Nikon SB-800 AF SpeedLight Review

Nikon SB-800 AF SpeedLight Review

Perfect Flash

nikon speedlight sb-800

I bought this flash to use with my Nikon D70. I wanted a flash with plenty of power and flexibility, but smart enough to handle caluation of exposure when I just wanted to shoot. I was not disappointed.

This flash works hand-in-glove with other elements of the Nikon system. When connected to the hot-shoe of my D70 the camera and flash instantly recognize each other. The default “TTL” mode (Through The Lens) gives consistantly well-exposed photos. If anything, the camera and flash tend to want to underexpose just a bit, but you can easily use the flash compensation to fix this. It appears that the Nikon folks are going for a more natural-light exposure, while I prefer a brighter picture. I usually set the flash to +2/3 and am always happy with the results.

The SB-800 has many flash modes that can be used by the creative photographer for different situations. They include 2 TTL modes, auto-aperature mode, manual mode, and a repeating flash mode. The RPT mode lets you set the flash power and frequency in Hz and the flash repeatedly fires during the exposure. Great for experimentation.

The flash head tilts to 90 degrees straight up, and swings completely around to 180 degrees – backwards. It has a red focus-assist lamp which works wonderfully.

The SB-800 comes with a number of accessories that come at an additional price for many other flashes. An extra battery attachment is included, which decreases the flash recycle time. A flash diffuser dome is also included to give a softer lighting effect. Two light filters are included to match the flash to background lighting for more natural white balance settings. They even include a nice padded case.

The Sb-800 takes 4 AA batteries, and you can use the optional battery case to add a fifth to decrease recycle time. The batteries last a long time – see the manual for the battery life that Nikon documents. I can go all day without recharging my 2300 ma AA’s.

This flash also has a number of wireless modes. When using the D70’s internal flash as the “Commander” I can trigger the SB-800 and the camera and flash will communicate the exposure information back and forth with a series of brief flashes, then fire the exposure flash. It really works, and works well. The SB800 can also use a SU-4 remote mode, which will trigger the flash when it “sees” any other flash fire, so any camera could trigger it.

This flash is not inexpensive, but it works wonders for the photographer who wants flexibility and good exposures. I now find myself wanting another one, to use in a wireless group and expand the flexibility. I recommend it without reservation.

More Nikon SB-800 Reviews from Amazon:

Check out for more reviews of Nikon’s SB-800, it has more consumer reviews and reports than any other site online:

reviews of nikon sb 800

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Nikon SB-800 AF SpeedLight Review By M. Wells
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