Most helpful positive review
427 of 445 people found the following review helpful
A compact SB 900
on November 6, 2010
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.