Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look
EDIT: The answers in this thread might be very useful for a lot of newbies. If you think it is worthwhile, could you plz make it sticky??
I have never done flash photography before and want to buy one. I have tried to read a little bit about flash lights and I have come to the conclusion that I will go for SB800. A lot of the times, I end up taking pictures for my friends' parties which are indoors and in the evenings/nights. I sometimes get portrait requests too and had two chances to try my hand in small concerts. So I was thinking that when I'm going to spend ~$320 for SB800, why not buy one cheap slave too? Well do you think buying one of the Sunpak/Bower/Opteka flashes would be a good idea? Well I have a couple of things on my mind about it:
1) My primary use would be as a slave set up somewhere behind/sideways of the subjects.
2) I might use such "generic" flash on my point and shoot camera too which is not a Nikon.
3) I am a student and my budget is very limited. The only motivation is that if I'm spending ~$320, I might consider shelling out $400 and get a better system of lighting.
Please share your valuable advice on this issue. If you think it is a good idea then which one should I go for? I have read good reviews for the Sunpak 383 on Amazon and it fits perfectly in my budget. I guess I could max out to about $425 with shipping.
Could you also give some nice reference for first time reading on the subject? Well I tried to look for something but honestly I still don't understand what the TTL/ETTL/iTTL modes are and how do we relate the power of the flash to the aperture/iso/shutter, what do the flash specifications mean, etc. I'm hoping to get some info in the SB800 manual though.
#1. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 0
iTTL is Nikons name for their digital DSLR flash mode that is metered for correct flash exposure through the lens (TTL) by the DSLR camera. TTL is Nikon-speak now for the older Nikon film camera version of this (which is very different). eTTL is Canons version (also different).
The SB-800 is quite a fancy flash, either on the hot shoe or as a camera control wireless remote. iTTL provides automated metering of the flash, which makes flash be a point&shoot system. But this makes mixing systems impossible. The Nikon DSLR auto iTTL flash system only works with the current new iTTL Nikon flashes.
Unfortunately, the cheaper third party flashes are incompatible with Nikons fancy system (actually, they are incompatible with any digital cameras automatic flash). Also older Nikon flashes are now incompatible with the iTTL on the new DSLR cameras. That means you have to put the fancy Nikon system into manual mode (or put the other digital cameras into manual mode), to work with the other flash that cannot do more. This means you (the photographer) are responsible for creating the correct exposure - it is no longer automatic, not point&shoot in manual mode. Which means then that both flashes might as well be this other cheaper system that cannot do iTTL.
Budget is one thing, but being usable is another. This is not to say the inexpensive non-brand flashes may not be good at what they do. But they do manual flash... they do not mix with Nikons iTTL modes with the Nikon flashes.
#2. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 1
Thanks for the informative reply Wayne. Well my only concern is the budget. I will be more than happy to use the flash in manual mode. Actually that is what I was planning on doing as that is how I would learn how to take more control of the lighting. I know it will be much slower as compared to the standard "point-and-shoot" use of these things in the beginning but that is how I will learn better and more. So I am ok with manual mode.
1) Also could you please tell me some pointers to read about how to calculate the relation between flash power and ISO/shutter speed/Aperture??
2) What does 52' at ISO 100 (for example) mean??
3) Do you have some experience about these cheap flashes?? Which one would you suggest?? Sunpak/Vivitar/Bower/Opteka?? As I said I have read good reviews about Sunpak 383 but could not find much info on other brands. Just that the Vivitar flashes have some decent repo too.
4) Am I right in assuming that I could use the cheap flash on hot-shoe in almost any point-and-shoot camera??
Thanks a lot for the info.
#3. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 2
>So I am ok with manual mode.
Me too, I use Manual flash mode a lot too. It offers unlimited control that automation sort of skips over. I refer to the fixed setup studio situations where it is possible to take the time to do it, and the subject is not moving. And of course, a flash meter really helps too. But many people get glazed-over eyes when you say manual.
I do also often use iTTL on the camera hot shoe for walk-around bounce work too, so I dont have to worry with it. And sometimes two SB-800 using Nikons remote wireless system. It is all good, and it seems a shame to miss out on that, but the price is higher.
There are always some ifs and buts.. There are some "digital" optical slave triggers which know how to ignore the preflash from the digital iTTL flash. That means they could trigger in sync, but they themselves would not be metered or automatic, and so that their light will mix in unknown ways with the metered iTTL flash.
>1) Also could you please tell me some pointers to read about
>how to calculate the relation between flash power and
>2) What does 52' at ISO 100 (for example) mean??
The flash units have Guide Numbers to represent their power capability. This guide number depends on their reflector zoom, that is, what angular field width they can cover, therefore they will have a different GN for every lens zoom setting that they might zoom, like from 24mm zoom is a lower GN, and 85 mm zoom is higher GN (concentrated into a narrow beam). The power is the same, but the idea is that the power per unit area covered is different.
Such Guide numbers might refer to feet or meters, and they will say feet or meters. There are 3.05 feet per meter, so the feet value will always be 3.05x the meters value. And such published GN are always for ISO 100 (unless otherwise stated). If you use ISO 200, then multiply ISO 100 GN value by 1.414. Or for ISO 400, multiply ISO 100 value by 2.
So a number for GN 100/33 surely will specify it as 100/133 (feet/meters, ISO 100) to make it clear. Meaning, use GN 100 if computing in feet, and use GN 33 if computing in meters. Multiply either by 1.414 if using ISO 200.
GN is the simple product of aperture number times distance (flash to subject distance).
That is... if the flash (at this zoom value used) is seen to give the correct exposure at f/11 at 10 feet, then the GN = 11 x 10 = 110.
Knowing that, or from the GN chart in the manual or on the rear of the flash, if the GN is 110 and we are shooting something at 15 feet, then we know the correct aperture is GN 110 / 15 feet = f/7.3 - or thereabouts.
The GN values are never very precise, often actual will be a bit less, but still they are a fine starting point, and give a quick realization of what is possible. For example, if GN 100, outdoors at 50 feet, then expect f/2. We just know.
Shutter speed does NOT affect flash, only the ISO and aperture does.
However shutter speed does affect how much continuous ambient light comes through, like from daylight or tungsten lights, same as we always understood exposure to work.
Flash is simply much faster than the shutter speed, so it simply does not matter how much longer the shutter might hang open. The flash already finished.
So there are always two exposures to balance with flash, one for the flash itself, and one for the continuous ambient light (but about which we may or may not care, for example indoors at night, any ambient is probably insignificant). If ambient is low and insignificant, then it really does not matter what shutter speed is (so long as the shutter is open for the flash, meaning, the shutter speed setting does not exceed the cameras maximum sync speed)... the flash exposure will be the same at any shutter speed. Flash exposure depends only on aperture and ISO. But again, any continuous ambient will be affected by shutter speed. So if we using fill flash outdoors in the daylight, the ambient is of very great importance to us.
So the flash picture indoors at night, a fast shutter 1/250 may show the table lamp to appear to be dark, but a slow shutter 1/60 probably shows it was lighted. It wont contribute much though, and the overall flash exposure of the room wont matter either way if the aperture says the same.
>3) Do you have some experience about these cheap flashes??
>Which one would you suggest?? Sunpak/Vivitar/Bower/Opteka?? As
>I said I have read good reviews about Sunpak 383 but could not
>find much info on other brands. Just that the Vivitar flashes
>have some decent repo too.
No, sorry, not in many years. Other than the iTTL incompatibility, the one thing I do know is that the new Vivitar 285HV is created to have a low and safe sync voltage (see next section). I know no more about it though, I do not know if it is good like the early ones or not.
>4) Am I right in assuming that I could use the cheap flash on
>hot-shoe in almost any point-and-shoot camera??
Yes, but... two things... the point&shoot must have a manual mode, but probably does if it has a hot shoe.
And there is an issue about using old manual flash units with digital cameara. The flash sync trigger from the flash puts a certain amount of voltage on the camera hot shoe contact or on the PC cord contacts. Todays digital cameras want that voltage to be low, like 5 or 6 volts. Modern flash units are low, or I suppose all are now. Nikon flashes have been low sync voltage for 20 years. Old flash units, for one example, like a 20 year old Vivitar 283 might be up near 200V. The old days were like that (not digital). Nikon DSLR are rated for up to 250V -IF- the polarity is not reversed. Some Canon DSLR models say 250V too, but a few say no more than 6V.
Here is a site that claims to report the sync voltage value for many old flashes: http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html
Here is one that tells how to measure it with a simple DC Voltmeter.
Hope that helps.
#4. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 3
Thanks again for the very informative reply Wayne. You cleared a lot of confusion about some concepts. Thanks a ton for all this useful information. Well one confusion still remains and that is: "Which cheap option to go for?" As you said you have not had a lot of experience with this, so I guess I would have to wait for someone else to reply for this question.
There are a lot of options out there. B&H does have some cheap flashes dedicated for Nikon iTTL too. But my idea is to buy a generic one so that I can use it with my point and shoot too. Here are three options I found. I'm sure there are more but I was not sure. Any help in making a decision will be greatly appreciated.
Sunpak Super 383
Thanks a lot,
#5. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 0
No reply for my last post Well I tried to do some search and also posted on strobist.com group on flickr. I gathered the impression that Sunpak is a pretty decent and well used brand. So I have decided to go for Sunpak as my second strobe. I also checked the trigger voltages on botzilla and it looks OK to use Sunpak 383/433 on hot-shoe on Nikon gear (I hope I've deciphered all the jargon the right way). Well my concern is:
1) 383 is a generic flash but it does not have TTL detection. Does that mean I will have to buy more accesories to trigger it in slave mode? I guess I will have to set it manually in slave mode.
2) 433 has TTL detection so I think it eliminates the above problems. But I will have to chose the mount to be Nikon. In that case will I be able to use it with other camera hot-shoes too?? If I can then I would go for this one only as it is only $10 more than the 383.
I tried to look for some kind of flash compatibility chart but could not locate one. I've learned a little about flashes through the reading I've done in the past 2-3 days but I think it is not sufficient enough to make a decision. Any help in clarifying the confusion will be greatly appreciated.
#6. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 5
I have used combinations of Nikon built-in flash, sb800 in SU-4 mode, a 283 and Metz as optically triggered slaves. Given enough time (to correct for lighting output, find exposure, fiddle with reflectors, etc.) I have gotten reasonably decent flash lighting.
OR, put the older legacy units away, set-up a CLS system using multiple SB's,(and Fong Lightshperes) and get almost perfect results from the first exposure. The Nikon iTTL works very well. I guess it's sorta a time versus money trade-off.
#7. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 5
My concern is that you are trying to do the job the cheapest and hardest possible way, but without yet having the knowledge to accomplish that very difficult feat (of making the wrong gear work).
I dont know about these specific flashes, but they are flashes, so...
>is a generic flash but it does not have TTL detection. Does
>that mean I will have to buy more accesories to trigger it in
>slave mode? I guess I will have to set it manually in slave
Very few camera flashes have a built-in slave mode, virtually none. SB-800 is one that does (and virtually all studio lights do). Otherwise, you can (usually) use a direct sync cord, or you can add an accessory for optical slave trigger or a radio slave trigger. (SB-600 is particularly fussy about those however).
>has TTL detection so I think it eliminates the above problems.
>But I will have to chose the mount to be Nikon. In that case
>will I be able to use it with other camera hot-shoes too?? If
>I can then I would go for this one only as it is only $10 more
>than the 383.
It is not the hot shoe mount that is Nikon, it is the electronics, and the mode of operation. It has a hot shoe and will physically fit the hot shoe on any camera. However the specs on this one says "Manual Mode: NO", so it sounds like Nikon iTTL is its only available mode, and that other cameras will be shut out. I dont really know, but I would try to understand that well before purchase.
>I tried to look for some kind of flash compatibility chart but
>could not locate one. I've learned a little about flashes
>through the reading I've done in the past 2-3 days but I think
>it is not sufficient enough to make a decision. Any help in
>clarifying the confusion will be greatly appreciated.
Flash Compatibility Chart:
Manual flashes (flashes with manual mode):
The flash should have a manual mode and the camera should have a manual mode. There are several configurations of sync cord connector, this varies, but only one style will fit it. Or if you want slave operation, you need a slave trigger accessory attachment that can attach to that flash, either hot shoe or the sync cord connector (except the SB-800 has one optical slave trigger built-in). The SB-600 has Manual mode, but it has no sync connector to trigger it, only the hot shoe.
iTTL: Dunno, you are sort of in never never land seeking third party gear for the proprietary Nikon system. The compatible flashes for the Nikon DSLR are the SB-800 and SB-600. There are some 3rd party flashes offering iTTL too, for about $100 cheaper, but are very new, and we dont hear much about them, and the results are not in yet.
iTTL is incompatible with manual mode flashes, or with flashes in manual mode, and are incompatible with optical slave triggers for manual mode. Because, iTTL flash (all digital camera auto flash) fires a preflash before shutter is open, which the camera meters, and then sets the power level of the flash to be correct exposure, and then opens shutter and triggers the flash. Technically, all auto digital camera flash fires this preflash... iTTL is just Nikons name for their system. But that is how the system works. Digital camera flash is an all new ball game from film camera flash.
So, that digital preflash will trigger any manual optical slave before the shutter is open, so that it can not contribute (it is finished before the shutter opens), it only messes up the metering for the iTTL gear. So.. all flashes and the camera must be in manual mode to use manual flashes. iTTL mode is not compatible with manual mode flash slaves.
iTTL requires a iTTL compatible flash. That is the SB-800 or SB-600, or maybe these new 3rd party trying to get into the game. Not much is known yet about them.
Plus, iTTL is a one flash system, for a flash connected to the hot shoe (for the communication from the camera). It is NOT a multiple flash system, and it is NOT a remote system and it is NOT a slave system. It is pretty much a Nikon system, for auto flash on the hot shoe.
However, Nikon does ALSO have another multiple flash wireless remote system using iTTL metering, also using the Commander in the camera internal flash, or the SU-800 commander, or the SB-800 can be a commander. The flash units must be a SB-800 or SB-600 (NOT a SB-400 for example). There are a couple of 3rd party tying to get into this too, but apparently results are poor so far, they do not actually claim it works. This is an awesome system, an automatic remote wireless multiple flash system. Anything less is like buying a horse to pull your new Ferrari.
There are some new 3rd party radio triggers coming that are said to be Nikon Remote Wireless compatible. Nothing is known yet about how well they work.
Good luck with this very difficult task. Maybe some of these unknown 3rd party options might be made to work, but their choice will be quite difficult without experience and compete understanding. The only simple solution will be manual mode, all flashes and the camera in manual mode, but then you must set the correct exposure yourself.
Two SB-600 will cost $370 at B&H for two of them (if you want two). There is MUCH to be said for that plan, it will be awesome, for the automatic point&shoot multiple flash Nikon remote wireless system, for use with the commander in the D80, D200, D300 cameras. Or for hot shoe mounted iTTL flash for walk-around use. But for manual mode, not so much with the SB-600.
But (the only likely problem) - if the camera is a D40 or D50, then it does not have commander capability, so you also need the $250 SU-800 commander for remote wireless multiple flash instead.
And if you might ultimately want to use manual flash for some jobs, the SB-600 is inadequate, has no means to trigger it, so you need SB-800 instead for manual uses (like studio work).
The SB-800 has a bit more power, and many more features, but the SB-600 is great for one camera hot shoe iTTL, or for the Nikon Remote Wirless multiple flash system.
#8. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 7
Wayne, wow! you nicely covered a lot of ground.I think your contribution has made this a very useful thread.
I like your sb600 / sb800 comparo. I had two 600's for awhile, eventually I went with 800's. But not for the 800's extra power: For its versatility when used in mixed systems. I do think the cls is a Nikon jewel, yet, I feel its a bit tarnished due to a limited line-of-sight communication. The 600's seemed to me even more particular about picking-up on the IR signals. My experience only.
Sure hope someone posts experience with one of the new "cls compatible" units.
#9. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 7
Thanks a ton for such a detailed and nice reply Wayne!! Well I tried searching on the internet a lot and posted my questions in a lot of other forums too but could not find such info anywhere.
I got a bit frustrated and ordered the SB800+Sunpak433 last night and it has already been shipped from B&H. And I missed the info that 433 does not have a manual mode . I hope I did not make a huge mistake by buying the 433 (well $80 matters a lot to me. I'll not be able to buy anything or go anywhere for the next couple of months because of this $440 purchase of flashes+batteries).
I guess I will learn more about it once I get the flashes+manuals in hand. I am also trying to keep an eye on ebay items. But if you think I could utilize the $80 for the 433 in a better way by buying a fully manual flash then I will probably go ahead and exchange it without opening for the 383. It will be a couple of dollars more but if you think it's worth it, then I will go ahead and do it. I might even go to NYC the coming weekend and might save some buck on the shipping.
Edit: If I understand your explanation right, I guess I will still have to find some kind of triggers or cables to use any of 383/433 in the slave mode. right??
Please let me know what you think.
Thanks a lot,
PS: Once I know a little more about flashes. I will compile all the info that you gave in here with a little newbie talk and make a web page out of it so that other beginners don't have to go through all this (well I consider myself very good at googling things but this time I failed real bad. I'm glad I'm a part of Nikonians). How do we ask the moderators to make this thread sticky?? This will answer a lot of newbie questions.
#10. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 9
>I got a bit frustrated and ordered the SB800+Sunpak433 last
>night and it has already been shipped from B&H. And I
>missed the info that 433 does not have a manual mode
> . I hope I did not make a huge mistake by buying the 433
>(well $80 matters a lot to me. I'll not be able to buy
>anything or go anywhere for the next couple of months because
>of this $440 purchase of flashes+batteries).
Ouch Buying the SB-800 is great. I have two of them, and they are great. It will do absolutely anything that ever comes up. All the fancy automated stuff, plus it has a PC sync cord connector for manual mode, and it has the built in SU-4 mode which is a great optical slave trigger, built-in. Has many many features. Pricey, but great.
But with the SB-800 being the case, then my opinion is that the 433 is wasted money. No way to use it.
The 433 iTTL presumably works by itself in the hot shoe, but that is the only way it can be used. And if you have the SB-800, you might as well use it for that. Cannot use two flashes in the hot shoe.
The 433 cannot do Nikons fancy remote wireless system with the SB-800. I do not know what camera model you have, whether it has a commander menu or not (D40 and D50 do not), which is a huge factor in any such discussion. Or the SB-800 can be a commander itself, but it must be connected to the hot shoe to do it, which is not usually where you want it.
And the 433 says it has no manual mode, so seemingly it cannot be used with the SB-800 in manual mode.
Frankly, if money is the issue, you might consider sending both back. Instead, two SB-600 seems about the same money as the SB-800 and 433, and will do all the fancy stuff great. True multiple remote wireless automatic flash. Or one of each works fine too. The SB-600 is not a good choice for using manual mode (nor is the 433), but all else is definitely great about the SB-600.
Assuming you have D80, D200, or D300, you will be absolutely thrilled with the SB-600 (or SB-800) using the Nikon remote wireless system.
Here is how it works.
You set both Nikon flash units to their REMOTE mode. You set one to be Group A and you set one to be Group B. Then you set them out there around the subject, where ever you think best. They can be in umbrellas, or bounced on the ceiling, or any way you want it. Automatic metering still works.
Then on the commander (D80, D200, D300 internal flash menu) or the SB-800 menu, or the SU-800 menu, you set both Group A and Group B to be TTL mode, so that the camera meters them. You have the ability to set compensation too, like for one the flashes to be weaker, maybe 1 stop less powerful, if desired, like for fill ratio on portraits.
Then when you press the shutter, the automation begins (extremely fast, you hardly notice). The camera fires Group A preflash and meters it. It fires Group B preflash and meters it. It meters and sets the flash power level of each group so that the two give equal and correct exposures at the subject, regardless of the individual flash distance or power capability (assuming the flash has sufficient power for the situation you set up, normally not any issue). If you have programmed a compensation for one of them, it also takes that into account. Then the shutter fires all the flashes and you have a great picture. If shadows are not exactly like you want it, then compensate one group a bit and try again. This is pretty much point&shoot flash, and it sure beats manual mode for any type of dynamic or changing situation. Works in a fixed studio situation too, but manual mode (being manual) can still have greater control advantages there.
There is one issue that the preflash often causes the subject to blink, so you get pictures of the blink. This is also true of hot shoe iTTL too. But the camera has a FV Lock option (in camera user manual), to separate these actions, you meter with one button ahead of time, the subject blinks, no problem. And then you press shutter button for the picture, which does not meter it again (until you decide something changed and exposure needs to be updated). In a fixed situation, you may only meter one time for the session.
Limitations: Only two groups available in the camera commander menu, but the SU-800 and SB-800 commanders control three groups. You can have many flashes in one group, but they all are metered as one. Optical triggering (which this is) has problems working out in the bright daylight. And the D40 and D50 cameras do not have commander mode in them.
What camera do you have? And for example, what is the way you will likely use the flashes? Studio portraits, basket ball games, flower closeups, what?
EDIT: and I may have confused it... The SB-600 does have manual mode from its hot shoe, so it will work in other brand point&shoot cameras which have hot shoe and manual mode. It is just when not on the camera hot shoe that its manual mode becomes lacking.
#12. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 10
>But with the SB-800 being the case, then my opinion is that
>the 433 is wasted money. No way to use it.
>The 433 iTTL presumably works by itself in the hot shoe, but
>that is the only way it can be used. And if you have the
>SB-800, you might as well use it for that. Cannot use two
>flashes in the hot shoe.
Q. 1) If I understand your explanations right, I will have to buy triggers for anything other than SB 800. ?? If yes, can't I just use 433 the same way? Or do you think 383 which does not have a TTL but a manual mode will be a better choice? btw 383 does come with a PC cord.
>The 433 cannot do Nikons fancy remote wireless system with
>the SB-800. I do not know what camera model you have,
I have a D80. So I guess I can use the on camera flash in the commander mode but the previous question (Q. 1) still remains, i.e. can't I just use it remotely in the auto mode?
>And the 433 says it has no manual mode, so seemingly it cannot
>be used with the SB-800 in manual mode.
>Frankly, if money is the issue, you might consider sending
>both back. Instead, two SB-600 seems about the same money as
>the SB-800 and 433, and will do all the fancy stuff great.
>True multiple remote wireless automatic flash. Or one of each
>works fine too. The SB-600 is not a good choice for using
>manual mode (nor is the 433), but all else is definitely great
>about the SB-600.
I guess if SB 800 is a better choice and is something people go for in the long run, I would like to keep my money on SB800 and look for another possible companion.
>What camera do you have? And for example, what is the way you
>will likely use the flashes? Studio portraits, basket ball
>games, flower closeups, what?
Well almost all the situations. I am mostly interested in nature and cultures but being a beginner, I'm trying to learn almost all the fields. I am sure going to do portraits of my friends (even though all I have is a D80+some cheap lenses) and some still life closeups for practice.
Ok one last repetition of my big question in a little different way. How do I know that a flash can be used as a slave as well as on the hot-shoe?
Which specifications do I look at?
How do I find out the accessories needed??
If you were a poor grad student like me and had a budget of less than $100 for the second flash which one would you go for?
I'm sorry if I'm bothering with a lot of repetitive questions.
#13. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 12
>Q. 1) If I understand your explanations right, I will have to
>buy triggers for anything other than SB 800. ?? If yes, can't
>I just use 433 the same way? Or do you think 383 which does
>not have a TTL but a manual mode will be a better choice? btw
>383 does come with a PC cord.
Such slave "triggers" only work in manual flash mode. The 433 says it does not have a manual mode (specs on B&H page).
I worry that the modes are not clear... I am sorry I am not able to make the big picture clear. Forgive me, but to be sure you get it, I strongly suggest you play with your D80 internal flash for a test, this way. Custom Setup menu 22, D80 page 95, Built-in Flash. There you can select TTL or Manual or Commander mode there. This is for the internal flash, when the flash door is open.
It is surely now already in TTL mode, which is like automatic Point&shoot flash, in that it simply just works automatically by itself. Probably use camera mode A (aperture) mode, and pick a lens aperture, maybe f/5.6, then open flash door, and in TTL mode, take a couple of indoor flash pictures with it, of anything - of your desk or the door or some guy in the hall, or anything, with the flash. See, it just works, right? Automatic, like any point&shoot flash camera. It still works if you instead set f/4 or f/8 - The TTL automation meters the flash and sets the flash power to be right power level to give the right exposure for the aperture you select. This automation is very convenient.
Now change the flash mode menu there to Manual mode. Then it has a submenu to select flash power level to be used, like perhaps 1/2 power level. Take same pictures with the internal flash. See? Not so easy. I worry that maybe you have not seen this before. Do you know what to do now to get the picture? I worry that maybe you have not realized what Manual mode is, or what you would do with it or how you would use it. Nothing is automatic now, you are going to have to set the exposure yourself. You set power level yourself. You set lens aperture. Both in such a way to balance to give the right picture exposure. If you had a handheld flash meter, it is very easy. Otherwise, we experiment with trial and error pictures, probably by watching the exposure result and histogram while we try different settings until we get it right. This will be different in every frame of something different.
Or, manual Guide Number is on D80 page 143, GN 42 ISO 100, which implies at full power level. This means that if subject distance is 10 feet, then GN 42 / 10 feet = f/4.2 for a starting point. The internal flash is not a strong flash. Take a few manual pictures of different things in Manual mode to be sure the concept is clear.
I would feel much more at ease if I was sure that you understood that there is this difference in modes. I would like to hear you report back, "no problem, I understand all of that, dont worry your little head, I've got it". Or it could be a shock, and the questions suggest you may not have seen this manual flash mode thing before, and I worry that the right idea may not be coming across.
The internal flash in TTL mode is like the external flash iTTL mode on the hot shoe, working on auto pilot. Same thing, full automatic flash exposure, pretty much same as any point&shoot camera works. Just more power and you have tilt for bounce with the external flash.
But manual is manual, and it aint like that. Nothing is done automatically in manual mode.
Dont forget to reset the internal flash mode back to TTL for next time.
So yes, you could get a flash that does Manual mode. SB-800 is one that does. It already has its optical trigger built-in, which is named SU-4 mode, and it is manual flash mode. Put it in SU-4 mode, set its power level, perhaps to 1/2 power, and set it out there pointing where you want. When it sees another manual flash fire, it will trigger in sync, at the specified power level you set. It is up to you to make that be right.
Yes, you can add optical slaves to other flash units which are in manual mode, and they should work the same, in manual mode.
Or other modes:
You could put a iTTL flash on the hot shoe, in iTTL mode, and it will work like the internal flash works in TTL mode, automatically. This is one flash in the hot shoe.
Or - the biggie - really really big - you could use a couple of SB-800 or SB-600 (or one of each), and set them to Remote mode and set them out there (one in Group A and one in Group B). You set the D80 internal flash to Commander mode (with submenu on page 96, for TTL mode). This makes the two remotes work as wireless remotes in TTL mode, automatically. This is Nikons system to do this. And this is astonishing stuff. Like the automatic internal flash, but with more powerful external flashes you can position better, like in umbrellas or bounce. An automatic wireless remote multiple flash system. It is simply awesome.
>I have a D80. So I guess I can use the on camera flash in the
>commander mode but the previous question (Q. 1) still remains,
>i.e. can't I just use it remotely in the auto mode?
Slave triggers are manual mode. Optical triggers, or radio triggers,or PC sync cords, all are manual mode only. Period. Sorry, but it is so. You can use any flash (3rd party or not) that will do manual mode and can physically connect the slave device. The D80 also must be set to Manual mode. The camera exposure mode can be set to A, P, S, or M mode, and by Manual, I mean M, where you set aperture and shutter speed.
Great on the D80, then you are home free with a commander. That was the main worry here. So to work wirelessly and remotely and automatically (not in manual mode) the Nikon system in the D80 requires a Commander for control (for example, the D80 internal flash commander), and requires the SB-600 or SB-800 model to be the remotes.
Period. This is just how life is. This is the Nikon system. (many brands have no system). We either pay the price, or we forget about it.
Summary... There are really only three main choices:
1. You can use the Nikon Commander system for wireless remote multiple automatic flashes. This needs SB-600 or SB-800 and the D80 commander.
Recommended, it is awesome, you will love it, but it is not inexpensive. However you already have the D80 Commander and one SB-80, so what is to debate? You can try it with the one SB-800, it will work fine, but two flashes do add a lot, the system is designed for two, to fill the shadows, to evenly light the scene, to smooth the picture.
For portraits, you can use only the one flash, and a largish white foam board from the craft store for a reflector. See tips here:
But also putting the flash in an umbrella will really soften the light.
Here is a writeup about how to setup that Nikon CLS system.
This is for the D200, but the D80 is essentially the same, wont be any issue.
You can get a kit of two umbrellas and two light stands to hold them and the flashes for maybe $135, which will give you very soft light for awesome portraits with this two Nikon flash system. Totally first class all the way. Can use the umbrellas for anything else too, the shadows just dissolve away. It is a different world.
2. Or (short of that - the other choices) you can add one flash capable of iTTL mode, and put one of them in the hot shoe for walk-around flash, which works much like the internal flash, but more powerful and it will bounce from ceilng. This is very common use.
3. Or you can buy inexpensive flashes that have manual mode, and use manual mode slave triggers (or manual radio triggers, or manual sync cords) and put the camera exposure mode in Manual, and it can work in manual mode.
>I guess if SB 800 is a better choice and is something people
>go for in the long run, I would like to keep my money on SB800
>and look for another possible companion.
If you want two remote flashes used with the D80 Commander (in the way the Nikon cameras do things today), it can be two SB-800, two SB-600, or one of each.. does not really matter. The SB-800 is a bit more powerful, and it has many more features, but the SB-600 is also good for usage choices 1 and 2 above.
>Well almost all the situations. I am mostly interested in
>nature and cultures but being a beginner, I'm trying to learn
>almost all the fields. I am sure going to do portraits of my
>friends (even though all I have is a D80+some cheap lenses)
>and some still life closeups for practice.
The Nikon CLS wireless remote multiple flash system will be great. You will be thrilled with it, with the ease of your results.
The point I am trying to make about it is that it is automatic point&shoot flash like the point&shoot camera, or like the internal flash, but with wireless remote multiple flashes.
>Ok one last repetition of my big question in a little
>different way. How do I know that a flash can be used as a
>slave as well as on the hot-shoe?
>Which specifications do I look at?
For the three useage choices above,
1. For Nikons wireless remote multiple flash, it should say it is a SB-800 or SB-600.
2. For hot shoe iTTL mode, it should say it does iTTL mode.
3. In manual mode, it should say it does manual mode.
>How do I find out the accessories needed??
Something there (optical probably, or radio) that will fit the flash, i.e., the flash foot, or the flash sync connector. Note that EVERYTHING there is for manual operation.
>If you were a poor grad student like me and had a budget of
>less than $100 for the second flash which one would you go
For a $100 second flash, it only allows a flash that can work in manual mode, and all else has to be in manual mode to match it, but that ignores all the benefit your D80 and SB-800 could otherwise offer.
But for $180, you could add a SB-600 for the second flash (or return and get two of them), and you will be awed.
One tiny issue of having both models is that their menus are different, which is a bit confusing. See the Nikonions CLS link above about the menus.
But, if you simply always leave the SB-600 in Remote mode (and always use the SB-800 instead on the hot shoe for other types of work), that confusion is unseen, and largely goes away.
#14. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 13
As Wayne mentioned, the D80's FV lock, in conjunction with a sb600/800 flash, is really cool, allowing freedom to move around while shooting quickly w/o preflash.
One other aspect of the FV function is that you can use it to trigger an optical strobe. e.g., in addition to the SB's, I sometimes use a Metz or 283 (or both) for extra fill light. All are triggered by FV lock function: The SB's are metered, fired and controlled. The optical strobes are also metered, but canNOT be controlled. These 'manual' strobes trigger on the initial flash -and some even stop firing when the "main" strobe (i.e.,SB- or built-in flash)stops- but the camera has no way to control their output. Thus, using this method you wind-up taking lots of test shots to get the power and look you want. Also, in this scenario, I try to block the extra strobes flash behind a curtain, or, in another room, etc., because it's easy to have too much light.
One thing I have found, when using the D80's built-in as commander (in a system with more than one sb600/800), is I usually have to increase the bulit-in's power output to get the dispersion. A system that works well for me is a sb600, on the camera as master, with two sb800 as remotes. I like this set-up because the 600 has a smaller footprint and quicker handling than the 800's, yet, has the power to throw the light around.
#15. "A weired experience" | In response to Reply # 13
Sorry guys I was stuck up with my thesis proposal. Trust me! It's not a pleasant experience Well now I'm done with it and passed it.
Wayne thanks for the nice explanation. I returned the Sunpak 433 and ordered the Sunpak 383 instead. I will buy some triggers for it too.
Well the idea of manual mode was certainly known to me but I had never tried it. I did try it after getting the SB800 and the it is slowly sinking in to me. I went through something weired over the weekend.
I was in the local mall here. I went to the Ritz camera shop in an anticipation of getting some info from the experienced salesmen there. I still had not initiated the return process with B&H so I thought I might even end up buying flash from there itself. I went to the salesman and told him that I wanted a cheap flash to use with my SB800. He told me that I can "only use Nikon flashes remotely". I had some different impression. I said some people told me that I can use cheap flashes like Sunpak383 with some optical triggers.
He said if I try to use such a system, the remote flash would fire during the pre-flashes and I can not use any other flash with the Nikon system. I got a little confused and tried to ask in more detail that what if I do not use the TTL and just use everything in fully manual mode. Or in a fixed setup I could use the FV lock to prevent the pre-flahses during the shoot.
As I was trying to tell him what people told me to clarify if I understood things right, he practically snatched the flash unit I was looking at and said "Well you know much more than I do. I've only been doing it for 10 years. Have a good day!!" I was shocked and just walked out of the store.
Was I wrong in trying to clarify whether I understood things right? I went there expecting to discuss something with some experienced person and maybe get to know a little more but the salesman somehow got offended. I did not have any intention of showing off (I don't even know enough to explain what I know to others let alone show off). I guess maybe my way of describing my understanding was wrong, or maybe I did something else wrong. But I did feel bad as I did not have any wrong intentions. I was just trying to make sure that I understand things right and maybe learn something new too.
Do I have the right understanding of things? Or was I making a fool of myself trying to clarify things that I learned during my online search?
P.S. Could someone please tell me the names of the triggers that you use for remote slaves? That might help me in searching for the right triggers.
#16. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 0
Wayne is giving you excellent advice. Trying to mix a Nikon SB800 with other speedlight systems gives up most of the superior functionality of the Nikon CLS technology. If you really want to get into the world of wireless remote speedlights, purchase the SB800 as the on-camera Master/Commander (Nikon uses both terms in various literature) and one or more SB600 speedlights for use as remotes. Entire new worlds will open up for you.
HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
(My herd of SB800 speedlights currently numbers an even dozen, with perhaps a few more on the way for the really spectacular night shots! I would not dream of trying to mix them with other brands.)
Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination
#17. "RE: A weired experience" | In response to Reply # 15
The salesman was correct if you have your triggering camera flash in TTL mode. Automatic flash on digital cameras do use preflash, which do trigger manual optical slaves. Screws things up big time.
You are correct if you have your triggering camera flash in Manual flash mode (to suppress preflash). So that nothing is in auto TTL mode.
That is the only good answer, but you could also use FV Lock with TTL flash, for which the first metering preflash (trying to meter) would trigger the manual slaves, and then the subsequent shutter trigger would work (would trigger them again, but without preflash again, assuming given time to recycle first). That is a pretty huge kludge however, which makes little sense. Why would you consider trying to use TTL flash with manual flashes that cannot do it? If using manual flashes, then just put everything in manual mode as it ought to be.
Optical and Radio triggers at B&H:
#18. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 16
I'm with HBB, although my herd of SB's is just three.
Still, thanks to the instant feedback you get with dSLR's, in situations where the SB's CLS lacks range, I have gotten the desired result (or close) using combinations of manual & SU-4-type flash. The operative word here is time. As in "If you have enough.."
#19. "Respect........" | In response to Reply # 10
Wayne, I can't thank you enough for your posts. I've been thinking about buy a Nikon which has a built-in commander so I can experiment with off camera flash. I even posted the question an hour ago. I'm a new-be to the strobist thing and love what it can do. You've just answered so many questions I can't thank you enough. I takes time and effort to compose and answer people questions in detail and in laymans terms. so thank you very much.
Please embed them in someone.... They are the 10 commandments of the strobist world.
Respect Wayne and thanx again.
Is any of your work on the web, I'd love to see it!!!!
#20. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 0
I echo the thanks and gratitude of michealsutton555.
I, too, am beginning my strobist journey and with your in-depth, articulate and very understandable explanations you have greatly improved my education and positively influenced my decisions for flash purchases.
I was approaching this adventure much like tulasi- trying to put together a system on the cheap w/ odds and ends of used flashes, work-arounds and compromises (no offense intended tulasi).
I will have to wait a little longer to save for the proper Nikon strobes but there are plenty of other photo and lighting projects I can tackle in the meantime.
Many, many thanks for sharing your knowledge. Nikonians is the greatest.
#21. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 20
Just tripped over this discussion...
With the Nikon DX50 I often use a White Lightning strobe into an umbrella for side fill or main light...
The strobe has a flash detector built in - or I could use a strobe detector...
Covering/shielding the camera flash with white paper attenuates the preflash enough that the strobe does not fire until the camera flash fires...
By juggling the strobe power level you can get a good balance between camera flash and strobe fill light...
Better yet, is to put the DX50 on manual shutter speed and F-stop... The F-stop controls the strobe exposure on the main subject and the shutter speed controls ambient / background level... By going to 1/500 you can make the background dark/black... By going slower you can progressively lighten the background ambient light...
By using a paper reflector in front of the camera flash you can shield the main subject and have only side lighting from the strobe... Or any combination in between...
#22. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 21
#23. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 21
#24. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 23
I do not know if this is the very best spot for this Q, but I have a D40X and have tried to do macro with it. I have a supplementary flash for it which does work as a slave, but so far in order to make it go off, the onboard flash must be engaged, which I do not want to go off. Every setting on the flash and in the camera I have found so far will not stop the native, built-in flash on the D40X from going off, ruining the shots.
Is this something that is even possible?
Thanks so much.
#25. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 24
Well you can try to block it with something. maybe a thick cardboard, maybe some translucent plastic shot glass to diffuse it or if you have a diffuser, or try a pc cable to connect the remote flash. just some naive suggestions. maybe some seasoned members could give some better suggestions.
let us know if you find out some better way and do share your macros.
#26. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 0
You've had a lot of good advice here. You're giving up a lot if you go outside the Nikon CLS system. If you're on a budget, I would go with the two SB-600 route, That's what I did. Your D80 will trigger both just fine in either the iTTL or manual mode. The SB-800 does have a bit of an edge over the SB-600 but not worth the price if you're on a budget. There's nothing the SB-800 can do that the SB-600 can't do except trigger the remotes and your D80 will do that just fine.
I have two SB-600 and actually use a SU-800 (sorry to add any more confusion) to trigger them. I use this because it uses IR instead of light beams to direct the remotes, its menu is very simple and avoids using the camera's menus and it's lighter on the camera than a SB-800.
#27. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 26
This might be a little off topic as far as "inexpensive" solutions go but I have done a little mixing of systems with some good luck. I have the Strobist type setup as well as 3 SB800's. I invested in 5 pocket wizards, 2 SB80DX's and 2 SB28's when I shot the D1X. This is a pre CLS body and to use multiple flashes I either needed a lot of PC cables (yuk) or wireless remotes. The Strobist website was a godsend. When we changed over to the D3/D300 bodies I jumped at the SB800 and CLS. I have started using pocket wizard's and a couple SB80DX units to highlight or accent background features. I plug in a PW into the commanding SB800's PC terminal and let it trigger the remote 80DX units in manual mode. The 3 800's are in CLS mode and work perfectly. The pre-flash does nothing to the manual flashes. Some uses for this setup have been accenting the large wall mounted cross behind the alter in weddings, or lighting stained glass from the outside during evening weddings. With the PW mounted at the camera the remotes can be turned off or on depending on the situation. Also, the PW's come in handy for those times the CLS remotes are a little (or a lot) our of the commanders range
Just a little food for creative thought.
#28. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 27
I have an SB600 and a SB24. Will be buying a SB800 shortly. I have a D80. Wanted to do portraits with one to three people. I realize I can fire the 800 and the 600 in iTTl. But will the SB24 also fire? Or would I need to be in manual to fire all three?
Thanks Bob W.
#29. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 24
you should in your cameras custom settings menu have a selection that says something to the affect of bracketing/flash. in that menu you will see flash control for built in flash. inside that menu you should see commander mode. inside that menu you should see built in flash, group a, group b. go to built in flash and in the mode box use your multi selector nob to move that to -- that will turn the flash output on the onboard off and it will just fire the preflash.
#30. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 28
You could use the CLS TTL system for the SB-600/SB-800 and fire the SB-24 with a optical slave trigger like a SU-8 or a WEIN peanut trigger or use a PC cord. The SB-24 would need to be set manually but a still workable solution. You might find it easier to use a reflector instead of the SB-24 to maintain TTL exposure control.
#31. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 30
#32. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 31
So as a newbie to the Nikonians I've been trying to catch up with how other shooters are using the Nikon CLS system. I ve spent all weekend reading every thread that relates to my field of photography. I let go of my studio lighting a few years ago when I moved to California from Oregon. Here I don't have much call for it. The north state is a studio to itself. But now a lot of my brides from the last couple of years are having babies and I found myself doing infant and maternity shoots. I've been using natural light when I can but have found the CLS to be fantastic as a mobile studio. BUT after reading through this thread it seems the question that hasn't been answered or I missed it is.....Some of us still have older flash units that we've never let go of. I've got a DX50, a Vivitar 285, and a bulb style slave with the screw on filters (I think it's Morris super slave). It seems a shame that they can't be used at least for fills or highlights or something. Or do we just set them free to rome garages and attics and storage units.
#33. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 32
I remembered that my old SB-50DX has a IR filter that you clip onto the front to cover the flash in the commander mode. I never used it before. I took this filter and attached it to my SB800 and mounted it on the camera in the commander mode set to the Master RPT mode. The IR filter suppressed the pre-flash and allowed my Achiver 285 with a slave photo cell adapter and my Light Bulb slave to fire perfectly as well as the SB-50DX in slave mode.
The best solution if money isn't an issue is to get the SU-800. But you can still get some use from your old flashes...even with the Nikon CLS system.
#34. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 0
A couple of folks have mentioned Strobist.com. There's a ton of information available there and in the Lighting 101 and Lighting 102 archives on that site.
#36. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 7
#37. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 12
#38. "RE: Slave with SB800" | In response to Reply # 7
Another newcomer finds this thread!
Ok, I am not a complete newbie -- I have been an amateur from the N8080 days (D200 and SB800 now), but am getting much more serious about off camera flash photography lately (I have shot a few events for friends bouncing flash off walls and such, and have experimented with remote flash in all modes recently). I have been reading this thread and want to thank all the contributors for the excellent description. I haven't found as clear a description in my last 3 weeks of reading - several hours a day. I am glad I came to join Nikonians!
#39. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 0
I have two SB400s and two SB600s and have no idea what life would be like without a slave. Having all SBs just adds to the versatility.
Beginners will need to fool around a little with a slave if its their first one but digital photos are "free" and practice, practice, and practice is what's needed in an environment like you think you'll be using the slave.
I love shooting kids' birthday parties and portraits using three of my SBs and keep the extra one in reserve. Acquired over time they haven't broken the budget.
Just remember to practice, practice, and practice.
#40. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 39
Thanks very much for the schooling on flashes. I have an SB-23 that I've been hoping to be able to use with my D7000, but haven't been able to achieve clarity on capabilities. This thread will certainly help me with that, and provide bunches of fun experiment time, all as I drool over higher end SB units.
Take care, ..../Dan
#41. "RE: Combining CLS with Pocket Wizards" | In response to Reply # 27
I am not sure if these will even get to you considering your end was written in 2008, but here goes.
I am just starting to shoot real estate interiors and have purchased the new Steve Hargis videos. He says that the Nikon CLS will not work for this type of shoot because often lights are out of range, in other rooms, etc. and suggests Pocket Wizards. He also says he uses SB80dx flashes. I was encouraged when I read your reply to "Newbie", because you seem to be saying that the SB80dx's will work with the CLS and that I can mix the CLS with Pocket Wizards. If I have two SB800's and one SB80dx how many Pocket Wizards will I need?
I am going to go on the Stobist site now to see what you mean by the "Strobist-type set up.
Thank you for your help.
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#42. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 40
Tulis, I use 2-SB800s and an SB700 as remote (off camera) flashes.
TTL is very specific according to brand of camera and flash. Everything I own is Nikon.
Furthermore, within certain limitations, you don't need triggers or slaves to fire them and control them from the camera. Nikon CLS includes IR links between the camera and strobes.
The range of this setup is somewhat restricted. And you might have problems outdoors in bright sun. But in any case, you can set flash power and curtain synch and TTL exposure from the camera. And fire them. You can even do it with the pop-up flash on the camera. You can configure groups of flashes, or as I often do, bypass TTL for manual power. All with the use of menus on the camera. Menus are slow and not good in bright light, though.
The pre-flashes aren't there when shooting manual. But, if you stay with Nikon speedlites, you save money because triggers aren't needed. Standing behind the camera you are transformed into Steven Spielberg. Lights, camera, action.
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#43. "RE: Slave with SB800 -- Newbie here -- Moderators plz have a look" | In response to Reply # 42
If your camera has the built-in flash with the commander function you can achieve a lot of the benefit of moving the flash off the camera to improve your pictures. The SU-800 includes a small plastic stand and I have used it frequently to mount the flash on the floor or on a table or wall to provide fill lighting for subject.
Better than a slave in many situations is a simple popup reflector which will cost you less than $50 and include silver and gold reflective surfaces. This is a great way to add light to the side of your subjects opposite to the flash.
Metz and others make Nikon iTTL flash and there on the used market the Nikon SB-26 speedlight has a TTL slave mode.
The inexpensive Nikon SG-31R IR Panel for built-in flash is a useful accessory as it blocks the visible light from a commander flash while allowing the IR signal to the off camera flash. Cost is $11.95 for this device.
A good investment, new or used, are the books on using flash by Neil van Niekerk. He provides useful information on how to get more from your flash and to do so without investing in gimmicks like the stuff from Gary Fong.
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