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How-to's Camera Reviews Accessories Reviews

Using CLS

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell)

Keywords: nikon, d200, camera, bodies, cls

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Nikon D200 and Nikon's Creative Lighting System

The Nikon D200 camera commands attention, both in a crowd and in Commander Mode as a controller for multiple Nikon Speedlight flash units. While the professional-level Nikon D2X/s requires the separate purchase of the Nikon SU-800 controller unit, the D200 body has full Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) technology built right into the camera.

Nikon D200 DSLR and SB-800, SB-600 speedlights

Understanding the built-in Commander Mode Speedlight controller


You can use full i-TTL flash technology with the D200’s pop-up flash (Nikon calls it a Speedlight®) or use the pop-up to control up to two banks of an unlimited number of external Nikon Speedlight flash units. Nikon makes the powerful SB-800 flash unit, along with its slightly less powerful SB-600 brother. The Nikon D200 is happy to let you arrange professional lighting setups using these relatively inexpensive and very portable speedlights. The following pages are about using these two Speedlights with the Nikon D200 camera.What is the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)?

CLS is an advanced wireless lighting technology that allows you to use your imagination in designing “creative” lighting arrangements. Since no wires are in use, and the flash units are controlled by a central “Commander,” you can experiment with setups and flash output. It allows visual preview of how things look by firing the pulsed modeling capability within Nikon’s Speedlights when you press the D200’s depth-of-field preview button.



There is no need to figure complex lighting ratios when you can control your flash Groups right from the camera and see the results immediately. CLS simplifies the use of multiple flash unit setups for portraiture, nature, or any situation where several Speedlights need to work in unison.

You can simply position the flash units where you’d like them to be, and let CLS automatically figure the “correct” exposure, or you can change the lighting ratios directly from the menu of your D200 camera. This is all done wirelessly — and in less time than it takes to describe it.

Nikon’s Creative Lighting System is world-class in power, and not too difficult to use. The Nikon D200 camera contains everything you need to control a simple or complex CLS setup. Let’s learn how to use it!

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Originally written on June 30, 2006

Last updated on October 28, 2016

1 comment

Brian Woodman (brianwdmn) on September 14, 2013

Thank you Darrell. This is exactly what I was looking for. Well written!

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