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Flash for my Camera

Artilleryman33

Lakewood, US
18 posts

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Artilleryman33 Registered since 31st Dec 2012
Mon 07-Jan-13 03:42 AM

I got a SB400 flash with my camera for Xmas but was wanting to know will that be sufficient as a beginner for indoor photos or should I buy the next size up?SB600

km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3559 posts

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#1. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 0

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Mon 07-Jan-13 09:02 AM | edited Mon 07-Jan-13 09:23 AM by km6xz

The SB400 is a decent little flash where you might need a little additional light than the built in flash can provide and it has the advantage that the head can move above the straight ahead position.
But it is not very flexible, powerful or smart.
To get the best from a flash it needs to be very flexible in adjustment range, direction and having built in metering. The current models include SB700 and SB910 which are both very smart, powerful and versatile.
One of the reasons to select Nikon is the first place is the excellent Creative Lighting System with wireless TTL flash compatibility. It is like having a studio in your camera bag.
Most beginners do not like flash because the are used to the whitish overexposed faces they see from point and shoot cameras. If they learn about flash and lighting in general they would come to see it as the most important single element in creative photography, far more important than lenses and cameras in determining whether an image is worth looking at, or hanging on a gallery wall.
If you decide to go further in the hobby, the best investment you could make would be investing time to learn how to use flash or augmented light well. It is not hard but few people put any effort into it, preferring to upgrade cameras prematurely thinking that will make better images.
If you are interested in portraiture, macro, events, family gatherings, fine art photography, even outdoor lifestyle shooting, augmented light using flash, reflectors, modifiers etc make the difference between snap shots and an exciting creative compelling image. There are tutorials on this site and many on the web. One I suggest to get to know what can be done with very inexpensive "dumb"(meaning fully manual with no interactive intelligence built in) flash is http://strobist.com You can learn more specifically about the Nikon system here on this site however. Look at fellow Nikonians blogger Russ MacDonald's flash tutorials at http://nikonclspracticalguide.blogspot.ru/
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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Melmoore

US
18 posts

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#2. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 0

Melmoore Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 06th Oct 2012
Mon 07-Jan-13 07:01 PM

The best thing to do is try it and see what happens. You my want to head to your local camera store and see if they have a cable that will hook up between your SB400 and the camera flash shoe. You will still have most of the camera control but won't have to spend a bunch on a new flash. I have done this quite a few times as my "goofing off" camera kit is a D7000, A 18-200 VR zoom, an SB400, the cable and a few needed accessories. It all goes in a small bag and doesn't kill my shoulder after a long day.

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rbaley680

Elgin, US
20 posts

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#3. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 1

rbaley680 Registered since 21st Sep 2012
Tue 08-Jan-13 02:06 AM

I too started with an SB400, but bought an SB600 after attending a workshop about lighting run by Nikon. The SB600 is much more versatile, but for simple indoor family shots the SB400 is more than adequate. I enjoy them both and get the desired results from each. For wireless off camera use the SB600 works great.

thormx538

US
83 posts

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#4. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 2

thormx538 Registered since 05th Jul 2012
Wed 09-Jan-13 07:15 PM | edited Wed 09-Jan-13 07:16 PM by thormx538

I bought the SB-400 first, then got an SB-600 in a trade. I was going to sell the SB-400, but decided to keep it -- I love the small size/weight and the fact that I can bounce it, as opposed to the on-camera flash. I use the SB-400 when I'm going small/light (D7k/D40 and a 50 1.8 or the 18-55), and the SB-600 when I don't care the size/weight, need manual control, have to bounce at an angle, need to place it off-camera, or just need the extra power/AF assist. The SB-400 suffices for about 75% of the things I use a flash for.

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GCDawn

Gold Coast, AU
64 posts

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#5. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 0

GCDawn Registered since 18th Dec 2010
Wed 09-Jan-13 08:05 PM

I bought an SB400 and found it did not add much to the built in flash. It bounced, but only in one direction. I wanted off camera flash so I sold it and bought two non Nikon all manual flashes (total same price as SB400) that I'm very happy with. Probably would have stayed with Nikon and bought an SB600 if I wanted to use TTL. Most users and especially beginners would want TTL I believe.
Dawn.

Lissajous

Gosford, AU
26 posts

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#6. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 5

Lissajous Silver Member Nikonian since 01st May 2011
Sat 12-Jan-13 03:55 AM

To add my 2c worth, I bought an SB-400 for travel purposes. I knew the limitations so was not disappointed. I still love the pocket size simplicity. Regularly bounce it indoors but only in landscape. It also eliminates lens shadow that happens with the built-in flash at closer ranges as the hotshoe elevates it enough.

I then added the SB-700. Will add another in due course. Maybe even an SB-910 to cover more bases. Always knew it would come to that. More grunt and capabilities. Travelling around Europe from March. Would love to take the SB-700 but sanity will prevail. The SB-400 will make the final cut on packing day.

pistnbroke

UK
213 posts

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#7. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 6

pistnbroke Registered since 01st Jul 2012
Wed 23-Jan-13 07:27 AM | edited Wed 23-Jan-13 07:32 AM by pistnbroke

I have two of these SB 400 and use them for all my weddings ..I leave the SB 900 at home ..never used it I have the camera set for up to 1/320 sec sync and I have the auto iso to give me 400-1600 iso
at f11 never had a problem .. If you use a flash flipper at about $25 you will loose 99% of your side shadow problem.

PS Nikon cameras come soft from the factory did you up the shaprness to +9

Garen T

Hawthorn Woods IL, US
161 posts

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#8. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 0

Garen T Registered since 20th Jan 2013
Wed 23-Jan-13 02:28 PM

I guess it depends on your shooting style. If you do a lot of portraits, then you will quickly want to upgrade. A couple issues with the SB-400 are that it can NOT be used with CLS (Nikon's wireless system) and as stated before, the bounce is very limited, landscape style only. If your using it outdoors for a bit of fill it might be ok.
and the SB-600 is now discontinued so you need to find a used one or move up to the Sb-700.

I would shoot with it for a while and see if it fits your needs,and then move forward depending on what you end up liking to shoot.

Garen
www.garentphotography.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/garent/

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pistnbroke

UK
213 posts

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#9. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 8

pistnbroke Registered since 01st Jul 2012
Wed 23-Jan-13 02:48 PM

I can light up groups of 30 in a church/hotel foyer no problem ....you must remember if you go up to 800 iso you raise the effective power of the flash..True I always use it head on without a diffuser but all flashes loose vast power if you fit a diffuser or bounce it.....Rockwell says its the only flash you will ever need ..and oh yes he is always right ( not)..If you use it with a flash flipper its the best flash because its so close to the lens which reduces shadows.

labtrout

Bristol, US
1927 posts

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#10. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 7

labtrout Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his constant sharing of his skills and continuous comments of encouragement in the Nikonians spirit. Nikonian since 09th Aug 2011
Wed 23-Jan-13 11:17 PM

I am not familiar with a flash flipper. Do you have any other information on it? I also use the SB400. Thanks.

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Ellis Feibush

Summit, US
286 posts

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#11. "RE: Flash for my Camera" | In response to Reply # 0

Ellis Feibush Silver Member Nikonian since 08th Sep 2009
Thu 24-Jan-13 06:33 AM

I also tried the SB400 flash, but sent it back and replaced it with the more versatile SB600. Just in case you didn't quite follow one poster's response, "landscape style" means that you can only use the SB400 when shooting in the horizontal position especially straight on or in bounce flash photography. You can not use this flash in the bounce position when shooting in the vertical orientation. If you shoot a lot of vertical photos and especially use bounce flash like myself, the inability to rotate the SB400 while shooting vertically is certainly a deal breaker. The SB600 or the SB900 allows you to shoot bounce flash with your camera in any position. You could probably use the SB400 for vertical bounce flash if you could bounce the flash off a side wall. The problem here, it's tough to find really white side walls and the directionality of the flash can be problematic. Good luck with your choice of flash. Nikon's strobe flashes as part of the CLS system are the very best.

efeibush

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