible, so they shouldn't have any trouble fixing it.

When I was shooting weddings, I sent in several SB800s to be fixed, and every time they came back fixed right. I also sent in a lens and a camera I had dropped. I never had any bad experiences. Recently, I smashed my D800 on a rock bending the frame and damaging several parts in the shutter and mirror assembly, and they rebuilt it to like new for $350. Being in the eastern US, I always use the Melville, NY repair shop.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Wed 30-Oct-13 07:40 PM
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#33. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 32


Cape Coral, US
          

>I was hoping for some PCB porn.

Sorry.

I sent it off to Nikon, let's see what happens.

Linwood

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberWed 23-Oct-13 06:20 PM
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#17. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 13


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Russ, when you say you had the same problem do you mean
>literally - that it was stuck in full power?

Yes, if the flash duration circuit fails to quench the flash pulse early, the flash will always fire at full power.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Mon 04-Nov-13 03:23 PM
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#34. "Nikon Repair "
In response to Reply # 0


Cape Coral, US
          


I sent it to Nikon.

I wrote "the flash intermittently gets stuck delivery full power only". I went on to say "demonstrated by setting the flash to M and 1/128th and you get a full power flash". and "It appears the quench circuit is not functioning properly".

They sent an estimate for $128 and these words:

Reason for service:
FLASH
FLASH DOESN'T FIRE

Service rank B2.

So I called to make sure the message was understood. I got tech support (you are not allowed to talk to anyone in service), and he said "that's just shorthand to get it to the right person, they have your letter".

Hmmm.... I approved it. Wonder what happens next.

Linwood

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Mon 11-Nov-13 11:08 PM
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#35. "RE: Nikon Repair "
In response to Reply # 34


Cape Coral, US
          


"Parts hold".





Linwood

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberTue 12-Nov-13 01:09 AM
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#36. "RE: Nikon Repair "
In response to Reply # 35


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>
>"Parts hold".
>
>
>
>
>
>Linwood

Hope that doesn't last too long!

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Sat 07-Dec-13 02:29 AM
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#37. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 0


Cape Coral, US
          

Well, I got my flash back after a relatively inexpensive repair ($128), and the first few shots were OK, back in the bag and didn't use it for a week or so.

They said they: Replaced flash tube, power PCB, hot shoe, battery cover; adjusted TTL flash, checked communication, checked battery contact.

Now this is really strange as the flash tube was fine, and the battery cover was the 4-battery cover which I never use -- it was absolutely brand new, as I use the 5th battery but didn't send that piece.

However, more to the point, I went to use it for real today and... the problem is still there. Set it on M 1/128th and get a full power flash (also on TTL, Commander, etc.). It gets hung on full power and won't change.

So much for Nikon's repair, it was a waste of time, shipping, and $128.

I suspect they never ever read the letter I sent explaining the problem, especially since the quoted problem from them was "no flash". Sigh.

Yes, I'll contact them, but more hassle, more delay....


Linwood

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberSat 07-Dec-13 03:00 AM
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#38. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 37


Powder Springs, US
          

That makes me wonder if it's the camera. Some of the parts they replaced are probably low cost and replacing them reduces the chance that the unit will come back.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 07-Dec-13 11:52 AM
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#39. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 38


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>That makes me wonder if it's the camera.

Me too.

They obviously were not able to duplicate the problem. Since they adjusted the TTL operation, it must not have been stuck at full power.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Sat 07-Dec-13 12:00 PM
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#41. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 39
Sat 07-Dec-13 12:01 PM by Ferguson

Cape Coral, US
          

>>That makes me wonder if it's the camera.
>
>Me too.
>
>They obviously were not able to duplicate the problem. Since
>they adjusted the TTL operation, it must not have been stuck
>at full power.

It's an old thread, so you may have missed the initial details, but as mentioned the symptoms are intermittent (and I told them that also). But it fails more than it works, so is easy to reproduce if one actually tries.

It cannot be the camera as:

1) I have two SB800's and one works, and one fails,
2) I have two cameras and it acts identically on each, and
3) As mentioned just above, it fails on manual (i.e. not even on the camera).

In fact, the simplest way to see it fail is to press the modeling light button -- instead of repeated fractional-power flashes it just gives one big flash and quits.

It's obvious that the camera is unable to quench the flash at times. Power off/on, and SOMETIMES it works for a while, but only briefly. Reset does not have an impact. Last night and this morning I could not get it to work at all, so I suspect it has worked for about 5 flashes total since it came back.

Fundamentally they ignored my problem description.

Consider it from a customer service perspective -- if they had READ the description and were unable to duplicate it, should they not have returned it "no problem found", or contacted me for "how do we reproduce"?

To return it with extensive (but probably unrelated) repairs as "fixed" without reproducing the problem is just silly. If they did reproduce the problem and returned it anyway it is even worse.


Linwood

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 07-Dec-13 12:03 PM
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#42. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 41


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

I saw that you changed to a different camera, but did you use a different lens?
Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Sat 07-Dec-13 12:07 PM
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#43. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 42


Cape Coral, US
          

>I saw that you changed to a different camera, but did you use
>a different lens?

I'm sorry, but how would the lens on the camera affect the flash failing when it's on manual and no camera involved?

But yes, I've reproduced it with at least 3 lenses (coincidentally) while it occurred.

It fails on manual, in my hand, pushing the flash button. I get a full power flash pushing the button while set on M 1/128. I get a single, full power flash when pushing the modeling button.


Linwood

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 07-Dec-13 12:38 PM
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#44. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 43


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

Well, I'm sure Nikon read your letter, but they must not have been able to duplicate the problem for some reason. If they adjusted the TTL power settings, it must have been working right then.

But, based on the fact that they sent you a regular battery door, I bet they didn't adjust it using the 5th battery option. Have you tried to duplicate the problem with the regular four batteries?

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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HAN47 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Sep 2010Sat 07-Dec-13 01:10 PM
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#46. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 43


FR
          

Hi Linwood,

sorry to hear this, exactly what I feared when I replied to one of your original posts.
I know how you feel, having the feeling that they didn't read your information.

As Russ saids, I think it worked when they changed the board and adjusted TTL but that ain't gonna' help you.
I am not going to give you ideas to eliminate possible causes because Russ seems to do that just fine.

Only one thing, if you ever send it back to Nikon, put a small explanation letter in the batterie compartment and close it.
That way you are sure the tech touches your little letter.
That is if he is not using an external powerpack.

Frustrating all this.
Hope it works out well.

Ciao, Han

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Sat 07-Dec-13 02:18 PM
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#47. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 46


Cape Coral, US
          

>Only one thing, if you ever send it back to Nikon, put a small
>explanation letter in the batterie compartment and close it.
>That way you are sure the tech touches your little letter.
>That is if he is not using an external powerpack.

Han, I had put one inside the wrapped flash, but I understand your point, and inside the battery compartment is an interesting idea. Thanks.

>I don't have to tell you the SB-800 is a great flash and worth the >effort vs cost of finding another.

Brent, thanks. I also don't really want to lose the SB800. It's so odd -- every other Nikon item seems to get better with every iteration, bodies, lenses. But there's a surprising number of people who just don't like the SB9x0. And few who speak well of it. But frankly I'll go there before buying used, I just don't have the patience to filter out all the scams and frauds and bad equipment floating in the used market.

However, Russ...

>But, based on the fact that they sent you a regular battery
>door, I bet they didn't adjust it using the 5th battery
>option. Have you tried to duplicate the problem with the
>regular four batteries?

It never occurred to me that might be an issue, but you have nailed it. It fails almost every time with the 5th battery installed, and I can't make it fail at all with just 4.

I've tried another 5th battery compartment, and it fails with it also, so it's not something strange in the battery holder (there's really nothing active in there, just connectivity, so that makes sense; it should just provide power, or no power).

I'm going to exercise it a bit more, and have a with-flash shoot tomorrow night so will take it and give it a try (watching closely). But it does seem completely related to the 5th battery.

Since I SUSPECT that they test with a plug in power supply, perhaps at the 4-battery voltage (same for SB9xx?), they may not have seen it. And I suspect wouldn't have even if I included the compartment, which in retrospect I perhaps should have, but I wanted to make sure I got it back.

Some diode or capacitor in there has aged, I guess, and can't handle the higher voltage? I'm using LSD batteries so they are relatively low voltage, and that's all that has been in it for years, and NiCad's before that.

But very interesting. And I guess, if I run into a wall with Nikon, a way to get more use out of it, as it's not that slow to recycle on 4. Though my guess is that whatever is failing is unlikely to just stop there as it ages more.


Linwood

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 07-Dec-13 04:38 PM
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#48. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 47


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

Okay, now that you have at least found a way to eliminate and cause the problem, you can fix it.

I worked on cameras and flashes as a design engineer for many years, and I know that if the power supply to the main board in the flash glitches at any time while the pulse length is being calculated, the flash will default to full power. This happens whether you are firing it in Manual mode or TTL.

So, I am betting that you have an intermittent connection between the 5th battery holder and the flash body, and that any physical movement of the flash can cause the connection to make/break repeatedly, which will reset the uP algorithm to default.

You may find that the flash will work properly if you are very careful not to move it at all after you turn it on and when you fire it.

If that is the problem, you can try to fix it. Locate the contacts on the flash body where the 5th battery holder slides in to make contact. Carefully reach in and bend them just slightly with needle nose pliers to make a better connection. That might permanently fix the problem.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 07-Dec-13 04:46 PM
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#49. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 48
Sat 07-Dec-13 05:32 PM by Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

I just remembered something similar that happened to me back when LSD NiMH batteries first came out.

I ran across several batteries that were not made quite right. The positive end of the batteries were not quite long enough to make good contact. I also got lots of full-power flashes for no reason. I bent the contacts in the flash to make solid connection with the batteries, and never had the problem again.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Sat 07-Dec-13 05:13 PM
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#50. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 48


Cape Coral, US
          


>If that is the problem, you can try to fix it. Locate the
>contacts on the flash body where the 5th battery holder slides
>in to make contact. Carefully reach in and bend them just
>slightly with needle nose pliers to make a better connection.
>That might permanently fix the problem.

I continue to be amazed. You are correct. Sort of.

If I wiggle it around, it will go from working to failing (i.e. firing full power). But the contacts appear to be an all or nothing thing. I cleaned them (no effect), and then I tried one by one covering them with tape to simulate a failed connection, and it simply does not work if covered, consistent with the batteries being in series.

But when I have them uncovered, if I push and pull on the 5th battery it will go from work to fail (including sometimes in the middle of a fire, e.g. if I hold the modeling light, it will buzz for a moment then first fully).

HOWEVER... as I did this repeatedly, it failed more frequently, until I could no longer make it work at all. I pulled off the 5th battery, restored the regular door -- and it is failing. It is also warm (not hot), so I wonder if this is also in some fashion related to heat.

Anyway, going to let everything thoroughly cool down and start over.

Note that it does fail with either of my two 5th battery doors, so it's not quite as simple as a broken door, and the other flash works 100% of the time with either combination of door (regular/5th/good/bad).


Linwood

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HAN47 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Sep 2010Sat 07-Dec-13 05:27 PM
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#51. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 50


FR
          

Hi Linwood,

I looked inside my SB800 and had a look at the 5th batterie holder.
To do a little test, tape it firmly to the SB800, two turns of electricians tape will do.
Don't mask anything important on the flash though.

If this is working, reach into the flash and lift the contacts that are bent to be springy. They could have lost a bit of force with use.
And use another brand of batteries also because as per Russ, I also read about these batteries being a wee bit shorter than the norm. Just test and try and remember to enjoy the journey, ha ha.

To me it looks promising, and if this is going to be the solution think of like you have a refreshed flash for your dollars.

Keep us posted, I like these kind of threads.

Ciao, Han

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 07-Dec-13 05:28 PM
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#52. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 50


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

Your failure sounds like a bad power connection inside the flash body. If you can force it to fail continuously, so Nikon can reproduce the failure, I'm pretty sure they will fix it again for free. You may still have to pay the shipping to them. Just make sure they understand that it is a power connection problem and they didn't fix it the first time.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Sun 08-Dec-13 01:04 PM
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#53. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 52


Cape Coral, US
          

>Your failure sounds like a bad power connection inside the
>flash body. If you can force it to fail continuously, so Nikon
>can reproduce the failure, I'm pretty sure they will fix it
>again for free. You may still have to pay the shipping to
>them. Just make sure they understand that it is a power
>connection problem and they didn't fix it the first time.

I've given up on reproducing the problem consistently. I experimented off and on all of yesterday and this morning. It does fail with the 4 battery door, but not often. It does work occasionally with the 5 battery case, but not often.

Its behavior can be changed by pushing on parts of the case (not just the battery door), at least I am fairly confident. But there's so much randomness to the behavior it is hard to be sure.

It does seem to get worse as the flash gets warm from use (which is fairly quick if most of the flashes are full power).

Will wait to hear from Nikon on Monday. I think what's most annoying about this is the firewall they build between repair and customers. I feel like this is the type of issue that can be solved by a 5 minute conversation. And why it's so frustrating than when they could not reproduce the problem (giving them benefit of the doubt) they didn't just pick up the phone, or send an email, rather than just throwing in new parts and declaring it fixed.


Linwood

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberWed 11-Dec-13 10:22 AM
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#54. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 53


Powder Springs, US
          

Good luck with it. It does sound like a faulty contact somewhere. At first it sounded like a contact between the body and the doors, but maybe not. The heat factor makes it sound like it might be a soldered joint. Holes open up when they get hot and maybe a crack in a soldered joint is doing that and losing contact.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Wed 11-Dec-13 12:46 PM
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#55. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 54


Cape Coral, US
          

>Good luck with it. It does sound like a faulty contact
>somewhere. At first it sounded like a contact between the body
>and the doors, but maybe not. The heat factor makes it sound
>like it might be a soldered joint. Holes open up when they get
>hot and maybe a crack in a soldered joint is doing that and
>losing contact.

I had taken it apart once hoping for something obvious, I don't think I will again, as I went over it pretty thoroughly with a magnifier (sensor cleaning kits are handy for many things).

However, so far Nikon has yet to even respond.

Linwood

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Wed 11-Dec-13 07:42 PM
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#56. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 55


Cape Coral, US
          

>However, so far Nikon has yet to even respond.

Oh my, 3 business days later they respond and ask me the date it was sent in for service.

My original note contained the service order number; are they really so incompetent they have no records of their own service from last month!?!


Linwood

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rstcso Gold Member Nikonian since 17th Oct 2013Sat 07-Dec-13 12:53 PM
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#45. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 41


Round Rock, US
          

I'm sorry to hear you're having such a lousy experience with service. I used to own an electronics' repair company and my rule was always 'write down exactly what the customer says, regardless if you think the "real" problem is something different. It's important the customer feels like you care about them'.

It sounds like your experience has been the opposite. They didn't bother to read your detailed description (listen to you) and jumped to conclusions, more likely selecting "No Flash" from the top of a drop-down menu on their intake form.

I don't have to tell you the SB-800 is a great flash and worth the effort vs cost of finding another. I'm sure they'll eventually get it right, but always a shame when you're the one getting the lousy service you read about.

Keep us posted and good luck.
Brent



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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 07-Dec-13 11:58 AM
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#40. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 37


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

Have you tried a different lens, just to rule out the possibility that your aperture could be sticking wide open. In case you may not know, the aperture is always opened wide open for focusing before being closed down to the chosen setting for the actual shot. If it sticks open, you will get massive overexposure.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Thu 09-Jan-14 05:45 PM
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#57. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 0


Cape Coral, US
          

Slightly over two months have elapsed, and I think my flash is finally fixed.

After it came back not fixed, I spent about 2-3 weeks in an infuriating conversation with Nikon via email (mostly time spent with days between their responses).

Fundamentally, they would not read what was sent -- they would ask questions that were idiotic, like "when did you send it in" while having been given a complete history verbally AND being given the serial number and old work order number.

I finally, literally, made a video showing me using the flash and it malfunctioning, and after that they finally said "send it back" and provided a label.

It does appear fixed, the charge was quite reasonable (I'll pay $128 any day to avoid $450 for a new, not-as-good SB910).

But my god is Nikon poor at customer service -- they must give their employees lobotomies before allowing them to answer email.

But once, finally, the message got through to the technicians, they appear to have fixed it (replaced power PCB).

Two months!

Linwood

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ctadin Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2008Thu 09-Jan-14 05:49 PM
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#58. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 57


St Louis, US
          

Linwood,
WOW! Good for you for not giving up, but, shame on Nikon that you had to jump through all those hoops to get your flash fixed.
Thanks for letting us know how it all turned out.

Cheryl

  

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HAN47 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Sep 2010Thu 09-Jan-14 09:08 PM
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#59. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 57


FR
          

Hi Linwood,

I was to say "Good for you" but the previous poster beat me to it.
Kudos to you for perseverance but something puzzles me.
Do it get it that they changed power pcb twice?

Happy flashing, Han

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberFri 10-Jan-14 12:54 AM
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#60. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 57


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

Well, I'm glad you finally got your flash fixed.

However, I have to say that in nearly 20 years of working with Nikon Repair, this has never happened to me. They have always called me and discussed the problems and worked with me to resolve them without the distress you encountered.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Ferguson Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Fri 10-Jan-14 01:46 AM
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#61. "RE: SB800 over-exposing grossly"
In response to Reply # 60


Cape Coral, US
          

>However, I have to say that in nearly 20 years of working with
>Nikon Repair, this has never happened to me. They have always
>called me and discussed the problems and worked with me to
>resolve them without the distress you encountered.

It was quite a surprise to me as well. Some of the emails are comical, or sad.

Here's the beginning, from me:

>The repair of my SB800 was unsuccessful. The problem still exists.

> You fixed things that were not broken (e.g. hot shoe,
> tube replacement, battery cover), but did not fix the
> reported problem at all. This is in reference to service
> order 6265189 and question 131104-000586.

> I was afraid of this, as despite a carefully worded
> problem description, the estimate I was to approve said
> "no flash". When I called in and spoke to Greg on 11/4,
> I explained that the problem had been misunderstood.
> He said "oh, we just write down anything to get it
> to the right group, we will read your letter and fix it
> right". Not very reassured I approved the estimate
> despite the clear mis-statement on it.

The incident listed gave careful details of the problem, and the service order is THEIR number. So I send this and FIVE DAYS go by and I get this response:

> Thank you for calling Nikon Tech Support regarding your
> SB800. Sorry for the inconvenience. May I ask when
> exactly did you send your product in for service?

How exactly they can't already know this.... but I said (within 30 minutes):

> The repair began by web entry, and was shipped on 10/29/2013.
> It went into parts hold, and was returned to me via UPS
> on 11/20/2013. I provided the service order number (6265189),
> so I would have thought all this information was available to you?

To which I get a relatively prompt reply:

> What exactly is wrong with your SB800? I looked at your
> repair status with the Service Order Number that you
> provided and it state that your flash did not fire?
> Is your flash still not flashing or was that not the problem?

Clearly they STILL Have not read the original problem statement.

Just in case someone can help me understand my lack of good English:

> This is really unbelievable. It appears no one has been
> reading any of the correspondence. Maybe there's some bug
> in your system losing it?
>
> Let me recap more fully:
>
> 1) I sent the flash in with a problem that it would ONLY
> fire at full power, on or off the camera. Even set at
> manual 1/128th it gave a full power fire; the modeling
> flash gives a full power burst. It is intermittent, but
> happens more often than not.
>
> 2) The estimate came back with a "does not flash" problem
> description. I immediately called Nikon to protest the
> description, and spoke to technical support, a gentleman
> named Greg. He informed me that the problem description
> I had included in writing was present, he understood,
> and not to worry about the "does not flash", he said
> "they just write that down to get it to the right department".
>
> 3) I did as was instructed and accepted the estimate
> despite the incorrect problem description.
>
>4) The flash was returned with lots of things replaced, that
> frankly I cannot imagine needed to be. Like the battery
> door -- I use the 5th battery, so the battery door was
> brand new, yet was replaced. Anyway....
>
> 5) It still, mostly, fires at full power despite the
> settings. And that is where we are today.
>
> I have found a bit more in continued experiments - the
> problem is more prevalent with the 5th battery compartment
> installed, and can be made to occur, or not, but
> applying pressure against parts of the case. I have
> tried a different 5th battery compartment without impact;
> the problem appears more about pressure (specifically
> a twisting of the case slightly at the level of the top
> of the battery door).
>
> My slightly educated guess is there's a loose connection
> or failed component in the power circuit that prevents
> the quench stage from occurring, and that stress on the
> PCB's or wiring internally can make it work, or not work,
> depending.
>
> Regardless, since the flash cannot be controlled, it is not usable.
>
> My original problem description was both in the electronic
> record of the service order, and sent on paper attached
> to the flash. The "No Flash" was a complete misinterpretation
> of both by whoever received the unit. Please look back over
> the electronic record and you can see this.

OK, long, but I think thorough.

FIVE more days go by, no response. I write back again asking "Any response".

>Hi Linwood,
>Thank you for contacting Nikon.
>
> Do you have any sample images with the Speedlight in TTL
> mode flashing at full power?
>
> Do you have any samples while shooting at 1/128?

I'm really baffled how they think images help, but I cooperate, I send them images, and I video holding it in my hand and firing on manual and modeling light to show it failing. FINALLY a couple days later they send me a UPS label.

The frustrating thing here is that I began this with a nicely worded description back at the end of October, and in December it is clear that after it has been repaired, and a new case happened, they STILL haven't read what I sent.

I'm not really frustrated that it took two tries, it was an intermittent problem. But I am VERY frustrated that both electronic and ink-on-paper problem descriptions are ignored by the people doing the intake. Probably discarded.

And apparently Nikon can't even look in their own system to see when a repair occurred -- they spend FIVE DAYS making me wait to ask that question, after giving them the service order number.

It's just infuriating. I've run customer support in I.T. for decades; I would get fired for treating my customers that way.

And frankly someone should be - Especially Greg, if he had taken the time to fix the original problem description when I called, this could have been avoided. But he was too lazy or incompetent, and convinced me to approve it with the incorrect statement. And I guess shame on me also.

But hey Nikon, if you are listening -- Greg needs some remediation.

Linwood

Comments welcomed on pictures: Http://www.captivephotons.com

  

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