on May 7, 2014
Most importantly, I am not a professional photographer. I would say I am a very enthusiastic hobbyist when it comes to photography. That being said, I always do my research when it comes to photo gear. For the purpose of this review, I use the Nikon D5100 which is a "cropped" (DX) sensor. That is somewhat relevant when looking into gear and flashes.
Overall, this is a great flash/speedlight upgrade to the built-in flash on your dSLR. There are cheaper and simpler options available, but if you want to buy a high quality product that has features that will let you expand your photography skills, this is a great option.
Important general things you should be aware of when consider any flash/speedlight upgade: (Final "Pros/Cons" at the bottom)
• Upgrading to an good mounted flash/speedlight will dramatically expand your options when using a flash as well as the overall quality of the photos taken with a flash. Keep in mind, a good mounted flash/speedlight like this can be used indoors AND outdoors to provide fill-light which is helpful when your subject is backlit or you are take shots in low-light.
• One of the primary benefits/goals for upgrading to a mounted flash/speedlight is to obtain better fill-light and softer, more even lighting to reduce or soften shadows. In order to make sure you have the most options, you will want a flash that can rotate up/down as well as left/right. This will allow you to "bounce" the flash off of a ceiling, wall or other reflective surface. This is one of the keys to getting softer shadows and it is super-simple to take advantage of. The SB-700 is 100% capable of doing this, but be aware that some other Nikon or third-party flashes do not rotate or only rotate up/down. If you plan to shoot in portrait mode (vertical orientation) you will need to be able to rotate the flash left/right in order to point at the ceiling.
• There are MANUAL flashes and "Automatic" TTL compatible flashes. The main difference is that MANUAL flashes require that you adjust the flash power/compensation yourself for each shot as the exposure changes and you zoom in/out. There is no "auto" mode like your built-in flash. Flashes that are more "automatic" are TTL compatible which means that use information from your camera (TTL = Through The Lens) to automatically calculate the amount of flash needed for a given shot based on other camera settings that determine the exposure needed. That being said, most experienced photographer comments/reviews I have scene will tell you that MANUAL is the way to go to learn and is perfectly suitable. However, I am sure many of you (like myself) are looking for something that is automatic most of the time, but gives you the option of manual adjustments, (This SB-700 offers both). Many of the cheaper (but not necessarily worse) flashes do not offer TTL or "Automatic" flash adjustment.
• Manufacturers like Canon, Nikon etc have their own proprietary "lighting systems". Think of these lighting systems as a set of rules/standards by which their cameras communicate with "compatible" flashes to properly light a scene with one or more flashes. IMPORTANT: Not all flashes are compatible with these proprietary lighting systems. Nikon's system is referred to as "CLS" compatible which stands for "Creative Lighting System". This SB-700 is fully compatible with that system, but your camera may not all Nikon cameras have 100% of the hardware capabilities to take advantage of all of the CLS features. More on that later. Many third-party flashes do not offer compatibility with some of these proprietary systems. Some do, but I have read that there can be some compatible issues so be sure to do your research if you go the route of third-party flashes.
• Not all flashes/speedlights (and cameras) are capable of using high shutter speeds (above 1/200 of second or so). In my research, this seems to be an issue with the mid-range dSLRs (Like the D5100 and others) due to the fact that they use a mechanical shutter as opposed to an electrical one. It all has to do with how quickly the shutter can open/close and react to the timing of the flash. I believe this is referred to as flash sync of xSync. What does this mean? Well, if you want/need to use a flash and are hoping to "freeze" fast motion (faster than average at least), some cameras will not be capable of utilizing faster shutter speeds above 1/200 of a second. The special flash/shutter mode that allows this is referred to as "Auto FP" or "HSS" depending on your camera, etc. Is this an issue for you? I was kind of bummed about this and found out about it AFTER I purchased the SB-700. That being said, it really isn't a huge deal. The drawback to using Auto FP/HSS (if you have it) is that is dramatically decreases the power/light of the flash to about 25%. So you aren't going to get a ton of light anyway with those higher shutter speeds. Plus, at that point, the speedlight is acting more like a constant light than a true speedlight (to FREEZE motion). Would Auto FP/HSS be helpful in capturing faster than average motion? Probably. Should the lack of Auto FP/HSS on your camera prevent you from buying a flash? Probably not. So, the SB-700 is capable of AutoFP/HSS, but you camera (including the D5100) may not be.
• Master/Slave/Commander Stuff. You will definitely see info about master, slave, commander when researching flashes. This basically comes down to using one or more flashes off-camera (usually wirelessly) to achieve different lighting affects. From my "hobbyist" research, it basically involves a "Master" flash unit "Commanding" one or more "Slave" flashes. In order for a "Master" flash to control a "Slave" flash, the "Master" flash OR camera must have a "Commander" feature/capability. The good news is that the SB-700 is capable of being used as a master or slave flash, BUT the SB-700 does not (I believe) have "commander" functionality built-in (The SB-900 does). If you have a higher-end dSLR, you camera probably has "Commander" functionality built-in so you are good to go. Sadly, the D5100 does not have this functionality. What does this mean? If you want to use the SB-700 off-camera (but by itself) with a camera WITHOUT "commander" functionality, you will either need to use a hot-shoe cable from your camera to the SB-700 OR you will need to purchase an additional "Commander" unit (or the previously mentioned SB-900 mentioned) that attaches to your hot shoe and "adds" commander capabilities to your camera. The good news is that once you have "commander" functionality you can wirelessly control one or more slaves. Bottom line...if you are not concerned about using the SB-700 off-camera or with other flashes you don't need to worry about this, BUT options are available if you decide to expand you lighting.
• Full-Frame vs Cropped Sensors (FX vs DX) and Flash Zoom modes. I won't get into everything about sensors (because I don't know everything about them), but I will say that not all flashes are fully compatible with both FX and DX format cameras/sensors. I THINK this ultimately means that the actually power and exposure of the flash will not be fully utilized by your camera if you have a DX camera (Like the D5100) and use a FX only flash. So if you buy a cheaper "high-power" flash, your DX camera may not get to use all of the advertised flash power. A lot of the time you will see stuff about GN or "Guide Number" this (I believe) has a lot to do with the flash power at different focal lengths and subject distances. The good news is that the SB-700 DOES support both FX and DX formats so you are somewhat future-proofed.
WOW. Ok, so If you made it this far, I am sure you are serious about a new flash. Hopefully I help you and saved you some time. Below is my "summary" of "pros/cons:
Very versatile flash/speedlight upgrade
Can be used in "Automatic" mode OR Manual mode.
Fully compatible with Nikon CLS system
Supports both FX and DX cameras/sensors
Can rotate vertically and horizontally (ideal for bouncing in landscape AND portrait orientation)
Includes built-in diffuser and bounce panel
Also includes mountable diffuser dome for direct flash use
Supports automatic TTL and Manual modes
LCD Display is clear, backlit and easy to use
Offers master/slave capabilities for expanded lighting setups. No built-in commander though.
Most professional features for a more reasonable cost
Well-built and sturdy
Nice, laser-like pre-flash for proper focusing and exposure
From other reviews I have ready, it has a very fast "recycle" time which means you can take multiple shots with flash in quick succession. It seems to work well for me, but I have not calculated this myself.
Pricey for non-professionals - although worth the price.
Have to be careful to depress side button when rotating. A little stiff
Definitely adds some size and weight to your setup. There are smaller/lighter options available.
You can get MANY of these features from third-party flashes/speedlights for LESS money, BUT you sacrifice full CLS/iTTL compatibility and probably are not getting the same level of product. The other feature usually missing from third-party flashes is either an "Automatic" mode and/or full support for FX & DX sensors.
For mid-range dSLRs (Including d5100), you can't utilize Auto FP or HSS for higher than 1/200 of a second shutter with the flash.
Cameras without "Commander" functionality can't use the SB-700 as a master without the use of a hot-shoe cable OR a separate "Commander" unit. There is not ability to "trigger" the SB-700 via the built-in flash of the D5100 and many others.
If you found my review helpful, please indicate so below or share a comment. Thanks.
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.
on December 28, 2010
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.
on March 1, 2011
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.
on December 13, 2010
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!
on January 16, 2012
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.
on June 3, 2012
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.
on February 5, 2012
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.
on March 22, 2011
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.
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).