Nikon SB-600 Flash Review

Nikon SB-600 Flash Review

Great flash for prosumers; comparison vs. SB-800

nikon speedlight sb-600

I have a confession to make: I bought the SB-800 instead of the SB-600, but only after spending way too much time looking at both the two flashes and trying to decide which one was right for me. The 600 is a very sophisticated and capable flash, fully supporting Nikon’s various TTL modes.(TTL=through the lens, meaning the camera monitors the flash.) The 600, as with the 800, is most effective on recent Nikon digital SLR bodies, esp. the D70, which can take full advantage of flash functions that constitute what Nikon calls “creative lighting system (CLS)” (basically the CLS allows you to use multiple 600 and/or 800 flashes to create studio-like lighting conditions).


Of course, either the 600 or 800 (or even “older” Nikon flashes such as the SB-28, etc.) will provide better lighting than the internal flash. Whichever flash you buy, be sure to get one that allows you tilt the flash head so you can do bounce photography. Bounce photography makes a world of difference vis-a-vis direct flash when it comes to indoor portraits.

(Originally posted on the SB-800 product page: Why I chose the SB-800 over SB-600):

I won’t repeat the wealth of information the other kind reviewers have already given. I’ll just focus on why I decided to cough up the extra $100 to get the SB-800 instead of the less powerful SB-600.

Compared to the SB-600, the SB-800 has the following extra features:

1) Much more powerful, as reflected in the GN.
2) Slightly faster recycle time with the standard four AA batteries. It also comes with a battery holder that holds a fifth battery which cuts down recycle time by 1/3 to 1/2.
3) The SB-800 has non-TTL auto and auto aperture modes. (More on this later.)
4) In wireless remote mode, the SB-800 can act both as the master and slave, whereas the 600 can only be a slave.
5) It comes with a useful diffusion dome, which won’t even fit on the SB-600.
6) The SB-800 package also includes two colored gel filters.
7) The SB-800 can do repeating flash (in the same exposure), for a strobe effect.

Basically, both the 600 and 800 support Nikon’s latest flash technologies, i-TTL (supported by the D70 and D2H only) and CLS (creative lighting system), in addition to all the TTL (through the lens) flash modes Nikon introduced in the past. The 600 is really a prosumer-level flash that’s either TTL or manual, whereas the 800 is pure pro-grade with a lot of modes and options. The manual, evidently written by a Japanese manual writer, attests to its sophistication; understanding the manual will really require a Ph.D. in yoga so you don’t stress yourself out.

The 800’s auto modes are what won me over in the end. The auto modes can set the flash output automatically on Nikon bodies that do not support any TTL (through the lens) mode. On those bodies, with the 600 you’d have to resort to manual, which is simply a pain in the butt, not to mention prone to error. The two non-TTL auto modes on the 800 are auto aperture and auto. You’ll need to study the manual very carefully to figure out the difference; I still haven’t, but I’m already enjoying the auto aperture mode. The availability of auto modes also means the 800 can be used on a wide range of Nikon bodies than the simpler 600.

If you are deciding between the 600 and the 800 like I was, ask yourself the following questions:

1) Do you have an extra $100-$150 to spend? If yes, the 800.
2) Do you plan to use the external flash a lot? If yes, the 800.
3) Do you have Nikon bodies (usually older manual ones) that do not support TTL (you can find out in the camera’s user’s guide)? If yes, the 800.
4) Do you plan to do a lot of wireless flash photography and take full advantage of Nikon’s Creative Lighting System? If yes, the 800.
5) If you want to get a diffusion dome that fits the flash, get the 800.

In the end, I think the SB-800 is a better long-term investment than the SB-600, despite the higher price. It’s much more powerful and flexible, and even though it’s an overkill for me right now, I imagine when my flash photography improves (and I’m trying very hard right now), it’ll prove a very worthy investment.

Feel free to drop me an e-mail at hotmail with any questions. BTW, if anyone knows of a good web forum that discusses how to effectively use Nikon’s sophisticated flash modes and the CLS, please let us know. Thanks.

More Nikon SB-600 Reviews from Amazon:

Check out for more reviews of Nikon’s SB-600, it has more consumer reviews and reports than any other site online:

reviews of nikon sb 600

Price Range: $XXX to $239.99
Best Price: $$ Click To See Today’s Sale Price $$

Nikon SB-600 Flash Review By Gadgester (New York)
- More Reviews from



  1. 1
    Marcelo Says:

    Recycling time for the SB-600 and the SB-800…

    SB600 (Minumum Recycling Time): Approx. 3.5 seconds (manual, w/R6 (AA), 4.0 seconds (Lithium Ion AA), 2.9 seconds (NiCd AA), 2.5 seconds (Ni-MH AA)

    SB800 (Minumum Recycling Time): Approx. 2.7 seconds (manual, w/R6 (AA) – size Ni-Cd or Ni-MH batteries, with Quick Recycle Battery Pack SD-800), Approx. 6 sec. (manual w/FR6 (AA – size Lithium batteries)

    And in the Ken Rocwell page I read:

    DISCUSSION: SB-600 versus SB-800

    The SB-600 costs about $140 less than the SB-800 and is a little smaller.

    The SB-600 does all the things the SB-800 does that anyone really cares about. You get a smaller, lighter flash with almost as much power and all the features you care about, like automatic wireless TTL remote control. Of course Nikon would prefer you buy the SB-800, so that’s what you’ll see promoted everywhere. Nikon doesn’t go out of their way ensuring this is in stock, either.

    By comparison, the SB-600 has 2/3 stop less maximum power (rated GN 98′ at ISO 100 compared to the SB-800’s GN 125) and thus recycles faster and provides more flashes at it’s lower maximum power: 2.5 seconds and 220 flashes (Ni-MH). The SB-800 by comparison takes 4 seconds to recycle at full power and only give about 150 flashes at that power. The SB-600 has a much clearer LCD compared to the fuzzy dot matrix of the more expensive SB-800.

    An advantage of the SB-800 are a built-in white card. With my SB-600 I often tape or Velcro a small white card to it.

    The SB-800 can be used as a master on-camera flash to control other SB-800s and SB-600 flashes wirelessly. You need this when using wireless flash with any camera other than the D70 and D70s whose built-in flash can do this. The SB-600 cannot be used as a commander flash, only a remote slave. Of course the SB-600 works brilliantly as your main on-camera flash.


  2. 2
    Joren Says:

    Do we get an update on the SB 600?

RSS Feed for this entry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: