Nikon SB-900 Speedlight
The SB-900 is Nikon’s former flagship Speedlight. Like the newer Nikon SB-910, it has adjustable beam width that goes wider and farther than most of the other Nikon flash units.
The SB-900 is not longer available as a new production unit, but is easily available in the preowned market and sometimes as “new old stock.” If you cannot afford the new Nikon SB-910, the SB-900 provides a similar level of power and capability, at a lower cost.
Like its newer sister flash, the controls and menus on the SB-900 are very easy to use; much easier than the previous flagship flash, the SB-800. One perceived drawback: The SB-900 unit is such a powerhouse that it can overheat if fired rapidly, caused by allowing the batteries to get hot from heavy current drain. For that reason it has a built-in temperature sensor that will prevent the flash from being fired when it gets too hot. That could be a problem in events like a wedding.
This overheat sensor can be enabled/disabled in the camera’s menu. Many photographers leave it disabled so that the flash will not shut off when hot. So far, my use of the flash has not caused it to get too hot, and I’ve shot all sorts of events, so this may not be a real problem for most. There is a firmware upgrade that addresses this issue to some degree. However, some have chosen to seek out the older flagship SB-800, which does not suffer from this percieved issue, or they will buy the more expensive SB-910 upgraded unit.
I have both SB-900 and SB-800 flash units and like them both very well. I use the SB-900 now more than the SB-800 because I love the extra reach the narrow beam width gives me, and I shoot a lot of wide angle group shots. The extra-wide zoom position the SB-900 provides really makes a difference. Plus, I love that big white diffuser!
Official SB-900 Guide Number Information
34m/111.5ft. (at ISO 100, 35mm zoom head position, in FX format, standard illumination pattern, 20°C/68°F) to 48m/157.5ft. (at ISO 200, 35mm zoom head position, in FX format, standard illumination pattern, 20°C/68°F)
Official SB-900 Lens Coverage
17 to 200mm (FX-format, Automatic mode)
12 to 200mm (DX-format, Automatic mode)
12 to 17mm (FX-format, Automatic mode with built-in wide-angle panel deployed)
8 to 11mm (DX-format, Automatic mode with built-in wide-angle panel deployed)
Flash head tilts down to -7° or up to 90° with click-stops at -7°, 0°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°
Dimensions / Weight
3.0 x 5.7 x 4.7 in. (Approx. 78.0 x 146.0 x 118.5 mm) / 14.6 oz. (415 g)
Built-in Wireless Commander Mode for Nikon CLS
Wireless Commander Mode offers wireless control at the master Speedlight position, controlling up to 3 remote Speedlight groups and an unlimited number of compatible Speedlights. Four wireless channel options help manage wireless conflicts in multi-photographer environments.
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