362 of 377 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compact SB 900
I'm a big fan of the Nikon CLS wireless flash system and I have several Nikon speedlights that I use for high quality portable lighting. Overall, the system works really well, and armed with a few flashes and some simple clamps, I can get creative off-camera lighting nearly anywhere (for on-camera flash, I tend to use the Quantum units). Yes, it's infrared line-of-sight...
Published on November 6, 2010 by Busy Executive
68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars good flash, bad warranty
many folks have complained about the battery door breaking prematurely. Mine has too so I thought I could get it repaired under warranty since it was less than a year old. I was wrong. They want $130 to put the new plastic door piece on. If you do buy this be ultra careful with the battery door and keep your receipt because Nikon will not help you unless you pay $130...
Published 23 months ago by Mark Shaffar
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362 of 377 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compact SB 900,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)I'm a big fan of the Nikon CLS wireless flash system and I have several Nikon speedlights that I use for high quality portable lighting. Overall, the system works really well, and armed with a few flashes and some simple clamps, I can get creative off-camera lighting nearly anywhere (for on-camera flash, I tend to use the Quantum units). Yes, it's infrared line-of-sight and doesn't have the range of other radio systems, but for me, it's fine.
I have a pair of SB900 flashes and have been very impressed with them in terms of light quality, ease of use and so on - my only complaint is the bulk and weight. I also have a few SB600 units, which are more compact - but they don't offer the same even, high quality lighting I get with my SB900. For whatever reason, I always find the SB600 too hot in the center, and somehow "harsh". I end up using various diffuser attachments, and by then, I get all the bulk of the SB900, and only half the output.
I figured I'd try an SB700, hoping to get light quality of the SB900 in a smaller, more convenient package. So far, I haven't been disappointed.
Operationally, the SB700 is very similar to the SB900 - mostly the same menus, switches and options. This is a blessing for me because the older SB600 was so different from the SB900 that I'd have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to get it to do what I wanted.
The power, light quality and recycle time are also quite good on the SB700. I get recycle time under 3 seconds with Lithium batteries, and light output seems to be within about 30% of the SB900. All the SB900 options are available, including zoom, "even" flash (less falloff in the corners) and so on. The device weighs in at about a pound with batteries and it's notably smaller than the big brother SB900 (but heavier than the SB600). Construction quality is about what you'd expect, and there are even optional weather "boots" that cover the hotshoe contact so water can't seep between the flash and your camera in damp locations.
Some have complained about the SB900 and it's thermal shutdown feature. The SB700 seems to work differently - when it detects temperatures rising, it slows down the recycle time, giving the flash tube time to cool. I suppose this is better than the SB900 (which just stops working if the flash tube hits a certain temperature).
The one complaint others have pointed out is that there's no standard PC jack, making it difficult to operate the flash via a standard PC cord. There are various alternatives if you need this capability, including an add on device with a hot shoe to PC adapter, but it can be annoying if you have accessories requiring PC cord connections.
Otherwise, I think it's a fine flash that Nikon owners will appreciate. Definitely recommended, either as part of an ambitious system or as your only flash.
138 of 143 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Commander Mode for entry level DSLR cameras!,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)Most of the newer entry level Nikon DSLRs do not have commander mode to remotely control the flash OFF Camera. As the owner of both a D5000 and D3100 I wanted to be able to remote fire my SB-600. Now that I have the SB-700 I can do so very easily. The interface on the SB-700 is much more straight forward than the SB-600 which requires you to push two buttons at the same time to enter certain menus to control the flash. The SB-700 is easier and faster to setup and has more features than the SB-600.
The SB-700 also includes 3 flash covers: Diffuser, Tungsten and Florescent. These unlike gels that wear out come in handy in certain lighting conditions to get the shot you want without having to purchase aftermarket covers/diffusers/gels (nice touch Nikon!).
Though the SB-700 is slightly less powerful than the SB-600 I just find I rather shoot with the SB-700. The SB-700 also has the "Bounce Card" on top of the wide angle diffuser cover. I wish they put that on the SB-600 as it is very useful when you can't bounce light on a ceiling you can at least bounce the light off the card to light up the subjects eyes.
All in all I highly recommend this flash over the SB-600. I wanted to get the SB-900 but its just too big/heavy for "MY" needs and couldn't justify the additional cost.
106 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Flash - just missing power input and PC plug,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)2/5/11: Final postscript: Sent the SB700 to Nikon; had to wait a month (according to Nikon, they had to wait to get parts shipped); but - they did repair the flash at no charge. Nikon's service has always been good.
12/25/10: Update to my review - today was my first real tryout of the SB700; and unfortunately; I have to report the battery door fell apart as I was changing batteries. The battery door design is different than past Nikon units. There is an actual pushbutton that you need to depress to release the door. As I was trying to open the door - it fell apart into 3 pieces. I'm not sure what Nikon was thinking; the old door designs seemed to work fine (aside from the SB800 w/ the removable door/battery chamber). On a positive note; I did not have a problem w/ thermal shutdown - but - that said; I'm very disappointed in the door design and am thinking I'll probably stock up on some SB600's while they are still being manufactured. While I hate the pushbutton setup on the SB600; at least I haven't had any reliability problems w/ the unit.
Just received the SB700 today from Amazon after a 3 month wait - I am not disappointed. I have been a Nikon user since the 70's, and have owned every F and D pro bodies, and associated flash units. I have seen all the reviews on the web criticizing Nikon for omitting the PC input and power input - they know if they included these features it would have killed sales of the SB900. Like others, unless I need maximum power from my flash (which is rare); I can get by with the SB600 and most recently, the SB400 for most of my (fill) flash work. I mainly use the flash for fill and have it on the camera 100% of the time. For "walking around" the SB400 works great due to its size and weight. When I need to use bounce flash, I typically use the SB600. I still own the SB800 and SB900 but find myself rarely using them.
The SB700 fills the gap - the best features of the flash are the smaller size and weight (vs. the SB900); easier to use controls (I hated the SB600/800 controls); and finally the hard plastic snap-on color correction filters. Nikon needs to make these (hard) filters for the SB900 - trying to use their gels and holder in the field is crazy - you will either lose or damage the gels the first time you are working under pressure. Also the bounce dome is also smaller than the large unit that comes w/ the SB900.
The SB700 is the first Nikon flash I've used that seems to get the exposure right on. Normally I have to set the flash exposure to -0.7 to get what I consider a normal exposure. I do not have to do this on the SB700. I also like the fact that Nikon has gone to switches (vs. menu) to switch from Auto to Manual exposure - I care less about the switch for the flash coverage as that's not a setting I change - but others who do change it will like the fact that it's easy to switch on the fly.
Back to the power input and PC sync input - those who are fans of the Stobist are very unhappy about the inability to use their PC cords to their Pocket Wizards - most folks do not like using the PC - Hot shoe cords; one more thing to go wrong in the electrical chain. Personally - I miss the power input for the Nikon battery packs - and although I'm sure Quantum will come out w/ a battery adapter to use w/ their packs, I haven't use my Quantum packs in years since I've converted to using the Nikon external packs that use the AA's.
That said - think the SB700 will become the de facto standard flash; and the SB800 will continue to sell on eBay and Craig's list for more then they sold new (I'm keeping mine) for the Strobist fans.
As to the overheating issue; haven't had the unit long enough to see if it reacts the same as the SB900 - another review said that the unit slows down on recycle time before shutting down - I've had my 900 shut down; so I have to carry a backup just in case.
As of today (12/13/10) looks like Amazon isn't even taking orders for the unit; if you are in a hurry suggest checking your local camera store - mine told me they were getting some in periodically -
Bottom line: if you are in the market for a Nikon flash - buy this one!
68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars good flash, bad warranty,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)many folks have complained about the battery door breaking prematurely. Mine has too so I thought I could get it repaired under warranty since it was less than a year old. I was wrong. They want $130 to put the new plastic door piece on. If you do buy this be ultra careful with the battery door and keep your receipt because Nikon will not help you unless you pay $130. Here's the response I got:
Thanks for contacting us regarding the repair of your SB-700 speedlight.
While we are always glad to correct any malfunction at no charge under the terms of the warranty, we cannot provide compensation if a product happens to develop non-warranty issues like a broken battery door . The estimate and cost to service this equipment is accurate and reflect the work, service and labor to repair non-warranty repairs.
If you wish to approve the service estimate, we are able to repair the equipment. You may approve via our 800-number, 800-645-6687, or through our website at [...] We test all repairs to be working to 100% factory standards and the product is thoroughly cleaned. Our service includes a 6-month service warranty.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use, yet full featured.,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)I've had this flash for a few days now, and have been very impressed. I'm currently using it on a D7000. The good thing about this flash is that it recognizes if you're using a DX or an FX camera, and it adjusts the zoom accordingly. Using some rechargeable Eneloop batteries, this flash will recycle fast enough to keep pace with the D7000's burst rate, and you'll feel like a paparazzo. It has a built in bounce card, wide angle diffuser, and it tilts a few degrees below level. This is great for close-up/product photography type shots. It also rotates the full 360 degrees, which I know not all flashes do. But my favorite feature is using this flash off camera in Remote mode. It's as easy as flipping a switch. If you have a D7000, or other pro-ish Nikons, you can use the built-in flash to trigger this flash wirelessly for more creative lighting.
Nikon also throws in some extras. The carrying case is pretty nice. Diffuser is a nice freebie. Note that putting this on locks the zoom to a specified amount. When you snap it on, a hard switch is depressed somewhere. This is how it knows the diffuser is attached. You can get around this by not snapping the diffuser on fully, then the flash will zoom like normal. I haven't tested out the hard color filters yet, so I can't comment on them. The one item that seems a little cheap is the included stand. It has plastic threads. This might be a psychological thing for me, but I would feel much more comfortable with metal threads. If you want, you can always pick up the old stand from the SB-600.
One last thing some people complain about is that this flash is not powerful enough. Power is relative, but I know that this flash can feel pretty heavy when mounted on a body. I would not even consider the SB-900 for this reason.
All in all, a very solid product from Nikon. You won't be disappointed.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart Little Brother,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)One of the best things about the SB-700 is that it is pretty much an SB-900 minus a few things. It has less power than the 900 and it can't Command more than 2 groups of speedlights, you can control group A and B and that's it. It is nice to have full control of all the groups in the shoot but if you absolutely need those three groups individually dialed. Then turn one of them to SU-4 mode and that will let you set it off in synch with all the other flashes but you will have to go to the unit to make the manual power/zoom adjustments. It can be an inconvenience but it will save you the price of another SB-700. If you are in an event where anyone else has any other camera and their flashes are going off keep in mind that any flashes set to SU-4 mode will go off anytime someone else takes a flash picture. That may not mess up your exposures but it will probably mess up their exposures and will surely drain the batteries of those flashes in SU-4 mode quickly.
For those of you who are buying your first flash and just want to make your pictures better by having a dedicated flash. This is a great choice. The SB-900 is more powerful and has a few more features but it is also much bigger and bulkier. I own both. In a few weeks I have a western Caribbean cruise with the family and I am already planning to bring the SB-700 and my D90 with me, my Nikon 18-200 VRII and my Sigma 12-24. There is no way I will bring the SB-900, too big. The SB-700 supports Balanced TTL, High Speed Synch (FP Sync) and its just a well rounded little brother to the SB-900. It includes a diffuser and clip-on Incandescent and Fluorecent Filter equivalent to a full CTO and Full Green Gels. Its very handy to have both of this. They are solid built and you just clip them on to the front of the flash and that's It. No need for velcro or sliding in flimsy gels or anything like that. Oh and did I mention that the SB-700 lets you use the clip-On filter and then put on the diffuser on top. Yeah in this this new generation of speedlights that is possible. An upgrade from the SB-800's.
Overall I will recommend this as a great addition to your Wireless CLS team of flashes or as a dedicated on camera flash with a few limitations that may or may not affect you depending on your needs.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best accessory available for your Nikon DSLR.,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)Before you purchase anything else for your Nikon, before you buy expensive lenses, before you buy your next memory card...buy this speedlight. Sure, it's a lot of money, but it's not as much as the SB900/910, and it has better controls. I said it, better controls.
Don't waste your time or money with another speedlight out there, whether it by from Metz, Vivitar, Yongnuo, or any other maker. The way this one talks to your CLS capable Nikon DSLR make it worth every penny. I spent nearly $1300 USD on my Nikon D7000 16.2MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR ED Nikkor Lens, another $700 on another lens, and the addition of this Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight made that setup shine. I could have bought better glass, but it wouldn't have the performance boost that this speedlight gave me.
The two units talk to each other in ways that will improve your shots tremendously. The flash shuts down with the camera, and comes alive when the camera does.
Overall, the best accessory you can buy for your Nikon.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best speedlight for D3000/D5000/D7000 series shooters!,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)I recently purchased the SB-700 to replace a faltering SB-600 that I purchased in 2005 to work with a Nikon D50. I now shoot with the Nikon D7000, and I've found the SB-700 to be an excellent companion to that setup. I'd venture to say, this is the best all-around choice for most people shooting a D3000/D5000/D7000 series DSLR from Nikon.
While the extra features are great, the ultimate measure of a flash is its output. Carrying the SB-600 since 2005, I always found its output to be more than adequate for my needs (event photography, and other mostly indoor or medium-range outdoor uses). Although the SB-600 is slightly more powerful than the SB-700, I've found the difference to be negligible at best. Bottom line, while the reach of the SB-400 is too shallow for me, I've found the SB-600/SB-700 to be the perfect balance of power, size, and function.
Especially when shooting with a Nikon body, the SB-700 is setup to simply work with your camera out of the box. There's really nothing to configure unless you want to dig into the more advanced features of this unit. Should you choose to dig into those features, you'll find Nikon has done a great job laying out the controls in a logical manner. Output patterns, and flash modes are each individual switches. The scroll wheel makes accessing, and using other on-screen features much easier than the navigation on my old SB-600. Overall, I'm really impressed with the SB-700's interface; I consistently forgot how to access certain functions on the SB-600, an issue I've yet to encounter with the SB-700.
WIRELESS OPERATION (CREATIVE LIGHTING SYSTEM)
To help add more depth to your photos, the SB-700 can be triggered remotely as part of the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS). This has to be one of my favorite parts of the SB-700 when paired with my D7000. The SB-700 can serve as a Master or Remote (Slave) unit. While the Nikon CLS certainly isn't as robust as using Pocket Wizards, it's one of my camera's built-in functions. The power switch has Off, On, Remote, and Master positions, so putting the SB-700 in Remote (slave) mode is very easy. Switching the built-in flash on my D7000 to Master mode, I am now able to fire the SB-700 wirelessly (without anything other than my camera and the SB-700). The ability to remotely trigger a flash was not something I could do with my D50/SB-600 setup, and has added a whole new dimension to my photography.
Shortly after purchasing my SB-600 in 2005, I also found a need for a diffuser. While a diffusion dome was a relatively inexpensive purchase, it was a separate purchase nonetheless. In unboxing the SB-700, I was happy to discover Nikon chose to include a diffusion dome with the SB-700.
In fact, not only does Nikon include a diffusion dome with the SB-700, they also include an incandescent and fluorescent filter. These color the flash to help with white balance. In addition to this, I've also found the incandescent filter helpful for "warming up" the lighting on subjects.
Another nice addition (over the SB-600) was the addition to an integrated reflector card. I would frequently carry an index card a rubber band with my SB-600 as another way to soften the light coming from my flash. The integrated reflector card within the SB-700 makes it a lot easier to use or not use a reflector card between shots, and certainly makes for a more professional presentation.
In summary, I've found the SB-700 to be an incredibly solid unit. I'd venture to say this is the best general purpose flash for Nikon DSLR's. Unless you specifically need the additional output power of the SB-900/SB-910 units provide, the SB-700 is a very good choice for anyone shooting a D3000/D5000/D7000 series DSLR.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Must Have From Nikon,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)Like many other reviewers, I am a huge Nikon CLS (Creative Lighting System) user. I shoot with a Nikon D300s, MBD10 Grip, 2 SB-900's, 2 SB-700's, Pocket Wizards, full line of Nikon lenses, clamps, etc... I photograph by the two L's: Light and Lens; light being the most important element. This is where Nikon Speedlights excel and the SB-700 is the perfect companion / compliment to the SB-900.
The SB-900 is a very large high-powered flash. In fact, I was surprised when I first opened the box and soon came to learn it could be a pain to pack when I went light (as in weight). The SB-700 was a welcome sight since, at times, extreme portability matters. In short, I was looking for slightly less power than the SB-900, just in a smaller package. I considered any other features (such as commander mode) to be a bonus. This was on the heels of just purchasing two SB-600's (later sold on EBay), which I found counter intuitive due to the menu system and need to press multiple buttons at the same time to adjust settings. Plus, the light output from my SB-600's seemed a little harsh and warm in the center.
The SB-700 is functionally the same as the SB-900. If you learn the SB-900, you know the SB-700. I measured power output of the SB-700 (92 feet spec) at less than the SB-900 (131 feet spec) and greater than the SB-600 (though specs say it should be a little less at 92 feet versus the SB-600 98 feet). Essentially, I use my SB-900's as key light(s) in most situations. So, it not only is a great compliment to an SB-900 but also a suitable replacement (in lieu of) for the SB-900 if you are on a budget. In fact, I judge the SB-900 to be overkill unless you are a semi-pro or pro photographer.
The on-board flash controls are simply incredible. I also find the LCD screen far better than the screen on the SB-600 or even the SB-800 (old Nikon flagship flash). The flash is easy to adjust on the move and very intuitive. Build quality is what you expect from Nikon, which is very good to great, though I am a little concerned about the battery door. But, unless you are juggling your flashes, I do not seen anything to worry about. Plus, the SB-700 comes with a built in bounce card (needed by the way) whereas the SB-600 did not. Additionally, with the SB-700 you get filters, a decent case, diffusion dome, and stand.
Word on the dreaded "thermal issue." The SB-900 contained a thermal shutdown feature to prevent the user from essentially melting the flash. The SB-700 will instead slow down recycle time to about 3.5 seconds compared to the rated 2.5 to control the temp. Trust me- most people will never encounter this situation unless they try. It's just something not worrying about. Therefore, this would be a great 2nd flash for advanced shooters and great first/primary flash for beginners to intermediate shooters. But, I do agree with Ken Rockwell that most users who buy non-professional (consumer grade) DSLR bodies could easily go with an SB-400 flash. So, if you are in this category, you may be able to save a few hundred dollars and get everything you need. If you decide to upgrade later, your equipment is scaleable and resell-able (Nikon gear retains value very well).
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What My SB600 Should Have Been,
This review is from: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)I've had the old, venerable SB80DX. Worked great, but just wasn't... tuned for the D200 or D700 I shoot with. I added a SB600, and that worked better. The SB80DX was relegated to slave flash status and all was good enough. But neither of these two flashes were all I hoped for. I alway felt I was handing all of my trust over to them with little grasp on what the flash was doing or what the flash's range was given the ISO settings I'd chosen, the f/stop set, the ambient light... I have often longed for the days of manual flashes with the chart on the back, or the old gold standard Vivitar 285 where you could set the ISO to match the camera, and the f/stop, and the dial would indicate the distance range over which it would be able to set itself during the flash. How clear those were. The SB80DX and the SB600 were nowhere near as clear.
I recently sold off the SB80DX and started looking around for another SB600 for a bar mitzvah I'm shooting tomorrow, but I couldn't find a used one. I looked and waited but nothing. So, today, I picked up a new SB700 and took it to a nephew's basketball game. What a treat this is! Set the ISO on the camera, and the flash knows. Set the mode on the camera, and the flash knows! Set the aperture on the body and the flash knows! And then it tells you it's useful range! I shot at 1600 ISO, f/2.8 and used my 70-200 f/2.8, and the flash gave a 6' to 66' range. THAT is USEFUL! My 120 shots came out great!
And the included green filter worked great under the fluorescent lights.
Also, the Creative Lighting System is one of perhaps 3 capabilities that sets Nikon apart from Canon, the other fine brand. Earlier flashes had this built in capability of working in groups and wirelessly off-camera, but the controls on the SB700 make it simple to actually use. The features are suddenly readily understandable, accessible and useable without hours of practice. Nikon really thought about the interface on this and made it truly great.
The real reason one might consider upgrading to the SB900 is this: the SB900 can accept external power, with is important if you are shooting for hours and hour and don't want to be interrupted changing batteries. That MIGHT be important to a pro.
And setting the non-CLS settings could not be easier as well. I really intend to LOVE this flash! You will too.
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